Words: Steve Brown
Boyzone dubbed the late Stephen Gately as a ‘pioneer’ for modern gay singers.
Gately came out as gay in 1999 but sadly lost his life in 2009 from a congenital heart defect and now his former bandmates have said he ‘paved the way’ for LGBTQ singers including Sam Smith, Olly Alexander and Will Young.
Band member Mikey Graham told the Sun: ''Stephen was a pioneer of breaking that barrier down.
“Look how much everything has changed in the ten years that we lost him, and even in the years prior to him passing away, when he did come out.
“Look how much society has changed for the better, with equality across the board.”
Keith Duffy added: “Look at it now. You've got Mark [Feehily] from Westlife having a little baby girl with his husband.
“Steo always said he'd love to have a kid and I can remember thinking, 'You're gay, that will never happen' because that's what the world was like then.
“But you see how much the world has come on, to see Mark and his husband having a beautiful baby girl. It's amazing.
“Stephen would be chuffed. There's so many people - music moguls 20 or 30 years older than us - working in this business and still not open about their sexuality.
“It's still hidden away, their homosexuality. Why? Because they're afraid.”
The four-piece group marked the tenth anniversary of Gately’s death this year and admitted they feel they would have been ‘even bigger’ if he had not passed away.
Duffy continued: “With Stephen, we were a force to be reckoned with. Had he not lost his life, I believe we would have been a much bigger band.”
Shane Lynch also said: “Steo paid the ultimate price. He lost his life, we lost our buddy.
“But had he not, I think we could've gone on to things we never achieved before.”