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Young & Restless Promo: Lauren Tells Michael The Truth She’s Having An Affair With A Younger man.

Finally, this week on the American soap The Young & The Restless Michael finds out the truth that his wife Lauren is having an affair. I like this storyline because it is nice to see a romance between an older woman and a younger man. I think Carmine really does love Lauren even though she’s married. Lauren and Carmine have better chemistry than Lauren has with Michael. Michael has gotten boring and dry.

Openly Gay Soccer Player Robbie Rogers Trains With LA Galaxy Might Make Comeback.

Yesterday, American soccer star Robbie Rogers returned to training with the LA Galaxy. Rogers came out of the closet in February and if he does return to the MLS he will be the first openly gay soccer player in the world. The problem is, even though Rogers is a free agent,the Chicago Fire own his rights. Rogers isn’t interested in working in Chicago he wants to play for the LA Galaxy so he can be close to his family in the Southern California area. The interesting aspect of the Robbie Rogers story is, on various internet forums there is a lot of excitement people seem thrilled he might comeback. There is also no hint of homophobia at least from what I’ve read about Robbie Rogers online.

There seems to be a lot of people who truly respect this young man since he was so courageous to come out during his prime. Rogers is only twenty five, he turns twenty six later this month but he still has time to continue his successful career. Rogers retired from professional soccer because he is concerned about dealing with homophobia in the lockeroom and from fans from opposing teams. I sincerely hope Robbie Rogers does return to the MLS because just by competing he can give a lot of hope to LGBT people. I am cognizant that Rogers doesn’t want to be a gay hero he just wants to be a soccer player. Since there is a paucity of male athletes coming out in professional sports Robbie Rogers is proof a gay man can be masculine and also excel at sports.

Gay Argentina Soap Botineras: Manuel & Lalo Make Love For The First Time.

Three years ago, the soap Botineras in Argentina had a very popular gay storyline about two soccer players Manuel and Lalo.

I can honestly say, this is one of the best gay male romances I have ever seen! I can’t imagine, a gay storyline like this being broadcast on North American television. The sensuality, passion, desire, and the love Manuel and Lalo have for each other is just incredible. The story is simple, Manuel is thirty years old, his professional soccer career is almost over.

However, Manuel is closeted he’s married to a woman Lily and he has two children. Lalo, is only eighteen he’s just starting his soccer career and Manuel falls for the younger man. Compared to North American soaps or television shows with gay storylines, this gay storyline is about love.

This soap illustrates the difficulty a gay male soccer players would have coming out of the closet. Lalo doesn’t want to come out because he’s afraid it might destroy his career. Manuel’s wife Lily eventually finds out the truth that her husband is having an affair with Lalo. There is a lot of drama in this story.

Although, Queer as Folk gets a lot of attention for being sexually explicit, the love scenes were mechanical and not loving. The romance between Manuel and Lalo is all about love, tenderness, and devotion. It is very rare to watch a soap with gay male characters who show tenderness, compassion, and comfort each other. Often, the actors who do play gay male characters are uncomfortable or awkward in the gay love scenes. Here the actors who play Manuel and Lalo give a tremendous performance, and make the audience actually believe their characters are in love.

Days of Our Lives Hot Gay Kiss: Brian & Sonny Make Out In Coffee House While Will Watches In The Background.

Last week Thursday, I did not have the opportunity to watch the NBC broadcast for Days of Our Lives. I heard rumours that there was a hot gay kiss so I had to watch the episode on You Tube.  A lot of people have commented on the internet that Chandler Massey the actor who plays Will Horton seems uncomfortable kissing his co star Freddie Smith in the gay love scenes. Bloggers have noticed when Will and Sonny kiss their mouths are closed. However, on Thursday’s episode a guest star Brant Daugherty his character Brian is the villain in the gay storyline. Last year, Brian let Sonny know he was interested in dating him. However, Sonny brushed Brian off and rejected him so Brian backed off. Meanwhile, last month in an explosive scene it was revealed during Gabi Hernandez and Nick Fallon’s wedding that Will Horton is the father of Gabi’s baby. The reason this is explosive is, Will is gay yet he is confused about his sexuality. Now, Brian is back in Salem he visits Sonny Kiriakis the other gay character at his coffeehouse and he makes a move. Since Sonny is upset that Will lied to him about getting his ex girlfriend Gabi Hernandez pregnant he passionately kisses Brian. The kiss between Brian and Sonny is rare on mainstream television to see two men make out with such desire is not common on network TV.

