"Faith" was one of Michael's first hits post-Wham!, as he entered the career phase most strongly marked by an internalized split. He mastered his image, his music, but struggled with his sexual identity, releasing daring songs about love and sex while keeping his own desires in the closet.
"I never wanted to mystify anything that I did," he explained. "I always want to connect. I'm not writing like Bono, for instance, whom I would imagine thinks what I do is really kind of pedestrian, because it connects on such a simple level."
Yet Michael's simple songs contain a secret code -- implicit signals of the yearning of his heart.
Hits like "Father Figure" and "Jesus to a Child" tapped into the gay experience of the last two decades, transporting that community's story to the mainstream. "Freedom '90" was a pride anthem long before Michael actually came out.
"He's still one of the most important gay musicians alive, if not one of the most important musicians alive," said Corey Scholibo, entertainment editor of the Advocate. "And my opinion is that the gay community, though very harsh to judge when one is in the closet, is also very quick to accept once you're out of the closet."
Now Michael's lyrics explicitly celebrate his lifestyle -- and he's noticing more gay fans in the concert crowds that were once almost 100% female. Not that he's looking. Though he still stands up for the right for consenting adults to have non-monogamous relationships, he's very happy with Goss.
"I have this wonderful partner," he said. "Through rows and misunderstandings and pain, we have actually reached a fantastic place. So, recently, I've had to write about other people's lives when I want to hit that lonely mood. I have to refer to other people's pain."
So happiness is something of a burden, artistically?
That's one duality George Michael is really ready to face.