AceShowbiz - Michael Stipe is proud he never pretended to be straight to further his music career.
The former R.E.M. frontman officially came out as queer in 1994, and in 2001 revealed he had been in a relationship with a man for three years.
Michael says the band's fans knew about his sexuality long before he made the official announcement, however, as unlike some rockers he never truly concealed his sexuality.
"I was never closeted," the "Shiny Happy People" hitmaker tells Billboard. "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."
"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."
R.E.M. split in 2011 with little fanfare, and no farewell tour, a decision he says was the right one and in keeping with their understated image.
"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," the 59-year-old adds. "We were not the guys who were going to always be there, and I think that did us a huge favour, honestly."