(CNN) -- For years Barry Manilow kept his sexuality a secret, fearful of how fans might react.
"I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay," the legendary singer recently told People magazine. "So I never did anything."
These days Manilow is not only out but on the cover of People talking about his private life and love of 39 years, his manager Garry Kief.
It's a rare moment of openness for the 73-year-old star who told the publication, "I'm so private. I always have been."
Manilow said he was focused mostly on his career, which included hits such as "Mandy" and "Copacabana (At the Copa)," when he met Kief, a TV executive, in 1978.
"I knew that this was it," Manilow said. "I was one of the lucky ones. I was pretty lonely before that."
The couple remained together despite Kief's initial lack of comfort with Manilow's fame, and they stayed discreetly under the radar.
For a time, Manilow even he lived with TV production assistant Linda Allen, who was rumored to be his love interest.
The beloved performer's sexuality had long been the topic of speculation when he and Kief secretly married in 2014 at their Palm Springs, California, estate.
The news made the headlines a year later, and Manilow publicly came out.
Now he says he is happy with how it's all been received.
"When (fans) found out that Garry and I were together, they were so happy," Manilow said. "The reaction was so beautiful -- strangers commenting, 'Great for you!' I'm just so grateful for it."