Ian Watkins last night announced to fans that he is gay, as he prepared to enter the Celebrity Big Brother house.
H revealed his sexuality to 'The Sun', ending thirty years hiding in the closet from fans - even while having a ten-year affair with STEPS’ male manager.
“I come from a small valley in Wales", said H, 30, "and it just wasn’t the thing to do to be gay. It’s a bit of a cliche — but I was the only gay in the village.”
The singer-turned-actor, from Cwmparc in Rhondda Valley, added: “People get married at 21 where I come from and if you don’t do that, you’re questioned."
“You certainly don’t come to London and become a pop tart! I was very different and it was very hard.”
He said he hadn't come out until now because he lacked the courage.
“I could never have done this years ago, never. I was still coming to terms with it myself. But I’m comfortable with who I am now and I want everyone to know.
“I feel like a weight’s coming off my shoulders. It’s nice. I’m glad I’m doing this and feel it’s the right time.”
Although Ian — nicknamed “H” for hyperactive — kept his sexuality secret from fans, he did tell his family and pals, including his Steps bandmates, when he was 21.
He said: “They just went, ‘Do you know what? We knew that’. It was a bit of a relief!
“I’ve always felt a bit different, even as a very small child. At school people would tease me and call me names — ‘queer’ and that — and I started to question whether that was right. I can’t really pinpoint when exactly I knew I was gay.
“You don’t just wake up one morning and have a lightbulb moment and think, ‘I’m gay’. That’s why I never said anything earlier — I didn’t know what I was.
“These days my friends’ kids are openly gay at 16 or 17 and I think that’s great. I wish I could have done but I never had the courage.”
Ian would constantly be asked by magazines which pop babe he was dating. He said: “I’d always end up saying Lisa (Scott-Lee) or Britney — people I knew so they would back me up.
“I didn’t feel like I was betraying my fans because I was still discovering who I was. I was almost playing a part. I wasn’t ready to share the real me with anyone.”
Ian also revealed his affair with Steps manager Tim Byrne. The couple split up a few months ago and Ian is now single for the first time in his adult life.
He said: “It’s very weird after ten years to be single again. It was an amicable split. I’m not looking for anyone else, but of course if someone comes along then that would be lovely!”