In Friday’s episode, Brian and Sonny continue to make out but Sonny’s boyfriend Will Horton creeps up to the coffee house peeking through the window blinds he sees the guys kissing passionately. Of course, Will is crushed and extremely upset. Brian and Sonny decide to take their make out session to Brian’s apartment and drink wine. Brian attempts to seduce Sonny on his bed by kissing him and having sex with him. Sonny tells Brian he can’t just have sex to him because he wants more than just a one night stand. Brian plays it cool, but he goes to the Brady pub where Will is finishing is university homework and implies that he had sex with Sonny.

I am surprised, the Days of our Lives producers allowed Brian and Sonny to make out on a bed. It is still rare on television to see two men kissing on a bed with desire and lust. A couple of years ago, on the soap As The World Turns, the gay characters Luke and Noah were prohibited from having a love scene on a bed together. Luke and Noah also did not have a sex scene. The gay storyline for Days of Our Lives isn’t perfect, but it indeed very progressive. The show’s writers and producers seem to be not allowing the negative feedback on Facebook, and other sites stop them from allowing the gay characters to have sex lives. For a long time on television, gay characters were asexual and just second class characters in the background.

I still believe that the love scene on the bed between Brian and Sonny was too short but I loved the fact Brian tried to unlock Sonny’s belt. I thought the scene was well done. There is still a bit of difference though between how the straight characters on Days of Our Lives express their sexuality and how the gay characters are allowed to be sexual. For instance, Will and Sonny have had only one proper love scene last year in November but there was no actual sex scene. The audience saw the foreplay which involved kissing, and then the after glow. The audience is left with our imagination to wonder how good the sex was. I understand Daytime television has limits on how far the sex scenes can go. Days of Our Lives is definitely moving in the right direction in allowing the gay characters to have sex lives just like the heterosexual characters.

Blind Item: Closeted Gay Actor Jake Gyllenhaal Is Looking For A New Female Beard.

You Can Be His Girlfriend

man beard 3[Blind Gossip] He is a really good actor. He has even had some roles that have been nominated for a big award or two. Yet this over-30 quiet guy wants more attention. He is not dating the woman with whom is is hanging around, but he is interested in having a girlfriend. His team has been calling around town trying to find a new one for him. Here are the requirements: She must be thin, pretty, and famous with no scandal in her background. Oh, and she must like facial hair.

My Guess: This blind item is easy obviously once again Jake Gyllenhaal is looking for a new female beard to present the facade he is heterosexual. Although young gay actors such as Matt Dallas, Zachary Qunito, and Matt Bomer have come out of the closet Jake Gyllenhaal is higher profile. For the high profile B+/ A list gay stars such as  Jake Gyllenhaal he and his PR team obviously believe he can’t come out of the closet. Isn’t it sad in the year 2013, that a young successful gay man such as Jake Gyllenhaal is still playing these silly games pretending he is straight?
It is pathetic and exhausting to pretend to be someone you are not just because you are afraid to be who you really are? Unfortunately, plenty of male celebrities play the beard game. Jake Gyllenhaal and his PR team continue to search Hollywood and find a woman who has to “pretend” to be his girlfriend. Also, remember, the tabloids are “involved” in these silly schemes as well. 
The general public is also to blame though because obviously the higher profile closeted gay male actors believe they must present a heterosexual illusion so the heterosexual female fans will continue to support their work. Although society is becoming more progressive about homosexuality, the truth is, male celebrities still face the double standard and stigma associated with being gay compared to female celebrities. 
First Clue: Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for best supporting actor for Brokeback Mountain back in 2005.
Second Clue: Jake just turned 32 last month.
Third  Clue : Jake tends to like squeaky clean beards who are famous  such as Reese Witherspoon, Taylor Swift, and now Katie Holmes. Jake’s beards also are white, thin, attractive, and have the all American girl image.
Fourth Clue: Jake currently has grown a beard.Image

Days of our lives gay storyline: Sonny & Will Have Sex For First Time Disappointed No Mention Of Safer Sex Or Condom Use.

