Gay singer Darren Hayes has opened up about the bullying he suffered as he struggled with his sexuality as a youngster, revealing his idol Michael Jackson helped him through the dark times.
The Savage Garden star publicly 'came out' as gay in 2006 and has been married to his longterm partner for five years.
The 39-year-old Australian admits he spent years tormented about his sexual orientation, and he looked to the King of Pop for courage and inspiration.
He tells News.com.au, "For me as a kid growing up, I was gay and I didn't even realise it, let alone accept it. I was told I was gay before I could even imagine it. I was incredibly bullied - ferociously bullied - as a child.
"I looked to this man (Jackson) that the whole world thought was a freak and I thought, 'That's normal' and he was this hero to me. He taught me to sing."
Hayes was recording at a studio in Stockholm, Sweden when he heard the news of Jackson's death in 2009, and the star reveals he was devastated, adding: "I'm about to step up to the mic, and (thought) 'I'm the one who survived? I'm the one that's singing now? He's dead, but me, the guy from Brisbane, I still get to make records?' That didn't seem fair."
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