Barry Manilow made it through the rain — and he couldn’t be happier!
The pop legend and his longtime partner Garry Kief were outed after news of their secret wedding broke in 2015, and Manilow opened up about his marriage and sexuality for the first time in an exclusive PEOPLE cover story in April. Now, he’s discussing his last month of living out and proud since the story went viral.
“It’s turned out to be just great. I’ve really enjoyed it, most of all because the fans and the public have been so supportive. I thought, ‘Oh, man, I’m gonna get a lot of negative stuff.’ Not one negative letter, comment — anywhere,” Manilow said Tuesday at the BMI Pop Awards in L.A. “These people, these strangers — they care for me. Isn’t it odd? I’m just a musician who sings. And these people care about my happiness — and that’s what’s been going on. It’s been a beautiful, beautiful experience.”
At the event, Manilow, 73, was honored with the BMI Icon Award for his 50-year career in showbiz, during which he’s released pop classics (see: “Mandy,” “Can’t Smile Without You,” “Copacabana (at the Copa),” etc.) and famous jingles (for State Farm Insurance, Band-Aid and more).
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As he revealed to PEOPLE, Manilow — who released his latest album, This Is My Town, in April — has been with husband Kief, 68, for 39 years, and they married at their Palm Springs estate in 2014. Manilow said he was hesitant to address his sexuality because he didn’t want to disappoint fans.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” Manilow said in his cover story. Turns out, “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”