George Michael's sister Melanie Panayiotou dismisses Sir Elton John's claim that her ‘very proud to be gay’ brother was 'uncomfortable' with his sexuality
- Panayiotou responded to the musician's comments in an interview with The Big Issue
- Sir Elton claimed the late singer was 'so uncomfortable in his skin about being gay even though he said he wasn't'
- He told Sharon Osbourne on her US chat show that pretending to be straight took toll
- Sir Elton also insisted the singer, who was found dead at his home in 2016, didn't want help with addiction towards the end
The sister of tragic pop legend George Michael has dismissed Sir Elton John's claim that he was 'uncomfortable' with his sexuality.
Speaking to close friend Sharon Osbourne on her American chat show, The Talk, Sir Elton claimed the late singer was 'so uncomfortable in his skin about being gay even though he said he wasn't.'
George's sister Melanie Panayiotou, 55, has since rubbished his comments, telling The Big Issue that he was “my ‘very proud to be gay’ brother, contrary to what you may have read recently."'
Speaking out: Melanie Panayiotou, the sister of tragic pop legend George Michael has dismissed Sir Elton John's claim that he was 'uncomfortable' with his sexuality
George was found dead at his home in Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, on Christmas Day 2016, aged 53. A subsequent autopsy later cited an enlarged heart and fatty liver as contributory factors in his death.
A vast portion of his estate - which included a £97.6million fortune and a Grade II listed mansion in Highgate, North London - was left to his siblings, sisters Melanie and Yioda.
His sexuality had remained private until 1998, when he was arrested for performing a 'lewd act' in front of an undercover police officer in a restroom at Will Rogers Memorial Park in Beverly Hills.
Candid: Speaking to close friend Sharon Osbourne on her American chat show, The Talk, Sir Elton claimed the late singer was ‘beset by confusion as a consequence of being gay'
Sir Elton, who famously performed Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me with George in 1991, said his friend 'didn't want to be here' before his death.
He told Osbourne: 'He couldn't get it, George, and he resented the fact that I had hinted that maybe he change his life a little bit and he'd be happier if he tried something else.
'The person has actually got to want it. It's like me in the end; I really wanted it. I had two alternatives: one, to die, and one to live, and I wanted to live.
'But that's the difference, if you want it, and poor George didn't want it.'
Claim: George was 'uncomfortable in his own skin' about being gay and had wanted to die because he 'resented' his life, according to Sir Elton. The pair (pictured together in 2011) sang Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me in 1991
Face to face: Sir Elton John opened up to Sharon Osbourne about George Michael's state of mind before his death
Sir Elton had called Sharon after George died almost three years ago.
Recalling their conversation he said: 'I remember talking to you the day he died on Christmas Day.
'And I phoned you and I was in Aspen and Ozzy got on the phone and he said, "He didn't want to be here."
'And I thought that's the most succinct apt thing: "he didn't want to be here". He was so uncomfortable in his skin about being gay even though he said he wasn't.'
Earlier this month his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley, 56, has told how the ‘façade’ of heterosexuality was a burden on his friend as he refused to publicly reveal that he was gay, believing it would damage his career.
While George came out to school friend Ridgeley way back in 1983, while they were shooting the music video for Club Tropicana in Ibiza, it would be 15 years before the rest of the world knew.
George's ‘persona which he constructed for public consumption’ didn’t give him space to ‘develop his true self’, Ridgeley wrote in his new autobiography.
Let's talk: Sir Elton opened up to Osbourne on her American chat show, The Talk
He said the singer was ‘beset by confusion as a consequence of his sexuality’ and struggled to ‘define the reality beneath the public image’, causing a tension which ‘only seemed to play out more publicly later on.’
‘Beyond the close inner circle nobody really had a clue, so while the reality of maintaining the façade wasn’t tearing George apart, some cracks were definitely starting to show,’ he wrote.
He said that George's ‘ambition to succeed had taken priority over everything else and that included his ability to openly express his sexuality.’
According to Ridgeley, the pop star struggled with the public persona he created so he didn’t have to reveal his true self.
‘The persona which he constructed for public consumption hadn’t left George with a lot of space in which to develop his true self behind the scenes,’ he wrote.
‘He was driven by an unstoppable desire to fulfil his potential, but that had come at a price. As a young man still trying to find himself, George’s ambition to succeed had taken priority over everything else and that included his ability to openly express his sexuality.’
Chat: Osbourne spoke to Sir Elton about his close friend George
He said that his decision to stay silent about his private life ‘only fed the uncertainty about his public persona.
‘What the real implications were for George, I can’t say, but I knew he was never comfortable with the added interest that came with Wham! hitting the big time.’
He added: ‘While on tour, working with Wham!, George was presenting a public image that didn’t come naturally to him.’
He said that George was ‘adamant his sexuality should be kept under wraps’ which ‘created a whole unwelcome extra level of stress for him to manage.’
He added: ‘I had certainly never met any boyfriend that George might have had while we were together as a band.
‘He thought coming out would scupper chances of competing with artists like Madonna and Michael Jackson in the States.’