Former BOYZONE star Stephen Gately has offered his support for fellow Irish boyband singer Mark Feehily, after he came out as a homosexual yesterday (19AUG05).

The ex-pop star, who came out in 1999, has praised the 25-year-old Westlife heart-throb for revealing his sexuality and predicts the admission will have a positive effect on people in a similar position who have yet to announce their sexual preference to their families.

Gately says, "What he's done will help thousands of other youngsters who fear the effect coming out will have on their families.

"I was in a similar position when I was in Boyzone. But coming out was the best thing I ever did. I got so much support from my friends, family and my fans.

"I was inundated with letters from people saying I had given them the courage to do the same. I remember one of the letters was from a young guy telling me he was suicidal until he read my interview and that had given him the courage to come out."

It was just fans who supported him, Gately adds, "I got flowers and letters of support from SIR Elton John, George Michael and the Spice Girls."