Mexican Singer Leonardo Torres Shares His Coming Out Story And Talks About Proudly Wearing the Charro Suit as a Gay Man
Regional Mexican singer Leonardo Torres talks to People CHICA about coming out, performing at his first Pride Month festival and planning to marry his boyfriend.
Like many of his colleagues in the male-dominated music genre, Regional Mexican singer Leonardo Torres recorded music videos like “Yo no te olvido,” where he serenades a voluptuous muse who caused him heartbreak. However, Torres, 38, is changing the rules in his music genre by proudly coming out as a gay man. Even though he came out to his family when he was 25 years old and was lovingly accepted, it wasn't until recently that he came out to his colleagues and to the press. “When I saw Johnny, Jenni Rivera's son come out being so young, I thought: ‘Why don't I do it? Why am I so afraid of what people will say?',” he tells People CHICA. “There are a lot of repressed gays that opt for suicide and don't realize that they have a lot to live for. Many suffer bullying, are afraid of being themselves, of expressing their love.”
Even though he came out to his family and close friends over a decade ago, he still hid his sexual preference from the rest of the world until this year. “I was still in the closet because I was afraid my family would get bullied. My dad told me when I came out: ‘We love you as you are. We have never been ashamed of you. If you are depressed because of that, don't stay in the closet because your family loves you.' I really received a lot of support from my family,” he recalls. “I was blessed because my mother and father accepted me, my siblings also support me.”
The singer felt deep down that his fans would be unconditional. “I knew that my fans would support me,” he admits. “I think it was a secret everyone knew. When I decided to make it public along with the release of my album O me aceptas o me dejas [Take me or leave me], a reporter said to me: ‘Leonardo, thanks for putting up the flag of our gay community. Now we will support you more than ever','” he says of coming out. “New doors are opening for me.”
He now hopes to bring more tolerance to the music industry. “As artists we are always exposed to being accepted or being rejected, whether you are gay or not. What I want to show is that you don't necessarily have to be straight to sing mariachi or Regional Mexican music. I sing it with a lot of respect,” he says.
On June 22, he will perform for the first time in front of an LBGTQ audience at the Long Beach Pride festival. “I'm nervous,” he admits. “I want people to see that a gay man can also wear the charro suit with a lot of dignity.”
Torres, who released a mariachi album, says: “I used to sing norteño and banda, but when I decided to sing mariachi I felt like a fish in the water, it came naturally. Now it's the music genre that I enjoy singing the most.” Besides finding his passion in his career, he is also happy in love. “I've been in a relationship for five years and I'm getting married soon, God-willing in July in Las Vegas,” he reveals.
The singer says he was attracted to the same sex since he was a child and liked to play with girl toys and wear his sister's clothes. “You are so innocent that you don't know what's right and wrong. You think it's normal. Love is love,” he says. He realized he was different than other boys his age when his parents started scolding him for certain behaviors that came naturally. “You get depressed because you can't be yourself. Everyone asks you: ‘Where is your girlfriend? When are you getting married?',” he says. “All those speculations start bothering you and you reach a point where you want to be free and not be questioned anymore about your sexuality.”
His story, he hopes, will inspire young Latinx who are debating coming out. “There is a solution, suicide is not the answer. You have to keep going, with or without your family's support,” he assures. “There is life beyond coming out. Sometimes you drawn in a glass of water. You think the world is coming to an end, and when you do it you feel so liberated that you regret not doing it sooner. God knows when it's the right time.”