In the midst of the Freedom Uncut documentary being released, biographer Sean Smith recalls the heartbreaking love story between George Michael and Anselmo Feleppa – which ended in tragedy.
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As the much-anticipated documentary George Michael: Freedom Uncut airs, biographer Sean Smith recalls the true story of the heartbreaking love affair that changed the star’s life forever…
The handsome Brazilian fashion designer could hardly conceal his delight as he held his phone near the piano so his best friend could hear.
He whispered down the line from California: “I can’t believe I’m sitting here and George Michael is playing the piano for me.”
It was a tender moment between two men who fell in love. Anselmo Feleppa and the superstar beloved by millions is a match made in heaven.
They had met a few weeks earlier when George, then 27, was a celebrity in January 1991 at the Rock in Rio Festival. Anselmo had flown in from New York in the hope of meeting his idol.
As part of a world where it’s no secret that George is gay, Anselmo lit up the lobby of the Copacabana Palace hotel where George and his entourage had occupied two floors.
The Anselmo family hails from Petropolis, a mountain resort 50 miles from Rio.
At the age of 15, he met Lucia Guanabara, who would become one of Brazil’s most popular social sites and his best friend when his relationship with George began.
“Everybody loved him,” Lucia said. “He’s very flirty even though he’s never been in a relationship that looks like a real one.” That changed when he met George, though it didn’t go according to plan.
He didn’t really talk to him at Copacabana Palace. George noticed him and then reflected him knowing that their fates would come together.
The next day, George vacationed in Armação dos Búzios, a beach resort.
Lucia was there with her children when Anselmo appeared and convinced her to go with him to the island where George was.
“He was dancing and showing off for George’s sake but again he wasn’t talking to him,” Lucia said. It ended up being a lucky third at another rooftop party with security.
Lucia and Anselmo had to sneak in but George noticed the handsome man dancing. Lucia recalled: “This time they finally talked and that’s when it started.”
Like the best Hollywood romances, it’s a whirlwind. For the first time, George accepted himself as a gay man.
He then explains: “It’s very hard to be proud of your sexuality when it doesn’t bring you any pleasure.”
Life for George suddenly became happier with Anselmo by his side. He became more outgoing, preferring to pursue outdoor activities that old Yog – as George was known – would never try.
Interestingly, Anselmo lied to George about his age. He is almost seven years older than his boyfriend. He told George that he was three years younger than he was.
Lucia observed: “George laughed a lot when he found his passport!” Anselmo needed it when George invited him and Lucia to London for four concerts at Wembley Arena.
George has never been happier but they can’t hold hands in public.
Anselmo came from a Catholic family and never told them about his relationship with another man – even though his mother Alice knew.
George faced a similar predicament. He’s fine introducing Anselmo to his sister Melanie but debuting to his mom and dad is a step too far.
However, George did not hide Anselmo. They vacationed in Greece and Cyprus as well as visiting George’s home.
As the fall ended their first summer, Anselmo told George the horrifying news – he had tested positive for HIV.
He’d known for a few months but didn’t want to tell George. “He was so embarrassed,” Lucia said.
George later said: “Try to imagine that you finally found one true love and six months later it was devastated. In 1991, that was really scary news.”
Thirty years ago was a death sentence for too many people.
The fear of AIDS dominated the gay agenda and was the main reason George didn’t talk about his sexuality with his mother Lesley.
Freddie Mercury died in November 1991 from complications of the disease. George spent Christmas 1991 with his parents at their family home in Radlett, Hertfordshire.
He tried his best to enter the seasonal spirit but, secretly, was
Anselmo was scared and was waiting for the results of his own HIV test but thankfully the results were negative.
The world failed to recognize George’s suffering at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert on AIDS Awareness at Wembley the following April.
Universal Image Group via Getty Images)
George and Anselmo spent most of the year in Los Angeles, where George was busy recording.
After New Year’s Eve in 1993, they went on vacation to the Caribbean to consider it their last days together.
George returns to LA while Anselmo and Lucia visit family in Brazil. There, he began to feel sick.
Anselmo died at the age of 36 in March 1993, just two years after meeting George, who did not see him in the hospital.
Instead, he receives terrible news in a tearful phone call from Lucia. The next day, George wrote his parents a letter in which he explained that he was gay and had lost the man he loved.
George did not go to the funeral so as not to be the center of attention. Instead, he flew in discreetly a few days later and stayed with Lucia.
He introduced himself to Anselmo’s mother and they visited her son’s grave in Persepolis. They cry together.
George talks emotionally about Anselmo and his mother, who passed away in 1997, in Freedom Uncut released this week.
Following George’s death on Christmas Day 2016, his family signed a letter to loyal fans that read “Yog, Lesley and Anselmo…smiling and all together”.
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https://www.mirror.co.uk/3am/celebrity-news/tragic-love-story-george-michael-27313477 The tragic love story of George Michael and the man he found 'true love'