For many people, celebrating the Monday mid-day Coming Out tweet by Ricky Martin, and the post to which it linked, seems a little late. Very few celebrities who have garnered as much critical acclaim and public adoration have been so clearly living inside a glass closet than Ricky Martin. However, it would be wrong to dismiss Martin’s coming out story just because we all saw it coming. His struggle for self-acceptance is no less relevant or heartbreaking than any other. Perhaps more importantly to the rest of us, his struggle highlights the continued power of homophobia and heterosexism to make people turn on themselves and deny the very heart of who they are just to be accepted. And unlike 18 year old Derrick Martin from the previous post who is learning the lessons of hatred far too early, Ricky Martin is unlearning them so very late.
As he put it in his own words:
Many people told me: “Ricky it’s not important”, “it’s not worth it”, “all the years you’ve worked and everything you’ve built will collapse”, “many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your reality, your nature”. Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth. Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions.
Mucha gente me dijo que no era importante hacerlo, que no valía la pena, que todo lo que trabaje y todo lo que había logrado se colapsaría. Que muchos en este mundo no estarían preparados para aceptar mi verdad, mi naturaleza. Y como estos consejos venían de personas que amo con locura, decidí seguir adelante con mi “casi verdad”. MUY MAL. Dejarme seducir por el miedo fue un verdadero sabotaje a mi vida. Hoy me responsabilizo por completo de todas mis decisiones, y de todas mis acciones.
This is the lesson that not only society but often our loved ones (friends, family, mentors) teach us. Derrick Martin learned it from his parents when they kicked him out this month for wanting to bring his boyfriend to prom and is re-learning it every day from the adults in his small town. Ricky Martin learned it from his own friends and colleagues, some of whom just wanted to ride the Vida Loca gravy train and some who really thought they had his best interests at heart. Everyone who has ever come out to themselves and to others can point to these people in their own lives. The “good intentions” of homophobia unite us across regions, languages, spaces, classes, etc. And each of us has had to ask who will we love more? How will we love?
So no, Ricky Martin’s coming out saga is not a revelation to anyone paying attention. But to watch a young boy go from Menudo to Soap Opera Heart Throb to evasive denial on 20-20 complete with a beautiful beard to claim he “was always the macho” to finally, this:
But fear of my truth? Not at all! On the contrary, It fills me with strength and courage …
These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.
I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am.
Pero miedo a mi naturaleza, a mi verdad? NO MAS! Al contrario, estas me dan valor y firmeza.
Ha sido un proceso muy intenso, angustiante y doloroso pero también liberador. Les juro que cada palabra que están leyendo aquí nace de amor, purificación, fortaleza, aceptación y desprendimiento. Que escribir estas líneas es el acercamiento a mi paz interna, parte vital de mi evolución. Hoy ACEPTO MI HOMOSEXUALIDAD como un regalo que me da la vida. ¡Me siento bendecido de ser quien soy!-
is not just a thing of beauty, it is a reminder. The path we travel is hard not just because of the people who openly hate but those who, whether wittingly or unknowingly, disguise their homophobia as love. For me his words, though late, remind us that it is never too late to love ourselves and to let that love be strong enough to demand that others love us back as we are.
all quotes come from Ricky Martin’s Coming Out story on his official website here. (You can read his whole story in his upcoming book.)