When George Michael passed away on Christmas Day in 2016, the world cried not just for his music and his legacy as an LGBT icon but for the man himself. His generosity and kindness made him more than just a pop star. He was an advocate and a campaigner for HIV and AIDS charities and was committed to making the world a better place.
In a rare interview with CNN in April 1998, Michael discussed his sexuality for the first time. At the time, public attitudes towards homosexuals were quite different from what they are now - same-sex marriage was illegal, the criminalization of gay sexual activity still existed and HIV and AIDS carried a heavy stigma.
The interview was a huge deal for many reasons, but mainly because it marked the moment that the 'Careless Whisper' singer publicly disclosed his sexuality as gay. It was a decision he made because of how his earlier arrest in a Beverly Hills public restroom had been handled by the media and because he felt that he had been the victim of entrapment.
While the decision to come out was a personal one for him, Michael never shied away from his sexuality after that. In fact, he took his activism and public advocacy for LGBT rights to new levels. He continued to promote the causes he was passionate about, including gay-rights activism and supporting HIV and AIDS charities. His music also contained plenty of coded gay messages that could be read as anthems to sexual determination and freedom.