by Gabriela Lazzaro
I have loved Ricky Martin for a long time — since the days of Menudo, and the telenovela “Alcanzar una Estrella.” Through the years, speculations of him being gay never affected how I felt about him. Now that he is out as a gay Latino, I think I love him infinitely more.
I have since heard him describe the pain, loneliness and desperation that came with living a lie for most of his life. How he had to keep his romantic relationships a secret. How he was afraid of losing everything he had worked so hard for. How he felt constant pressure to remain a closeted gay man. It’s heartbreaking to hear him talk about growing up and feeling like there was something wrong with him, and that he was a bad person for feeling the way he felt and being who he was.
As is the case for many other cultures, for many of our Latino families it is still very difficult to accept the idea of having a gay son. Thankfully, there are real signs that times are changing and opinions are shifting. Nearly 60% of Americans support repealing “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.” A recent CNN poll shows most Americans favor gay marriage. Today, five states and the District of Columbia issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples—Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and D.C.
Gay rights are civil rights. This is not about religion. This is about having equal rights under the law. This is about marriage recognition, about being able to adopt children and have a family like everyone else, about being able to live openly without fear of discrimination or persecution in the workplace or anyplace else.
I am hopeful about the future because I believe in the power that knowing just one LGBT person can have in changing someone’s mind and opening their heart. I believe that in the next decade, gay rights will be a reality in this country, and we’ll be embarrassed by the days when this was not the case. I am so proud as a Latina that Ricky has been brave enough to openly and proudly express who he is—with no apologies. Because of him, many Latino men may feel that extra motivation to be who they are openly, and because of him so many important conversations about LGBT rights will start in our Latino households.
Check out Ricky discussing his experiences and supporting LGBT teens on The View.
To learn more about LGBT activism and issues, check out:
To learn more about Gabriela,
visit Latinos for Planned Parenthood.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.