Out 100: Ricky Martin
By Aaron Hicklin
It was connecting the dots that led directly to Martin's tweet last March. In his memoir, he recounts how friends and colleagues remonstrated with him to hold off: 'I ignored all their recommendations, and by the end, when they came to me with the argument that I shouldn't do it during Easter because it might offend my Christian fans, I said: 'What part of 'I can't take it any more' do you not understand? What about me?''
Two people who didn't intervene to stop Martin were his parents. 'My father is an amazing human being,' says Martin. 'He was the first one to tell me, 'Come on, share your love.' ' As for his mother, she flew to Miami for a visit the same day he published his letter. Martin held off posting it until he knew she was safely in the air, beyond the reach of gossipy chatter, and made her read it the moment she arrived at his house. 'As soon as she finished,' he writes, 'she stood up, gave me a great big hug, and started to cry like a baby.'
M artin is not the first pop star to come out -- a string of musicians got there before him, but while many enjoyed significant fame none has achieved such stratospheric heights of idoldom. And none had to contend with the dual responsibilities of being gay and a crossover Latin music star -- or a 'symbol of the new status Latin culture holds in mainstream America,' as The New York Times dubbed him in 1999. That seems like an awful lot of symbolism for one man's shoulders. Martin shrugs. 'I am a minority twice,' he says. 'I am Hispanic, and I am a gay man, and they both struggle. Is it a big responsibility? It can be as big as I want it to be, and I believe there's a lot still to come.'
Martin doesn't skate over the oppressiveness of Latin machismo that made his coming-out such a milestone back home, one not always appreciated by the press and bloggers in the West who treated it as no big deal. At the same time, he insists that his own 'Latin lover' vibe was always genuine. 'A lot of people go, 'Wait a minute, so 'She Bangs' became a 'He Bangs?' ' -- he laughs -- 'No, I never lied. That was my truth at that moment. And when you are on stage you just are. Mind you, as an entertainer if you make a move and you get a reaction, trust me, you are going to make that move again -- that's what we entertainers live off. Do I think it's going to be the same now? I don't know, and,' -- his voice drops to an urgent whisper again -- 'it doesn't matter. It feels so good that it can't be wrong.'