Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Abrazos to Ricky Martin for saying out loud: "I am not bisexual. I am a gay man."

image of Ricky Martin and his twin sons is from here
A quartet of posts about Ricky Martin:

Muchos gracias to Ricky Martin for bravely coming out and discussing his process of doing so with Oprah Winfrey today. He is such a lovely man, with such a good heart, and I am so happy for him that he is happy with his lover and with his twin boys who will grow up with lots of love around them.

I was particularly impressed with his response after Oprah asked him about his affairs with women. He noted something that someone once told me during the period in which I was coming out as gay: You can be sexual with women and still be gay, not bisexual." Heterosexism dictates that we all identify as much as possible with heterosexuality. And so the pressure is on both women and men to declare themselves "bisexual" when in fact they are lesbian and gay.

Portia DeGeneres, formerly Portia De Rossi who has taken her wife' Ellen's last name, was on Oprah's program yesterday speaking in great detail about her own coming out process and her struggles with eating disorders.

Both performers described excruciatingly intense self-hatred that was generated entirely by living in a heterosexist society, teaching each of them that their lesbianism or gayness was something to be feared and despised. So many thanks as well to Portia for doing so.

What is so moving to me about Ricky's story is how unfathomably important it is to Latino gay males to have a role model who is respected and regarded highly globally. During the program a few taped segments were played in which mostly Latino men described how Ricky coming out months ago was liberating for them, releasing them from a kind of "Don't ask, don't tell" policy, including within their families.

I never came out to my primary care-givers for fear they'd love me less if I did. I don't think any of them would have, in retrospect. But the harm to self-esteem and self-worth of heteropatriarchy ought not be understated. Heterosexism-in-practice, institutionalised, systematised, is a form of psychic sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and spiritual abuse. Those of us who are lesbian and gay are made to feel inferior to heterosexuals and the hatred against us is palpable. Most of the hate-comments I get that go unposted here at this blog contain degrading comments about my sexual orientation. If I had a dollar for every time someone has called me a "f*g" or a *f**got", I'd have at least a thousand dollars. That doesn't even include all the other derisive, insulting terms I've been called just because I'm gay.

While I have had some very close relationships with a few women, I never considered myself bisexual, in part because I knew I wasn't. But also because I get that the oppression against us is for being "like lesbians" or "like gay men" in our sexual or romantics lives--whether or not we are bisexual. It's for being "not heterosexual". We can note, for all it's political pitfalls, that the civil rights battle in the U.S. is for lesbian and gay marriage rights, not for "bisexual" marriage rights. This is partly because bisexuals do get invisibilised in most places, and U.S. society doesn't like to deal with grey areas in any social hierarchy.

It could be a misogynistic statement to make when any man declares he is gay not bisexual. Too often the place that remark is coming from is one that contains some level of contempt or disgust for women and women's bodies. But with Ricky so clearly demonstrating his love of humanity--which necessarily includes women, and his openness about his enjoyable relationships with women, I don't get that "misogynist gay" vibe from him at all. What I get is his need to affirm to the world, to his sons, and to his own spirit, that he is gay and proud of it. As well he should be!

Abrazos, Ricky!! Espero que su vida siempre está lleno de una abundancia de amor. <3 Julian

Here are links to both memoirs:

Portia DeGeneres's memoir, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain.

Ricky Martin's memoir, titled Me.