Boy Band Star Who 'Came Out' Found Dead

Stephen Gately, singer for U.K. band Boyzone, dies in Spain after night out.

ByABC News
October 11, 2009, 4:47 PM

Oct. 11, 2009 — -- Stephen Patrick David Gately, who died at age 33 this weekend, will be best remembered for "coming out" as the gay member of the smash hit boy band Boyzone.

The Irish boy band star was found dead lying on his sofa at 1:45 a.m. Saturday while on vacation in Majorca, Spain. Sources say there was no evidence of foul play, no suicide note and no evidence of heavy drug use.

"All we know so far is that they had gone out the night before 'til late and had quite a few drinks and raised the alert when they found Stephen dead," the source told the Independent.

Gerald Kean, an Irish lawyer and a friend of Gately's, spoke on behalf of the singer's family, saying: "There's no foul play involved and it's not suicide.

"There is nothing untoward, it's not drugs, we don't believe, it's not suicide, it's not murder, it's not a fight. That's what we've been told."

Gately announced to the world he was gay after a security officer for the band threatened to "out" him in a tabloid newspaper. He was the first major Irish star of his era to ever say he was gay.

His manager, Louis Walsh of "The X Factor" fame, stated that he was unaware of Gately's sexuality when he selected him for the band and has said that, had he known, he would have thought twice before picking him, saying that "it wasn't cool then to have a gay guy in a band."

Along with the better known Ronan Keating, Gately was one of two lead singers in Boyzone. He won widespread praise for the way in which he handled his coming out.

According to Wikipedia, on June 16, 1999, The Sun newspaper covered its front page with what it described as a "World Exclusive" and the headline, "Boyzone Stephen: I'm gay and I'm in love."

At the age of 23, Gately gave the story to the newspaper because he feared a former member of Boyzone's security was about to sell the story.

The Sun had two further pages on the story as well as an editorial.

Gately also revealed that in 1998 he had started a relationship with the then 27-year-old Eloy de Jong, who had been in the Dutch boy band Caught in the Act. They had first met in 1995.