Yesterday, on the NBC soap Days of our Lives Salem’s gay couple Will Horton and Sonny Kiriakis finally had sex for their first time. The love scene was tasteful, but it wasn’t as progressive as I thought it should be. I commend NBC, for allowing two gorgeous young gay male characters to be able to have a mature gay relationship which does involve sex. The after glow scene is excellent, Will and Sonny are clearly naked under the sheets discussing the first time together. However, I am disappointed that Greg Meng, an openly gay man and executive producer of Days of our Lives did not have the courage to allow the writers to write a scene with Sonny and Will discuss safer sex.

After all, the character Sonny admits to Will in a coffee house scene he’s had sex with men since he returned to Salem. HIV & AIDS is a serious concern in the gay male community and according to the Center for Disease Control website gay men are still getting infected with HIV at an alarming rate. Now, a counter argument is, Days of our Lives is on daytime television, it is a soap not real life and is just fantasy, just entertainment a way to escape from the real world. My concern is, for some fans of Days of our Lives they don’t want to see a conflation of the real world problems with their fantasy. I imagine for some heterosexual and gay viewers introducing a condom in a gay love scene is “too real” and “too gay” to wrap their minds around it. It would also mean a realization that gay men do indeed have sex. There still seems to be some anxieties about allowing gay men to have a realistic homosexual relationship on television.

On another American soap,  One Life To Live three years ago the gay storyline was more progressive Kyle and Oliver did discuss safer sex and condom use. Kyle gave a speech about how much he loved Oliver and he wanted him to enjoy their first time together. Kyle also told Oliver that using protection was an example of showing him how much he loved and cared for his lover. Now why couldn’t Days of our Lives have done something similar and discuss condom use?

Another argument is, the heterosexual characters don’t use condoms on Days of our Lives so neither should the gays. The assumption is, Will and Sonny barebacked they did not practice safer sex since condom use was not discussed. What kind of message is Greg Meng and NBC sending to gay men? However, how many opportunities are Sonny and Will realistically going to have sex on daytime television? Let’s be honest here, this might be the ONLY TIME Will and Sonny are going to have sex on screen. It was a huge opportunity for Greg Meng and NBC to discuss HIV & AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases and safer sex.

I believe Greg Meng and the writers of Days of our Lives should have written a scene with Sonny and Will discussing safer sex and using a condom. Television is a powerful medium, it can be used to educate people. Soap Operas have a tradition of actually breaking down barriers in relation to taboo subjects that Prime Time television tends to ignore. Days of our Lives can reach a lot of gay men who watch the show and a simple reminder about condom use can send a message that safer sex is important.

Another point to consider is, I think the reason Days of our Lives ignored the discussion about HIV & AIDS is because it would be too real for the conservative viewers. The gay love scene seemed a bit chaste to me, I am kind of disappointed to be honest, I thought Will and Sonny’s first time together would be more passionate and erotic. There still seems to be a double standard for gay male characters on television. Gay men are still treated like second class citizens on television they can be funny, attractive, but they aren’t allowed to be able to express their homosexuality and have passionate sex. Now, I am not arguing Days of our Lives love scene with Sonny & Will needed to be gay porn.

However, I do believe given the fact the heterosexual characters Gabi Hernandez and Nick Fallon had several love scenes under the sheets passionately making out there is a clear double standard. It is  disappointing, in the year 2012, that gay male characters are not treated exactly like heterosexual characters on television. Even though, I am a bit disappointed, I acknowledge that Days of our Lives has indeed done a good job with the gay storyline. Will and Sonny are allowed to kiss, to hug, to even have sex which is indeed progressive compared to other shows like Modern Family on ABC or Glee on Fox with their gay male characters. I think NBC is fearful of upsetting the homophobic straight conservative viewers. If you visit Days of our Lives Facebook page there are so many hateful homophobic people that are outraged about Sonny and Will’s gay romance.

Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith are doing an excellent job with the gay storyline. Some fans complained on the internet that Chandler appears too nervous, and awkward kissing Freddie. I think Chandler’s kissing has improved and I see the chemistry between the two actors  I still feel that Freddie is more natural and comfortable than Chandler with kissing other men on screen. I still believe in the gay storyline on Days of our Lives and I hope the writing is a bit more realistic and more passionate in the future.

Days Of Our Lives Preview To Monday: Will & Sonny’s Gay Romance Goes To Next Level They Make Out Passionately On A Bed!!!

