Monday, March 29, 2010

Well, Better Late Than Never, I Guess

In news to which seemingly no one has expressed the least surprise, Latin pop singer Ricky Martin has announced that he is gay.

On his website today, Martin posted a lengthy statement that ends with, “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.”

Well, good for you, Ricky! Meanwhile, the general consensus throughout the blogsphere is: Well, finally!

I can’t say I’m a fan of Ricky Martin, although I can appreciate the contribution he’s made to the music world. I just wish he could have found it within himself to come out when at the height of his fame, and not wait now when, really, he’s somewhat of a “yesterday’s hero.”

I definitely think that for many people coming out can be a very long and protracted process. I think particularly of those who marry young and start a family before realizing who they are sexually. Yet this wasn’t the case with Martin.

No, it appears that Martin intentionally chose to be closeted when he was at the height of his success (and thus influence) as part of a very tactical move to guarantee a lucrative career. No crime in that, of course. But I must admit I find it disappointing.

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, many assumed Martin was living life as a gay man, and his welcoming of twin sons via a surrogate in 2008 went a long way in confirming what most people sensed: the guy was gay.

Above: Ricky (left) and friend on a Caribbean beach.

And now that his highly successful career has seemingly run its course, he opts to come out. Some, of course, may want to praise him for his “bravery.” Personally, I reserve such high praise for those artists and celebrities who from the start of their careers or from a point early in them, make the decision to come out, regardless of the price that may be paid in terms of success (and income). Gay entertainers who have done just that include George Maharis, Ian McKellen, Adam Lambert, Neil Patrick Harris, Darren Hayes, Rufus Wainwright, and the late Stephen Gately.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely happy that Martin has finally come out, and I recognize that even at this late stage, it may well have been a difficult decision for him. I just can’t bring myself to seeing him as a hero for doing so, primarily because I can’t help but wonder what an incredibly powerful role model he could have been if he had mustered the courage to come out when at the height of his success, a move that I really don’t believe would have devastated his career - despite what
Barbara Walters may think. (Hmm, am I being too harsh? Certainly not everyone agrees with the perspective I’ve shared, as demonstrated by many of the comments in response to this Entertainment Weekly article about Ricky Martin’s coming out.)

Anyway, I appreciate’s rather humorous take on the news of Martin’s coming out, excerpts of which are reprinted below.


He Bangs . . . He

After years of no one speculating about the skimpy-Speedo-wearing, surrogate-sponsoring father of two, Ricky Martin has finally opened his boca about what he means by “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”

In an announcement almost as shocking as a weather forecast at the North Pole, Martin (finally) admitted his sensual dance moves and scarf-sporting style wasn’t just due to his Latin lifestyle. He is gay.

And to be more accurate, according to his public announcement, Martin is a “fortunate homosexual.”

We agree with our favorite have-you-even-made-a-CD-since-we-were-in-elementary-school singer in his fortunate qualities. We’re much more excited in this announcement than when Clay Aiken made the same announcement to the unsurprised world.

. . . So, we’re supposed to be surprised by all this, Ricky? C’mon.

You make Elton John look like a toolbelt-toting Home Depot fanatic.

We knew ever since we laid eyes on you wearing that shimmering long-sleeved shirt on the cover of that self-titled album we secretly fell in love with.

And we love you even more for it. We know that it often takes more courage to tell the truth than to live a lie, and we wish you nothing but future happiness in your “vida loca.”

Recommended Off-site Links:
Yep, He’s Gay: Ricky Martin Comes Out of the Closet - Rolling Stone (March 29, 2010).
Ricky Confirms: “I’m Gay” - The Advocate (March 29, 2010).
Ricky Martin Comes Out and No One is Surprised - Samantha Gordon (, March 29, 2010).


Steve said...

I was in similar space related to Sean Hayes.

I'm happy to affirm the complexities of coming out for every person, whatever their station or position on a career arc.

