Jaws hit floor: Ricky Martin gay!

Posted 3/31/10 by Paul

Ricky Martin GAY

“Ricky Martin Gay” : An admission that’s arrived too late to be relevant or proof that a Google search is impossibly vague?!

One of the entertainment industry’s worst-kept secrets came out this week when Ricky Martin admitted he was gay. Much to Ricky Martin’s chagrin in his blatant attempts to get back in the public eye, nobody really cares. Gone are the days when a star as flamboyant as Ricky Martin’s admission would cause shockwaves…

Especially when he’s as camp as THIS!

In a world where so many people are openly gay, the entertainment industry is strangely draconian in how it handles this issue. It’s pretty much accepted that, for an established star to admit they like same-sex relationships, it’s tantamount to career suicide. Yet in nearly every workplace, the opposite holds true. Being gay seems to be en vogue everywhere but in Hollywood.

Growing up, there weren’t a lot of openly gay people in my hometown. Gay people were referred to as perverts or freaks…and that was just the clinical terminology. Since I have left school, times have changed pretty radically and some of the people I sat alongside in class have since admitted being gay. I would be lying if I said I though admitting this was “brave”, as I think that term is used quite condescendingly in that context.

I’d be lying if I said I was Mr PC and Right-on. I’m liberal about most things and have a “live and let live” attitude, but I’m uncomfortable to some degree about gay sexuality. Part of it is the fact that I don’t understand it and another part of it is my upbringing. This wasn’t so much my family but the people I hung around with. As a consequence of that, I sometimes struggle to know what to say to some gay people. It’s a bit like the whole race issue at times: you don’t know whether someone’s sexuality is inconsequential to them or whether they wear it as a badge of honor… and don’t take kindly to gentle ribbing.

I think the big problem a lot of us straight guys have is an offshoot of homophobia. It’s not that you hate gay people, but you hate the idea that someone might think YOU are gay! It’s one of those things, where you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t. If you deny such a thing, you MUST be, the logic goes. But if you admit it, you obviously are! What’s most concerning to me is that this should be a problem. Why should we care if anyone thinks we are gay?

I think the terminology that is used has a lot to do with this discomfort. Gay people themselves are responsible. Terms like “admit to being gay”, “accused of being gay” and “come out of the closet” implies some sort of wrongdoing or secrecy. The world is pretty diverse now and I think if people acknowledged they were gay from the outset, there would be much less stigma attached to the whole concept.

The bottom line is, I obviously wouldn’t want my sons to be gay and this probably reflects poorly on me in terms of political correctness. However, if one of my sons were gay, I would hate for them to go through life trying to hide it. Although I have much to learn, I think one of the goals of parenting should be to allow your kids to be the best that they are and let their true selves shine.

I often imagine if the roles were reversed and being straight was not considered the norm. I actually don’t think we are far away from that, but that’s another matter and I don’t want to stray too far from the point at hand. Anyway, growing up in a world where something which is natural for you is considered strange or perverted must be pretty dire. I’m adamant that, even in those hypothetical circumstances, I couldn’t pretend to be something I’m not. That’s what mystifies me.
Ricky Martin outed himself by saying that “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man.” The wording here is strange, of course, since he didn’t seem “proud” to admit this in the last ten years. Every time he was asked, he dodged the question or give a girly laugh… or flicked his hair. Understandably, he had his crack team of PR experts pulling his strings. Still, I think it’s a little trite to say NOW that he’s proud.

Perhaps we are to applaud a man for admitting his truth. In some respects, it is good when performers are finally honest – whether that’s admitting a fondness for drugs, their true sexuality or even sex addiction. You just have to be cynical of the timing, though. There are so many actors who are reported to be gay but who still don’t admit (there’s that word again) it. It’s insane that, in an environment driving by so many talented and diverse gay performers, few in Hollywood can actually acknowledge they’re gay.

Let’s take an actor like Kevin Spacey, for instance. Now, Kevin Spacey is clearly NOT gay and I would never write “Kevin Spacey is gay.” But let’s pretend that Kevin Spacey is gay, just for the purposes of illustration and not trying to be cute. Would anyone have a problem with Kevin Spacey, if gay, playing the roles he played in “American Beauty” and “The Usual Suspects”? Would the fact he was gay deter from what were spellbinding and utterly convincing performances?

At the end of the day, he was acting. It was a performance. Whether an actor is straight or gay shouldn’t deter from their work.

Being gay is unlikely to hurt sales anymore. Adam Lambert was insanely popular on “American Idol”, but obviously it was still a little taboo for the far-right to allow an openly gay singer to actually win the competition. Still, he has been very successful since the show. I truly believe that, even if some people are uncomfortable with the idea of the gay lifestyle, they can still enjoy a movie or record featuring a gay star.

Roger Ebert wisely pointed out that Sean Penn’s brilliant performance in “Milk” shows how little Hollywood itself has changed. In a movie about a man’s crusade for gay people’s rights, it is played by one of the industry’s dyed-in-the-wool heteros. Again, no actor stood up and admitted THEY were gay whilst applauding another liberal, well-meaning message movie. It was hollow.

Hollywood wants it both ways (I’ll say!) They are happy to cheer the message, but too afraid to admit how it applies to them. If we can accept Sean Penn as a gay crusader, I can state with confidence that any gay actor could be accepted playing a heterosexual character.
And then, most sickening of all, Sean Penn wins an Oscar while all the critics lavish him with praise for his “brave performance.” Pretending to be gay for a couple of million dollars and an Academy Award is not “brave.” It’s picking a good role and playing it well. “Brave” is legitimately going to war or battling through a terminal illness. In Hollywood terms, “brave” would be acknowledging your sexuality for real and running the risk of losing a few million dollars. That takes a certain amount of bravery… Until that time, a late admission like “Ricky Martin gay” is only going to come across as desperate and attention-seeking.

Paul
paul@whatever-dude.com

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