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Tour de Life: Leave Ricky alone!!
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Tour de Life: Leave Ricky alone!!

by Beau Burriola - SGN European Correspondent

I cracked three eggs over the skillet and turned the radio on. I had exactly 25 minutes before I had to be out the door and off to the train.

I don't normally keep the radio tuned to morning news because my ears reject anything in French before 10:00 in the morning, but the radio was already on the news and in my morning laziness, I just left it there.

So when the big French news of the day was that Ricky Martin was Gay, I was really waiting for something else to come through in translation. Like maybe "was caught in Gay scandal" or "was opening the Gay Parade" - or really just anything in addition to "Gay." But that was it.

The world headline was just "Ricky Martin Really Is Gay."

It's a bit like opening your paper and seeing the blaring front-page headline, "Ann Coulter Really Is a Cross Between a Hungry Praying Mantis and a Chihuahua" or "Fred Phelps Really is That Eerie Preacher from Poltergeist."

While this bit of news isn't particularly interesting in itself, far more interesting to me is the reaction of some Queer folks on the blogosphere, which portray a cynical timing in Ricky's coming out. Said one such reaction: "It's easy to come out when you're a has-been and your career is dead." Said another, "Now? Why bother?" Ouch.

My friend Hong says he should have come out a long time ago, and even my buddy Rich says, "It's a slap in the face to guys in Mississippi who come out and actually are courageous."

Now, I know it's hard for a lot of us to spare loads of empathy for millionaire superstars - especially pretty ones. I get it. But I would quietly point out that what Ricky did was what millions of Gay folks face at work every day: Sometimes you work in a job where being out isn't easy and you hide a bit. Everyone does it, even if just sometimes. It's life, and a boy has gotta eat. Sometimes the easier road is best.

I worked the same office job for eight years and I never came out in that office. It would have been uncomfortable and there was no reason to. Does that mean I am less brave for it? Does it represent a failure to my community? I don't know. I wasn't wrestling with philosophical principles; I just wanted things to stay peaceful. I like peace. We all do.

Ricky did the same thing all Gay people on earth - except professional leather men and Gay porn stars - have to do at some point in their lives: He let people think he was straight. He's probably a decent fellow who will now do more for the Gay community than most of us can do in a lifetime. He joins Rosie and Ellen and Elton and the rest of the Pink Walk of Fame.

Coming out at work isn't easy for anyone, and if you had been in his position and decided to go ahead and come out and be a world-changing hero, you can probably at least see why he stayed in the closet.

I can see why because I still do it, too. I accept that some mornings I get up and go to work and just let people assume I am straight, because you can only fight a battle worth winning and sometimes it's more valuable just to keep the peace.

And whether you are a rock star, a starfish fisherman, or rock planter, you like peace at work. And if you do one day come out at work and risk your livelihood, good for you. You are a saint. As for the rest of us normal people, we're just us, and you can't really get mad at people for just being normal.

Beau Burriola is a writer struggling to make his hips do that thang. beaubrent@gmail.com

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