Coming out was a life-changing event for Ricky Martin. The Puerto Rican singer discussed how not facing his gay identity took a toll during the Livin’ la Vida Loca Tour, Martin’s first major world tour, which ran from 1999 to 2000.
“I could high five God, but I wasn’t living to the fullest,” Martin said during the new episode of Apple Music’s Proud Radio. “I was sad. I was depressed. I would walk on stage to perform because that was the only way I could balance my emotion is to snap out of this heavy sadness that I was moving in. And then actually there came a moment that I said, ‘We need to stop. We need to stop the tour.’”
That moment came when Martin’s tour reached Australia. At that point, he decided he needed to take a break. “I said, I can’t. I can’t do this. I need to go home. I need silence. I need to cry. I need to be angry. I need to forgive myself for allowing myself to reach this level, to get to where I’m at,” he told host Hattie Collins.
At the time, Martin’s sexuality had long been a subject of rumors. Barbara Walters infamously tried to pressure the singer to come out in a 2000 interview, a move she later said she regretted.
In 2010, Martin came out as gay in blog post on his website, which referenced subject matter from his then-forthcoming memoir, Me: Ricky Martin. “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am,” Martin wrote.
To Proud Radio in present-day, Martin reflected on the significance of that moment. “I got to the place I was fighting as I was writing my book between saying, ‘Am I gay? Am I bisexual? Am I gay? Am I bisexual?’” he said. “And either is OK, just go within and do not lie to yourself. And then I said, ‘Rick, you are a very fortunate homosexual man. You are gay.’ And I wrote it and I pressed send, and then I cried like crazy. And I’ve been super happy ever since.”
Today, Martin is a proud activist. Notably, in 2016, he penned a powerful letter advocating for gun control in the wake of the Pulse shooting. A visible gay dad, he is raising four children with his husband, artist Jwan Yosef, who he married in 2017. Martin received the HRC National Visibility Award for his work in 2019.
Martin is also a notable philanthropist. The Ricky Martin Foundation has provided support to Puerto Rico in the wake of the devastation from Hurricane Maria and, most recently, the ongoing global pandemic. In its #Together2020 campaign, the foundation launched a fundraiser to expand testing, provide mental health services and PPE, and protect human rights in vulnerable communities. Martin also recently headlined a virtual event, “Can’t Cancel Pride,” which benefited members of the LGBTQ+ community impacted by the health crisis.
In the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, Martin stressed the importance of intersectionality in his interview with Proud Radio. “I think we have to join forces,” he said. “At this point, it’s all about listening. It’s about learning, it’s about being respectful, and it’s about understanding that at this point it’s not about us. At this point it’s about giving the platform to those incredible voices that has helped us and has taught us about the injustices that, in this case the LGBTQ+ community goes through.”