LONDON – George Michael says he's nervous to return to his home in the United States because of the criticism he's received for his new song and video, "Shoot the Dog."
The British pop singer's video condemns Prime Minister Tony Blair for his close ties with the United States, portraying him as President Bush's obedient lap dog. The video shows a cartoon of Bush tickling a poodle representing Blair on the White House lawn.
When it was released, Michael called the video a political satire that should not be seen as unpatriotic in Britain or anti-American. But he also urged Blair to find the strength to challenge Bush's views, including his talk of a possible U.S. military attack on Iraq.
Since then, Michael said in an interview with ITV1's Tonight show Thursday night, he's been unfairly criticized in the United States as anti-American, which he blames on homophobia.
The 39-year-old singer, who announced in 1998 that he's gay, has lived mostly in America the past few years with his boyfriend, Kenny Goss.
Michael said a recent article in the New York Post branded him a "past-his-prime pop pervert." Negative media coverage has made life too difficult for him in the United States and forced him to undertake "damage control" interviews, he said.
"It's been very heavily inferred that I was actually an Al Qaeda sympathizer, that somehow I thought that there was something not horrific and shocking and undeserved about the attacks on September the 11th," he said. "Americans are very reactionary right now, and I -- because of that article -- cannot return to America, even though my partner lives there."
He said he loves his home in the United States, Goss' family, and the time he's spent in Dallas and Los Angeles.
"I don't think that there's any real connection between what I'm saying (in the video) and the fact that I'm a gay man. But there's a lot of connection in the press as to those two things," Michael said.
"For some reason I don't have a right to talk about anything because I got caught four years ago ... in a Los Angeles toilet," he said. "Somehow that eradicates all possibility that what I'm saying might be for the best, or is worthy of being discussed. I can't fight that kind of homophobia."
Michael was charged with lewd conduct in a Los Angeles public toilet in 1998. Soon after, he said publicly for the first time that he's gay.
Later, his career rebounded with the single and video "Outside," which poked fun at the police.
Michael first shot to stardom in the 1980s as half of the duo Wham! When the group split up in 1986, Michael went solo with his first album, Faith, which sold more than 10 million copies.
In 1987, many U.S. radio stations boycotted his hit, "I Want Your Sex," saying that it encouraged promiscuity. Michael said the song actually was about monogamy.