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Barry Manilow Explains Why Coming Out in the 1970s Would Have ‘Killed’ His Career

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While LGBTQ+ representation among artists in the music industry currently enjoys an all-time high, there was a time when it was not socially acceptable for artists to talk about their sexuality — and Barry Manilow is ready to talk about that time.

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In a new interview on Max’s Who’s Talking to Chris Wallace?, Manilow sat down with the veteran journalist to discuss his storied career — which includes his decision to come out publicly in 2017. While the singer maintained that his coming out “wasn’t a big deal” at age 72, it could have been catastrophic when he was approaching the height of his popularity.

“Well, in the ’70s, you didn’t [come out]. It wasn’t the same as it is today,” Manilow explained in the interview. “Now, being gay is no being deal, but back in the ’70s, it would’ve killed a career. And Clive [Davis] kind of told me that in his own way: ‘Don’t do that, not yet.’”

Manilow added that along with the fact that “the public was not ready for anybody to come out,” he was also not in a place where he was ready to talk about his sexuality. “Frankly, it was just too personal. I just didn’t want to talk about my personal life anyway, I never did that; I was happy talking about music,” he said. “But talking about my personal life was just kind of creepy to me, so I just never did.”

The “Mandy” singer met his now-husband Garry Kief in the late-’70s, when Kief became Manilow’s manager. “Garry actually kind of saved my life, because as my career exploded … going back to an empty hotel room, you could get into a lot of trouble if you’re alone night after night,” Manilow said. “But I met Garry right when everything was exploding, and I didn’t have to go back to those empty hotel rooms; I had somebody to cry with and to celebrate with.”

As for his decision to ultimately come out? “I think it was a non-event for me,” he said. “Really, Garry and I have been together for so long, it just never dawned on me that we were going to come out. But, when we got married, it was a big deal, so we did.”

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