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Ricky Martin confirms he is gay

Ricky Martin has told his fans he is gay, describing himself as a "fortunate homosexual man".

In a statement posted via Twitter in both Spanish and English, and later confirmed with his representative, the singer added: "I am very blessed to be who I am."

For many, the announcement came as no surprise; the Livin' La Vida Loca star's sexuality has been speculated about for years.

But the Puerto Rican star, who got his big break as a child in the teenage group Menudo, never directly addressed it and was usually seen at events with beautiful women on his arm.

But 38-year-old Ricky said he decided to reveal the truth after working on his memoirs helped him realise that he had to be true to himself and not keep any more secrets.

"From the moment I wrote the first phrase I was sure the book was the tool that was going to help me free myself from things I was carrying within me for a long time. Things that were too heavy for me to keep inside," he said.

"Writing this account of my life, I got very close to my truth. And this is something worth celebrating."

Ricky said one of the reasons he kept his homosexuality hidden was because he was told by some that it would hurt his career.

While his US career peaked after the release of his 1999 self-titled English album, a multi-platinum success that included the hits Livin' La Vida Loca and Shake Your Bon-Bon, he is still a hugely successful Latin artist.

© Press Association