Stephen Gately born 17 March 1976 (d. 2009)
Stephen Gately first found fame as second lead vocalist with Irish vocal group Boyzone, who in the late 1990s were the most successful boyband in the UK, bridging the gap between Take That & Westlife.
Enjoying a string of number 1 singles and albums and successful tours, they were at the height of their fame when, in 1999, Stephen discovered that a national newspaper was planning to out him. He made the decision to tell his own story first and went public in The Sun newspaper - a brave choice in the, even now, surprisingly closeted world of pop music. Already out to friends, family and the other members of Boyzone, the fans attitude to their idol remained unchanged.
Boyzone took a career hiatus in 2000. Lead singer Ronan Keating went on to a highly successful solo career; Stephen Gately had a short and relatively successful career as a solo artist, but being solo after Boyzone left him depressed and missing his bandmates. He eventually moved more succesfully into musical theatre, his roles including Joseph in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat and the child-catcher in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in London's West End.
Stephen made his pantomime debut in Bromley in December 2005 starring as Dandini in Cinderella. In April 2006 Gately took on the role of the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury.
He also took part in Channel Five's All Star Talent Show in October 2006, performing the slice and dice magic trick which he only had a week to learn, coming second to Toby Anstis. He also took part in the second series of ITV's Dancing on Ice with his dancing partner Kristina Lenko. They went out in eighth place on 10 February 2007.
In 2007 after months of stories and rumours it was finally confirmed that Boyzone were to reform with the original lineup, making their debut reappearance for the BBC's Children In Need in November 2007. Inspired by the renewed success of Take That, the band successfully reformed, touring and releasing new material.
At the time of his tabloid coming out Stephen Gately revealed that in 1998 he had started a relationship with Eloy de Jong, who had been in the Dutch boy band Caught in the Act. Stephen and Eloy split up in 2001, however.
After remaining single for a while, Stephen then started dating internet businessman Andrew Cowles, who had been introduced to him by Elton John and David Furnish.
Having only been dating each other for a matter of months, Stephen and Andrew held a commitment ceremony in a wedding chapel whilst on holiday in Las Vegas in 2003.
On 19 March 2006 Stephen entered into a civil partnership with Andrew in a ceremony in London.
In 2008 the reformed Boyzone released a cover version of Tom Baxter's song Better, the video for which broke new ground by showing Gately with another man rather than the female models his straight bandmates apeared with, becoming probably the first mainstream pop video by a boyband to reflect the true sexuality of its members.
In October 2009 Stephen Gately was in Mallorca with husband Andrew, where they owned a holiday apartment. After going out for drinks on Saturday, 10 October the pair returned to their apartment with a man they had met in a club. Eventually Gately was left to sleep in the living room and was discovered in the early hours of the morning by their guest not moving and seated strangely; he immediately alerted Andrew Cowles that something was wrong. Stephen Gately was dead. His completely unexpected death at the age of 33 - and as his career with Boyzone was flourishing once again - came as a huge shock as the news quickly emerged.
A post mortem examination in Spain established that Gately died of natural causes. An official said he suffered a pulmonary oedema, which is an accumulation of fluid on the lungs, adding that once the witness statements and tests were confirmed then the 'case will be closed'. It has since emerged that the three men had smoked cannabis together but drugs and alcohol were ruled out as playing any part in Gately's death; he appears to have simply suffered a heart attack, which, it emerges, may have been a congenital family trait, although Gately was seemingly unaware that he had any kind of heart condition. Gately's body was repatriated to Ireland later that week, accompanied by Ronan Keating, Keith Duffy, Shane Lynch and Mikey Graham.
The final forensic report, published in December 2009 confirmed that Gately was killed by an undiagnosed heart condition. He suffered from atheromatosis, which is a thickening of the arteries. A preliminary pathology report said the star died from an acute pulmonary oedema, a build-up of fluid on the lungs caused by the atheromatosis. The report made it clear he had not been killed by alcohol or drugs.
Stephen Gately's funeral was held in Dublin on Saturday, 17 October 2009. The star-studded event was attended by his fellow Boyzone members - who not only acted as pall bearers but had remained with Gately's body the night before the funeral at his mother's request that he not be left alone; by manager Louis Walsh; members of Westlife; David Furnish; partner Andrew Cowles, and many other showbiz figures from the UK and Ireland. After the funeral Gately's body was taken for cremation at a private family ceremony.
The days following Stephen Gately's death witnessed much media speculation about the seemingly clean-living Gately's 'secret life' and the apparent mystery surrounding the events of that night. It seems that the truth is that although Gately's fairly normal gay lifestyle may have looked strange to some observers, his death was a simple case of heart failure and any anticipated scandal had no basis.
His last message on the social networking site Twitter, posted on 6 October, said: "still busy - lots going on. Focussing on finishing my book next so may be quiet here."
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