George Michael Outed: Olly Alexander shocked by homophobia of tabloid media

The Years & Years singer said the Wham! pop star was 'damned' by the tabloid press for being gay.

Bristish singer George Michael Performs a Charity Gala Concert for Sidaction at The Palais Garnier Opera House in Paris, France, 09 September 2012. (Photo by Eddy LEMAISTRE/Corbis via Getty Images)
George Michael was outed by the tabloid media in 1998. (Getty Images)

Olly Alexander has said George Michael was "damned" by the tabloid press regardless of whether he came out publicly as gay or kept his sexuality a secret.

The It's A Sin star and Years & Years frontman appeared in new Channel 4 documentary George Michael Outed and like many of the viewers was shocked by the homophobic treatment of the late singer by the media when they 'outed' him in 1998. This came after he was arrested for engaging in a lewd act in a public lavatory in Los Angeles.

Alexander, 32, was shown reading some of the newspaper headlines and reports from the time, including a comment piece saying Wham! star Michael should have been honest about his sexuality when he began his pop career in the 80s.

Read more: Olly Alexander jokes after getting complaints for being 'too sexy'

The singer and actor said: "You can't win. You're damned if you do, damned if you don't! And it's very telling for someone, who I presume isn't gay, to go 'You should have done this, and if you'd done this maybe we would have reacted in a different way."

MADRID, SPAIN - SEPTEMBER 17: Olly Alexander of Years & Years performs performs at DCODE Festival at Universidad Complutense de Madrid on September 17, 2022 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Aldara Zarraoa/WireImage)
Olly Alexander is shocked by the homophobia the tabloid papers directed at George Michael. (Getty Images)

He added: "It just exposes some of the latent homophobia."

The documentary features interviews with several tabloid journalists and editors from the time.

Neil Wallis, former Deputy Editor of The Sun and The News Of The World said: "Celebrity scandal sells newspapers. And all great celebrity stories are essentially about hypocrisy. Someone who appears to the public to be this and yet they're leading a double life which means they're really this. And the great tabloid hit is stripping away this facard and showing the truth."

Reading The Sun frontpage on Michael's arrest with the headline 'Zip me up before you go go,' Wallis remarked: "That's a great headline. Great page one. It's not exactly, 'God we should send him to hell this evil man.' It was laugh out loud ridiculous."

His lack of remorse prompted a strong reaction from viewers.

George Michael was arrested at a public bathroom in California. (Channel 4)
George Michael was arrested at a public bathroom in California. (Channel 4)

One tweeted: "They were abhorrent … still so shockingly gleeful, boastful even! - about what they did to him. These people are not human."

Another said: "So many journalists are disgusting vultures who years later still have no shame for the pain and damage they cause."

And another fumed: "Scumbag tabloid journalists doing the old "we were just printing what the public demanded", Christ I hate them."

Michael publicly denied being gay during his early pop career in the 80s with pop duo Wham! and later said he had experienced depression due to inner struggles over his sexuality.

UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 01:  Photo of George MICHAEL and WHAM!; George Michael  (Photo by Ian Dickson/Redferns)
George Michael rose to fame in pop band Wham! in the 80s. (Getty Images)

After he was outed by the media the singer poked fun at his own arrest, releasing single Outside featuring men dressed as police officers kissing in the music video, followed by an album titled Ladies and Gentlemen.

Read more: George Michael's family deny endorsing biopic about late Wham! star

Michael struggled with substance abuse and died aged 53 at home in bed on Christmas Day 2016.

The second part of George Michael Outed will air on Tuesday 7 March at 9pm and is already available to stream on All 4.

Watch: George Michael estate denies involvement in biopic