Boyzone heartthrob Stephen Gately decided to put an "end to the rumours" this week by announcing that he is gay. "I think the moment is now right to tell the world who I really am," he said.
Dublin-born Stephen, 23, revealed in a newspaper interview that he first realised he was gay at 15 and has been in a relationship with his 26-year-old Dutch boyfriend, Eloy de Jong, since last November.
In the interview, he told the Sun: "This is the hardest thing I have ever had to do but I owe it to our fans - as well as to myself - to be completely honest.
I know it will come as a bombshell to many of our followers. Many of them will be upset. I only hope they understand how important it is for me to reveal that I am gay."
Stephen went on to explain he has decided to tell the truth after hearing that someone who had worked with Boyzone in the past was about to sell the story to a newspaper.
"I wanted my fans to hear the facts from me and Eloy before anyone else got the chance to publish a twisted version of the truth," he said.
Stephen added that since joining the band in 1993 he has "not been able to relax and be myself" and "never, ever denied being gay."
The dark-haired pop star 'came out' to the newspaper with the full support of band members Ronan, Shane, Keith and Mikey as well as all his family. He said that Eloy, a former member of European boyband Caught In The Act, has been accepted into the band's close-knit group of wives and girlfriends.
"They have all been brilliant," he said. "Eloy gets on really well with everyone."
Before Stephen confided in his family he admitted he was incredibly lonely. "I remember one morning waking up and feeling so depressed that I thought about running away - giving it all up."
He went on to give this special message to his fans: "I want to reassure them that this will not affect Boyzone. We'll be around for years to come. I'm stil the same Stephen, still singing the same songs. You have been with us through thick and thin. Now I need you to be there for me."
Click here for a Picture of Stephen
Click here for a Picture of Eloy
Thanks to T2 - www.t2online.co.uk for this feature.