When Don Philip sang “I Will Still Love You,” with Britney Spears in 1999, he was a tormented soul struggling with his sexual identity.
Although Don had a recording contract at the age of 19, he gave it all up because he didn’t know how to face being gay. “I was going through some deep inner demons,” he tells RumorFix.
So on Sunday when the now 32-year-old auditioned for X Factor at the Oracle Arena in San Francisco, 13 years of emotions rose to the surface — and Don did something he wasn’t brave enough to do back then: he announced to Britney and the country that he’s gay.
Here’s how that happened.
When Britney recognized Don as her former duet partner, fellow judge Simon Cowell asked, “Where have you been?” Don says the question was extremely symbolic for him. Where had he been? “I’ve been learning to love myself and all the things that go with that,” he tells us exclusively.
But, he wasn’t ready to tell that to Simon. So when L.A. Reid grilled him with, “I know you have a secret. I know you have a secret,” Don finally let it out.”The secret I have is that I’m gay — and it’s the answer to everything,” he told the judges. “It’s what’s held me back!”
His struggles with being gay flashed through his mind — trying to get his mother’s acceptance, thoughts of suicide and the need to feel loved.
“I’ve never been able to give an answer until now. It may sound like a small reason, but it’s a big f***king reason — being gay and scared. The scared part never leaves.”
Don says he botched his audition after that. “I just had this Aha moment — I had nothing left.”
Since Don’s brave coming out party was reported, he’s received thousands of letters and emails from kids saying “Thank you for being brave, maybe I can be brave too.” Don says, “How powerful is that?”
Don says his gay announcement may mean the end of his music career, but he says it’s OK because, “I feel good. I feel free.”
Don asked us to mention his favorite charity, He Cares Foundation, which builds homes for children in Manila.