July 17, 2012 at 8:43 AM ET
In the first of a two-part interview with TODAY's Matt Lauer, Elton John discussed why he waited to reveal to the public that he was gay. As it turns out, John, who had been living an openly gay lifestyle among his family and friends, didn't realize that actually coming out was going to be necessary.
"Nobody asked me," John recalled of the years leading up to the moment when he finally told a journalist that he was indeed gay. "When Cliff Jahr asked me in Rolling Stone, 'I'm gonna ask you a question, but if you don't want to answer it, I'm gonna turn the tape recorder off.' And I said, 'You're gonna ask me if I'm gay or not.' And he said, 'How did you know that?' I said, 'I've been waitin' for people to ask me this. It's not exactly a secret. I live with my manager. I'm openly gay outside. I don't have a girlfriend. And nobody's ever actually out -- I just thought it was common knowledge.'"
John also discussed his devotion to Ryan White, the young boy who contracted AIDS from a blood transfusion, and whose plight captivated the nation. "I just felt for him, this kid who was -- you know, just because he had the HIV virus, his family were being discriminated, he was forced to move to another town, bullets fired through their windows, firebombs through their letterbox. Wasn't allowed to go to school," John told Lauer.
John's conversation with Lauer is pegged to the release of his book, "Love is the Cure: On life, loss and the end of AIDS," in which he reveals, among other things, that Princess Diana wanted to work with his AIDS foundation.
"She wanted to do something desperately for the AIDS foundation," John said. "She was amazing, because she was the first person of the royal family or someone that famous to go out into an AIDS ward and touch people and hold them and hug them. And, you know, at a time when people, 'Ooh, don't touch them, you know, you might get AIDS.'
"She was fearless in that respect. And she was fearless in anything she did, whether it came to landmines or whether to AIDS. She was genuine and so 150 percent behind the cause."
For more of Lauer's conversation with the singer, tune in to TODAY on Wednesday.