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R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe says he’s “proud” he was always open about his sexuality

"You can never find a single picture of me pretending to have a girlfriend or being somebody that I'm not."

Michael Stipe has said he’s “proud” he was always open about his sexuality in a new interview.

Speaking to Billboard, the former R.E.M. frontman, who came out as gay in 1994, said he believed the other members of the band knew about his sexuality long before he came out.

“I was never closeted,” Stipe said. “That’s the thing that’s beautiful about it and I’m so proud of. You can never find a single picture of me pretending to have a girlfriend or being somebody that I’m not.

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“I was never that guy. Any longstanding R.E.M. fan who had not figured out I was queer before that point wasn’t looking very hard.”

In the same interview, Stipe also said it was the “right decision” to disband R.E.M in 2011 because it allowed fans to take a step back and reflect on the band’s legacy.

The frontman said: “Encapsulating the creative work of the band by disbanding allowed us, and I think the rest of the world, to take a step back and look at it for what it was. We were not the guys who were going to always be there, and I think that did us a huge favour, honestly.”

Speaking to NME recently, Stipe also opened up about the first time he discussed his sexuality in public, back in 1994. “Part of being myself was me speaking publicly about my sexuality for the first time. For me, that was just a privacy issue.

“As a public figure I had exposed myself so much, and I wanted to keep something for myself. It reached a point where that was ridiculous and I decided to speak publicly about it – which I’m happy I did of course.”

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Reflecting on the band’s 25-year anniversary of ‘Monster’, Stipe said: “A lot had happened to us and in the world since our last world tour in 1989. Culture had shifted, politics had shifted, things had changed dramatically. We were a part of that change, or perhaps inspired part of that in music and culture. Then we put out these two records that were multi-million-selling.“

R.E.M.’s anniversary reissue of ‘Monster’ included a previously unheard demo of ‘Revolution’ and the new remixes of ‘What’s The Frequency Kenneth?’ and ‘Let Me In’, the song frontman Michael Stipe had written in memory of Kurt Cobain. The band also premiered a live version of their hit song ‘Losing My Religion’ on NME.

Last month, Stipe also released his debut solo single, ‘Your Capricious Soul’, after revealing in the summer that he was returning to music.

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