Ricky Martin reflects on Barbara Walters’ attempt to out him during television interview 20 years ago
Nearly 20 years on from the infamous US TV interview which all but outed him to the world, Ricky Martin has revealed how he feels about his notorious encounter with Barbara Walters in 2000.
Martin was riding high on a wave of musical success at the turn of the millennium, scoring global hits with tracks like ‘Livin’ Las Vida Loca’ and ‘She Bangs’, but rumors about his sexuality began to swirl.
It all came to a head during a famously awkward ABC interview with Walters, who forced the visibly uncomfortable star to answer direct questions about his sexuality. Unwilling to lie, Martin deflected, telling Walters that “sexuality is something that each individual should deal with in their own way.”
The 46-year-old now says in an interview with Attitude Magazine: “I don’t care about her and I don’t care about her question. I care about my answer. I didn’t lie, I tried to dodge the question. But why the fuck didn’t I say yes?”
Ricky, who married his partner Jwan Yosef last year and is father to nine-year-old twins Matteo and Valentino, admits that watching a film about Harvey Milk, who became the first openly gay elected official in the history of California in the late ’70s, inspired him to take the plunge publicly.
“Harvey Milk was saying, ‘Please come out, people need to see you and put a face to this, people need to know that we’re cousins, we’re brothers, we’re sisters, we’re uncles’,” he recalls.
And I thought, ‘Why didn’t I say yes?’ Then it became all about finding the right time and the right way to do it.”
The right time eventually came in 2010, when Ricky finally opened up about his sexuality in a personal letter published on his website. The reaction, he says, overwhelmed him.
“I had no idea how easy it was to come out until I actually did it”, he explains. “The amount of love that I received was incredible. It felt amazing and I was invited to all these galas, like the GLAAD Awards, and the energy and the love in those rooms was so amazing.
“I felt protected, I felt loved, no one was judging me.”