entertainment

Ricky Martin reveals how he feels about Barbara Walters' infamous attempt to out him

The 'Livin' La Vida Loca' singer was forced to answer questions about his sexuality in a 2000 TV interview

2018-04-09

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 rumours about the Puerto Rican pop icon's sexuality were already starting to swirl.

It all came to a head during a famously awkward ABC interview with veteran broadcaster Barbara 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 interview was seen as all but confirmation of Ricky's homosexuality in the press, and it wasn't long before the musical hearthrob's success began to wane.

Walters later admitted that she was wrong to have pressed the star over such a personal issue, saying in 2010: "A lot of people say that destroyed his career, and when I think back on it now I feel it was an inappropriate question."

Now, almost two decades later and with a resurgent position as one of the world's most prominent LGBT stars, Martin has revealed how the encounter affected him personally. 

"I remember the first time I was asked in front of a camera, ‘Are you gay?’ I didn’t say yes, I didn’t say no", the American Crime Story star recalls in Attitude's May Issue, available to download and in shops now.

"But you don’t understand how many times I think, ‘I wish I’d said yes’."

The 46-year-old goes on: "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, overwhlemed 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."

Check out Ricky's full shoot and read his world-exclusive interview the Attitude's May Issue, which also comes with second cover featuring Kylie Minogue. Buy in print, subscribe or download.