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No folks, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. That really is Craig Young pictured below at left, former member of kitsch 90s pop act Deuce. For those who blinked and missed ‘em in 1995, they were the pre-Steps boy/girl band who treated the nation to a string of cult hits such as Call It Love, On The Bible and the top ten smash I Need You.
At the time, gay boys across the country were beside themselves with glee as they fell for Craig’s cute boy next door looks, hoping and praying that he was gay. As it turns out, he was. But back then, in a world where gay popstars were a rare commodity, he kept his private life just that and lived a secret gay life. Only when he went to America to pursue a career in acting, was he more open (though warned to stay in the closet if he wanted to be a success in Hollywood) and eventually found love. L
ast month, his partner of nine years Michael Di Girolamo surprised the star of Sky One’s The Last Ship with a flamboyant proposal, complete with lip synching and dancers. A video clip of the moment hit the net just days before the historic same-sex marriage law change. We joined them at their home to talk about that video and their wedding plans.
Craig, congratulations on your lavish proposal. Did you know what Michael was planning?
Craig: No, not at all. Michael did a great job of not spilling the beans. I actually was planning my own proposal, but he beat me to the punch and I’m glad he did. I had no idea he was filming the whole thing. Michael had the excuse that he was planning something special for our friend Charlie’s birthday. So I initially thought the dancers were for him. Our friend Ken was interviewing everyone, so when he got to me I didn’t think it was unusual. In fact, I was filming a lot of it too, until the penny dropped.
And it went viral. Were you surprised?
Michael: Yes and no. The intention was never for it to go viral but once I posted it, I thought to myself this might have an emotional impact for many people since the Supreme Court ruling was days away while at the same time President Obama was announcing his plans to resume diplomatic relations with Cuba after 50 years.
Craig: Yeah, it’s amazing really. I thought it was just gonna be for our family and friends to see, but then Huffington Post wanted to share it. I was nervous at first, because I was never really that big on public displays of affection, but realised that it could actually do some good in spreading the message that love is love. I think the great thing about the video going viral is that people get to see genuine love and emotion, regardless of gender.
What have the reactions been?
Craig: I get choked up with every new message, especially from my relatives and people that I grew up with back home in Nottingham. I had sort of resigned myself into thinking that my small town’s opinions and mentality had stayed in that same place. There was a lot of homophobia and bullying going on when I was a kid there. But to hear that the video made the locals smile or even shed a tear is really touching for me. I can’t wait to go back and have the best stag do ever!
When did you come out? Were reactions good?
Craig: My life has been a slow progression of coming outs, which, looking back, was extremely frustrating. I told my parents when I was about 25. I knew in my heart that I was gay, but was very much in denial. I was nervous to tell my family, but knew it was important as I was distancing myself from them. Mum and dad were great, asking if I was sure and ending the conversation with as long as you are happy, then so are we. I’m very fortunate in that regard. I even had a secret boyfriend in Nottingham when I was 17 named Rick, he was a bit older than me and a real estate agent.
Had you been advised to keep quiet during the Deuce days?
Craig: No, but management never knew. I was ‘experimenting’ myself at that time, anyway. So, I would sleep with quite a few women to try to convince myself otherwise. I had a hard time with myself back then. I really thought I was going to have to live this horrible double-life. My band mate Paul Holmes was always more comfortable with his own sexuality than I was. Looking back, I wish I could’ve been more like him.
Was moving to America liberating? Did you throw yourself into the scene out there?
Craig: After Deuce, I moved onto presenting and an acting role on Sky One’s Dream Team. I had been coming back and forth to LA during that time to visit friends. I instantly fell in love with LA and knew that it was a place I’d like to call home one day. I eventually moved there. I had a great group of friends and started dating a guy called John Scott, who I met at Elton John’s White Tie and Tiara ball a few months earlier. We were together for six years and are still good friends. But it was here where I went back into my celluloid closet as I was advised to not let anyone know about my sexuality as it would be a huge detriment to getting work. So, painfully, John had to remain my secret. I became very private and hated getting too friendly with people for fear of them finding out about me. I still think some homophobia exists in Hollywood and a lot of guys are encouraged to remain closeted.
Craig Young stars in The Last Ship on Sky One, Sundays at 8pm.To read our full interview with Craig and Michael, grab the current Hot 100 issue of Attitude, in shops now. You can download a digital copy from Pocketmags.com/Attitude or order a print copy from newsstand.co.uk/Attitude.