Barry Manilow is looking back at the difficulty that came with hiding his sexuality throughout his career.
In a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter published on Friday, the musician reflected on the struggles of staying closeted for most of his life because he “didn’t want my career to go away.”
“I love it. I’m grateful for it. But it was a burden to keep it quiet,” Manilow said of his LGBTQ identity, adding that coming out was never an option.
“I was always worried,” he added. “Every interview: ‘They’re going to ask me whether I’m gay or not.’ Nobody ever did, by the way. They never asked me the $64 question.”
The singer reflected on a conversation he had with Clive Davis in the Eighties, where he spoke about how Elton John came out as bisexual and that if Manilow did, “It’ll hurt your career.” “And it did hurt Elton for quite a while,” the singer added.
THR checked with Davis, who said he didn’t remember that conversation and that “we never went there.” “Had it come up, to analyze what the impact would be, I would have said it’s a risky proposition to a career,” Davis told THR. “But we never had the conversation about whether he should come out because he never said to me that he was gay.” (Davis came out as bi in his 2013 memoir.)
In the interview, Manilow also recalled performing at a gay bathhouse early in his career.
“What do you think, they were fucking in front of us?” he said when asked if the experience impacted his own sexual development. “They were just an audience. A great audience, too.”
“It’s unusual, I agree. But for me, it was a job for 75 bucks,” he added.
Manilow officially came out as gay in an interview with People in 2017, opening up about his love story with husband Garry Kief for the first time. Manilow and Kief began their relationship in 1978. The two spoke to People late last year about becoming a grandfather.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay,” he told the outlet at that time. “So I never did anything. When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”