Hugh Montgomery: Ricky Martin came out and the world yawned. Result!

Share
Related Topics

It was the news which no one had been waiting for. Last week, Ricky Martin finally revealed that all those years he had been "Livin' la Vida Loca", he'd also been livin' la vida lie. Yes, the Latin pop star responsible for the unfortunately-titled "She Bangs" declared via his website that he was, in fact, "a fortunate homosexual". If coming out is a momentous step in any gay man's life, then the response to Martin's has been decidedly less momentous. Reactions have ranged from blank indifference to benign amusement at a "revelation" that has been considered an open secret in gossip circles for years.

Why has it taken Martin until the age of 38, a decade past his career peak, to confirm what most people thought they already knew? In Martin's own words: "Many people told me: 'Ricky, it's not important', 'it's not worth it', 'all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse'. Because all this advice came from people who I love dearly, I decided to move on with my life not sharing with the world my entire truth." It's a pitiful reminder of the rank disingenuity that has traditionally plagued the pop business when it comes to gayness: that while stars from Bowie to Morrissey have long turned ambiguous sexuality into a selling point, an admission of actual, full-blown homosexuality has long been considered tantamount to career suicide. And that while innumerable photogenic young wannabes have been readily targeted at a gay demographic, they've been fervently discouraged from appearing to be part of the demographic themselves.

But all the while Martin has suffered within an industry straitjacket, others have been cutting loose, offering a heartening indication that audiences are far less homophobic than they might once have been given credit for. In the past decade, we've seen Pop Idol winner Will Young steal a march on the tabloids by outing himself, only to go on to enjoy multiple Brit nominations and eight million or so record sales; while more recently another gay talent show graduate, American Idol runner-up Adam Lambert, has found himself talked up as a male version of Lady Gaga. Elsewhere, the defiantly queer Scissor Sisters have emerged from the New York underground club scene to headline festivals and fill arenas, while boy-banders like Westlife's Mark Feehily, *NSync's Lance Bass and the late Stephen Gately have demonstrated that teenage girls will still adore you even if they know they can't have you.

Optimism must be tempered with a hefty pinch of salt, not least because of the narrow definition of "pop" to which the above artists conform. What of the realms of indie-rock or hip-hop, for example, in which you don't need two hands to count the number of out-and-proud stars? We're still waiting for the first, openly gay footballer; gay film actors are still routinely shut out of leading roles. Suddenly the collective yawns evoked by the Martin story begin to look like progress: we can only hope for the day when the fact of a leading Hollywood star or sportsman's coming out can be considered a similar non-event.

The final irony is that Martin's confession has only served to pluck him out of "Where are they now?" obscurity and could well help him revive his flagging record sales. Indeed, cynics have already been quick to suggest it's a publicity stunt designed to serve that very purpose. And if so, so what? Isn't it fantastic that coming out of the closet can be considered a more beneficial career move than staying inside it? Now here's just hoping that he does the only sensible thing and releases that "He Bangs" reworking forthwith.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: AV Installation Engineer

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to business growth, this is...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Care Support Workers

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion, this care company base...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£21000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Refugees try to cross the border from Greece into Macedonia, near Gevgelija, on Wednesday. The town sits on the ‘Balkan corridor’ used by refugees, mostly from Syria, to travel from Turkey to Hungary, the gateway to the EU  

The UK response to the plight of Syrian refugees is a national embarrassment

Kevin Watkins
The provincial capital of Idlib, Syria, which fell to al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra last week  

'I was sure I’d be raped or killed. I was terrified': My life as a gay Syrian refugee who had to flee Isis

Subhi Nahas
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent