Remember when Gabrielle Union admitted that she used to be a mean girl? Turns out, Ricky Martin wasn’t much better when he was growing up. Appearing on the cover of GQ Australia this month, Ricky said that he used to bully people who he knew were gay back when he was growing up in Puerto Rico. Ricky came out of the closet in 2010, posting on his website that he was a “fortunate homosexual man” after many rumors were flying over his sexuality.
“To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with,” Martin said back in 2010. “These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.”
His reason for coming out is equivalent to his reason for coming clean about his past ways – he wanted to be truthful and open for his 5-year-old twin sons, Matteo and Valentino, and teach them that there’s no shame in being gay.
Back when he was a child, the decision to bully came from his own fear of himself. “I was very angry, very rebellious. I used to look at gay men and think, I’m not like that, I don’t want to be like that, that’s not me. I was ashamed,” Martin told the magazine.
Amazingly enough, Ricky became one of the many celebrity icons that served to help the gay and lesbian population find more comfort. He probably could have benefited from something similar as a child, to help him make better decisions about how he, back then, chose to cope with his sexuality.
“When someone like Ricky Martin comes out, hundreds of millions of people now have a cultural connection with an artist, a celebrity and, perhaps most importantly, a father who happens to be gay,” said Jarrett Barrios, who was then the President of GLAAD. “His decision to model this kind of openness and honesty can lead to greater acceptance for countless gay people in U.S., in Latin America and worldwide.”
While we shouldn’t be applauding Ricky’s past actions, we can at least understand his mindset at the time – and be thankful that he’s learned from the experience. Hopefully other bullies will follow his lead as the years go on. Maybe those who choose to target this community do so because they have underlying confusion about themselves. Maybe they do it because they’re confused about someone elses differences. Maybe they do it because they’re just plain old bullies, who will use absolutely anything as a target if it makes them feel better about themselves for a minute or two.
If you’ve been bullied by someone, it might be helpful to see it through this different perspective – the person chooses their words and their taunts based on something they’re lacking, or something they’re struggling to comprehend. It’s not you, it’s them. And while it still hurts, you shouldn’t let their thoughtless attacks, and poor ways of expressing their own personal fears, ruin your day.
Admitting to his past mistakes growing up was a big move for Ricky – not only does it show how someone can truly evolve as a person, but it was probably a huge weight he was carrying around for awhile. When Ricky wrote his coming out letter three years ago, his past behavior may have skewed his idea of how the public would take the news – after all, he wrote “What will happen from now on? It doesn’t matter. I can only focus on what’s happening to me in this moment.” What he may have forgotten about is that being gay doesn’t make you any less talented. It doesn’t make your songs less catchy, or your stage presence less vibrant. It also doesn’t necessarily make you less attractive to females – who made up a large majority of his fanbase when he first became radio-friendly as a solo artist back in the 90;’s. (I mean, you guys see the cover photo!) The same sentiments are true for everybody – sexual preference truly should never be a way to summarize a person’s character.
If you’re in the LGBTQ community and are being bullied based on your sexuality, there are many resources for you – just know you’re not alone! Check out the Born This Way Foundation, as well as the IMPACT Program for more information.
Image Credits: newnownext.com (featured)