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3 Nov 2010

Ricky Martin, Portia de Rossi tell Oprah about their struggles and coming out as gay

Two openly gay stars Portia de Rossi and Ricky Martin appeared on Oprah this week to talk about their journey towards self-acceptance.

"There's a very fine line between being private and being ashamed": Portia de Rossi

Known for her TV roles on Ally McBeal and Arrested Development, and being Ellen DeGeneres's wife, actress Portia de Rossi discussed her memoir called Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain in which she revealed her struggles with anorexia and coming out as gay, in on The Oprah Winfrey Show which aired on Monday.

Portia de Rossi (left) and Ellen DeGeneres met in March 2001 and exchanged vows in August 2008.

The 37-year-old, who was born and raised in Victoria, Australia, told Oprah that she realised she was gay at 18 after continually developing feelings for her girl friends: "The thing that made me think I wasn't [heterosexual] was I developed very strong feelings for my best friends, for my girl friends, that were stronger than friendship. And I had a series of mini-heartbreaks throughout my teens because my fantasy of what life could be like with my best friend wasn't shared with my best friend. My best friend wanted to get married to a man and have kids and I just wanted to be with them. And that's when I thought something was definitely different about me. So really it took until I was about 18 when I realised I have to date other lesbians if I was ever going to fulfill that fantasy."

"Having to hide something like that just ruined me," she said referring to her eating disorder. By early 2000, the 1.72m tall actress weighed only 82 pounds (37kgs). "It really, really killed me because even though I'd gotten to a point where I wasn't ashamed of it anymore, I was doing it for financial reasons. I was doing it so I'd have a career because there were no lesbian TV actresses or actresses ever in history!"

de Rossi recalled her thoughts when she watched Ellen DeGeneres, who would eventually become her wife, come out in 1997: "It's the litmus test for me. If she went down, there's no way in hell I can come out. If someone as charming and wonderful as Ellen DeGeneres can't pull this off and keep her career, it's not gonna work for me, so I had to keep it hidden."

DeGeneres came out in a Time magazine cover story before her character on her then sitcom Ellen came out on the show which was almost immediately cancelled. Her character however short-lived is the first gay lead character on television in the US.

"Hiding your sexuality is the most horrible way to live and it really does a huge disservice to society, because if everybody who was gay came out in every profession, teachers, doctors, if everybody came out and said, 'I'm gay. Who cares?' It would make a big impact to what's happening with all this teenage suicide," de Rossi said.

She also spoke of coming out to her mother who was 'accepting' but was also told that her sexuality was her "private business" and not to tell anybody. To which de Rossi responded, "There's a very fine line between being private and being ashamed."

"I don't want my family to be based on lies": Ricky Martin

On Tuesday, it was Puerto Rican superstar Ricky Martin's turn to be on Oprah's couch. It was his first TV interview since confirming earlier this year decade-long rumours that he's gay.

"My kids gave me all the strength to come out," Ricky Martin said. "I had to because first of all I couldn't take it anymore, but they gave me that final push. I don't want my family to be based on lies. I want to be transparent to them. I want them to be proud of their dad, of their family."

On 29 March this year, Martin announced on his blog: "I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."

A father toddler twins Matteo and Valentino, he said he felt "numb" but "relieved" after pressing the send button. "I was in my studio alone for a minute. My assistant walked in and I just started crying like a little baby. I started crying. I was crying because felt free, I felt liberated. I could finally say I love myself completely."

Martin said he battled with his sexuality which he was aware of at a young age. "It was very difficult because for many years I was trying to pretend I was somebody else because of how I grew up in a conservative world, a conservative culture, very religious. My beliefs were telling me that my feelings and attraction towards men were evil and wrong.

"I always felt an attraction even at age four or five there was this chemistry. Obviously it was not what I was supposed to feel."

At the age of 21 having already found fame as member of the Latin boyband Menudo, he fell in love with a man so deeply that he felt he wanted to give up his career. "I wanted to leave everything and I even told him, 'You know what, let's go out and go to Europe, let's go to Asia...' because I didn't want to tell everybody (that I was gay)."

