F ans and the LGBT community are united in their grief over the death of openly gay pop singer George Michael, who was found dead in his home in Goring-on-Thames in Oxfordshire. His manager Michael Lippman said that heart failure was to blame. It is thought he died peacefully in his sleep at some point on Christmas day.
George, who is of Greek origin and was born with the name Georgios Kyriacos Panayiotou, rose to fame with the boy band Wham in the 80s. His later solo career lasted right up to his death and recently some unreleased songs have been leaked to the press.
He came out in 1999 in an interview to The Advocate and was always a strong voice for LGBT rights ever since, especially after he was arrested for ‘engaging in a lewd act’ in a public toilet in Beverly Hills. George’s response was not an apology but instead made a video for his song Outside which parodied the arrest. It was the first time that a gay public figure had stood up and showed pride in his actions and sent a message that casual gay sex was not something to be ashamed of.
His later life was blighted by his life-long addiction to drugs and alcohol and he was arrested several times for drug possession and various driving offences, including crashing into a photo printing shop when he was high on drugs.
After his death it was also revealed that George gave millions of pounds to charities anonymously. He was also a key campaigner for HIV/AIDS charities, especially at the height of the crisis in the early 80s which was many years before he came out.
He was survived by his partner Fadi Fawaz, who discovered the body when he went over to see George on Christmas morning. A post-mortem will be carried out in the next few days to determine the exact cause of his death.