Stephen Patrick David Gately, who died at age 33 this weekend, will be best remembered for “coming out” as the gay member of the smash hit boy band Boyzone.
The Irish star was found dead lying on his sofa at 1:45 in the morning on Saturday while on vacation in Majorca, Spain. Sources say there was no evidence of foul play, no suicide note and no evidence of heavy drug use.
“All we know so far is that they had gone out the night before till late and had quite a few drinks and raised the alert when they found Stephen dead," the source told the Independent.
Gerald Kean, an Irish lawyer and a friend of Gately's, spoke on behalf of the singer's family, saying: "There's no foul play involved and it's not suicide.
"There is nothing untoward, it's not drugs, we don't believe, it's not suicide, it's not murder, it's not a fight. That's what we've been told."
Gately announced to the world he was gay after a security officer for the band threatened to “out” him in a tabloid newspaper. He was the first major Irish star of his era to ever say he was gay.
His manager, Louis Walsh, of “The X Factor” fame, stated that he was unaware of Gately's sexuality when he selected him for the band and has said that, had he known, he would have thought twice before picking him, saying that "it wasn't cool then to have a gay guy in a band.”
Along with the better-known Ronan Keating, Gately was one of two lead singers in Boyzone. He won widespread praise for the way in which he handled his coming out.
On June 16, 1999, The Sun newspaper covered its front page with what it described as a "World Exclusive" and the headline, "Boyzone Stephen: I'm gay and I'm in love.”
At the age of 23, Stephen gave the story to the newspaper because he feared a former member of Boyzone's security was about to sell the story.
The Sun had two further pages on the story as well as an editorial.
Gately also revealed that in 1998 he had started a relationship with the then 27-year-old Eloy de Jong, who had been in the Dutch boy band Caught in the Act. They had first met in 1995.
Gately and de Jong split up in January 2002. After remaining single for a while, Gately then started dating Internet businessman Andrew Cowles, who had been introduced to him by Elton John and David Furnish, who were friends with Gately and Cowles.
Gately and Cowles held a commitment ceremony in a wedding chapel while on holiday in Las Vegas in 2003. On March 19, 2006, Gately entered into a civil partnership with Cowles in a ceremony in London.
All of the band's studio albums hit number one in Britain, their third and last being their most-successful internationally. Gately had a Top 10 solo album in 2000, after the band's initial breakup.
Gately went on to appear variously in stage productions and on television programs as well recording further solo material. In 2008, he rejoined his bandmates as Boyzone reformed for a series of concerts and recordings.
By the time Boyzone originally broke up , they had achieved six No. 1 UK singles.
Gately was the first with his debut solo single titled “New Beginning,” and later a debut solo album of the same name.
The album “New Beginning” included 12 brand new tracks including a version of the classic "Bright Eyes" which he recorded for the soundtrack to the new TV version of “Watership Down.”
He also became the voice of one of the characters (“Blackavar”) which was created to look like him.
An appearance at Ireland's Meteor Music Awards in February 2008 launched the reformed Boyzone, with touring taking place throughout 2008.