At a panel for the new Freeform series Good Trouble (the spin-off of The Fosters) at the Los Angeles LGBT Center on Monday, actor Tommy Martinez (Riverdale) shared a moving story about the many ways he understands his character. (Spoilers below.)
The series -- from executive producers Peter Paige, Joanna Johnson, and Bradley Bredeweg -- centers on the post-collegiate life of The Fosters' characters Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) as they move away from their lesbian moms and begin their lives and careers in a communal living space in downtown Los Angeles. Martinez's smoldering Gael is one of the denizens of The Coterie, the loft where the sisters end up living.
At the panel, which also featured the three executive producers and costars Sherry Cola and Zuri Adele, Martinez said he relates to his Good Trouble character, Gael, in several respects. For example, both took jobs in order to pursue their passions. On Good Trouble, Gael works as a graphic designer so that he can create sculptures in his spare time. Martinez said he once worked at a restaurant to follow his dream of becoming an actor.
But it was the bisexuality of Gael that really hit home with the actor who grew up in a Hispanic community.
"With his sexuality, in the places I grew up in, it was something that was never talked about, nor was it ever challenged," Martinez said during the panel moderated by The Advocate's feminism editor Tracy E. Gilchrist. "I know plenty of people from my high school that are gay but are still not out to this day."
"I had an experience with a man maybe 10 years ago, and this is the first time that I'm saying that publicly," an emotional Martinez shared as Bredeweg placed his hand on the actor's back in support. "And throughout that whole time, I felt like I was put into the shadows, because the way that my community was, the way that they spoke about [LGBTQ people], [the] Hispanic community, it's not only just them, but they are very religious and strict on what they believe it, but same with many other people in the world and here in America."
"The way that they talked about homosexuality or even just experiencing something like that with slurs or what have you, my friend said the same thing, so I had nobody to talk to about [my own experience]," Martinez continued. "And I kept that inside the whole time until now. And to have this opportunity to portray this character and this community, I felt, especially in front of you wonderful people, I felt maybe this is the best place to express that. And so I saw myself completely in Gael's shoes. And so when I got that audition notice and dove deeper into the character, I just felt right with it."
The room erupted in applause of support when Martinez finished his story.
Good Trouble premieres tonight at 8/7 p.m. Central on Freeform. The pilot episode is currently available to stream on Hulu.
Here's the video of the panel.
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