LOS ANGELES - Puerto Rican singer Ricky Martin, in a bombshell to legions of his fans all over the world, on Monday confirmed a longtime rumor that he is gay.
"I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am," he wrote on his official rickymartin.com website.
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 star records and performs mostly in Spanish but also has a huge crossover following in English, thanks in large part to his 1999 hit "Livin' La Vida Loca" ("Livin' the Crazy Life" in English).
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.
"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."