Anselmo Feleppa Was George Michael's First Love And Muse And Their Relationship Ended Tragically

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Who Was Anselmo Feleppa? New Details On George Michael's First Love Whose Family Slammed The 'Freedom' Documentary
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Who was Anselmo Feleppa, the first love of singer George Michael's life? 

He was the lover of one of the most famous men in the world. And yet, in their lifetimes, their relationship was, for the most part, a secret. But that didn't stop him from inspiring some of the greatest pop songs of the 1990s. 

Unfortunately, the world lost Michael in 2016 when he passed away due to heart failure. But the legendary musician will be never be forgotton.

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But what about his first love?

Who was Anselmo Feleppa?

Let's look at what we know about this amazing man, whose identity was virtually unknown.

The interest in Anselmo Feleppa roared back to life with the release of the 2017 Freedom documentary. 

The Freedom documentary — which focused on the life of the late, great George Michael — was what prompted the public to become interested in Anselmo Feleppa again. In the documentary, Michael is seen throwing himself into a court case to get over Feleppa's untimely death due to AIDS. 

Originally from Brazil, Feleppa was a dress designer. 

Feleppa met Michael at the Rock in Rio concert all the way back in 1991. At the time, Michael was nowhere near "out of the closet," and was, in fact, still playing up his "teenybopper" persona. It bears noting, too, that LGBTQIA people were not as readily accepted at the time as they are today. 

"It’s just fairy stories [fairy tales]. He looks out into the crowd while he’s onstage and he sees him, they make eye contact, and then meets him much later, in the hotel lobby. And they have this fantastic whirlwind romance, which actually looks like it’s going to be something more serious," said Zee Asha, Culture Club's backup singer, in a 2019 interview.

Wham! manager Simon Napier-Bell added, “He fell in love and that was worth everything.” 

Just two years after they'd gotten together, Feleppa died of AIDS-related illnesses.

Back in the early 1990s, AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses were a scourge on the gay community. If someone was diagnosed with HIV, AIDS, and/or AIDS-related illnesses, it was an almost-guaranteed death sentence. 

And that, unfortunately, was Feleppa's fate. Just two years after Michael and Feleppa got together, Feleppa died of AIDS-related illnesses. 

Michael was only 27 when he met Feleppa and he had known about Feleppa's terminal illness shortly after they met.

In 2007, Michael had said, "It was a very strange first love. It was very distorted by the situation. This was the first love of my entire life. It was tragic that I lost him, but it was a wonderful experience meeting him. There have only been three times I’ve really fallen for anyone. And each time, on first sight, something has clicked that told me I was going to know that person. It happened with Anselmo across a lobby.”

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In the wake of Feleppa's death, Michael turned to drugs and fell into a deep depression. 

As one might expect, when Feleppa died back in 1993, Michael turned to drugs and fell into a deep depression to cope with the loss. 

"One saw George go through a terrible down period. You could see that he was withdrawn, there were rumors from everybody that he was doing a lot of drugs, and when he did do an interview, he would be openly smoking nonstop joints,” said Napier-Bell.

He also revealed that, one time, during a three-hour interview, the singer had smoked 11 joints.

Michael had other lovers after Feleppa's death, but none held the same place in his heart. 

Michael certainly moved on to other lovers after Feleppa passed away. He'd had a long-term relationship with Kenny Goss and, at the time of his death, he was involved with Fadi Fawaz.

It was Fawaz who discovered Michael's body when he'd passed away in 2016. But in Michael's own words, no one had "opened him up to love" the way Feleppa had. 

"[He] broke down my Victorian restraint and really showed me how to live, how to relax, how to enjoy life. I was shagging around, but I had so little experience with men that my sex life was so ridiculously inadequate for me, right until I met Anselmo really. He was the first person I had ever loved, and I discovered he loved me too," he said in a 2009 interview.

Feleppa was the inspiration for the hit song, "Jesus To A Child."

None of Michael's lovers, past or present, had the same effect on him as Feleppa. He was so inspired by him that he wrote, "Jesus To A Child" for him. Michael even sang to Feleppa at one of his most notable performances of his career.  

"I went out there knowing I had to honor Freddie Mercury and I had to pray for Anselmo. The performance most well known in my career was sung to my lover who was dying. I just wanted to die inside. I was so overwhelmed by singing the songs of this man I had worshipped as a child, who had passed away in the same manner my first living partner was going to experience," he had said about Feleppa in a scene from his Freedom documentary.

RELATED: We Now Know The Cause Of George Michael's Death — And It's Heartbreaking

Editor's Note: This article was originally posted in July 2019 and was updated with the latest information.

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Bernadette Giacomazzo is an editor, writer, and photographer whose work has appeared in People, Teen Vogue, Us Weekly, The Source, XXL, HipHopDX, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Post, and more. For more information about Bernadette Giacomazzo, click here.