When Barry Manilow kicked off his music career in the 1960s, the entertainment industry was a very different place. For mainstream performers, coming out publicly was not an option and largely considered career suicide. It wasn’t until the ’90s that groundbreakers Melissa Etheridge and Ellen DeGeneres helped open the door to LGBTQ acceptance within the entertainment industry, and beyond it.

Cut to 2017, and Barry Manilow’s interview with People. At 73, the singer spoke publicly for the first time about his sexual orientation and why he waited as long as he did to tell his fans. “I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” Manilow said.

The singer met his partner Garry Kief, who has also served as Barry’s manager for years, back in 1978, and they’ve been together ever since. Before meeting Kief, Manilow described himself as “pretty lonely.” But when the pair met, all that changed. “I knew that this was it,” he said. “I was one of the lucky ones.”

The couple made it official in 2014 during a private wedding ceremony at their Palm Springs estate.“It was deeper than we thought it was going to be, looking at each other, saying, ‘I love you’ in front of people,” Manilow recalled.

After news of his relationship was met with cheers, Manilow’s fears of losing fans faded. “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy.” Barry told People. “The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”

Today, after Manilow’s interview went viral, he tweeted his appreciation for all the support he’s received:

We love you too, Barry!

What’s your take on Barry’s news? Let us know @BritandCo!

(h/t E! News; Photo via Ethan Miller/Getty)