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12/17/2017 17:40 EST

Designer Stefano Gabbana: 'I Don't Want To Be Called Gay'

The Dolce & Gabbana co-founder says he's "simply a man ... full stop."

David M. Benett via Getty Images
“The word ‘gay’ was invented by those who need to label people,” designer Stefano Gabbana said. 

If Stefano Gabbana had it his way, he would no longer be defined by his sexuality. 

The designer, who co-founded the Dolce & Gabbana luxury fashion house with Domenico Dolce, told Italy’s Corriere della Sera daily, “I don’t want to be called gay, because I’m simply a man … full stop.” 

“The word ‘gay’ was invented by those who need to label people,” he said in the interview, the AFP reported Sunday. “I don’t want to be identified by my sexual choices.” 

Still, the 55-year-old spoke at length about his sexuality in the interview, saying he began to acknowledge his same-sex attraction at age 18 when he and a former girlfriend went dancing and he “was watching the men more than her.”

“I had known for a while, but I didn’t have the courage to admit it. Only through therapy did I realize that there had been clear signs in my childhood,” he said, according to AFP. “I wanted to play alone … because I felt different from the other children and I feared that if we were together they would realize. And they would tell my mother,” he said.

Gabbana’s comments echoed those he offered on Instagram in January. Given President Donald Trump’s anti-LGBTQ platform, Dolce & Gabbana have been criticized for their willingness to dress first lady Melania Trump

In an Instagram post praising Melania as a #DGWoman, Gabbana said, “Dont call me gay please!! Im a man!!! Who I love its my private life!!!” (sic). 

Dolce & Gabbana’s stance on LGBTQ issues has raised eyebrows in the past. In 2015, the designers faced a backlash after they made some contentious remarks about same-sex families in an interview with Italian magazine Panorama. Children born through in vitro fertilization, the men said, are “children of chemistry, synthetic children. Uteruses for rent, semen chosen from a catalog.”

After Elton John, Ricky Martin and other celebrities blasted their remarks, Dolce and Gabbana backtracked. 

“We firmly believe in democracy and the fundamental principle of freedom of expression that upholds it,” Gabbana said at the time. “We talked about our way of seeing reality, but it was never our intention to judge other people’s choices. We do believe in freedom and love.”

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