George Michael ''stayed in the closet'' to protect his family.

The 'Freedom' singer - who passed away on December 25, 2016 of natural causes - decided to wait to reveal his sexuality to make sure his family were not affected by the stigma surrounding AIDS - which was incorrectly linked to homosexual men - in the 1980s.

He said: ''It was always a personal decision. I stayed in the closet for as long as I was capable of staying in the closet through the AIDS period to protect my family and I would do it again.

''I would put them before myself again. Foolishly, maybe, but I love my family enough to protect them from the fear of AIDS.''

Following the tragic death of his partner Anselmo Feleppa, who died in 1993 of and AIDS related illness, George took himself out of the spotlight and didn't write any music for two years.

Speaking to Kirsty Young in the second part of a two-part interview entitled 'George Michael: The Red Line', George added: ''I'm very proud of 'Listen Without Prejudice' but I think the whole experience of losing Anselmo, the period of grief which was roughly two years that I didn't write a note of music.

''And then the absolute knowledge that the album I was going to write was about grief and recovery. Older is my greatest moment. And as I've said before, I don't want to be that inspired again.''

George had previously admitted he was ''terribly lonely'' before coming out as gay.

He shared: ''I was terribly lonely. Because not only had I, by then, come out to my best friends and pretty much all the people I cared a lot about apart from my family, I was still desperately lonely. From this huge, huge record, it put this loneliness into such stark contrast of being on my own when I went to bed every night, and every night, and every night. Especially on tour. I was not rock and rolling on tour, I was taking care of my vocal chords and was in bed by 11:30 at night every night. It was just a horribly lonely experience. And the only good part of my day was playing live.''