To fans, Ricky Martin appeared to be the “king of the world” when his 1999 song, “Livin’ la Vida Loca,” became a smash. But the singer looks back on his early solo success as a time of personal turmoil, stemming from his struggle to embrace his authentic self.
In a new interview with Apple Music’s “Proud Radio,” Martin spoke at length about the “heavy sadness” he experienced prior to coming out as gay a decade ago.
“My music was being heard all over the world, regardless of the language,” the two-time Grammy winner said. “I could high-five God, but I wasn’t living to the fullest.”
Eventually, Martin says his emotions reached a breaking point, prompting him to scrap a planned South American stretch of his 1999 world tour.
“I took some time and I took a sabbatical,” he explained. “I put things in order and still I was not ready to come out, but I was open with everyone around me, but I just didn’t have the strength to make it public.”
Things took a turn for the better more than a decade later. In 2010, Martin described himself as “a fortunate homosexual man” in a post on his official website shortly before unveiling a memoir, “Me,” the same year.
“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.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Martin spoke about the significance of intersectional representation, urging members of the LGBTQ community to “join forces” with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“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,” he said. “I’ve been wearing the shoes of my fellow sisters, the Black community, the trans Black community that have always been struggling. They’ve always been screaming, ‘We need help. They are killing us.’ And no one was listening. So you know what? This door has been opened.”
These days, Martin is in the midst of another creative resurgence. In May, he released “Pausa,” an introspective, six-song EP featuring collaborations with Bad Bunny and Sting that was mostly recorded in quarantine. He’s slated to unveil a dance-oriented followup, “Play,” in September.
And though plans to hit the road this fall are on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Martin says he feels “nothing but gratitude” as he hunkers down with husband Jwan Yosef and their four children in Los Angeles.
“It’s been fascinating just to be able to spend so much time with the kids,” he said. “I became a father not to leave them with grandma because I have to go to work. ... It’s important in this lockdown just to ask them every day, ‘How are you feeling?’ I am very aware of their emotions and now, because of this pandemic, they can differentiate one feeling from another.”