Pop star Ricky Martin says he “wasted energy” hiding his sexuality at the start of his career.
The 46-year-old came out in 2010 and recently married Jwan Yosef, with whom he has two sons, fathered by a surrogate.
Speaking to Attitude magazine, the star said he regretted the lengths he had gone to disguise his sexuality.
“I was a closeted gay man who was making my partners hide,” he said. Some of his partners had gone “back into the closet” on his behalf, he added.
Martin said he had taken extreme measures to avoid speculation, in case it harmed his career.
“I didn’t open doors to new relationships, and I’m not talking about romantic relationships, I’m talking about any relationship, because I didn’t want people to know me too much.
“I wouldn’t even sit down and have a cool relationship with amazing producers or great film directors because I was afraid that if they spent more than two hours sitting with me they would know my nature.
“I wasted so much energy trying to manipulate my sexuality.”
Martin has previously explained it took him years to come to terms with his sexuality – and he was still “struggling” with the issue at the height of his fame in 1999.
“Even though I had relationships with men after separating from my first love, I was still not ready to accept myself as gay,” he wrote in his autobiography, Me.
Born in Puerto Rico as Enrique Martin Morales, the star started out making TV commercials when he was nine and joined boy band phenomenon Menudo at 12.
But it was the success of his English-language hit Livin’ La Vida Loca that turned him into a global sensation – and prompted rumours about his sexuality.
In 2000, US TV host Barbara Walters pressed Martin on the issue, asking him several times whether he was gay. She later expressed regret over her line of questioning, calling it “inappropriate”.
The constant media speculation had a lasting impact on Martin.
“At times I felt I hated myself,” he said in Me. “Because it was always presented under such a negative lens, as something scandalous and bad, it reinforced my desire to deny what I was feeling.”
Martin recently played the partner of late designer Gianni Versace in the TV drama American Crime Story: The Assassination Of Gianni Versace.
He said his own experiences informed the performance.
“The level of injustice that we as a community were dealing with back then was heavy,” he told Attitude. “I played every role before I even started working on this project.
“And so I’m reliving everything that I did.”
‘We carry this flag’
The singer, who met his husband online, said he was thrilled to be an inspiration to other men.
“We love it!” he said. “It’s not even for us, it’s for our kids. It’s for my kids to look at us on that red carpet and say, ‘Ah, those are my daddies, how cool!’
“And to boost my children with self-esteem and let them understand how amazing it is to be part of a modern family … We know that we carry this flag and if we’re going to carry this flag, let’s sway this flag really loudly.”