#G193 – Stephen GATELY, age 33, Irish, Pop, Sad DEATH
16th October 2009
By: Jan MOIR
Dead at 33: Stephen Gately
Through the recent travails and sad ends of Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger and many others, fans know to expect the unexpected of their heroes – particularly if those idols live a life that is shadowed by dark appetites or fractured by private vice.
There are dozens of household names out there with secret and not-so-secret troubles, or damaging habits both past and present.
Robbie, Amy, Kate, Whitney, Britney; we all know who they are. And we are not being ghoulish to anticipate, or to be mentally braced for, their bad end: a long night, a mysterious stranger, an odd set of circumstances that herald a sudden death.
In the morning, a body has already turned cold before the first concerned hand reaches out to touch an icy celebrity shoulder. It is not exactly a new storyline, is it?
In fact, it is rather depressingly familiar. But somehow we never expected it of him. Never him. Not Stephen Gately.
In the cheerful environs of Boyzone, Gately was always charming, cute, polite and funny.
A founder member of Ireland’s first boy band, he was the group’s co-lead singer, even though he could barely carry a tune in a Louis Vuitton trunk.
Although he was effectively smoked out of the closet, he has been hailed as a champion of gay rights, albeit a reluctant one.
At the time, Gately worried that the revelations might end his ultra-mainstream career as a pin-up, but he received an overwhelmingly positive response from fans. In fact, it only made them love him more.
In 2006, Gately entered into a civil union with internet businessman Andrew Cowles, who had been introduced to him by mutual friends Elton John and David Furnish.
Last week, the couple were enjoying a holiday together in their apartment in Mallorca before their world was capsized.
Boyzone: Gately and his bandmates had a hugely successful career and had recently reformed
All the official reports point to a natural death, with no suspicious circumstances. The Gately family are – perhaps understandably – keen to register their boy’s demise on the national consciousness as nothing more than a tragic accident.
Even before the post-mortem and toxicology reports were released by the Spanish authorities, the Gatelys’ lawyer reiterated that they believed his sudden death was due to natural causes.
But, hang on a minute. Something is terribly wrong with the way this incident has been shaped and spun into nothing more than an unfortunate mishap on a holiday weekend, like a broken teacup in the rented cottage.
Consider the way it has been largely reported, as if Gately had gently keeled over at the age of 90 in the grounds of the Bide-a-Wee rest home while hoeing the sweet pea patch.
The sugar coating on this fatality is so saccharine-thick that it obscures whatever bitter truth lies beneath. Healthy and fit 33-year-old men do not just climb into their pyjamas and go to sleep on the sofa, never to wake up again.
More…Boyzone to play gig of their lives at Stephen Gately’s funeral as police reveal his final few hours
Stephen Gately smoked cannabis on night he died, civil partner tells Spanish police
Louis Walsh pulls out of X Factor show to attend ‘best friend’ Stephen Gately’s funeral
Whatever the cause of death is, it is not, by any yardstick, a natural one. Let us be absolutely clear about this. All that has been established so far is that Stephen Gately was not murdered.
And I think if we are going to be honest, we would have to admit that the circumstances surrounding his death are more than a little sleazy.
After a night of clubbing, Cowles and Gately took a young Bulgarian man back to their apartment. It is not disrespectful to assume that a game of canasta with 25-year-old Georgi Dochev was not what was on the cards.
Cowles and Dochev went to the bedroom together while Stephen remained alone in the living room.
Gately’s civil partner, Andrew Cowles, left, and Bulgarian student Georgi Dochev, right, were at the apartment on the night of the singer’s death
What happened before they parted is known only to the two men still alive. What happened afterwards is anyone’s guess.
A post-mortem revealed Stephen died from acute pulmonary oedema, a build-up of fluid on his lungs.
Gately’s family have always maintained that drugs were not involved in the singer’s death, but it has just been revealed that he at least smoked cannabis on the night he died.
Nevertheless, his mother is still insisting that her son died from a previously undetected heart condition that has plagued the family.
Another real sadness about Gately’s death is that it strikes another blow to the happy-ever-after myth of civil partnerships.
Gay activists are always calling for tolerance and understanding about same-sex relationships, arguing that they are just the same as heterosexual marriages. Not everyone, they say, is like George Michael.
Of course, in many cases this may be true. Yet the recent death of Kevin McGee, the former husband of Little Britain star Matt Lucas, and now the dubious events of Gately’s last night raise troubling questions about what happened.
It is important that the truth comes out about the exact circumstances of his strange and lonely death.
As a gay rights champion, I am sure he would want to set an example to any impressionable young men who may want to emulate what they might see as his glamorous routine.
For once again, under the carapace of glittering, hedonistic celebrity, the ooze of a very different and more dangerous lifestyle has seeped out for all to see.
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Ms Moir has taken on a difficult subject and surely that is the duty of a responsible journalist. There has been much open speculation amongst the public, it is thus natural that the media respond, and that young Mr. Gately chose to earn his living by exploitation of the public eye as an entertainer requiring maximum meeeeja cover is not in dispute.
The abuse of the word ‘gay’ seems to me fundamentally dishonest when one reads so often of how so many are so desparately sad and beyond doubt have a reduced life expectancy with a disproportionate suicide, murder victim, disease and motor vehicle death rate than is the norm, particularly amongst male homosexuals. That AIDS amongst the some 1.1/2 to 2.1/2% of the population, who are male homosexuals, still represents about 50% of the cases in the population at large, which seems so desparately unfair but is believed to be largely due to the casual nature of so many homosexual relations.
I fear the the many attacks and criticisms of the article seem over egged to me and seem to be bullying journalists to force them to respond based on an agenda and smacks of the mallevolent and mischiefous attacks on those who dare have an opinion on the war crimes of Zionism falsely claiming they are anti Jewish in some way. I have never heard condemnation of The Nazis based upon their religion! I have heard such condemnation rightly made based upon their perverse and obscene nature in seeking to slaughter Jews and homosexuals,the disabled and gypsies.
This has all the lack of morality of demeaning women by selection lists based upon disadvantaging males, the implication clearly being that women are in some way inadequate to compete on a level playing field which is palpable nonsense. That politics attracts less women is no surprise – who but an inadequate male would want the life style and would feel the need to impose their ambitions on other folk!
“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821),
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