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The year of the George

Ladies and gentlemen, enquiring minds here at Up Your Alley: Vancouver's Gay blog would like to know many Dans have you dated and/or slept with?

Seeing as it was one of THE most popular baby names from 1970-1990, chances are you've been with one. For the record, my Dan (which includes Daniel, Dann) to "other name" ratio is about 5:1. The Dans, apparently, have it. Mull that one over. Wait a minute…maybe you shouldn't mull it over because I don't know anything about ratios and I fear that particular ratio may make my personal life either sensational or matronly. 

In the not too distant past, the name George cornered the male baby name marketshare. So it's little surprise that two of our premier gay icons bear the name George and both of them got in significant trouble this year. And funny enough, both of them appeared in one form or another here on UYA (for the record, I kissed one of said Georges, but have never "been" with a George – UGHN!)

If you didn't see this today, it is sad news. This year, I discovered a newfound respect for Boy George, who has always been an advocate for the queer community. And although I like George Michael's music more, this year, I came to respect the man less because of his personal choices and for not stepping up to bat for gays and lesbians during the 1980s and 1990s when the queer rights movement needed public figureheads and international role models.

And now this:

George Michael 'caught with crack cocaine in public lavatory'

By Jonathan Brown
Monday, 22 September 2008

The pop singer George Michael has apologised for "screwing up again" after it emerged he was arrested in a public lavatory at the weekend for possession of drugs, thought to include cannabis and crack cocaine.

Michael, who recently announced his retirement from live performances on completing a triumphant sellout world tour to mark 25 years in the music industry, has a history of drug use and depression.

In a statement to fans last night Michael said: "I want to apologise to my fans for screwing up again and to promise them I'll sort myself out. And to say sorry to everybody else, just for boring them."

Michael was arrested after a tip-off from a suspicious lavatory attendant who spotted him loitering. Police confirmed that a 45-year-old man understood to be the former Wham! star was arrested by officers on Hampstead Heath, north London, a short drive from the mansion he shares with Kenny Goss, his long-term partner.

The run-down Victorian South End Green lavatories are a notorious meeting place for gay men who go cruising on and around the Heath.

In 1998, after years of denying he was gay, Michael was forced to "come out" when he was arrested by undercover police officers for engaging in lewd conduct in a public lavatory in California. Since then he has had two more brushes with the law – for driving under the influence of banned substances.

In October 2006 he was found slumped in the seat of his car in central London. Last May he was given a two-year ban after being behind the wheel under the influence of drugs.

But while he has long laughed off his interest in "cruising" for sex – saying his partner supports his behaviour – and insisted his drug use is confined to marijuana, the latest episode will fuel anxieties that the troubled star's personal life is out of control.

After the arrest, Tony McNulty, the Home Office minister, was forced to defend Scotland Yard's decision to let Michael off with a caution just three months after Sir Ian Blair, the Metropolitan Police Commissioner, said drug-using celebrities should be brought to trial. Mr McNulty said: "The biggest message is that drugs are wrong and people will be punished, but it must be right that there is flexibility in the law." Possession of a class A drug, such as the crack cocaine that Michael is alleged to have had, can carry a prison sentence of up to seven years or an unlimited fine.

Despite selling more than 100 million records, Michael has struggled to enjoy his success. He has described how he was unable to come to terms with his sexuality until his mid 20s.

The singer then suffered two personal tragedies, losing his long-term partner Anselmo Feleppa to HIV and then struggling to cope with the death of his mother Lesley in 1997. He said he started smoking cannabis and taking Prozac to cope with the grief.

Despite his insistence during his recent tour that he was looking for a quieter life, fans were hopeful that Michael may have been poised for renewed creativity when he revealed he had written a new Christmas song.

He had also spoken candidly about his cannabis use, telling BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs: "I can afford my marijuana so that's not a problem."

Those looking to understand his inner life may have to wait for the publication of a "no-holds barred" autobiography. The publisher HarperCollins signed a multimillion-pound deal with the singer earlier this year.

Highs and lows

*1982: Wham! storm the UK charts with "Young Guns (Go For It!)".

*1984: First number one single "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go".

*1985: Wham! tour China.

*1986: the duo splits up.

*1987: Solo career begins with Faith album and world tour.

*1993: Death of long term partner Anselmo Feleppa.

*1997: On Prozac to overcome grief at death of mother Lesley.

*1998: Arrested for lewd behaviour in a Los Angeles public toilet.

*2005: Cancels civil partnership plans with Kenny Goss.

*2006: Arrested twice in connection with drugs offences.

*2007: Banned from driving for two years; community service.

*2008: Retires from touring. Cautioned in connection with possession of Class A and C drugs.

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In case you've forgotten, here's what Whitney Houston has to say about crack:

Get your ass to rehab, George. I've read elsewhere that you're too afraid to get an HIV test. Not impressed to hear that either, my friend. Not impressed at all.