Finally, it took almost a year but the Days of our lives writers and NBC got it right with the gay storyline! For months fans have complained that Will and Sonny’s gay romance lacks passion.

On the October 26th 2012 episode, Will and Sonny relationships advanced to the next level. I commend Freddie Smith and Chander Massey for giving 110% in the make out scene. The kisses were powerful, passionate, full of lust and desire.

Freddie and Chandler are hot and it was so sexy that I felt like a voyeur watching them make out!

Great News Days Of Our Lives Fans: Will & Sonny Have A Gay Sex Scene On The November 14th 2012 Episode!!!!

For over a year, Will and Sonny fans have waited patiently for Salem’s gay couple to consummate their relationship. Finally, Days of Our Lives fans can mark their calendars on the November 14th 2012 episode Will and Sonny are going to have sex! I am pleased that the Days of Our Lives producers did not back down and allowed Sonny and Will to show the audience an authentic mature gay male romance.

The sex scene is hot and very passionate! The TV Guide clip is wonderful, Chandler Massey and Freddie Smith are actually heterosexual in real life, but they do an excellent job playing gay men. The love scene is intimate, passionate, full of desire and it is powerful. I sincerely hope the conservative audience for Days of Our Lives accept the fact Will and Sonny deserve to be treated like any other couple. I am extremely impressed that NBC is not ignoring the topic of gay sex. For too often on mainstream television gay men are not allowed to have sex on screen. I hope Will and Sonny’s sex scene continues! I can’t wait until November 14th!!!

Cute Pic: Tennis Stars Rafael Nadal & Juan Monaco On A Vacation Together In Majorca Spain!!!

 

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Rafael Nadal, Juan Monaco

(Facebook)

You never know how much your co-workers care about you until you’re gone. Rafael Nadal hasn’t seen much of his ATP brethren since taking time off the ATP Tour to rehabilitate his ailing knees, but he finally got a visitor this week, in the form of his good buddy Juan Monaco. The No. 10 ranked Argentine lost in the second round of Shanghai and quickly boarded a plane to Mallorca, Spain to pay a visit to Nadal.

What have the two been doing? Well according to theirFacebook and Twitter pages, it looks like Monaco has been tagging along on Rafa’s workouts, swimming, stretching and throwing in the occasional round of golf. Sounds like a pretty great vacation to me.

In fact, the rest may be what Monaco needs as he tries to make a late season push to qualify, either directly or as an alternate, for the ATP World Tour Finals in London. Monaco is 955 points out of the No. 8 spot in the Race rankings, butNadal’s participation in London is unlikely. That means the No. 9 player in the Race to London should qualify directly, and the Nos. 10 and 11 spots open for alternates.

Monaco currently sits at No. 12 in the Race and less than 500 points behind Janko Tipsarevic, the man currently holding the No. 9 spot. Deep runs at both next week’s Valencia Open and the Paris Masters, and Rafa’s best buddy should be able to buy his Eurostar ticket to London.

Guardian Interview: Openly Gay Boxer Orlando Cruz Talks About His Career, Family, & Coming Out Of Closet.

Orlando Cruz: ‘I wanted to take out the thorn inside me and have peace’

The Puerto Rican, who became the first boxer to declare publicly that he was gay, explains his long and traumatic struggle against fear and prejudice and his fight to be true to himself

Orlando Cruz, Puerto Rican boxer

‘There is suicidal death – when a gay man cannot stand being unaccepted and takes his own life,’ says Orlando Cruz. ‘And there is homophobic murder. In both I want to be a force for change.’ Photographs: Herminio Rodriguez for the Guardian

“I decided to be free,” Orlando Cruz says with piercing clarity as he looks out across his home city of San Juan. The Puerto Rican fighter, who this month became the first boxer to declare publicly that he was gay, remains on the balcony of his condominium as a blue and humid sky darkens. Cruz ignores the drops of rain that glisten on his bare torso as he whistles to Bam-Bam, a cheerful sausage dog who jumps on to his lap. The 31-year-old then talks with increasing passion about his new-found liberty.

“They can call me maricón, or faggot,” he says with a wry smile as he tickles Bam-Bam behind the ears, “and I don’t care. Let them say it because they can’t hurt me now. I am relaxed. I feel so happy. But to make this announcement to the whole world I had to be very strong.”

