New George Michael documentary investigates ruthless tactics used by British press to out the icon

The two-part Channel 4 series follows George Michael's experience of being outed by the tabloids in the 1990s.

George Michael standing in a suit and tie representing the new documentary airing on channel 4.
Image: Twitter @abby_9225

A new documentary called George Michael: Outed investigates the role British media played in outing the pop icon in the 1990s.

After the Wham! singer’s infamous arrest in 1998 for participating in a “lewd act” in a public bathroom in California, tabloids aggressively tried to out the singer. They treated the story as a celebrity sex scandal which contributed to a homophobic climate.

In response, George Michael took control of the narrative and told the world that he was a proud gay man during a CNN interview. He insisted he had nothing to be ashamed of and refused to be embarrassed by the media coverage.


The documentary explores the disrespectful and intrusive tactics the media employed. Rather than treating the story with care and sensitivity, journalists ruthlessly tracked down Michael’s doctor in an effort to publish private details about his sexuality and HIV status.

In addition to George Michael’s story, the documentary interviews other queer people who were outed by the press, and it reviews disrespectful LGBTQ+ newspaper headlines that were published during the same time period.

Director Michael Ogden examines the unfair and judgemental language that the press used toward queer people in the 1980s and 1990s, explaining, “…the attitudes towards gay people in the ‘80s, particularly around HIV and AIDS, were pretty violent.”


The documentary concludes with a series of recent headlines covering LGBTQ+ attacks and stories about how stars continue to be outed by the press, and leaves viewers questioning how much progress has really been made in the past thirty years.

Ogden added, “Sadly, you look at what’s happening in the press about trans lives. You look at what’s happening with the potential SNP leader in Scotland who didn’t agree with gay marriage. Our freedoms are not easily won and they’re fragile.”


Ultimately, George Michael: Outed is largely about homophobia in the media and the dangerous ripple effect it causes. It’s also an empowering piece for queer people to recognise how we continue to survive despite the stigmas and shame those in power try to inflict upon us.

The two-hour George Michael documentary is now available to watch on Channel 4.

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