Byline: Cathy Mayer
With his wide smile and clean-cut good looks, Will Young was set to be the new pin-up for pop fans aged 10 to 80.
Now the Pop Idol winner has announced to the world that he is gay, ending speculation about his sexuality.
'I am gay and I am comfortable with that,' he told a newspaper at the weekend. 'I have never made any secret of this to my family and friends. It's totally no big deal, just part of who I am. I'm sure this won't come as a surprise to many people - although I've always been discreet and I'm not a campaigner when it comes to my sexuality.
'For me it's normal and nothing to be ashamed about, I really don't know what all the fuss is about.'
But is Young - whose first single not only reached No 1 but broke chart records when it sold by the truckload - being naive about the effect the disclosure could have on on his marketability? Colin Larkin, editor of the Virgin Encyclopaedia of Popular Music, doesn't think so.
'I think it won't make the tiniest bit of difference in this day and age,' he says. 'I think it was fairly obvious from the start that he was gay.'
And Emma Jones, editor of Smash Hits, says fans are more interested in Young's talent.
'Pop Idol was a test of star quality not machismo. The qualities that helped Will win the show remain - his smile, his self-deprecating humour and monkey boy looks.'
And she thinks that if Young had come out during the programme it might even have given him an added boost.
'The idea that Will has somehow duped his fans by not admitting that he was gay before now is ridiculous. Whether Will had declared he was gay on the show or not I think he would still have won, it might have even helped him much in the same way as Rik Waller used his weight when it mattered to win public support and Gareth's stutter won him considerable public sympathy.'
Larkin feels that Young's announcement about his sexuality was a smart move to make, as it allowed him to control the press.
'He's obviously being forced by his management to do it. I think it's been proved that it's better to come out and admit it before someone digs some dirt on you. They have done the right thing coming out with this right now. They can control it beautifully.
'I think George Michael made that mistake. He was fairly openly gay to his friends and cohorts. He …