Sir Elton John: Homophobia meant my father never saw my shows

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Writing on the success of the Billy Elliot musical, Sir Elton John discussed why the show means so much to him.

Sir Elton, who wrote the music for the stage musical of Billy Elliot, wrote for The Times to celebrate the play’s ten year anniversary.

The musical tells the story of a young boy from a northern mining town in the 1980s, who discovers his passion for ballet, and his father’s journey to accept his son’s talent.

Sir Elton wrote on his own experiences of growing up in a homophobic culture, where performing was discouraged as being “for poofs”.

He wrote: “Billy Elliot gets what I never got — and so many gay men of my generation were denied.

“My father lived to know about some of my success, but he never came to see a single one of my shows.

“The moment when Billy’s dad sees him perform, and sees the beating heart of his son for the first time, and understands what his son will achieve, never came for me. My father was sealed off from my talent and I never knew why. Was it homophobia? Was it fear?

“That was a painful loss for me. But it was also a painful loss, I think, for my dad. That’s what prejudice does to people. It cuts them off from sources of joy — from friendship and kindness and love. It even cuts off fathers from their sons.”

He also wrote about the show’s character Michael, Billy’s friend, who is gay. He said: “Billy is supportive to him — and the audience loves him. He often gets one of the biggest cheers at the curtain call.

“If you had told me then that when I grew up, I would write a show featuring a gay child, and heterosexual audiences would cheer him every night and that it would be seen as wholesome family entertainment, I would have thought you were bonkers.”

Sir Elton was recently named Britain’s most generous celebrity.

He spoke at the US Senate this month on the need to continue funding the fight against HIV.