Latin

Latin Pride: Enrique Santos Feels a 'Great Responsibility' as First Openly Gay On-Air Host in Spanish Radio

Enrique Santos
Benhur Barrero II

Enrique Santos

As president, COO and radio host of iHeartLatino, Enrique Santos -- known as the first openly gay Spanish-language radio on-air personality -- has helped propel the careers of many of today’s biggest names in Latin music. Throughout the years, he’s also earned the respect of industry peers by breaking the stereotypical Latino macho mentality.

“Your orientation does not determine your character, and even my harshest critics and audience that are not LGBTQ+ have grown to respect and understand that,” he tells Billboard.

Santos, who was named one of Billboard’s Pride Power Players in 2021, is also a Miami Police reserve and assisted in creating an LGBTQ+ liaison within the police department to help officers better understand the community.

In honor of Pride Month, Santos opened up to Billboard about his career path as part of the LGBTQ+ community.

How did the decision to come out impact your art?

As the first openly gay broadcaster on Spanish Radio, my art was impacted in a significant and powerful way when I came out. It allowed for a more honest and real relationship with my listeners. Your orientation does not determine your character, and even my harshest critics and audience that is not LGBTQ+ have grown to respect and understand that.

Did you ever have an LGBTQ+ idol growing up?

I didn’t have an LGBTQ+ idol when I grew up. It was lonely and scary and that’s why I feel a great sense of responsibility to be that person for so many others.

Would you say the industry is more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community compared to when you first started your career?

I would say that the industry is more accepting yet not fully understanding. Many on the Latino side are still very homophobic and machista. Hence the lack of openly gay Latino artists.

What would you say to new artists who are on the rise and are unsure about coming out?

For new artists that are on the fence about coming out, I would say to be careful not to do so solely on the fact that they are LGBTQ+. Make sure that you are prepared spiritually and psychologically for the vulnerability that will follow. Do so on your time personally and professionally.

This year, I’ll be celebrating Pride by:

Having the honor to be Miami Beach Pride's 2021 Allied Grand Marshall.