In 1999, former boy band member Ricky Martin went from soap star to international sensation when he performed “The Cup of Life,” the 1998 World Cup theme, on the 1999 Grammy Awards telecast.
Immediately, his private life became open to public scrutiny, something Ricky was never comfortable with.
Ricky had a secret. He was gay.
“Describe the Ricky Martin today as opposed to the Ricky Martin a year ago,” Access Hollywood’s Shaun Robinson asked the Latin heartthrob.
“Today, I’m not afraid of fear,” he said. “Today, I am in touch with my emotions — more than ever. Today, my priority [is] my children.”
At 38 years old, Ricky has finally found happiness as a father to his 2-year-old sons, Mateo and Valentino. And today, Ricky’s fear of telling the world his truth is gone.
“It was really intense for me to start having conversations with God, when according to the man-made laws in my religion – to be homosexual is evil. You know, it’s not right, so you struggle,” Ricky said.
“Did you feel there was something bad and evil about you?” Shaun asked.
“There [were] many times when I went to bed hating myself – when I went to sleep at night, saying like, ‘You are not – you are not a good person,’” Ricky admitted.
In his new memoir, “Me,” Ricky explains that he became so unhappy hiding his secret that he felt nothing but emptiness on stage.
“It was a feeling of depression that you had right?” Shaun asked.
“So they say. I don’t think it was depression, I was just really tired,” he said. “I was already almost 15 or 16 years on stage and I [had] never stopped since the age of 12 until… From 1984 to 2002 it was non-stop. I just wanted to go back home and…”
“Anxiety attacks at all?” Shaun asked.
“I was just not like, forget about not liking doing interviews, it was not liking being on stage and that was the only thing that I loved about show business and when that happened I said, ‘OK guys, it’s time to go home,’” Ricky said.
“Who do you think suspected first in your family?” Shaun asked.
“My mother asked me once,” Ricky said. “She asked me ‘Baby, are you in love?’ And I was like ‘Yeah mom, I am in love… in fact I am heart-broken. I am in love.’ And she asked me ‘Is it a man?’ And I said, ‘Woah, this is gonna be easier than what I thought.’ And I said ‘Yes mom, it’s a man’”
“Were you surprised that she suspected?” Shaun asked.
“I was extremely surprised and then she said ‘Come on, give me a hug. You are my son and I love you and I will always be here for you,’” Ricky recounted. “So it was very beautiful and then my father — he’s a psychologist… And he kind of told me… ‘You don’t have to say a word. I love you and I just want you to be happy.’”
Ricky says he knew he was gay before he got his first big break, joining the Latin boy band Menudo at age 12.
“How early do you remember having those feelings?” Shaun asked.
“Yeah, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.. you feel it,” he said. “And then obviously everybody’s telling you that’s not right — that’s not what you’re supposed to feel.”
“You were the only virgin among your friends?” Shaun asked.
“I was a virgin and everybody knew and that was the thing. Everybody was — ‘Come on, when? It’s time for you to be with a girl’ and I’m like, ‘OK, sure, I’m ready.’ What are you gonna say? ‘I’m looking for the right one?’ Give me a break. You’re not supposed to say that when you’re a rock ‘n’ roll star.”