Blue singer Duncan James has revealed the extent of his fears around coming out as gay in the past.
The 44-year-old singer came out to his bandmates in 2012, before publicly discussing his sexuality in 2014.
In a new interview, James said he used to “feel relieved” when rumours circulated about him dating his female friends, including Geri Halliwell, Martine McCutcheon and Tara Palmer-Tompkinson.
It was not until he met his partner Rodrigo Reis that he “really felt comfortable about my sexuality”, he said.
“I remember when I was in Blue the first time around, there were all these rumours I was dating my friends, Geri, Martine and Tara, and I used to feel relieved.
“I was playing Pride with Blue and feeling such a hypocrite because everyone was celebrating their sexuality and I was still in the closet.
“Now I’m performing Blue hits and songs from musical theatre in full drag. I love it,” he added.
James described performing in drag as “liberating” and “like wearing a very camp Superman costume – you feel so empowered”.
The “All Rise” singer will be performing alongside Blue bandmates Lee Ryan, 39, Simon Webbe, 43, and Antony Costa, 41, as they promote their new album.
Praising his partner Reis for being “so unapologetic” about being gay, James said: “He was the first partner I had who wasn’t ashamed to hold my hand.
“Other boyfriends didn’t want to show any public displays of affection in case they were pictured.”
But although the couple, who have been together since 2019, have talked about marriage and children, James’s priority is his career. He said they will get married and have kids “when the time is right”.
James is father to 17-year-old Tianie-Finn, who he shares with his former girlfriend Claire Grainger, who he dated from 2002 to 2005.
In February, James said in an appearance on Rylan Clark’s podcast Ry-Union that Blue’s mostly-female fanbase made it harder for him to come out.
“I think being in such a public boy band, with the majority of fans being female, it was really hard for me to actually have the courage to come out,” he said, “because I was scared on so many different levels on so many different things.
“And, to be honest, I didn’t quite understand too much about my own sexuality at that time, I was just really confused.”