It’s National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate gay pride and promote government and public awareness of gay, bisexual, lesbian and transgender rights.
Founded by Robert Eichberg and Jean O’Leary on October 11, 1988 in celebration of the second gay march in Washington D.C. a year earlier, many choose this day to come out to their family, friends and co-workers.
To commemorate National Coming Out Day, here’s a look at eight out and proud Latino celebrities.
Rumors swirled about Ricky Martin’s sexual orientation well before he came out of the closet. During an interview with Barbara Walters, the journalist even grilled Martin about his sexuality. He refused to confirm or deny the rumors, until March 29, 2010. That’s the day the 39-year-old Puerto Rican singing sensation announced on his website that he is “a fortunate homosexual man.” So what prompted Martin to come out? He credited the twin sons he fathered with an egg donor and surrogate with giving him the courage to make the decision, as well as the process of penning his autobiography. “Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth,” he professed. “And this is something worth celebrating.”
Long before Ricky Martin declared himself a “proud homosexual man,” 28-year-old Mexican pop singer and actor Christian Chávez—then a member of popular Mexican music group RBD—came out of the closet publicly in 2007. “Don’t judge me for being honest,” Chávez wrote in the group’s website. Earlier this year, he released a video for his song, “Libertad,” a glossy five minute-plus video that notched more than 1 million views on YouTube in only three days, aided along the way by heavy props from Pérez Hilton, who makes a cameo appearance. It’s all part of his outspoken support of gay rights and opposition of homophobia.
Even though he’s a seasoned Broadway veteran who has appeared in “Tarzan” and “Evita,” Nicholas Rodriguez is best known for playing the role of Nick Chavez on ABC’s One Life to Live. The openly gay actor from Austin, Texas formed part of the first gay love triangle on American daytime television. “The character was just supposed to come in and get between [same-sex couple] Kyle and Fish and go away,” recalls the 34-year-old Rodriguez. “But people liked it and everything started to happen really fast. They started writing new scenes and tackling all these subjects. I didn’t have time to think about being out actor Nick Rodriguez playing a gay character. I was just supposed to be there for four days!” Since leaving “One Life to Live,” Rodriguez has volunteered for several youth organizations, a cause important to him. “We’re able to be out and have more of a presence as a gay community,” he says, “and kids are able to come out earlier and earlier. But then what happens to them? Some of them get kicked out and bullied in school. While I’m excited that they’re able to come out at 10, 11, 15, 16 they still need guidance. These kids need role models.”
She has been performing since the age of 16, but the Tacoma, Washington native rose to fame this summer when she appeared on NBC’s reality singing competition “The Voice.” Martinez, who ended up coming in third on the hit show, came out to her devoutly religious mom and dad while a teenager. “It was hard for me coming out to my parents,” recalls Martinez, who says she’ll never hide who she is. “I’ve already gone through that hurdle and I’m not going to go through it again. I’ve had people say, ‘Well, why don’t you just keep them guessing? You can hit all the markets.’ No. Especially if you’re with somebody; it’s so disrespectful.”
Mario Lavandeira, better known as Perez Hilton, is the self-proclaimed “Queen of all Media.” The openly gay celebrity gossip blogger writes about celebrities all the time on his notorious gossip blog PerezHilton.com. The 33-year-old Cuban-American has earned plenty of praise from his fans, even from fellow gossip columnist Michael Musto. “Perez is great because he’s fearless, rambunctious and gayer than Ikea on Super Bowl Sunday,” he says. “He’s the new me!”
He rose to fame playing gay high school student Rickie Vasquez on MTV’s critically acclaimed and gone-to-soon series, “My So-Called Life.” As an openly gay actor, the 37-year-old Puerto-Rican-American has served as an advocate for gay youth, especially gay youth of color. Having been reportedly kicked out of his home by his own father, Cruz has helped raised awareness about homelessness among gay teens.
Mexican-American writer Richard Rodriguez is Catholic, Republican and gay. He has received acclaim and criticism for his works Hunger of Memory, Days of Obligation—a Pulitzer Prize finalist—and Brown. In 2008, the 67-year-old Rodriguez spoke to Salon.com about being a gay Latino, explaining, “In my own my family…it would have been impossible for them to have dealt with the words ‘gay’ or ‘homosexual’ in my relationship with them. They didn’t want it said, they didn’t want it named or defined, but they assumed it and accepted it. These communities have very intricate ways of dealing with these things and they are not necessarily the highly politicized tactics that you see in traditional middle-class society in America.”
Fashion designer Mondo Guerra rose to fame after appearing on the eighth season of the popular “Project Runway” reality series. But the 33-year-old Mexican-American won’t be known as the contestant who came in second place, he’ll be remembered as the person who bravely revealed his HIV Positive status to the panel of judges, and that had been keeping his HIV status a secret for ten years. Since appearing on the show, the the Denver-native has served as a positive role model in the game community and helped raise awareness for GLBT issues, including commemorating World AIDS Day
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