George Michael is astounded so many of his fans were shocked when they learned he was gay - because he believes it was completely obvious from the start.

The FATHER FIGURE singer publicly declared his homosexuality after he was arrested in 1998 for performing a lewd act in a public place in the sight of a California police officer.

But the British star insists all the signs of his true sexuality were always plain to see.

He says, "I think the truth is that whether you're gay or straight, as a man, a lot of kind of the softer elements of who you are in your early 20s are gone by the time you're 40.

"And funnily enough, I think, now that people know I'm gay, I probably appear less gay than I did at 22 because you look at the videos and I'm sorry, who needed to be told?

"I've got curtain rings in my ears and I'm wearing DAYGLO and rolling my eyes and I didn't know I was gay (then)! I was 22 years old and there were people much older than me, I'm quite sure a lot of gay ones, thinking, 'Boy, work it out! Get there,' because I certainly didn't know at that particular time."

15/06/2004 17:14