Barry Manilow reveals why he didn’t come out until he was 73

Barry Manilow
Barry Manilow Photo: Screenshot / Max

Barry Manilow says that coming out in his 70s was a “non-event.”

In a recent interview on Max’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, the host asked Manilow about his marriage to high school sweetheart Susan Deixler. The couple married in the early 1960s but separated after a year.

“We had a very nice marriage. It was great, but I was away every night making music, as a young musician would be,” Manilow said. “It wasn’t good for me, and it wasn’t good for her. I couldn’t be a proper husband.”

Wallace asked the “Mandy” singer whether he knew he was gay at the time. “We all do, when we’re five years old or something,” Manilow said, adding that despite being happily married, “The gay thing was pretty, pretty strong.”

“It was strong, I couldn’t deny it.”

Manilow didn’t come out publicly until 2017, when he was 73 years old, two years after marrying his long-time manager and romantic partner Garry Kief. Acknowledging that everyone’s coming out journey is different, Wallace asked why the singer waited so long.

“I think it was really a non-event for me,” Manilow explained. “Really, Garry and I’ve been together for so long. You know, it just never dawned on me that we were gonna come out. But when we got married, it was a big deal.”

Manilow, who met Kief in 1978, described his now-husband’s impact on his life at the height of his career.

“Garry actually kind of saved my life, because as my career exploded, as I said, it was crazy. It was just crazy,” he recalled. “And, you know, going back to an empty hotel room, you can get into a lot of trouble if you’re alone night after night after night.”

Manilow said that after meeting Kief, “I didn’t have to go back to those empty hotel rooms. I had someone to cry with or to celebrate with.”

“I wish that to young people — that they don’t have to go back to those hotel rooms by themselves,” he added.

Manilow also described the music industry atmosphere that kept him closeted for decades. “In the 70s…it wasn’t the same as it is today,” he said. “Now being gay is no big deal. But back in the 70s, it would have killed a career.”

He explained that record executive Clive Davis advised him not to come out, citing its impact on Elton John’s career.

“The public was not ready for anybody to come out. And, and frankly, it was just too personal,” Manilow recalled. “I just didn’t want to talk about my personal life anyway. I never did that. I was happy talking about music. But talking about my personal life was just kind of creepy to me. So, I never did.”

At the same time, Manilow said, he never thought about remaining closeted in terms of hiding who he really was. “I think everybody knew that Gary and I were a couple all those years,” he said.

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