Former General Hospital star Ricky Martin publicly declared this week something that he's been dodging for most of his adult life: He is gay.
"I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man," Martin wrote in a message on his official web site. "I am very blessed to be who I am."
Since Martin burst into the public eye more than a decade ago, he has been dogged by questions and rumors about his sexual orientation. In an interview with ABC newswoman Barbara Walters in 1999, Martin declined to comment when he was asked to confirm or deny the speculation that he was gay.
"I just don't feel like it," Martin told Walters at the time.
Currently involved in writing a memoir, Martin explains that the process has allowed him to become more intrinsic. It was perhaps aided by his new status as a father of two sons, born via surrogate in 2008.
"I got very close to my truth," Martin explained. "[T]hese years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed. This is just what I need especially now that I am the father of two beautiful boys that are so full of light and who with their outlook teach me new things every day. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with."
The 39-year-old Puerto Rican native began his career as a member of the Latin boy band Menudo. He launched a solo career in 1991, but he is perhaps best known for his 1999 international hit, "Livin' La Vida Loca." Even before his pop star status, Martin was known to daytime fans for his role as bartender-turned-singer Miguel Morez on General Hospital. Martin appeared on the ABC soap in 1994 and 1995.
Martin reveals that he didn't come out about his homosexuality sooner because he'd been told by handlers and loved ones that his career and success would "collapse" if the world learned that he was gay.
"What will happen from now on? It doesn't matter. I can only focus on what's happening to me in this moment."