Angelo Garcia: "I Came Out Before Ricky"



Two months before Ricky Martin announced on his website that he’s a “proud homosexual man,” one of his former Menudo band mates came out ... in an interview that accompanied a provocative underwear shoot for the magazine Paragon Men. The interview with Angelo Garcia came and went and didn’t get much attention. Then Ricky came out, and suddenly news outlets Googling “Ricky Martin gay” found Garcia’s interview.

The 34-year-old Brooklyn-born singer was instantly dubbed “the other gay member of Menudo,” with most outlets claiming he’d come out after Martin and was simply riding his coattails. But Garcia, who left Menudo in 1990 when he was just 14 to pursue a solo career, says he’s been out to his mother since before he graduated from high school. Professionally, his first solo CD came out when he was just 16. In the 12 years before his next release — during which he put himself through college as a stripper in Florida and, later, New York — he lived what he calls a “very out life.” Now, as he readies his latest album (due later this year), he says he’s looking forward to doing it on him terms: completely open, completely out.

Garcia talked to The Advocate about the Ricky rumors, dancing to pay for college, and what he hopes life will be like as an out pop star.

The Advocate: You seemed to be genuinely surprised that your coming-out got so much attention. Did you think you would come out and that no one would pick up on it?

Angelo Garcia: You know what it is — I’ve been an openly gay man since my late teens, so having been out for so long, I’ve never tried to hide anything from anyone. It stresses me out to see the media has taken this whole thing, which was something I casually talked about in an interview, and turned it into this whole “another ex-Menudo comes out.” I don’t look at it as me coming out, because I’ve been openly gay for so long. I hold my boyfriend’s hand when I walk down the street; if you look at my Facebook page, it’s clear that I’m out. For me, it was a nonissue.

But it did hit the media around the same time Ricky Martin came out, so there was that connection.
I spoke publicly about my sexuality two months before Ricky Martin formally came out. So for the media to try and twist this into, “ex-Menudo member follows Ricky’s footsteps,” it’s kind of mind-boggling. I might not have been the most famous member to come out, and maybe Ricky coming out is why the media took an interest in my story because there isn’t only one “ex-Menudo” who is openly gay now. For the media to say I followed in Ricky’s footsteps, no ... Ricky Martin followed in Angelo Garcia’s footsteps. That’s just the truth. It’s really frustrating because a lot of comments have been very negative and very nasty: “He’s just an ex-Menudo trying to ride Ricky’s coattails and wants attention.” If you’re going to say it, say it how it is. This might have exploded in my face because Ricky has the fame he has and I’m not the famous one, but the truth is, I spoke publicly about my homosexuality two months before Ricky posted whatever it is he posted. I’m not trying to ride his coattails. I’m not trying to gain fame.

So when did you first talk about this?
The original interview came out with a photo spread I did for Paragon Men. A lot of people are saying, “Oh, it’s unfortunate you had to do porn to get noticed.” My photos are very artistically done. I’m not trying to compare myself to the Michelangelo paintings or anything, but there was a lot of nudity in those. I don’t have erections. All you see is my butt. They’re beautiful, I’m very proud of them. In no way are they porn. But that was the first time I ever talked about it publicly. Paragon Men put that story out ... it went unnoticed because I’m not famous. After that happened, Ricky Martin came out. Then, that story on Paragon Men resurfaced and caught the attention of TV y Notas, which is the equivalent to People magazine in the United States. A reporter from that magazine wanted to do an interview, and that story exploded.

Tags: Music