When pop singer and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Ricky Martin disclosed Monday that he is a “fortunate homosexual man,” responses ranged from sincere congratulations to “what took so long?” Christian Right organizations have been slow to respond; no doubt they will in the coming days.
Martin, 38, has been a celebrity since his days in Menudo in the 1980s, and since 1991 as a solo artist. That is a long time to endure the dilemma that confronts most LGBT public figures: Shall I be sexually honest — or concede to the twin pressures of a lucrative opposite-gender fanbase that wants to dream of romance with me, and a socially conservative marketplace that rewards secrecy or, worse, faux heterosexuality.
There are valid reasons (besides prosperity) for celebrities to preserve their private lives.
Sanity, for one — it’s difficult to carry out a healthy social and romantic life when it’s conducted under the glare of floodlights and the roaming eyes of TMZ, the National Enquirer, and countless gay gossips.
Avoidance of typecasting is another. Someone whose private life is unknown finds it much easier to secure and succeed with a wide range of different themes and audience demographics, whereas Ellen Degeneres and Elton John — successful as they are — have few options.
Some may argue that, for political reasons, celebrities who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender should come out for the benefit of the “community.” I, for one, think celebrities should take their time and come out on their own terms — not simply because activists like us might want them to.