Skip to main content

Home Culture Culture Film & TV

Will Young ‘didn’t feel like a good enough gay’ for first Attitude cover in 2003

"I remember thinking, 'Oh, gosh, they're all so much better gays than me'. I hadn't even had anal sex then."

By Jamie Tabberer

Will Young has reflected on life as out gay pop star in the early ’00s – and his first photoshoot for Attitude.

The ‘Jealousy’ singer shot to fame on the 2002 series of the Simon Cowell-judged Pop Idol, beating out competitor Gareth Gates to take the crown. He came out to the public the following month.

Speaking in the Attitude October issue – out now to download and to order globally – Will discusses the “strange” experience of shooting his first Attitude cover in 2003, explaining: “Almost in part because of my PR team – ‘Don’t do this, don’t ask that.’

“Even before it started, I was probably branded ‘difficult’ because it probably was difficult for the people around me.

Will Young first appeared on the cover of Attitude in November 2003

“As an openly gay pop star, I didn’t know how to be. I didn’t want to be lathered up and in my jocks. Now I’d love it!”

Will, who opens up about his struggles with ‘gay shame’ in new memoir To Be a Gay Man, continues: “That wasn’t me, so that wouldn’t have worked. I didn’t feel [like] a good enough gay. I remember thinking, ‘Oh, gosh, they’re all so much better gays than me’.

“I hadn’t even had anal sex then.”

Will Young has been in the public eye for almost two decades (Pictures: Steve Schofield) 

The ‘Leave Right Now’ singer, 40, continues: “I think lots of people who have gay shame think that. I would also find a lot of gay men who’d be like, who does she think she is? There was quite a lot of bitchiness towards me.”

The star adds that “quite a lot of gay pop stars weren’t very nice about me” – but one exception was Elton John, who was “amazing.”

“He sent me flowers. that was quite unbelievable.”

Read the full interview with Will Young in the Attitude October issue, out now to download and to order globally.

Subscribe now to secure your special edition The Boys In the Band double gatefold cover and get your first three issues for just £3.