Ricky Martin: ‘I’m super socially awkward but know I’m socially awkward’

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Happy Pride month y’all! People’s annual Pride Issue chose none other than Latin pop royalty Ricky Martin as their cover. Ricky has new music coming out! His first single from his new album, Play, drops June 10. He promises it’s going to be up-tempo dance music and I could not be more excited. I love danceable Ricky music.

Ricky came out as a gay man in 2010. He’s a father to pre-teen twins sons, Mateo and Valentino, and daughter, Lucia, and son, Renn, both of whom he welcomed with his husband, Jwan Yosef. In this latest issue of People, Ricky, whom we know as the swivel-hipped crooner who lives la Vida Loca, admitted that he’s actually quite insecure. He said despite the persona he’s been bringing to the stage since Menudo, he is still socially awkward.

It’s been over two decades since Ricky Martin arrived into American pop culture, Venus in leather pants on a clamshell. An approachable raconteur, he shook up the American pop establishment at the 1999 Grammy Awards with a thrust of his hips, a wave of his hands, and the invincible chorus of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” pulsing at 180 beats per minute. Women wanted him. Men wanted him. Madonna wanted him. (They recorded a duet.)

“But I’m really insecure, to be honest,” Martin admits, getting comfortable in his chair in a Los Angles hotel suite last month. He fiddles nervously with the hem of his silk shirt. “I’m super socially awkward but today, well the difference is that I know I’m socially awkward. So, I don’t go anywhere that causes me anxiety. I’m at peace with performing in front of 30,000 people and feel like the king of the world. But then I walk into a small room at an intimate gathering, and someone will say, ‘Hey Rick, sing a song for us!’ and that creates such anxiety.”

[From People]

I’m glad Ricky makes this distinction because people do mistake performing for confidence. But the energy it takes to get up on stage in front of people is different than the energy it takes for social interaction. Ricky talked about his anxiety also being tied to his closeted homosexuality. Ricky wasn’t just a popular singer, of course, he was a wildly attractive sex-symbol. But as Ricky was trying to figure out his sexuality, the public kept demanding an answer before he had one. Barbara Walters put him on the spot on national television, which turned into a defining moment for Ricky.

Martin lived with the question until he was 29. Then, in 2000, Barbara Walters asked it on national television. This was a year after the radio dominance of “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and 10 years before he came out publicly on his website. “You could stop these rumors,” Walters implored. “You could say, ‘Yes I am gay or no I’m not.’” Martin was visibly stunned. He finally retreated, answering with “I just don’t feel like it.”

He says the moment still haunts him. “When she dropped the question, I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid.” Martin’s entire body shifts. He clears his throat and takes a deep breath. “There’s a little PTSD with that.”
“A lot of people say, what would you do differently?” He wonders too. “Well, maybe I would have come out in that interview. It would’ve been great because when I came out, it just felt amazing. When it comes to my sexuality, when it comes to who I am, I want to talk about what I’m made of, about everything that I am. Because if you hide it, it’s a life-or-death situation.”

I can’t forgive Barbara’s tactics. There’s no excuse for this kind of ambush in the year 2000. It is our job as a society to provide a world safe enough for people to feel they can live their truth, not to force them to admit it before they are ready.

Ricky said part of the issue with coming out before he did is there are not enough examples of LGBTQ mentorship in the Latinx community. Something he hopes to help correct. As is probably pretty obvious, I adore Ricky. I’m thrilled he’s on the cover of People and out there living his best life. And bless him for trying to make so many others lives better along the way.

Look who’s hanging out with Ricky!

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Photo credit: People, Twitter, Avalon Red and Instagram

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16 Responses to “Ricky Martin: ‘I’m super socially awkward but know I’m socially awkward’”

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  1. Christa says:

    I would still go to his party if he invited me

  2. Anna says:

    He’s so hot!

  3. Noki says:

    When i was younger when the likes of Michael and Janet Jackson used to claim they were shy or Beyonce needing an alter ego to perfom I used to think they are just looking for attention. But i have met people later in my life like that,its day and night from making an amazing work presentation to a social setting.

    • Anners says:

      I think I’m like this – if you put me in a role (teacher, emcee, presenter, etc.) I have no problems standing up. Have done it in front of 200+ people without breaking a sweat. But if I’m just one in a crowd (without a reason to stand up or a role to perform) then I can become absolutely crippled with social anxiety. And some activities are worse than others. If I know at least a solid handful of people, I’m better. Weddings where I only know the bride or groom are torturous. I can absolutely empathize with a performer who is only comfortable on stage.

  4. Esmom says:

    I don’t remember the Barbara Walters ambush. Unforgivable indeed. I’m happy he’s living his truth now and aware that his example can help others.

    • Noki says:

      Barbara,Diana and Oprah have done some truly uncomfortable interviews in their day.Ricky,Britney and that author that lied to Oprah respectively.

      • Esmom says:

        Oh the author James Frey, you mean? The way she endlessly berated him was crazy. I almost forgot about that.

    • Meg says:

      ‘It is our job as a society to provide a world safe enough for people to feel they can live their truth, not to force them to admit it before they are ready.’
      Love this

  5. ItReallyIsYou,NotMe k8 says:

    This resonated because I have been struggling with social anxiety which most people would never guess because I seem very outgoing and like I have lots of friends. But I get very hurt because I feel like I am always the one reaching out to those friends and I feel left out of group situations. I’m trying not to let it bother me but it’s a talk-myself-down situation.

  6. Leigh says:

    Same. I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that I’m not a social butterfly like I felt pressured to be when I was younger. I’m happy I found my husband who doesn’t make me feel like an outcast for being socially awkward.

  7. Belle says:

    Unforgiveable is pretty harsh given it was back in 2000, a time when let’s face, the world, specifically, the entertainment industry played by different rules and their audiences, were clamoring for this kind of information. Friends was still making jokes about the gay community, much of which would NEVER pass today. Eminem was outright hating on the GAY community, yet these entertainers still thrive today despite their attitudes back in the early 2000s. The entertainers only thrive if that is what the audience were asking for. Does it make it right, NO, does it make it unforgiveable, I do not believe so. Is she still interviewing like that today? If she is, then yea, that’s unforgiveable, because we know better, we should do better.

    I think we are living in a time where finally people are waking up on what it means to RESPECT EVERYONE including celebrities, who we normally see as commodities. I am not saying it was right for her to ambush him, but i am a bit more understanding when placed into context.

    Superficial comment – He is aging like a vampire, very Keanu Reeves.

  8. Ferdinand says:

    The album is great! The Spanish version came out last year and it was good to have some of his music during the pandemic.
    He even won the Grammy in the Latin category and he received some Latin Grammys for the album, too.

    He’s been developing/ investing in this new technology of sound immersion, where you use headphones and the sound surrounds you and changes depending on how you move / tilt your head.

  9. Nev says:

    My number one. SWOON.

  10. Lola says:

    If my gender identity ever changes in the future I’d love a hookup with him, how is he SO hot?

  11. Faye G says:

    Wow he is still so hot! I saw him in concert as a teen and it was a fantastic show, his stage presence is unbeatable. I’d definitely see him again if I had the chance!

  12. Meg says:

    He always seemed so sweet in interviews when he got big when i was a teenager and jeez hes aging well!