Pop star Barry Manilow has formally come out as gay after years of speculation and a reported but publicly unconfirmed marriage in 2014.

“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay,” the Grammy Award-winner says of his fans, in an interview in the new issue of People magazine. “So I never did anything” in terms of coming out. But after multiple outlets reported in 2015 that he had married his longtime manager, Garry Kief, in a small ceremony at their Palm Springs, California, estate the year before, Manilow, 73, saw that, “When they found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, ‘Great for you!’ I’m just so grateful for it.”

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The singer — who began as a highly successful jingle-writer and as a young Bette Midler’s music arranger, accompanist and eventually album-producer — met TV executive Kief in 1978, after Manilow had released hits including “Mandy,” “Looks Like We Made It,” “Copacabana (At the Copa)” and “Can’t Smile Without You.”

“I knew that this was it,” Manilow says. “I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that.” Kief became and remains Manilow’s manager, as well as president of Barry Manilow Productions. “He’s the smartest person I’ve ever met in my life — and a great guy, too,” Manilow adds.

The Brooklyn-born Manilow had married his high school sweetheart Susan Deixler in the 1960s, when he was 21. But, he told People, “I just was not ready for marriage. . . . I was out making music every night, sowing my wild oats — I was too young. I wasn’t ready to settle down.” While telling the magazine he experienced no confusion over his sexuality at the time, biographies of the singer have noted that the couple annulled the marriage after one year rather than divorce. He later had a long-term public relationship with movie set dresser Linda Allen, telling Rolling Stone magazine in 1990 of his Los Angeles home, “This is where Linda and I live.”

Manilow is scheduled to play NYCB Live’s Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on May 25.