glbtq: an encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender & queer culture
social sciences
special features
about glbtq


   member name
   Forgot Your Password?  
Not a Member Yet?  

  Advertising Opportunities
  Permissions & Licensing
  Terms of Service
  Privacy Policy






Alpha Index:  A-B  C-F  G-K  L-Q  R-S  T-Z

Subjects:  A-B  C-E  F-L  M-Z

Bookmark and Share
Gately, Stephen (1976-2009)  
page: 1  2  3  

Singer, songwriter, and actor Stephen Gately gained fame as one of the lead vocalists in the Irish pop group Boyzone. He came out publicly as a gay man in 1999 when the band was at the peak of their success.

The singer was born on Saint Patrick's Day, March 17, 1976, in Dublin. The second-youngest of five children, he grew up in what he described in a 2003 interview with Jane Ridley of The Mirror as "one of the toughest areas of the city."

The family scraped to get by. When his shoes had holes in them, Gately stuffed them with cardboard so that they could serve until there was money for a new pair.

Despite the difficult circumstances, Gately aspired to a career in music or theater. "I'd practice my autograph over and over on the back of schoolbooks," he told Ridley. "I remember one kid once laughed at me and I told him 'That'll be worth something one day.'"

To realize his dream, he took part in plays and musicals at school and also entered and won an all-Ireland disco-dancing championship when he was sixteen.

In 1993 Gately was among some four hundred young men who responded to a newspaper ad placed by entertainment manager Louis Walsh, who was seeking to form a boy band. Such ensembles, composed of four to six youngsters singing a cappella and presenting a charming and wholesome image, were enjoying great popularity at the time. Teen-aged girls were the most avid fans.

At seventeen, Gately was the youngest of the singers chosen to become Boyzone. The very day after assembling the group, Walsh got them an appearance on Irish television's Late Late Show where, having no repertoire yet, they did some improvised dancing to disco music.

After that rather strange introduction to the public, the group got down to the business of making music. Early on, there were a few changes in personnel, but the membership soon stabilized with Gately, Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy, and Shane Lynch as the boys of Boyzone.

The band soon began touring and gaining fans in Ireland. They signed a contract with Polydor Records in 1994, and the following year they released their first album, Said and Done, which went to the top of the charts in Ireland and the United Kingdom. Several of the songs on the album became Top Ten hits as singles.

Boyzone's success continued with their subsequent albums, A Different Beat (1996), Where We Belong (1998), and By Request (1999), a compilation of their greatest hits.

And many hits there were. Sales of Boyzone albums would eventually exceed fifteen million. Songs released as singles did equally well: a long string of them earned Top Ten status during the heyday of the group.

Gately and Keating sang lead vocals on Boyzone's most successful single, "No Matter What" (1998). Written by Andrew Lloyd Webber for the score of the musical Whistle Down the Wind, the song was not intended as a gay anthem but can certainly be heard as one. Gately's knowing smile as he sings in the music video encourages the possibility of such an interpretation.

At the time that "No Matter What" was released, however, Gately remained closeted, fearful that revealing his homosexuality might be detrimental to the popularity of the group, particularly among the legions of teen-aged girls who constituted a large segment of the fan base.

In June 1999 Gately learned that a person from the band's road crew intended to out him to the British tabloid The Sun. He countered by giving the paper an interview himself in order to maintain some control of the situation.

By then Gately had already come out to his sister and his bandmates, all of whom were supportive. He worried, however, about springing the information on his mother immediately before it would be splashed across the front page of the tabloid press. Although Margaret Gately acknowledged that the timing and manner of the announcement made the experience stressful, she and the rest of the Gately family remained steadfast in their love for their son and brother.

Prior to the revelation in the Sun, wrote Andrew G. Marshall in the London Guardian, "[Gately's] sexuality [was] an open secret among show business journalists," but, he added, "the same reporters would link him to a list of beautiful women" including several other singers and a Miss Scotland, suggesting romantic attachments.

    page: 1  2  3   next page>  
zoom in
Top: Stephen Gately performing with Boyzone in 2009.
Above: Boyzone on stage.

Contact Us
Join the Discussion
Related Entries
More Entries by this contributor
A Bibliography on this Topic

Citation Information
More Entries about The Arts
Popular Topics:

The Arts

Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators
Drag Shows: Drag Queens and Female Impersonators

Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall
Photography: Gay Male, Pre-Stonewall

Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male
Erotic and Pornographic Art: Gay Male

New Queer Cinema

White, Minor

Halston (Roy Halston Frowick)


Winfield, Paul

McDowall, Roddy
McDowall, Roddy

Cadinot, Jean-Daniel
Cadinot, Jean-Daniel




This Entry Copyright © 2009 glbtq, Inc. is produced by glbtq, Inc., 1130 West Adams Street, Chicago, IL   60607 glbtq™ and its logo are trademarks of glbtq, Inc.
This site and its contents Copyright © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  All Rights Reserved.
Your use of this site indicates that you accept its Terms of Service.