George Michael – Freedom?
Last night’s Channel 4 documentary ‘George Michael : Freedom’ began by transporting viewers back to the decade that first introduced the UK to a duo named Wham! Clips of George and Andrew performing hits like Club Tropicana and Young Guns returned us to the 80s. Carefree days of childhood. Adolescence. Pepsi & Shirley inspired hair-dos. Careless Whisper inspired fantasies of love and romance.
How ironic then, that George Michael – a man whose voice offers a return to freedom for his fans – spent a lifetime entrapped by a fear of prejudice.
Living The Lie
Playing a straight, teen heart-throb bought fame and fortune. In public, George was relentlessly good-humoured, charming and gracious. Away from the cameras he was generous and hard-working. However, George’s gentle charisma masked a growing sense of despair and isolation. Desperate to find some kind of sense of himself, he was ready to walk away from his career.
And then, during a concert in Rio, George spotted Brazilian designer, Anselmo Feleppa.
The moment I looked at him I got the feeling he was going to be a part of my life …
Finally, the artist who knew how it felt to be adored by strangers, discovered how it felt to be intimately loved by just one person. George was exhilarated by his relationship with Anselmo. Having only ever felt negative emotions connected to his sexuality, he was at last able to celebrate life as a gay man.
Tragically, within months, it became clear that something wasn’t right. Anselmo was showing symptoms of a deadly disease.
While Anselmo flew to Brazil to be tested for HIV, George spent Christmas at home with his family. He was still not ‘out’. He felt unable to share his fears for both his lover and himself with those closest to him. Again, George was trapped in his own private hell.
I hope people think of me as someone who had some kind of integrity. I hope I’m remembered for that, very unlikely…
In perhaps the most heart-breaking moment of Channel 4’s documentary, George questioned whether he would be remembered as a man with integrity.
The truth is, fear and isolation underpinned George Michael’s existence. His family and fans may have accepted his sexuality readily. Yet, this was a risk he found hard to take. Even so, he tried to live his life – as an artist and a human being – as best he could. And ultimately, he found the courage to be honest.
George was someone with some kind of integrity.
And yes, he will be remembered for that.