H from Steps has opened up about staying in the closet during the group’s early years.
Steps, comprised of Lee Latchford-Evans, Ian ‘H’ Watkins, Claire Richards, Lisa Scott-Lee and Faye Tozer, have a new album and tour to celebrate their 20th anniversary.
The gay star of the 90s pop group remained in the closet until 2007, ten years after the band hit the music scene.
H told PinkNews: “I hadn’t told my family, and I was still kind of discovering who I was.
“It wasn’t a massive secret with the guys for a long time.
“But because I hadnt told my family, who were very important, I chose to stay in the closet.”
Speaking to RUComingOut H said he used bandmate Lisa Scott-Lee to deflect questions about his sexuality.
“When we did interviews with magazines like Smash Hits and TV Hits I would always get asked questions about girlfriends and who I fancied.
“That was when Lisa would dive in and have my back. She would chip in and take the attention away from me.
“I felt massive pressure to keep my sexuality a secret but I was not alone.”
Bandmate Faye told PinkNews: “We were told not to say about whether we had partners or not.
“I had a long term boyfriend at that time and we were encouraged not to talk about it because we were meant to look available.”
Claire chipped in: “Thats how it was in those days.
“Boy bands especially had to say they were single, and lots even had long-term girlfriends or wives.”
“Lots had boyfriends even and kept that secret,” H also revealed.
It turns out it wasn’t just family and fans H was in the closet to, though, with bandmates left unsure at first as well.
Claire told PinkNews she was left in the dark about H’s sexuality: “I didn’t know until you told me!”
The 39-year-old explained: “He said to me one day – when we went to Spain to do the 5, 6, 7, 8 video – ‘Claire I need to speak to you later’ and I was like oh no.
“I spent the whole night thinking, ‘Oh god he’s going to tell me he loves me!’
“Then he said ‘I’m gay’ and I was like, ‘Thank god for that!’”
H joked: “Well I was quite butch back then!”
“I was quite young and naive, I suppose, I genuinely didn’t know,” Claire, who also appeared in Celebrity Big Brother, said.
80s pop band Bananarama also announced a reunion this week, saying George Michael’s sudden death had provoked them to return.