By Ross von Metzke
Originally published on Advocate.com March 31 2010 5:50 PM ET
Latin pop star Christian Chavez had sold millions of albums as part of the teen pop group RDB when photos of what appeared to be a marriage ceremony between him and another man surfaced in the press in 2007. The Mexican-born singer and television star responded with a simple, “Yes, I am gay.”
And few people were more supportive than Ricky Martin.
"Life is too short to live closed up, guarding what you say,” Martin told the Associated Press when asked about the singer. “[Chávez] has to be free in many aspects. I wish him much strength."
Now Chavez has a chance to return the kind words. The Advocate talked with the singer last week about his new album, Almas Transparentes (Transparent Souls), and Chavez had nothing but praise for Martin and his past support. This week, after Martin came out, The Advocate talked to Chavez again, and the singer was understandably thrilled.
The Advocate: Were you surprised yesterday to hear Ricky Martin had come out?
Christian Chavez: I was really really surprised, but I’m really, really thankful. Ricky Martin is a pop icon and has been an icon for guys and girls everywhere. For me, as a gay man, in these hard moments we’re living in right now — adoption in Mexico [adoption by same-sex couples was legalized in Mexico City earlier this month] — it’s a big, big step ahead.
Why do you think he decided to do it now?
I don’t know, but I think it has to do with the freedom to be yourself. When I read the letter from Ricky, it seemed like he was kind of desperate to be free. The freedom really makes you a different person. It doesn’t matter how hard you try, if you’re honest with yourself and you’re honest with the world, you’re totally free. So I think it had to do with that, and I think that’s really what gay people are dealing with right now. He’s waking up the mainstream.
Ricky Martin was very supportive of you when you first came out. What did that mean to you at the time?
That was great, because for me, Ricky Martin has always been a figure to look up to, and right now I’m so proud to be his fan. I know how hard it is to go out and say, “Hey, this is me.” And for Ricky Martin, I think it was harder. I think he deserves applause. We don’t have the right to question why he didn’t do it before. I think every person has his moment to decide, and whether sooner or later, Ricky did it.
Do you think coming out will hurt his career?
Oh, no ... I don’t think so. I think he’s far away from that. The thing about Ricky Martin is that he’s a great artist. He’s a great musician. He’s a great singer, a great showman. I think he’s going to be better. But I also don’t think he cares anymore. I think the more important thing to him is to be himself. I think it’s a really good example for his kids, and they will grow up and see that their father is honest to the world.
What would you say to Ricky right now if you were to talk to him?
I would say to Ricky ... I’m really, really happy and proud to be gay also, and I think the whole gay community is really proud. Not just the gay community, but anyone who respects being who you want to be. I respect him more than ever.