Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin's private emotion

Ricky Martin officially came out yesterday. A common comment on Facebook, YouTube and elsewhere has been "duh!!!!" or some variation thereof, but I'm excited he came out and am proud of him. Am I surprised he's gay? No, but that's really not the point. He's made gayness ever more visible and re-underlined the importance of not being a full-time liar.

Gays sometimes forget that coming out is hard. And yet it's very easy to look back and wonder why it was so hard. My friends are nice people; what did I think was going to happen? Did I really think they were going to scream and point and run away? That would be silly, but it's nevertheless difficult to redefine your identity to others and risk the unknown repercussions of how that might affect your relationships. "You're a female friend; you've always known me as a straight man. Now I'm telling you I'm a gay man. So I'm really not who I said I was the whole time we've known each other." That's a big deal!

Ricky Martin's coming out is on a scale none of us can really imagine. He's famous. He's going to be remembered. And he's fundamentally changing his public identity. His fans are Hispanic, many of whom are probably Catholic. They are women. They love him. Now that fantasy is gone; plus he's not a "good Catholic boy" perhaps. So it's a big deal, definitely.

Then there's the rest of the world -- the non-fans. They'll all weigh in. He's putting himself at the center of a conversation that's certain not to be a nice one. Again, a big deal! And one that takes courage. He could have just lived out his days not confirming or denying, as he had been doing. I don't think anyone would have blamed him.

So am I shocked Ricky Martin's gay? No, but I'm proud of him for saying so, and would like to see my fellow gays be a little more supportive and sympathetic. I'm glad that when I told my mom I was gay when I was 18, she didn't say "duh!!!!".

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