Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Ricky Martin Speaks Out Against Anti-LGBT Hate Violence in Puerto Rico

Legendary Latino entertainment idol, Ricky Martin (né Enrique José Martín Morales) spoke out against anti-LGBT hate crimes in his native Puerto Rico on Sunday in an op-ed written for El Nuevo Dia.  Martin, who has been the subject of persistent rumors concerning his own sexual orientation for years, is one of a growing chorus of Puerto Rican and other Latino/Latina entertainers who are decrying the spiking incidence of homophobic attacks on gay and gender non-conforming men in the United States Territory.  The brutal murder of Jorge Steven López Mercado, the 19-year-old gay man who was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially immolated in Cayey last month, has drawn national and international attention to the problem of cultural homophobia in the Caribbean.  Now, with the emerging story of what may well be another anti-gay murder in Ponce this past Wednesday, Martin and others have taken it upon themselves to speak out.  Olga Tañón, the talk radio personality, René Perez,the reggaeton artist, and 2001 Miss Universe Denise Quiñones are among other celebrities who are becoming outspoken on the issue along with Martin.  Boy in Bushwick quotes Martin as writing, “The deaths of James Byrd, like that of Matthew Shepard, Jorge Steven López, Marcelo Lucero and Luis Ramírez, like other victims of violent hate crimes, should be unacceptable to all human beings; because we are all human beings.”  Martin urged his readers to move beyond mere acceptance and toleration.  “If we accept each other, humanity will come together,” Martin wrote. “And if humanity comes together, equality for human rights will become a reality. If equality for human rights becomes a reality, peace will be within our reach.”  For high-profiled Martin, 38, to speak out so openly against homophobic violence is something of an event in itself.  He has consistently denied rumors about his own sexual orientation since the days he was lead singer for the pop group Menudo, and played a popular character in television’s General Hospital.  In 1999 he was named one of People Magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People.”  But it was as a singer that the photogenic Puerto Ricaño made his most lasting reputation, with such English-language hits as “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”  Last year Martin announced the birth of twin sons by a surrogate mother.  The babies, Matteo and Valentino, were frequently photographed in their father’s arms, furthering a wholesome image Martin’s publicists have attempted to blend with his smoldering on-screen persona that made him a pop idol in the late 1990’s.  Martin has forayed into public affairs before.  He created the “Ricky Martin Foundation” which gave a million dollars’ worth of musical instrument to Puerto Rican public schools. The Foundation is also deeply involved in helping children who are victims of child prostitution and/or pornography, especially in India but also all around the world.  According to Martin, “This is the biggest problem our society is going to face within the next 10 years.”  This Sunday’s op-ed column, however, is the most outspoken Martin has ever become on the issue of LGBT concerns, and is both a measure of his growing maturity and the degree to which the recent horrific murders of gay men on his home island has shaken him in recent days.

December 22, 2009 - Posted by | anti-LGBT hate crime murder, Decapitation and dismemberment, gay men, gay teens, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, immolation, Latino and Latina Americans, Legislation, Matthew Shepard, Media Issues, Popular Culture, Puerto Rico, Social Justice Advocacy | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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