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Martin, Ricky (b. 1971)  
 
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There was, nevertheless, considerable speculation that Martin was gay, but when the question was raised in interviews, he routinely ducked it.

In a famous interview in 2000, Barbara Walters pressed Martin on his sexuality, telling him "You could say, as many artists have, 'Yes, I am gay,' or you could say, 'No, I'm not,' or you could leave it, as you are, ambiguous." Later, in 2010, she would say that she regretted pressuring him, rather grandiosely (and inaccurately) suggesting that the question destroyed his career because when he refused to answer it directly everyone assumed that he was gay.

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"I don't think I should have to tell anyone if I am gay or not, or who I've slept with or not," he stated to Sally Morgan of The Mirror in 2000. "Sure, I have a huge gay following, but when I'm singing, I don't have girls or boys . . . in mind--my music is for everyone."

Rocco Lanzilotta, a marketing director at Martin's label, Columbia Records, echoed this sentiment, telling John Griffiths of The Advocate, "With Ricky, the strategy is all-inclusive. . . . Ricky transcends all demographics--that's what's exciting about him."

It was indisputable that Martin had many gay fans, but they did not comprise the majority of the people buying his records. An important component of his fan base was the female teen audience, entranced by a handsome young man, clad in leather pants, dazzling them with sensational and sensuous performances on stage while (apparently) singing about their dreams of heterosexual love.

If the singing was better than average, if not exceptional, and the allure of the performer sufficient, the sustenance of the fantasies of the fans could be enough, but the revelation that the artist was gay posed a serious risk.

"There are no examples of an openly gay heartthrob appealing to teenage girls, and no one wants to test that. Hormones sell these records," Darin Soler, a marketer in the recording industry, told Griffiths.

In addition, many of Martin's young female fans were Latinas, and engrained in their shared culture made acceptance of a gay artist even more problematic.

Tellingly, while Martin had shown his esteem for the openly gay composer Renato Russo, who had died of AIDS, by including a tribute to him on his album Vuelve, he deliberately avoided identifying himself as a member of the gay community. Friends and associates who were in his confidence warned him that such a move could destroy his career.

Martin released a second English-language album, Sound Loaded, in 2000. Sales reached four million copies, a success by any standard but not the runaway hit that its predecessor had been.

For his next album, Martin chose to return to his Latino roots--whereupon, he told Lola Ogunnaike of the New York Times, "My record label went berserk," fearing that they would lose the lucrative North American market. Still, Martin insisted, putting out Almas del Silencio (2003), which Ogunnaike described as "a collection of songs that are far more substantial and introspective than the sugary, good-time pop Mr. Martin is known for."

Martin continued to tour and release albums of his performances, but he next made headlines when, in August 2008, he became the father of twin boys born via surrogacy.

It is to fatherhood that Martin attributed his decision to come out as a gay man in 2010, when he announced on the Internet, "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man." He went on to say that he was working on a memoir and felt the need to be candid because "to keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with. Enough is enough."

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