He told Oprah: "I am in a relationship right now, it feels amazing. I'm in a very beautiful relationship… All I can say is he loves my children and they love him. It can't get better."

Martin's memoir, Me, which was released the same day the interview was aired, also revealed his passionate sexual relationships with women which he described as genuine.

"I felt passion. I felt sexual… yes, it felt good. And I'm sure I'm not the only man, the only gay man that felt attraction to a woman."

However, Martin was quick to set the record straight: "I am not bisexual. I am a gay man. For many years, I thought I was. I was confused then, but when I was with a woman, everything wasn't perfect, but the most important thing is people loved to see me with women."

In August 2006, Martin became the father of twin boys, after arranging for a private surrogate. He told Oprah the turning point finally came in less than two years when he felt he had to come clean about his sexuality.

"My kids gave me all the strength to come out," he said. "I had to because first of all I couldn't take it anymore, but they gave me that final push. I don't want my family to be based on lies. I want to be transparent to them. I want them to be proud of their dad, of their family."

The 38-year-old also revealed he felt "violated" and "angry" after he was grilled by top US newswoman Barbara Walters about his sexuality in a hard-hitting TV interview in 2000 – because he wasn't ready to be outed.

He added that gay people must be allowed to come out in their own time. "Right now we are dealing with people that are being bullied because they are gay and now we're dealing with people who are committing suicide because they're forced to come out and that is horrible... You have to go through a very spiritual process in order for you to accept yourself and then it feels amazing."

At another point in the interview, Martin said that prior to coming out he had often felt he was "not enough." He added: "And the sad part is right now 17-year-old kids are going through that… and men and women in their thirties are going through that, and people go through life not accepting themselves…"

Oprah told Martin: "Don't you think that the more people who come out and are vocal about it; it gives other young kids who are feeling the same thing not just hope but inspiration to say… I think if everybody who were gay were to come out, it would change the world!" To which Martin said: "I totally agree. I totally agree."

Reader's Comments

1. 2010-11-03 20:17  
Its harder to be a celeb to be gay....so much pressure...fuh
2. 2010-11-03 21:54  
I'm gay. There, I said it. Can I go on Oprah now?
3. 2010-11-03 22:00  
Kudos Ricky, kudos =)
4. 2010-11-03 23:21  
i hope i can do the same thing accepting whoever i am.. but work and family really stops me from doing so. so tired!!!
5. 2010-11-03 23:35  
Go Ricky! We have been following you!
6. 2010-11-04 00:53  
Great, if you are a celebrity and sell newspapers etc the global audience listens. What about all the homo-phobia horrors in the world - sorry Oprah, this website and others .. focus on real issues, make a difference, earn real respect and not ratings !
Comment edited on 2010-11-04 00:55:19
7. 2010-11-04 01:17  
Is this website brave enough to lead the world forward to champion and release by every country, politcians, leaders, statesman, industry and celebrities (the latter, if we have to read about them again) and make the global community realise that being "gay" is not a choice. There are many fine people in the world and private lives are not a tabloid or boardroom issue. Thank You.
8. 2010-11-04 01:39  
last paragraph of the article : if everybody who were gay were to come out, it would totally change the world...
9. 2010-11-04 03:55  
@ Shzeton & Kev7161: I don't see what's bad about Ricky's and Portia's appearances on Oprah. Even if they are an attempt to achieve greater ratings, they proclaiming their experiences on national television will be encouraging to those who are currently struggling with their sexuality, and will also educate those that are ignorant and lack understanding to the experiences of homosexuals.

Nevertheless, I doubt many people with prejudice toward homosexuals will be watching Oprah. Obviously there will probably be some, but not all. The types of audience that primarily need to be educated on the experiences of homosexuals are the conservatives and traditionalists. They are not likely to be the ones watching Oprah.
10. 2010-11-04 04:32  
Oprah, it's your turn (maybe that will help you stop being so crazy and cranky)
Comment edited on 2010-11-04 04:33:51
11. 2010-11-04 05:19  
Two days in a row about coming out... You can tell it's November sweeps! Great shows though...
12. 2010-11-04 05:35  
Fue una buena decision en tu vida y ahora disfrutalo.
13. 2010-11-04 06:05  
I agree it is always hard to come out if you are a well known person. And then you get hit when you constantly deny it and then later in life confirm it. People tend to take that against you and ridicule you for not being honest. I personally believe it is non of your (public's) business it is a personal issue and purely personal business..(so lay off!) These two people are always in the public eye and to come out, to some, it will always be a shock, lots of questions, and later hopefully acceptance by all ... then we move on.
14. 2010-11-04 07:33  
wake up and smell the cow dung....

go down and get your hands dirty.

glamourising coming out isnt going to make much of a difference to the real struggles real people face in the real world.

15. 2010-11-04 10:19  
polity should educate the public not to bully gay, surroundings supportive to gay definitely change a gay's guts to be brave for self-defense, even fight back.
16. 2010-11-04 11:29  
i can't event tell my family that i'm gay
my parents will kill me:(
17. 2010-11-04 12:23  
#16... that's what YOU think
18. 2010-11-04 13:28  
rock en roll dude!!!
19. 2010-11-04 14:58  
it's really hard to come out. nowadays, though it's somewhat accepted in the society but then again the fear inside of us is really different. my family knew about me but not my relatives even in the workplace nor back in school friends. but i know people around me will still accept me and most importantly RESPECT me for who i am. still i act manly and discreetly. i admire ricky for his courage and brave enough to take the consequences of his actions. i support him.
20. 2010-11-04 15:38  
Well the thing is these people come out only after they've achieved some sort of success with their career.

21. 2010-11-04 16:07  
after they spent much of their lives cloaked in heterosexuality so as to build their careers then after they reach their peek 'come out' in more hospitable times after those of us more brave individuals trail blazed the way for them, we get the likes of silly old Elton and others setting them selves up as spokes people on every thing homosexual..boring!.. I like that Adam lambert does it on his terms theres a gay boy on the rise I can get excited about
Comment edited on 2010-11-04 16:33:40
22. 2010-11-04 16:32  
You all understand of course that both Portia and Ricky have new books out this week. Sure they are "supportive" of all things gay now - BRAVO! However, their main agenda is to sell books (and in Ricky's case, more of whatever new album may be coming out soon).
23. 2010-11-04 16:58  
Ah well, whatever, he's hot so i'm cool. Haha.
24. 2010-11-04 20:30  
Ricky! Here's someone who Doesn't care about your sexuality - Gay or Straight, I still Don't like your music! Hope that helps!
25. 2010-11-04 20:59  
Vercoda's right...Ricky is way too fast and upbeat and cool and he has irritating twins like my fellow troll...this is more our style...

Comment edited on 2010-11-04 21:01:09
26. 2010-11-04 21:22  
go go Ricky !
27. 2010-11-04 22:11  
Will the Singapore censors allow these episodes to air? ...
28. 2010-11-04 23:57  
we will behind you ricky... be strong all gays. we will freedom oneday
29. 2010-11-05 01:48  
lovely Ricky.
what a cute!
i wanna have my Kids like him!!!

i cant come out, either...
my family? of course they won't accept...
30. 2010-11-05 02:48  
Oprah and RICKY! The loves of my life hahah

Now waiting for the day that you announce that you have an identical gay TWIN whose available and wants to marry ME! hahaha

Proud of you both Ricky and Portia! I'm sure your story would have touched/inspired and perhaps even saved some poor soul in this world who are going through their own struggles.

31. 2010-11-05 03:17  
i love you Ricky!! hugs and kisses.. cheers!!!
32. 2010-11-05 03:48  
still waiting for the first celebrity to come out as a bisexual! that should be interesting.
Comment #33 was deleted by its author on 2010-11-05 05:08
34. 2010-11-05 05:09  
well, if you are a public figure everyone will tend to be more acceptable you if you're gay. but not for common folks. that's reality.
35. 2010-11-05 09:02  
Oh just to add, after reading some of the people's comments, I'm sad theres a number of negative comments that implies it's easier for them cos they're famous and not 'living in reality' like us common folks. Is the entertainment world not a reality?? The fact that we ALL as human being go through our own struggles, in our own way to come to terms with ourselves. If anything, I would imagine fame would make it that much harder in some cases to come out and be proud. Theres really no comparison as to who gets it easier when it comes to coming out. Fear lies from within. Each and everyone of us deals with it in our own individual way.

Instead of judging, dismissing and down playing these people's story regardless of their fame, background, ethnicity and society they live in, we should find comfort in ourselves that we are not alone, that we all share a common struggle and just feel proud that another fellow human being has come out to the world and feels proud that he's gay and live a normal life like any other folks.

Peace y'all!
36. 2010-11-05 10:06  
Where's the 'like' button?
37. 2010-11-05 14:27  
When I become famous, I'll not come out by then. When I'm already that someone in the lime light who's respected and looked up to and not have to worry about my career, then I'll come out. That's what Ricky Martin did because if he came out during the 90s, he never would have been famous.
38. 2010-11-05 17:08  
Sorry, did anyone in the world ever actually believe Ricky Martin was straight..?
39. 2010-11-05 17:20  
he's my ultimate crush...
40. 2010-11-05 18:26  
he has been my dream guy since i was 8!!! hes so gorgeous!!! OMG!
41. 2010-11-05 20:15  
Ricky you make us proud of what you do for humanity, 2 thumbs up for that. You coming out, you are a good role model for gays and lets hope that this hetero world accept us more and more of who we are and not just because we are straight or gay. God made us who we are for a reason.
42. 2010-11-06 04:00  
i watched that ricky clip alone in the room two days ago and felt really happy for him, seeing he and his kids playing in the playroom and twirling back and forth. isnt that the most beautiful scene ever?
43. 2010-11-08 13:42  
i love Ricky's twins and their long hair, my son's hair used to be really long then the Chinese grandmother took him for a haircut when i was away on a business trip, i was stunned that she thought she could overstep boundaries like that, long hair is cool

but my daughter with long hair watched Disney's Mulan and then cut her hair short stating she wants to be a boy, she is going through her disney princess phase way too fast for me, gosh she is such a tom boy and doesnt like any of the Marc Jacob dresses I bought for her anymore

anyway, just a day in the life of a fabulous gay dad

when you have kids you don't look at the world gay vs. straight anymore, you just make the grand division to now be the childless and those with children

gay dads and straight days have so much in common these days
44. 2010-11-08 23:55  
BAHAHAHAHA role model? what a joke! i cant even bare to watch the clips as i'm cringing in reaction to how transparent this whole facade is! he is a total moocher trying to capitalise on whatever boat he can hitch a ride off. Guys, there are heaps of celebrities out there who have came out in a respectable, dignified and modest manner that was free of any ulterior motives. What i wouldn't give to knock ricky martin off his high horse with a big wet fish.

im not really the type of guy to give my 2 cents on here but this post really gave me the shits!
Comment #45 was deleted by its author on 2010-11-08 23:57
46. 2010-11-09 14:39  
errr...Oprah, isnt it time you too came out? just exactly what is the realtionship between you and Gayle?
GIve Steadman a break and just once and for all clear the air....
Kudos to them both for coming out, but its not exactly earth shaking is it? After all, its old news.....i thought they both came out long time ago...
47. 2010-11-12 23:10  
Kev7161: u r gay so what?! you are not a star nor famous. you think too much! lol
48. 2010-11-14 15:08  
I thought my parents will disown me when I came out to them but they didn't. They still embrace me as their son and my younger sister and brother still treat me like their brother. Sometimes, they are just worried that you might be different and they are unable to deal with you being different. Just show them that you are still you, a normal man who just happens to be attracted to guys.
I have a bf and for the past 3 years, he has been joining me for dinners with my family and relatives.
To you guys who are worried about coming out: Take your time and when you are ready, tell them. But nobody says you have to come out to anyone just because you are gay. It's your life so live it the way you want to.
49. 2010-11-18 23:23  
he is so brave and opened to himself

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