Ricky Fucking (Homofaux) Martin came out to the world yesterday, and since then, the man has been bothering me in ways that only French (Caricature) President Sarkozy normally manages to. If it's been established that I am one of those politically-committed nerds who want to revive the movement of the Angry Young Men, right now, what I feel is beyond anger and dissatisfaction (with Mr Martin)... What I feel is rather headstrong rage, hatred and disgust towards the celebrity figure. Since I've been reading congratulatory notes to Mr Let's-Stay-In-The-Closet-Till-The-Age-Of-Forty all over the place, I decided to be systematic on this one and try to figure out why his coming out is causing me an hemorrhage.
Already, a couple of years ago, I wrote a very clumsy article on celebrities and their coming out and what such a coming out entails for the rest of the world. (It's quite interesting to read articles that I wrote two years ago and realize what a bad writer I then was-- whether I've improved along the way is another question altogether.) In short, here is the gist of what-was-then my argument:
-- If you are to be totally realistic, the lines between private and public are always already blurred when it comes to celebrities and consequently, beyond their performances, art etc. their icon itself has an impact in terms of representation in popular culture;
-- It's the duty of the celebrity to come out for the simple reason that his/her success is built upon the public sphere and the fact of being a public figure. This figure feeds the masses (so-to-speak) and this figure can have a humongous impact as change-maker. Therefore, I conclude that it is the duty of the celebrity to impact the world in the right way and in this case, by coming out. I say this because having George Michael and Stephen Gately coming out when I was a teenager made a huge difference to my own life and that of my parents too. (You may disagree with my deontic take here "it is the duty of the celebrity" but that's really my take on it; it's their ethical obligation and that's about it: when you get something from somebody-- in this case your fame from the public-- you need to give it back in certain ways);
-- Celebrities are potentially bigger agents of change than any common man/woman;
-- Celebrity figures have easier coming-outs because though they may lose their homophobic fans (who cares about those A-holes anyway?) they won't get kicked out of their parents' house at the age of 17 and end up selling their bodies and sleeping on the roads as many queer teenagers do. (As a reminder: Elton John sent Stephen Gately flowers when the latter came out, and just look around on blogs and Fakebooc right now to witness the profusion of congratulatory notes to Mr Oh-I'm-So-Courageous-Martin... He is clearly not being sent to camps and shrinks to turn him straight.)
So now that I roughly went through what I was trying to articulate in this article written two years ago, let's analyze my possibly very unreasonable violent irritation here. I'll put this in the form of an open-letter to Mr Ricky Ex-Closeted Martin:
Dear Mr Martin,
I feel an inhumane amount of anger for you since yesterday and I am trying to figure out why. I think I am angry that you came out so late. I think it's just very personal: Had you come out ten years ago, when I was just 15 years old and when I actually used to listen to your music and I used to spend the little money I earned as a part-time waiter on your CDs, maybe had you come out at the time, I wouldn't have swallowed those pills. I don't know about Terrence, 'coz he never liked popular music anyway, but Rishi liked your music. Had you come out at the time, would you have "influenced" their decision and their self-esteem? Would they be still be alive now?
But that's me being irresponsible, isn't it? That's me saying somebody else should have saved me while we all know that we ought to save our own beings? Except, at the time, in the space in which I was, did I really know where to turn to, except to the magazines available to me and the stories in them?
And if I am to be totally reasonable, maybe you didn't know where and whom to turn to as well? Ultimately, I've never been in your shoes, I've never been in your skin, and I don't know what it feels to be you. Maybe things were indeed very hard for you. Maybe you've been right all the way to stay in the closet. Who am I to blame you?
But at the same time, I can't help but feel angry because I don't think your coming-out is as genuine as it seems to be. To start with, it took you fifteen fucking years of stardom to come out! Fifteen years, and why now, why at this point? Is it because Adam Lambert has been kicking your ass really hard in the charts? Is it because Lady Gaga is the one who gets to do the biggest concerts during the Pride all over the world? Personally, I felt happier that everybody had been talking about the "Telephone" clip over the past two weeks and if you wanted your Latino ass to be the centre of attention, suddenly, well-done! It worked. I just hope it doesn't last too long.
Indeed, "coming out as gay" seems to be the fashionable trend these days, so your marketing trick worked miracles. I would also like to remind you that you always dodged questions about your sexuality by saying these belonged to your private life, to your bedroom. Well, I'd like to know what happened overnight? Why did your private bedroom become so public? You suddenly stopped being a man who indulges in the act of fucking other men to claim a gay identity? Now that you've moved from the act to the identity, you'd better do something concrete for the community that also claims this identity.
And you say what? You couldn't come out for fear of losing your fame? For fear of losing your fans? For fear of losing all those things you've worked so hard to get "because many people in the world are not ready to accept your truth, your nature, your reality?" And what about all the people out there who've worked so hard to be where they are, and still, they have the guts to come out and take a risk because they know the stakes are high and it is an important act? What about people who actually lose everything?
Mr Martin, you said that you were in the process of writing your memoirs and that "writing this account of [your] life got [you] very close to [your] truth." I am happy for you and I am even happier that your "truth" will now be a best-seller because your "truth" is now the world's "truth" and everyone will be flocking to bookstores to buy the crispy details.
Therefore, I congratulate your for your very "post-mature" coming out. May you have a great life of "fortunate homosexual man" ahead of you.
The Queer Behind the Mirror