George Michael's first love, Anselmo Feleppa, died of an AIDS-related illness in the early 1990s

By Gabrielle Olya
December 26, 2016 12:26 PM

George Michael, who died suddenly on Sunday, had several loves throughout his life — and it all started when he met Anselmo Feleppa.

“He was so distracting I actually avoided that end of the stage,” Michael told The Huffington Post in 2009 about spotting Feleppa, a Brazilian designer, in the crowd at one of his concerts.

The two met up after the show in Michael’s dressing room — and their relationship was the first time Michael knew true love, he later revealed. “It’s very hard to be proud of your sexuality when it hasn’t given you any joy, but once you have found somebody you really love it’s not so tough,” he said.

Michael said Feleppa made him proud of his sexuality as a gay man. He “broke down my Victorian restraint and really showed me how to live, how to relax, how to enjoy life,” Michael said.

“I was shagging around, but I had so little experience with men that my sex life was so ridiculously inadequate for me, right until I met Anselmo really,” he told Huffington Post. “He was the first person I had ever loved, and I discovered he loved me too.”

Sadly, six months into their relationship, Feleppa discovered he was HIV positive.

“Try to imagine that you fought with your own sexuality to the point that you’ve lost half of your twenties, and you’ve finally found a real love, and six months in it’s devastated,” Michael recalled. “In 1991 it was really terrifying news.”

Feleppa’s death in the early 1990s caused Michael to enter a state of depression, which he described as “a deep black hole.”

Michael’s next serious relationship was with partner Kenny Goss, whom he dated for 13 years. In 2006, Michael announced plans to marry Goss in a small ceremony.

“I think we’ll just do the formal legal thing and then we’ll have a party,” Michael said at the time on British talk show Parkinson. “But no one’s going to be getting into a dress! Neither of us has the body for it, you know.”

However, the two never wed, and in 2011 Michael revealed at a concert that he and Goss had been broken up for over two years.

“The truth is my love life has been a lot more turbulent than I have let on,” he said during a performance at the Prague State Opera.

The Wham! singer also briefly dated actress Brooke Shields, though the actress said that they never had a sexual relationship.

“He was so sweet to me,” Shields wrote in her 2014 memoirThere Was a Little Girl. “I was smitten just because he was so respectful and I didn’t feel pressured. It all worked out. It was very enjoyable.”

Michael was most recently linked to hairstylist Fadi Fawaz, though neither has spoken publicly about their alleged relationship.

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