December 29, 2009 09:16:46 GMT
The late singer was the first boybander who bravely announced that he is gay, inspiring Mark Feehily to do the same.
Westlife star Mark Feehily has credited his late pal Stephen Gately with inspiring him to announce his homosexuality. The Irish singer 'came out' in 2005 after years of hiding his true sexuality to the press since the band's formation in 1998. And Feehily is thankful Boyzone's Gately, who died earlier this year, was the first boyband member to admit he was gay in 1999 - because it gave him the courage to do the same.
Feehily says, "Stephen was extremely brave. He was the first member of a boyband to come out, and, in hindsight, it helped me and probably lots of other gay lads to understand their sexuality and come out. Every time a celebrity who is admired by millions of people comes out, it's one more blow to any negative stereotype out there."