Barry Manilow comes out as gay at 73 and reveals his partner of 39 years

For years he kept it a secret, fearing his fans would be disappointed if the truth was revealed.

But on Wednesday, at the age of 73 and at the end of one of the longest and most successful careers in show business, Barry Manilow finally announced to the world that he is gay.

The music legend also confirmed that in 2014 he had married his longtime manager, Garry Kief, in a ceremony at their home in Palm Springs, California.

Although a small group of fans and friends were aware of the marriage Manilow’s sexuality was not widely known, until now.

"I'm so private. I always have been. I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything," Manilow - the voice behind countless hits, such as Mandy, Copacabana and Looks Like We Made It - told People magazine.

He says keeping his sexual orientation a secret caused him stress and anxiety and for many years he remained fearful of the public reaction.

"When I met Garry, that was even more of a reason to keep my life private,” said Manilow, who has long been known for jealously guarding his private life.

But he now concedes that his fears may have been unwarranted.

"When [the fans] found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful – strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it."

Manilow has been with his Kief, who is also president of Barry Manilow Productions, since the couple met in 1978. He said of their meeting: "I knew that this was it. I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that."

Manilow, who has sold more than 80 million records worldwide, making him one of the world's best-selling artists of all time, says that Kief is "the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life – and a great guy, too".

Suzanne Somers, the American actress and singer who is a friend of the couple, said: "A major career takes two. Between them, there is enormous comfort and trust."

While a student at the New York College of Music in the early Sixties Manilow briefly married 19-year-old Susan Deixler, his  high school sweetheart at Eastern District High School, Brooklyn.

He walked out on her after just one year of marriage, telling her that he was going on “this wondrous musical adventure”.

Manilow now says that although he was not struggling with his sexuality at the time, he was simply " just was not ready for marriage".

“I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats — I was too young,” said the singer. “I wasn’t ready to settle down."

Though sometimes mocked by some critics for what they regarded as his schmaltzy show tunes and lyrics Manilow, who will release his 29th studio album, This is My Town, on April 21, has long earned the respect of his peers.

In 1988, Bob Dylan stopped him at a showbiz party, gave him a hug and said, "Don't stop what you're doing, man. We're all inspired by you." Continue reading on The Telegraph.

This has been reposted from The Telegraph.