R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe Recalls Difficulties He Faced About His Sexuality

Michael Stipe regarded his sexuality as a private matter and didn’t talk about it throughout his career. Recently, he opened up about why he didn’t want to discuss it and explained the difficulties he went through in an interview with The New Yorker.

R.E.M’s lead singer and songwriter has touched many with his music since R.E.M’s formation in 1980 until they disbanded in 2011. Mostly known for their song ‘Losing My Religion,’ they had and still have many fans admiring their work all over the world.

However, their fans are not only interested in their career. Because their songs are often touchy, emotional, and relatable, they have also wondered about the band’s lyricist’s personal life throughout the years. There was a lot of demand for Stipe to talk about his life and especially his sexual orientation.

Stipe thought that these matters were not anyone’s business, and there was no importance in knowing whether he was heterosexual or not. The only focus he wanted from his fans was towards his work, but the desire to find out who Stipe was did not fade away.

In the recent interview with The New Yorker, Stipe opened up about those times and revealed his thoughts about why he didn’t want to come forward with his private matters. He stated that even though now he understands how important it is to come out as a public figure, the fans that were there for a long time didn’t even care if he was queer at that time.

This is how he shared his thoughts:

“I didn’t think it was anyone’s business. Now, of course, I understand the importance of there being queer public figures. But I also didn’t want to say what people wanted to hear, at that time. I didn’t identify as gay—I didn’t then and I don’t now.

I felt like I had given so much of myself through my work, and what was private to me was private. I don’t think it was a surprise to any of the fans who had been with us for a while that I was queer.”

He was not necessarily hiding in the closet, but he also didn’t think it was essential to be out there with all his being. He went on to say that because there weren’t many public figures who had come out until recently, and if he had come out back then, it would probably negatively affect the band’s career.

Here is how he explained his situation:

“It was a different time. It was a really different time. Let’s remember, in my chosen field, there was Boy George and there was K.D. Lang, and that was it. It was another four or five years before Ellen or George Michael or anyone else came forward. And it could have had all kinds of ramifications for the band. Whatever.

For myself, it was just about keeping a part of myself private. I never—I’m really proud to challenge anyone to find a picture of me pretending to be something I wasn’t. I never pretended to be straight. I was me.

He didn’t regret not coming out back then, and he still stands by his point of view on privacy. For him, a person has the right to protect their private life. A lot has changed in the world since then. Not only are celebrities more open with their sexuality today, but also people do not label a person based on their sexual orientation as much as they used to.