Boyzone's Stephen Gately Comes Out

Heartthrob vocalist Stephen Gately of the Irish boy band Boyzone has revealed to London tabloid "The Sun" that he is gay.

Gately, 23, told "The Sun" that he's in a committed relationship with longtime boyfriend Eloy de Jong of the defunct Dutch boy band Caught in the Act, and that he decided to come out on his own because he was threatened with being outed in the press by a former employee.

"I think the time has come to be honest and tell everyone that I am gay," the singer disclosed in his statement. "I owe it to all Boyzone fans. I'm not ashamed of coming out like this, my family and friends have known for a long time."

Gately also told "The Sun" that he had kept his sexuality a secret when he first joined the group, and that acknowledging his orientation has finally given him the freedom to be himself.

The other four members of Boyzone, whose newest U.K. album "By Request" is currently at the top of the Brit charts, have publicly supported their bandmate in his decision to

come out.

The Irish boy band is currently featured on the "Notting Hill" soundtrack with the song "No Matter What." Idolized by millions of young fans all over the world, Boyzone hasn't yet managed to take off in America with the same success as American peers such as 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys.