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Ricky Martin comes out

Latin heartthrob Ricky Martin announced on his blog today that he is “a fortunate gay man,” which probably elicited two reactions: “duh!” and “double duh!”

Duh: Anyone who looks like Ricky is “fortunate.” And double duh: The announcement that he’s gay is about as shocking as when Sean Hayes came out on the cover of The Advocate last month. After all, Ricky has been living la vida “don’t ask, don’t tell” for a long time—sometimes there was a girlfriend; other times, Ricky was doing stretching exercises on a beach. With another guy. In a Speedo.

But let’s put the cynicism (and the “He Bangs” jokes) aside for a moment. Coming out — even in this post Ellen/Rosie/Lance Bass/Neil Patrick Harris age — takes courage, especially when you’re a public figure. You immediately become a spokesperson, whether you like it or not (and for that matter, whether the gay community wants you to be or not.) In fact, the entire gay movement can apparently rest on your shoulders: “[Ricky Martin’s] decision to model this kind of openness and honesty can lead to a greater acceptance for countless gay people in the U.S., in Latin America and worldwide,” said Jarrett Barrios, president of GLAAD, in a statement.

Moreover, your sexual orientation ends up defining you: The word “gay” will always precede “singer” or “actor” in a way that the word “straight” doesn’t always precede, say, Tom Hanks’ name. As proud as many of us are of our sexual orientation, we still want to be known for more than that.

So Ricky deserves plaudits—no matter how overdue or obvious the announcement may be.

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