As a new film about the life of Don Shirley documents the life of the extraordinary musician, here’s everything you need to know about his sexuality and marriage.
Don Shirley is the subject of a brand new biopic film called Green Book and in it, the filmmakers’ touch on Don’s private and romantic life – including a scene where Don embarks on a fling with another man.
Don, who died in 2013, at the age of 86, was notoriously tight-lipped about his romantic life, but we do know that he was married to a woman called Jean C. Hill. However, they divorced. He said in an interview that he chose music and his career over his marriage, explaining, “I didn’t have the constitution to do a husband act as well as a concert pianist act because I was dead set on being what I had been trained all my life to be.”
In the film, it alludes to Don being gay, however, he never actually came out or confirmed any of the rumours. The film was co-written and produced by Nick Vallelonga, the son of Frank Anthony Vallelonga Sr., who is portrayed in the film.
It is worth noting that Don’s family have hit out at the film’s accuracy, calling it a “symphony of lies”. They say they were not consulted by the film makers during the making of the movie. Don’s nephew Edwin expressed that his uncle’s depiction was “very harmful” and “100 per cent wrong.”
Speaking about his brother’s sexuality, Edwin said, “He was as open about his sexuality as he thought it was anybody else’s right to know.” Edwin offered as an example, “If you were to ask him, ‘Dr. Shirley, are you gay?’ He might answer, ‘Why? Are you interested?’ If the answer was, ‘No,’ then he’d say, ‘Well, it’s none of your business,’”
However the truth is that Don may not have publicly acknowledged his sexuality, he may have been bisexual.
YOUR SUPPORT MEANS EVERYTHING
Help us deliver unique, usable and reliable journalism that supports the gay, bisexual and curious community of the United Kingdom. Can you help protect LGBT+ media? Publishers like us have come under severe threat by the likes of Google and Facebook. The problem is that advertisers are choosing to put their money with them, rather than with niche publishers like us. Our goal is to eliminate banner ads altogether on site and we can do that if you could pledge us a tiny amount each month.
We’re asking our readers to pledge just £1 per month, more if you’re feeling swanky. You can stop payment at any time.
It’s quick and easy to sign up and you’ll only have to do it once.
The news team for THEGAYUK. Got tips? Go to www.thegayuk.com/newsdesk to tell us something.