The Coming Out of Ricky Martin: Reactions

by Guest Contributor Andrés Duque, originally published at Blabbeando

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Discrimination (GLAAD) has released a statement on Ricky Martin‘s coming out.  It’s a statement from Jarret T. Barrios, the agency’s Executive Director:

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.

Those include:

And just by those, tonight, you will have an inkling of just how many barriers Ricky Martin broke tonight. Yes, it might have come late in his career. Yes, you might make light of it if you want. But, in some ways, the earth moved today in Latin America when it comes to LGBT rights.

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