When someone like Ricky Martin comes out, hundreds of millions of people now have a cultural connection with an artist, a celebrity and, perhaps most importantly, a father who happens to be gay; His decision to model this kind of openness and honesty can lead to greater acceptance for countless gay people in U.S., in Latin America and worldwide.Yay!
In the meantime, I did take a gentle swipe at GLAAD's language usage policies when it came to Ricky Martin describing himself as "homosexual" in my previous post. That's because I have long held that the usage of the word "homosexual" is common-place in Latin America: When people use it, they don't intend it to have a negative connotation.
The word "homosexual" is certainly there in the Spanish-language version of his coming out statement and was probably left intact when someone translated it for the English-language statement to Spanish. They probably didn't know that it wasn't kosher to leave it there (I must confess I sometimes translate 'homosexual' to 'gay' when I do translations from Spanish language articles just as I translate 'travesti' to 'transgender').
But, as the news broke on Twitterlandia - and elsewhere - I was struck by a certainly understandable divide.
There were those in the United States who only knew the singer for his "Living La Vida Loca" cross-over attempts and his vagueness about his sexuality over the years. For the most part, today, they were dismissive and quick to say that it was too late for him to come out. Not a comprehensive survey here by any means, but they included openly gay US Representative Jared Polis, and bloggers like DListed and AmericaBlogGay,
On the other hand, there were those of us Latinos who knew that Ricky Martin had never defined himself by his cross-over attempts or had lost any stature in Latin America just because he had failed to sustain his cross-over moment in the United States. Those of us who knew about his longstanding efforts to eradicate child abuse throughout the world (click on: The Ricky Martin Foundation). Those of us who, like everyone else, suspected he was gay but didn't think he would ever come out. Those of us who thought that he would nevertheless make a huge impact if he ever did. Particularly among queer youth who looked up to him and were struggling to come to terms with their sexuality.
So, let me go against the grain and congratulate Ricky Martin for coming out today. I, too, would have liked it to have happened sooner, but I do not feel I can properly express just how huge this is when it comes to Latin America.
For proof of the immediate impact, you might want to go to the outpouring of support from fellow stars that followed Ricky's coming out announcement on Twitter.
- Mexican singer Christian Chavez, who might as well be called the first Latino super-star to come out. On his Twitter account he wrote "Ricky Martin, I am so proud of you. Wow! United, things will change! With liberty! With love! Out with face masks! Let's love each other as we are."
- Colombian singer Juanes who Tweeted "all my respect and love for you Ricky, you are a gentleman"
- Venezuelan singer Ricardo Montaner who Tweeted "the Ricky Martin of yesterday is the same Ricky Martin of always. And he is my friend!"
- Mexican singer - and longtime ally Gloria Trevi -who Tweeted "Ricky Martin, illuminated and with a sincere heart."
- Spanish singer Alejandro Sanz, long rumored to be gay himself, who Tweeted "a strong embrace and all my friendship for Ricky Martin. You are loved and respected. So good that you are at peace with yourself. Kiss your babies" (you might know Alejandro from this Shakira video).
- Desperate Housewives' Eva Longoria, who just Tweeted "You are inspiring and beautiful, I love you so much!"
- And the amazing (and most popular current Puerto Rican artist) René Pérez Joglar, also known as Calle 13's "El Residente" who Tweeted "Ricky Martin: Being a man doesn't have to do with your sexual preference, but with the honesty with which you sustain your words" and "Ricky Martin is much more of a man than many a man who says they are a man."
- And, OMfuckin'G, even Veronica Castro - who would not go lesbian for a Mexican TV show - deems is necessary to jump into the fray and say "You are a wonderful human being and an unstoppable artist; My support for you in everything you do, I send you a kiss."
- Ricky Martin comes out - Oriol's POZ Blog, March 30, 2010