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Giving thanks for Ricky Martin


As Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve been having a hell of a time finding something to be thankful for. Then Ricky Martin stepped back into the limelight.

Little does the dreamy pop star know what a godsend he has been to this jaded old lesbian.

It’s been a bad month. The depression I’ve felt for some time about the disastrous shape of the country sunk into outright despair after the mid-term elections. The results seemed like final confirmation of President Obama’s complete failure to lead over the past two years. It heralded the triumph of the Big Lie(s) and the liars who promote them. It showed how easily led a frustrated public can be and how utterly impotent the left seems to be in gaining traction for any progressive ideas.

The biggest losers? The growing army of unemployed for whom no relief is in sight and our men and women in military service, doomed to lose their minds and lives in unending foreign occupations. The latest insane idea is to attack Iran, which apparently makes perfect sense to the inmates now running the asylum.

An end to “don’t ask, don’t tell”? Don’t hold your breath. Gay marriage? Probably not for long.

At times like these, lefties like me are supposed to heed the cry of our doomed martyr Joe Hill: “Don’t mourn – organize!” But I don’t want to mourn or organize right now. I’ve put on my headphones (good Milwaukee-made Koss headphones) and lost myself in music. I am further distracting myself with the modern opiate of the people – 24/7 celebrity culture.

That’s where I kept running into Ricky Martin. November has been a big month for Ricky. He’s on a publicity campaign promoting his autobiography and his upcoming world tour. The focus of the book and media interviews has been on his new status as an “out” gay man and father of two boys.

Some complain, “Geez Ricky, it’s about time … what took you so long?” But none of us can understand all the personal issues someone may be dealing with or, in Ricky’s case, the career concerns he probably had as such a worldwide mega-star. The important thing isn’t how long it took him but that he’s arrived at a point of acceptance.

In interviews, the energetic showman appeared modest and thoughtful, peaceful and content, especially when talking about his children. He responded patiently and wisely to the questions about his sexuality, saying that coming out is a process that was difficult for him, is different for everyone and should not be coerced. He showed class by being respectful of, and circumspect about, his past lovers, male and female. And he repeated the phrasing he used in his first disclosure earlier this year that being gay is “a blessing.”

A blessing. I love that expression. I have always felt blessed by my own lesbianism. Understanding your sexuality liberates you and makes you whole. It is spiritual, transformational, beneficial. What a great message to send out right now!

Ricky appeared at the Latin Grammys on Nov. 11. He had the honor of presenting a special award to Placido Domingo and sang a delightful duet with Natalia Jimenez. He looked fabulous, sounded awesome, danced deliciously and seemed bursting with pride and happiness to be back in his element. He must have been nervous about how he would be received, and it was with open arms and a tumultuous ovation.

I may be grasping at straws here, but in the midst of a bleak political landscape, Ricky Martin has provided an example of pride and progress. That’s something to be grateful for.

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