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Paper Monitor

12:21 UK time, Monday, 12 October 2009

A service highlighting the riches of the daily press.

The story of Boyzone member Stephen Gately's death at just 33 is covered across the board, but the coverage in the Sun and Times are particularly notable.

One of the defining moments of Gately's life was his outing as gay, in 1999. It's hard to imagine these days that such an event would be newsworthy, but 10 years ago this was uncharted territory for a boy band. No one quite knew whether the news would lead fans to desert the band in droves.

They didn't. But maybe that was, in part at least, down to the nature of Gately's outing in the Sun.

So how does the Sun remember the event?

One of the two reporters to have broken the story recalls in Monday's paper how it came about. Sam Carlisle remembers a "delicate" interview that had been a "brave move by the Boyzone camp".

"[Gately] wanted the same freedoms his bandmates enjoyed with their girlfriends - and he trusted the Sun."

Carlisle notes that a "blackmailer threatened to expose the boyband star's sexuality".

But it takes the Times' Tim Teeman to flesh out the story a bit - the blackmailer had approached the Sun in the first place.

Several days of negotiation between the singer and the newspaper ensued before the resulting Sun splash headline: "Boyzone Stephen: I'm gay and I'm in love."

Of course, the paper could have turned its back on the blackmailer completely; told him to sling his hook.

But for Teeman, the Sun's role in this fraught affair was just a transient one - the "real shame is reserved for managers and showbusinesses power-brokers who practise such discrimination, or maintain the closet, in the name of profit".

Back at the Sun, Carlisle wants readers to know that Gately was indebted to the newspaper.

"You allowed me to live my life," Gately apparently told Carlisle only a few months ago.

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