Ricky Martin on Pandemic-Induced Anxiety and Promoting Social Justice for His Kids
By Liz Calvario
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Ricky Martin had a moment where he didn't know what to do with himself when the stay-at-home orders went into effect amid the coronavirus pandemic. The 48-year-old singer covers Out magazine's Family Issue, where he gets candid about the anxiety he felt upon realizing he had to put part of his career on hold.
"I went through this mourning process of me letting go of the possibility of ever performing in front of 20,000 people again," Martin tells the publication. "That’s what they were telling us. For me it was like, I don’t know how to do anything else. I always thought I was going to be able to do this as long as I wanted to -- even if I looked ridiculous onstage at 70 years old with a cane, it was my option. But apparently that was no more."
The Puerto Rican performer, naturally, turned to music and created two EPs, Pausa and Play. The first was released earlier this summer. "I really finished it as a way for me to cope," Martin admits.
As for how his family life is amid quarantine, the father of four has 12-year-old twins, Valentino and Matteo, who continue to be homeschooled and "take karate lessons via Zoom." His two youngest, 2-year-old daughter Lucia and 1-year-old son Renn, continue to sleep, eat and cry, he says.
The "Tiburones" singer, who is married to Jwan Yosef, also touched on the possibility of expanding their family in the future. “I would love to have many grandkids in the future and have every Sunday filled with family but, you know, we have to see what happens."
“There’s moments where I want 10 more, and then there are those mornings where everybody’s crying and I’m like, ‘OK, maybe we’re fine at six,’” he joked.
Martin always dreamed of becoming a father, admitting that he went though a "grieving process" before coming out, thinking he could never become one.
“Many years I dreamt of being a father, and many, many, many times I went through this grieving process of I am gay, I am a closeted gay man, and I’m not going to be able to be a daddy,” Martin expresses. “Obviously adoption is an option and it’s very beautiful, but unfortunately for gay men it’s very difficult to adopt in some countries."
Part of becoming a father also pushed him to get even more involved in giving back to the community. In 2000, he launched the Ricky Martin Foundation, a child advocacy organization.
“If I don’t do something, I’m allowing it to happen,” Martin explains of his actions. "If I have the platform that social media has given me to talk to 75 million people, it would be horrible not to talk about the things that people need to hear."
The singer has been an advocate for UNICEF, fighting human trafficking, addressing HIV, and helping his native Puerto Rico after hurricanes and COVID-19 impacted the island. He's also protested and called for the resignation of then-Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló. Martin hopes that advocacy is something his children will be part of when they are older.
"One thing that I’m going to always take with me is that after those days protesting, my kids would wait for me back home," he mentions. "And I knew that they will become revolutionaries because of the passion that we have towards social justice and fairness for all."
ET spoke with Martin in May, where he also touched on wanting to get back onstage, but would make sure all the safety precautions were put into place.
"I've been doing this since I was 12 years old. I cannot imagine life without being able to be onstage," he shared. "So we're gonna take our time and we're gonna do it right. I'm sure every venue, every country, every city is gonna have their rules and regulations. We will follow them. But we will produce something amazing for you guys because there's nothing like the live experience."
"I think what's most important is for people to wash their hands, to wear the mask, and then the more we do this, the faster we're going to go to our normal again," he added.