- Stephen Gately became a hero for young LGBT+ people after he came out.
Boyzone boyband members slept alongside Stephen Gately’s coffin on the night before his funeral.
The Irish boyband was one of the most successful in UK history. And Gately had become a hero to LGBT+ people after coming out in a blaze of publicity. However, he died of a congenital heart defect on 10 October 2009 aged just 33.
Now, as they mark the 11th anniversary of his death, Keating has revealed his memories of Gately.
Keating, now 43, along with Keith Duffy, Shane Lynch and Mikey Graham, slept in sleeping bags alongside Gately as he laid in rest at St Laurence O’Toole Church in the Irish capital, Dublin.
Over the weekend, Keating shared a message on Instagram saying:
‘11 years has zipped by and it’s still as hard as ever to not have you in all our lives. Miss you brother.’
He continued: ‘Miss your laugh, miss your sense of humor. Miss your strops, miss your high kicks, miss the bones of ya. I know you are still smiling straws. God bless.
‘We could hear him telling us jokes’
Previously, Keating has revealed to Sky News how they spent a last night with Gately, sleeping next to his coffin.
He said: ‘We cried and we laughed and we could hear him telling us jokes and we could hear him answering back.
‘It was a beautiful, amazing experience to be there with Ste that night. And also outside, we went out at about 6am and the fans had spent the night outside also and it was unbelievable…
‘People came from all over, people from Asia, from South Africa, from South America, from North America and Europe, incredible. I felt very proud. I felt very proud that he was our mate and he classed us as his brother.’
Gately came to fame when Boyzone launched in 1993.
Brought together by pop impressario Louis Walsh, they went on to have a string of six UK number ones. Their hits include Words, No Matter What, All That Matters To Me and You Needed Me.
Gately came out as gay in 1999 after discovering someone he knew was about to sell a story about his sexuality to the press.
Despite the entertainment industry having a long track record of LGBT+ acceptance, there were few publicly gay figures at the time. In particular, music industry insiders warned boyband members not to come out, for fear of alienating female fans who may have a crush on them.
Even Louis Walsh – who didn’t know about Gately’s sexuality when he formed Boyzone – admitted it would have made him think twice about including him in the group. He later said ‘it wasn’t cool then to have a gay guy in a band’.
Gately’s decision to come out played a big part in changing those attitudes for future generations.
However, like many gay men, he suffered with his mental health, struggling with depression and addiction to prescription drugs from 2000 to 2002.
He met his partner Andrew Cowles through mutual gay friends – Elton John and David Furnish.
They confirmed their relationship with a commitment ceremony in Las Vegas in 2003. And when civil partnerships became legal in the UK, they made it official with a ceremony in London in March 2006.
While the pair lived in London, they also had a home in Port d’Andratx, Mallorca, early on 10 October 2009. They were there together when Gately died of an undiagnosed heart condition.