MANILA, Philippines - The Filipino gay community on Tuesday applauded erstwhile Puerto Rican heartthrob Ricky Martin's admission of his sexual orientation, after years of hiding it.
Filipino gay rights activists applauded Martin's admission that he is in fact a homosexual, which he made through a statement posted in his official Web site.
"Matagal na naming naaamoy iyan, kasi sumasayaw (siya) na parang ipo-ipo ang galaw niyan...Siguro bading lang ang makakagawa ng ganyan ano?" said Danton Remoto, chair of the LGBT group Ang Ladlad.
"Pero ang buhay kasi sa kloseta, sa closet, para kasi iyang nakatira sa kabaong. Wala naman siguro siyang balak tumira sa kabaong habang buhay, ngayong mag-ku-kuwarenta na siya, 'no? Para kay Ricky Martin, mabuhay ka, kapatid," he said.
Radio dzMM host and columnist Manny Castañeda, meanwhile, said that Martin's confession should not be feasted upon by the public.
"Ang sa akin lang is, my stand is, treat us like any other regular guy. It's just that we prefer men than women. Other than that, there's nothing else to it," he said.
Remoto said the 39-year-old singer's confession that he is gay would inspire more gay men to "come out" and reveal their true personalities.
"Oo, may kilala akong mga artista rito na hirap na hirap, parang (gusto kong sabihin), 'kapatid, itutulak na ba kaya kita?'," he said.
"Kung artista ka man, galingan mo ang trabaho mo, ang relasyon mo sa mga magulang mo, kamag-anak, kaibigan, kapatid, pero sa bandang huli, magdesisyon ka (at) maghanda ka na. Para iyang prutas na kapag hinog ka na, puwede ka nang umamin," he said.
Adored by millions worldwide
With his swiveling hips and scintillating salsa moves, Martin has been an object of adoration by million of fans around the world, especially of the female variety.
The Latin pop singer records and performs mostly in Spanish, but has a huge crossover following in English thanks in large part to his 1999 smash hit "Livin' La Vida Loca" ("Livin' the Crazy Life") and his chart-topping "She Bangs" the following year.
Martin, 38, told his fans that his decision to divulge his sexual orientation marks "an amazing turning point in my life" and it started a few months ago when he began the process of writing his memoirs.
"From the moment I wrote the first phrase, I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time," Martin wrote on his website.
He said the secret over time had become "too heavy for me to keep inside," and that he joyfully embraces his gay identity as "something worth celebrating."
The pop singer added that he did not come out earlier because advisers over the years had warned that he might ruin his career were he to reveal to his fans that he is gay.
He was also worried about the impact on his young twin sons, who were conceived with the assistance of a surrogate mother.
"Many people told me... 'all the years you've worked and everything you've built will collapse'," he wrote.
"Allowing myself to be seduced by fear and insecurity became a self-fulfilling prophecy of sabotage. Today I take full responsibility for my decisions and my actions."
Coming out "fills me with strength and courage," Martin said.
"Today is my day, this is my time, and this is my moment."
Online cheers, jeers
Online, Martin's confession was met with mixed reactions.
Fans were mostly supportive of the singer. His website lit up with postings from supporters writing in Spanish and English, praising him for his decision to live his life honestly and openly.
One fan on Martin's website offered "congratulations on finally freeing yourself from the ball and chain that living a closeted life is."
Another, who went by the name Libracolo, wrote that "the people who genuinely respect you as a father and an artist could care less who you are sleeping with."
"Continue to live your life with the same amount of dignity and pride you have done so far and let the naysayers and the haters burn in hell."
Another, whose signature was merely "proud of you," wrote: "I am so proud of the BIG step you've taken today. I have seen what many of my gay friends go through when hiding their true identity and it's a shame.... I'm sure the people that truly love you (the ones who really matter) will continue to love and are proud of this big step."
But the posts also included a smattering of negative correspondence like the one sent from "sorry for you," who taunted "your soul will burn in hell!"
Like a number of pop stars of his generation, Martin was a stage and recording star from childhood. He rose to fame as a member of the Puerto Rican boy band "Menudo" in the 1980s, before striking out on a solo career.
The five-time Grammy award winner also has been hailed for his philanthropic efforts including his work as a UNICEF goodwill ambassador and the creation of his Puerto Rico-based Ricky Martin Foundation to promote health, education and social justice for children around the world. With reports from Mario Dumaual, ABS-CBN News, and the Agence France-Presse