Pop sensation Duncan James has revealed that he used to pretend to date his celebrity pals in a bid to avoid people realising he was gay.
For years, the Blue singer was terrified of being outed and ridiculed so pretended to be straight by dating his friends such as Geri Halliwell and Martine McCutcheon.
However this year, the 44 year old will proudly stand as a gay man as he performs at Pride events around the country in make-up, lingerie and even a pair of suspenders.
“It has taken me a long time to feel completely comfortable,” the star began. “I remember when I was in Blue the first time around, there were all these rumours I was dating my friends Geri, Martine and Tara [Palmer- Tomkinson] and I used to feel relieved.”
Duncan told The Mirror that he finally feels comfortable in his own skin, and attributes this largely to supportive friends such as showbiz bestie Denise Van Outen and the love of his boyfriend, Rodrigo Reis.
During his time with Blue, the band went on to play at Pride events around the country, something that Duncan confessed to struggling with as he wasn’t out and proud himself yet.
“I was playing Pride with Blue and feeling such a hypocrite because everyone was celebrating their sexuality and I was still in the closet,” he explained.
However, that soon changed when he became more comfortable with himself and finally felt ready to come out to the world.
Describing how it feels to be on stage again as part of Blue, now that he’s an openly gay man, Duncan said he "loves" performing Blue tracks in "full drag".
“Doing drag is so liberating. It’s like wearing a very camp Superman costume – you feel so empowered," the singer added.
Duncan is currently starring on Celebrity Gogglebox alongside former Big-Breakfast host Denise, 48 – with the two having forged a strong friendship in recent years.
Speaking about his pal, Duncan described Denise as the "ultimate gay icon and ally," as he praised her for her loyalty and non-judgemental attitude.
"She is the kind of friend you can tell anything to," he added.
Yet more than that, Duncan admitted she was the sort of best friend every gay guy out there deserved to have fighting his corner.
During the interview, Duncan also went on to candidly discuss how his relationship with Rodrigo, 28 had finally given him the courage to accept his sexuality and embrace it.
The singer told the newspaper that it wasn't until he met Rodrigo that he finally felt comfortable with his sexuality.
“He was the first partner I had who wasn’t ashamed to hold my hand," explained Duncan.
Up until the two began dating, Duncan's previous boyfriends had always shied away from public displays of affection in case they were caught on camera by paparazzi as a result of the musician's fame.
When asked about what the future may hold, Duncan hinted that marriage and children may even be on the cards.
Revealing that the couple had discussed the prospect of marriage and not ruled it out, Duncan did admit that his priority for the time being is his career and making sure he's financially sound following the pandemic.
“I don’t feel like we need to rush it," he said.
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