Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin Is Gay: Obvious Since 2000

Ricky Martin in 2010 has decided to finally come out of the closet and admit to the world that he is gay. The problem is that the only person more obviously gay in the last decade has been Clay Aiken.

It is not often that I am grateful that an artist disappeared from the spotlight, but in the case of Ricky Martin I was glad that he went away. For those who remember 1999, one of the biggest songs of the year was “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Ricky Martin had been very popular for years in Latin America and this was the song that made him famous in the United States. Then the song was overplayed on the radio. Then it was overplayed again. Then it became so annoying that people would turn the channel once they heard the horns from the beginning of the song.

I thought that Ricky Martin’s entry into the Entertainment Industry of the United States was so big that we would have him around for many sad years like we experienced with Britney Spears, singing bad pop songs that get way too much radio play. But Ricky Martin’s follow-up songs were not as popular. By the time that you heard the phrase “9/11”, Ricky Martin had become a has-been.

There were rumors that Ricky Martin was gay. I remember a scene from a concert when he had his back to the audience and started shaking his butt-cheeks very fast. I thought that is not something that you would see straight men do. Then there was the Barbara Walters interview.

During the Barbara Walters interview with Ricky Martin in 2000, she asked him about the rumors that he is gay. He said that he did not mind the rumors if they helped him sell more albums. She then said (I am paraphrasing based on my memory of the interview) that he could end the rumors now if he just said if he was gay or straight. I remember he said that he was not ready to answer that question.

WHAT????? How could he not answer a simple question like that? At that point, it was clear to me that Ricky Martin was gay. Whether he was gay or straight did not matter to me, because I hated his music either way. But it appears that this interview may have been part of what caused his career to fade away.

It is possible that the rumors of him being gay, plus his unwillingness to answer a simple question about his sexuality, may have led to the end of his career. I tend to believe that his career ended because after having hits like “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “She Bangs,” he did not have hits catchy enough for the radio. While I don’t like those two songs, I have to admit critically that they were upbeat and catchy.

In a way, it is sad that Ricky Martin waited an entire decade to admit that he was gay when most of society already knew it. Maybe for the last few years, he thought that he could make a comeback and being known as gay would hurt his appeal with female audiences. After a forgettable decade for him, he probably realized that he has nothing to lose now.

There are musicians who are admired mainly for their music and there are others who are admired for both their talent and attractiveness. One of the most talented musicians who I am a fan of is George Michael. He did not just have a great voice, but he actually wrote and produced hit songs. He is a talented musician who happened to be considered a sex object in the 1980s. When George Michael was arrested for something of a sexual nature in a bathroom involving a male undercover police officer, it became public news that George Michael is gay. Unlike many other artists, he did not have the opportunity to “out” himself. He was “outed” by the activity that he was arrested for. While George Michael did not have any hits for the previous few years, being proven to be gay did not help him when he came out with future albums. For female fans, the fantasy was gone. They knew that he was not interested in their gender. When they would hear his song, “I want your sex,” they knew he wasn’t talking about any of them.

Ricky Martin probably realized that being known as gay would hurt his ability to sell albums to female fans. That is why he was not ready to answer any questions about his sexuality.

The sad thing is, if his career was hurt by the Barbara Walters interview (and I believe that it was), it is because Ricky Martin decided to be honest. He could have easily just lied and said, “I’m straight.” Then he could have spent the next few years being a bit more successful than he had been. Then a few years later, he could admit that he had lied and no one would have blamed him. Instead, his decision to tell Barbara Walters that he was not ready to answer if he was gay or not made the audience conclude that he was gay. It was clear to me that he was gay when I saw the interview.

I think that Barbara Walters probably thought that he was straight and that he was being coy about it to avoid disappointing his gay fans. By him potentially saying that he was straight, he would step away from the ambiguity and give a clear answer. I don’t think that Barbara Walters realized that if he was gay, how much that could hurt him more than losing his gay audience. In the year 2000, society was not as open to accepting gay people as it is today. In 2004, many states voted against allowing gay marriage. I had not even thought about the issue until that year. I decided to support gay marriage. Over the next six years, support for gay marriage and gay people in general has increased dramatically. Maybe Ricky Martin is coming out of the closet now because he feels that society will accept him as a human being.

I am not a fan of Ricky Martin. I will never accept his music. While I do not want to see a Ricky Martin comeback on the music charts, I can say that I respect him as a human being.


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