Angelo Garcia: "I Came Out Before Ricky"
BY Ross von Metzke
June 23 2010 5:10 PM ET
When you did that interview, did you know, at that point, it would catch on?
I didn’t think it would get the attention it got. For me, being gay is as nonissue as a heterosexual person saying they’re straight. Why should anyone care? Even when Ricky came out, who cared? It should be about his music and what he contributes to society. Ricky may have felt he needed to hide his sexuality because he has too much to lose, but I’ve never looked at life that way. I never felt being gay would take away any opportunities I might have.
Do you think you’d feel differently if you had that level of fame?
I don’t think so, because I like to push people’s buttons. I like to make people think. You don’t have to be a nelly, flamboyant gay guy, which is the way media and sitcoms like to portray gays. Gay could be right next to you, and you wouldn’t even realize it. If more gay people stepped forward, society would get over their gay hang-ups.
In the same way some entertainers fear coming out might hurt their careers, you worked as an exotic dancer in college, after Menudo. Did you ever worry about what that might do to your career?
No. I did what I had to do to survive at that time. I learned a lot from it. Everybody’s life has their ups and downs — you take the good with the bad. I don’t necessarily look at it as a bad thing ... it’s a part of my growth. They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Having had to put myself out there in that way to pay my bills and put myself through college, a lot of people who aren’t in the public eye do it. It made me stronger. I’m thankful for what I learned, and I’m in a much better place now.
You did it not long after you left Menudo. Did people ever recognize you?
You know, I really had transformed at that point from a skinny little boy. It was really like going from a caterpillar to a butterfly. To be a go-go dancer and a stripper, you have to have a certain look. You have to have a body that looks good in hot pants and a Speedo. I didn’t start flirting with the idea until I thought my body was in the condition it needed to be in. So I changed so much, I didn’t get recognized a lot.
How old were you when you first came out?
I didn’t come out to the world, but I felt I owed it to my mom. I was 17. By that time my father was gone. He died in a tragic car crash when I was 15, and that changed the whole dynamic of our family. It was such a shock. So when I finally started to come to terms with who I was, I felt I owed it to her because I wanted to be honest with her about what was going on in my life. I wanted my mom to be involved in every aspect of my life.