Hundreds of fans crowded streets around a Dublin church on Saturday for the funeral of Irish singer Stephen Gately, who died from pulmonary oedema, or fluid in the lungs, last week while on vacation on the Spanish resort island of Mallorca.
Gately, 33, enjoyed success with boy band Boyzone and made headlines when he came out as gay a decade ago.
His funeral service included a performance by his bandmates, relayed via loudspeaker from the St. Laurence O’Toole Church.
Ireland’s former Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, Elton John’s partner David Furnish and members of Irish pop group Westlife joined the ceremony alongside Gately’s family and partner Andrew Cowles, whom he wed in a civil union in 2006.
“It’s a difficult day but we have to celebrate his life,” said impresario Louis Walsh, who formed Boyzone in 1993 after holding auditions for Ireland’s first boy band.
Boyzone was a U.K. hitmaker in the 1990s and announced a comeback tour at the end of last year. Gately also had released several solo singles and appeared in stage musicals, including Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
He won praise from gay rights campaigners for disclosing his sexual orientation to a British newspaper in 1999.
Bandmate Ronan Keating wept as he addressed the funeral mass. “We have lost our brother and I’ve lost my wing man,” Keating said. “He will live on in our songs, and whenever us four are together his spirit is alive.”
Keating said the band would continue to perform. “For Stephen we’ll carry on, but it will never be the same without him,” he said.
Gately was found dead on October 11 in a house near Port d’Andratx on the western tip of Mallorca.
Boyzone sold millions of records and topped the British charts with six No. 1 singles during the 1990s, including All That I Need and a cover of the Bee Gees’ Words.
Wendy Lee, a 26-year-old fan, said she’d travelled from Taiwan to join fellow mourners in Dublin. “I want to say my final goodbye,” she said. “I am absolutely devastated.”