Although Esteman had come out to his family and friends early on in his career, it wasn’t until 2019 when he released Amor Libre that he publicly came out to his fans. “The advice always was, both from my family, for my protection, but also from the people who were getting to know me [in the industry]: ‘Don’t reveal your personal life; one must be prudent,'” he previously told Billboard.
Two years after coming out in public, the Colombian singer-songwriter feels liberated as if a “weight has been lifted off my shoulders,” he says. Being transparent with his fans has also marked a “before and after” in his career and art where he can now be his authentic self and recall his love for another man.
In celebration of Pride Month, Esteman opens up about his coming out journey, how he’s celebrating Pride this year and more.
How did the decision to come out impact your art?
I feel like there is a before and after in my career when I decide to come out to my fans. It’s as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders and, in a way, I was able to connect with them even more via my music. Before I told them, I already had a special bond with the people that followed me but in the moment that my album Amor Libre was released and I decide to share all these personal stories and show an unfiltered side of me, my music became more valuable and powerful. Without planning this, I think more people started listening to my songs.
Did you have any LGBTQ+ idols growing up?
Elton John, Freddie Mercury and Miguel Bosé. And then there was Madonna, Gloria Estefan and Cher who aren’t part of the community but are LGBTQ+ icons.
Would you say the industry is more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community compared to when you first started your career?
Definitely. Times have rapidly changed. It feels as if the new generations have transformed that belief of hiding our true selves into understanding that freedom of expression is their most powerful tool. Even on television, film and music, we see more LGBTQ+ stories and more people that are transparent about their identity and orientation. All of this has made the industry change and, most importantly, for executives and all the people who are high up there making important decisions to open their eyes.
What would you say to new artists who are unsure about coming out?
I would tell them not to be scared. To transform those fears into tools to create more music. At the end of the day, the ones that are true followers will connect with your music and who you are, and they’ll be thankful when you are sincere.
Any up-and-coming LGBTQ+ artist you’re excited about?
Vanessa Zamora, Marian Ruzzi, Adrian Bello, Stefano Marocco, among many others. There are a lot of LGBTQ+ artists doing incredible things in music.
This year, I’ll be celebrating Pride by …
I will celebrate many ways. I will celebrate who I am, my identity, my orientation, my body and way of expression. I will celebrate the relationship I have with my boyfriend because it has changed my life. I will go out on the streets to march to demand human rights for our community, especially for those who continue to be discriminated against. Lastly, I will dance, I will dance a lot, and at night, I will sing “Milagrosa,” a new song inspired in the story of two trans women in our society. Feliz Pride!