George Michael documentary shows shocking, homophobic treatment of singer – and fans are furious

Viewers react to George Michael: Outed documentary. (Michael Putland/Getty)

Channel 4’s new documentary George Michael: Outed has sparked outrage from viewers over the cruel treatment he faced after being arrested in the US.

In 1998, the Wham! singer was arrested in a public toilet in Beverly Hills for “engaging in lewd acts” leading to an outpouring of homophobic hate from some sections of the mainstream press as well as from members of the public.

The two-part documentary, directed by Michael Ogden, shares the negative headlines pedalled by British tabloids throughout the 1980s and 1990s aimed at the gay community – all against the backdrop of the AIDS crisis.

Viewers shared their love for Michael and their bleak reflections on the story’s parallels with modern-day coverage of the transgender community. In particular, fans praised his epic comeback with the 1998 song “Outside”, which features disco ball urinals.

“So many irreparable stories and yet even more power to George Michael’s strength and resolve that he refused to let his own outing destroy him,” one person wrote. “The fact that this s**t could easily (and does) happen now, makes my skin crawl.”

Viewers went on to share their horror at the relentless abuse the star faced from the British press.

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“Despite the screaming headlines, George did not feel ashamed, he was not ashamed. He refused to feel that. And it told all the tabloids to shove it. It was magnificent. He was magnificent,” one fan wrote.

Another said: “George Michael: Outed on Channel 4 was a damning indictment of a generation of homophobic tabloid culture (the remnants of which still live), as told through the story of the late, great George Michael’s media-driven ‘downfall’, and his defiance against the black-hearted system.”

Others agreed, with one writing: “The most shocking moments for me are from the ‘journalists’ involved who still have zero remorse for their exploitation of George Michael and the lasting damage to our community from their insistence of his ‘shame’. Absolute vultures.”

And many shared their fears about how trans people are facing similar vitriol in the press now.

“It’s so chilling to see how gay men were persecuted in the media in the 80s during the AIDS crisis. More chilling is that the language, rhetoric and headlines used then, mirror some of those being used to target trans people today,” someone reflected.

Trans broadcaster India Willoughby echoed that thought, writing: “Watching George Michael: Outed and the despicable way the press treated gay people is exactly what they’re doing to the trans community now.

“A threat, a sickness, something to be ashamed of. Lies. So many of those hacks [are] still around – now claiming to be gay allies.”

Episode two of George Michael: Outed airs on Channel 4 tonight (7 March) at 9pm. Both episodes are available now on All 4.

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