Photo: George Burns/Harpo Studios
On March 26, 2000, Ricky's interview with Barbara Walters aired before the Oscars®. During the interview, Barbara said to Ricky: "You know, you could stop these rumors. You could say, as many artists have, 'Yes I am gay.' Or you could say, 'No, I am not.'"
Ricky responded: "For some reason, I just don't feel like it."
Though Ricky says he expected the question, he says it felt like Barbara wouldn't let it go. "I have a lot of respect for Barbara. She's an amazing journalist, and she was doing her job," he says. "I was feeling she was beating me up."
In that moment, Ricky says he felt punch-drunk. "Was I ready to tell the world who I was?" he says. "Maybe I didn't even know who I was."
After the interview, Ricky says he felt invaded. "I felt violated in many ways. But once again, it was not the first time I was asked this question in an interview," he says. "But this was a massive TV show, and then that gave the right to every journalist to ask."
Oprah: One of the things you say in Me is that the constant bombardment of the gay question actually pushed you further away from the truth.
Ricky: Because it was treated in a very scandalous way. And people were mocking my sexuality, and I was like: "I don't want to be that. Is that me? I totally want to reject myself. You know what? I think I hate myself." And that's where you go. Those are the thoughts where you go. That's why I must insist when someone is not ready, we must not try to force that person to come out. Right now we're dealing with people that are being bullied because they are gay, and now we're dealing with people that are committing suicide because they're forced to come out. And that is horrible. You're ready whenever you're ready. You have to go through a process. You have to go through a very spiritual process in order for you to accept yourself, and then it feels amazing when you do so.