Claire, H and their Steps bandmates in 2018 | Photo: Steps Music LLP
Claire Richards has recalled the time her Steps bandmate Ian ‘H’ Watkins came out to her in 1997.
The pair – along with bandmates Lee Latchford-Evans, Lisa Scott-Lee and Faye Tozer – were in Spain for the 5, 6, 7, 8 video shoot at the time.
‘When he told me I was really very young and naive…this is so embarrassing!’ laughed Claire, as she shared the story with GSN at The Thunder Girls book launch in London’s Soho this week.
‘We went to a club one night, he put his hand on my arm and said “I need to talk to you later on. I thought he was going to tell me [he fancied me]! All night I was like, “oh my god… What am I gonna say?!’
‘We bought a four pack of beers and sat on the beach’
The star then added that by the end of the night ‘we bought a four pack of beers and sat on the beach.
‘He told me, and I was like “Is that it?!” Panic attack over! When I told the others that story, they were like “What do you mean you didn’t know?!”’
Ian would later come out publicly as gay in an interview with The Sun in 2007.
‘You’ve got to do what you think is right’
Sharing what her advice would be to a closeted LGBTI pop star in 2019, Claire said: ‘You’ve got to be true to yourself, ultimately – but you’ve also got to do what you think is right and what makes you happy. You can’t be forced by anybody else to do what you don’t want to do.’
Speaking about The Thunder Girls – a novel about a reformed girl group written by her former manager Melanie Blake – Claire said: ‘This story’s familiar to every band, whether a girl band or a mixed band.
‘I’ve gone through some of the things the girls go through in the book. I remember when Steps did [ITV show] The Big Reunion. There were lots of bands, and it was interesting to hear the same stories coming up; same problems, same situations.’
As a band, Steps’ biggest singles include One For Sorrow, Tragedy and Heartbeat. They have sold over 20 million records worldwide and last toured together in 2018.
As a duo, ‘H & Claire’ furthermore scored three top 10 singles in 2002. Meanwhile, in February 2019, Claire scored a top 10 album with her debut, My Wildest Dreams.