Out 100: Ricky Martin
By Aaron Hicklin
Not content to represent two minorities when he could represent three, Martin became a single parent just over two years ago after identifying a surrogate mother on the Internet. He thinks now that he was dealing with a lot of residual guilt for having abandoned his younger brothers when he joined the gilded cage that was Menudo, but he was also inspired by his work with his children's foundation, launched to help disabled children in Puerto Rico and later broadened to combat child trafficking and prostitution. In Me, he robustly rejects criticism of his choice to raise his twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, alone, with some familiar arguments -- many great people are the products of single parents -- and some less so. All families are different, he says, before adding, with a priceless flourish, 'being unique is fabulous.'
As it happens, his two boys do have another man in their life, one who does not materialize in Me, but who has recently become a major part of Martin's world. 'I am in a relationship, and I am in love, and it's incredible that I'm actually talking about it,' he says, adding that it's not in the book because it was too soon to write about it. 'It was a moment to nurture a relationship, not a moment to talk about it. And I was living one day at a time in this relationship because I was a father first and foremost -- I wasn't looking for anyone.' Martin won't reveal much more, except to say that his partner is also from Puerto Rico and loves his children and is loved by them in turn.
In the end, of course, everything is connected (back to those dots again) and Martin credits his boys for lighting the fuse that led him to come out. The turning point was that chapter about fatherhood. As he pondered why he'd wanted children, he cycled back through a chain of linked events and consequences. 'Why did I decide to be a father? Because of my work with my foundation. Why my work with my foundation? Because of my trips to India. Why did I want to go to India? Because I wanted to detach from fame, because I wanted to look for silence. Why? Because I didn't like interviews, I didn't like being famous. Why was that? Because maybe I was being invaded by questions about my sexuality. Hmmm. Why did I feel invaded?'
Above all, he says he worried about Matteo and Valentino having to answer for their father's untruths. How would they respond as they grew older? Would they have to lie on his behalf? 'How could I teach my kids to lie?' he asks. 'How could I teach them not to be themselves?' And, as simple as that, he realized he couldn't and wouldn't. 'My children will grow up with no prejudice,' he says. 'As parents, we need to create a new way of thinking for our kids, in which we accept, and we love, and we can vibe with everybody.'
On cue, it seems, the boys awake from their afternoon nap and are brought downstairs to daddy. Martin has a small retinue of loyal and longtime staff, more like family, and they start clucking and fussing over the kids, amusing them with clown faces as they run around the lawn grabbing at flowers to present to the adults, tokens of their affection. Martin laughs as they stumble in their haste and launches into a proud-father monologue, detailing their quirks and foibles: how Valentino insists on eating with his hands, covering his face with pasta; how he jokes that Matteo is 'half Puerto Rican and half Chinese' because of his overweening fondness for rice. And he frets about separation issues when he returns to Broadway in 2012 to play Che in the revival of Evita, his first stage role since he played Marius in Les Mis'rables in 1995, before reassuring himself that other Broadway parents deal with much the same.
And there is, of course, his new partner. Martin imagines a day when he'll be walking down a red carpet with his man and his boys, right behind Neil Patrick Harris and David Burtka and their twin kids. 'How awesome will that be?' he asks. Well, very.
See all of our 2010 Out 100 honorees here.