And yet, there's a disconnect for me that I don't quite know how to express or handle.

In 2000, my partner lost his battle with depression, completing his journey too early at 46. Like Ricky Martin and Sean Hayes, he was new to coming out in mid-life.

The thing I want Hayes, Martin, and other not-so-closeted yet prominent folks to hear is a reminder that being out is likely to bring some messiness to our lives at times. They need not take on the mantle of role model, activist, or leader as a fully-out person. Still, they can come out mindful that the income- or career-based hit they'll incur is helpful to, and will bond them with, the folks who have lost their livelihoods, families, or their lives.

Being out has messed with my life.

It's been an entirely worthwhile venture.

Michael J. Bayly said...


I greatly appreciate your sharing so honestly on this issue - an issue that, as you note, is filled with complexities.



Colin said...

You're not being too harsh, Michael. Throughout his career, Ricky Martin has frequented gay clubs in both America and Europe. He's been in relationships with men throughout his adult life. He's a 38-year-old millionaire who has come out of the closet to the surprise of no one and as a publicity stunt. I feel no empathy for him.

Anonymous said...

Michael, I like your site a lot and visit it every day. this is my first comment:

Who cares about Ricky Martin? Who was that OTHER guy on the beach with him? WOOF!!!

kevin57 said...

I think, Michael, you are being a little harsh. I don't read into RM's announcement any desire to be seen either as a hero or an object of pity. I consider him neither. At the same time, anytime a person stands against the homophobia of society, it is a good thing. "Everyone" may have known that RM was gay, but, believe me, homophobes live in, by, and through denial...and not just with themselves.

Mareczku said...

Thanks for sharing, Steve. Your comments were very thoughtful.

brian gerard said...

Interesting post, Michael. Just a couple of things; Neal Patrick Harris was forced "out" by an impending expose and he was well into his career by then, Ricky Martin, I think, gets whatever points get given for coming out anymore just for doing it. Other than closeted politicians who may be making our lives miserable, I see no reason at all to judge anyone's process of communicating their full lives to others.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with Brian here. I came out when I was 36--just 2 years younger than Ricky Martin is now. I am certainly not a millionaire but I am well aware that some people who I worked with at the time were extremely critical of me for waiting so long. Others at that same time condemned my soul to hell, and even at my mid-30s that was still traumatic to me. Who can judge the trauma inside his heart over the years, popular or not? I certainly can't.

I am the one and only person who can determine my readiness to be public about what in reality, in an ideal society, should be a private matter anyway. By that I mean no one else should give a fuck. But, in the world we live in, they do. We all know that. Certainly Mr Martin knew that and still chose to do so. Good for him. And us.

It is never without pain to come out, no matter what your monetary value. Incidentally I was ironically later criticized, somewhat severely I might add, by several of the very same people who had supported me in my earlier choice to come out years earlier, when I made a decision to be celibate for a time due to religious reasons. While I no longer see that as a neccesity for myself, I never once condemned others who chose otherwise or were not at a place to made such a decision. But I was still attacked about it from family and friends who thought I had gone over the edge. All for something that was my business only.

Now, my very recent move out of a church that attempted to decide those things for me has yet again brought a new barrage of criticism from those who mistook me for an "ex gay"(which was never my belief, even as a strong Catholic). And in every one of those 3 progressions in my own journey I gained new friends and yet lost others who in some cases I felt very close to.

Yes, he has money, prestige, and less to lose than some. But for the rest of his life he will, as the rest of us, be "targeted" by some who formerly expected "better" of him and will now reject him. He didn't have to say a word, but did so anyway, knowing this. Early or late. At least give him that much.

Jamez said...

I wonder if his coming out at this "late date" has anything to do with the fact that a huge locus of his fan base is not the good old USA but Latin countries where Mochismo is so repressively strong. In that sense, he may very well be quite the hero for coming out at all. The center of the world for some, really is south of the US/Mexican boarder.