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Will: I'm gay and glad of it.

POP Idol Will Young stunned millions of fans by coming out last night and declaring: "I'm gay."

The 23-year-old singer insisted his sexuality was "no big deal", but said his army of fans deserved to know.

The handsome singer, who defied the odds to win the television talent show, has set the charts on fire after his first single became the fastest-selling debut of all time.

Will, whose song Evergreen sold 1.4 million copies in a week, said no one should be shocked by the news that he is gay.

He said: "It's just part of who I am. For me it's normal and nothing to be ashamed about. I'm gay and I'm comfortable with that.

"I really don't know what the fuss is about. I always try to be honest with myself and truthful with everyone.

"I'm sure this will not come as a surprise to many people, although I've always been discreet and I'm not a campaigner when it comes to my sexuality."

Friends say the former student, who is set to make at least pounds 2million from his pop career, has had two close relationships but is putting romance to one side to concentrate on his music.

But showbiz experts say revealing his sexuality is a gamble in a market where schoolgirls are seen as a key fan-base. But Will said his management were totally behind his decision to come out.

The singer, from Hungerford, in Berkshire, won the Pop Idol final after overtaking bookies' favourite Gareth Gates in a nail-biting final.

Will, who is set to join the other Pop Idol finalists on a nationwide tour, secured 4.6million votes in the talent contest's phone poll, which clogged up telephone networks across Britain.

His decision to reveal his sexuality may shock fans, but he said his family and friends already knew.

"My family and friends have known ever since I have. They've always been there for me." His twin brother Rupert had earlier confirmed that Will's lovelife had taken a back seat to his ambitions to become a star.

He said: "His whole life over the last six months has been Pop Idol. Every minute has been focussed on that.

"In private Will is a real romantic at heart, but being in the spotlight and having people want to ask about your personal life would be tough for anyone."

And a spokesman for the Pop Idol show said: "He's just happy that it's out now and he can carry on working."

In a statement last night, Will said: "This has been a great week for me and I would like to thank all my fans who have helped me get to No.1. However, some media pressure has led me to talk about my private life.

"I always try to be honest and true to myself and not to take life too seriously."

He added: "I don't wish to talk about it any further and I hope that people will respect that, as my private life is my private life."

"I am really looking forward to the tour and to performing to people who can share in my success and hopefully they can enjoy it as much as I will."

Will's Pop Idol victory won him a lucrative recording deal with BMG.

His career is being master-minded by Simon Fuller, who created the Spice Girls, and Pop Idol judge Nicky Chapman.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 10, 2002
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