Cruz flexes his tattooed arms while deflecting Bam-Bam’s urge to lick his face. He might usually be besotted with his little dachshund but, now, Cruz is fiercely concentrated. On Friday night, in Kissimmee, Florida, he faces the most testing bout of his career, a WBO world featherweight title eliminator, but he needs first to explain the far harder struggle he has finally won over fear and prejudice.

“I have done well as a boxer,” he continues before switching to Spanish so he might speak more evocatively. “I’ve only lost two of my 21 fights. I won those other fights but, all this time, I have been living with this thorn inside me. I wanted to take it out of me so I could have peace within myself.”

Cruz glances down and it’s easy to imagine him searching for an invisible wound. “You can’t see it,” he says of his hurt, “but it was here.”

He taps his heart and recalls his bleakest moment. “People have died because of this,” he says as he details the murderous aspects of homophobia on the lush and sweltering island he loves. “I am proud to be Puerto Rican, just like I am proud to be a gay man. But I was sad and angry a long time because there are two doors to death over this one issue. There is suicidal death – when a gay man cannot stand being unaccepted and takes his own life. And there is homophobic murder. In both these situations I want to be a force for change.”

Cruz is such a warm and friendly man, and an unassuming fighter, that these words carry a jolting impact. He makes it sound as if he has personal experience of tragedy. “Si, si,” he murmurs. “I lost one friend who was murdered by people who hated gay men. I was very angry then because homophobia ended his life in the most violent way. But I was also angry because, at the time, I was hiding this secret of mine.”

The rain falls harder and Cruz stands up, almost reluctantly, as if not wishing to break the spell of his confession. “Let’s go inside or we will look crazy – sitting in the rain.” He gathers his boxing paraphernalia – scooping up the gloves and headguards, his trunks and socks – and ushers us inside the condo.

Cruz sits on his kitchen worktop. He cannot quite believe how his life has changed in the last few blurring days. “It’s emotional for me, but I am also excited. I think I can be an example for people who are in the same position. I have received letters from people saying they have been afraid to come out of the closet because of what their families might think of them. Now, they say, I have given them courage.”

He looks still more moved when asked who helped him find the bravery he needed to tell the world the truth about himself. “One person is very important to me. I’ve known him four-and-a-half years and he taught me to value myself. I won’t say his name but he is like my angel. We discussed this whole situation and he told me about the positive impact it would have for me. In boxing it has been great and, in Puerto Rico, the reaction has been 90% good. So I owe him a lot.”

Cruz might say that one word, “angel”, in English, but he shakes his head when asked if he’s thinking of his partner? “No. We separated but we still have this closeness. I am on my own now and he always tells me to focus on boxing. He’s a good guy and he’ll be at the fight in Kissimmee on Friday.”

Kissimmee might sound a sweetly coy name for a gay fighter called Cruz to make his first appearance in the ring as a self-confessed homosexual. But boxing’s brutal undertow cannot be forgotten. While Bam-Bam crunches his dog biscuits and laps noisily from his water bowl, Cruz licks his own dry lips. Boiling down to the 126lb featherweight limit, and only days from fighting Jorge Pazos, a durable and still ambitious Mexican, Cruz has to ration every morsel of food. And, despite his raging thirst, he’ll soon step into the rustling sweatsuit that will help him shed more ounces during afternoon training.

Cruz poses with his dog Bam Bam for a portrait in his apartment at Carolina Puerto RicoCruz poses with his dog Bam-Bam for a portrait in his apartment at Carolina Puerto Rico. Photograph: Herminio Rodriguez for the GuardianCruz’s life has been turned inside out by his revelation and it seems strange that he should have invited such scrutiny so close to a fight of this magnitude for him. If he wins on Friday his hopes of fighting the world’s best featherweight, the WBO world champion, Orlando Salido, will feel deliciously close to fruition. But a loss to Pazos would be disastrous. Was it difficult to come out so close to an important fight?

“No,” Cruz says. “I wanted the whole world to know the truth about me. I have been a professional fighter for 12 years [having made his paid debut with a first round knockout win in December 2000] and I have been hiding this secret all that time. Now there is no secret. There is only the truth. Believe me: that means there is so much less pressure on me. It is so much better. I have been thinking about this moment for 11 years. All the time I was fighting and thinking when would be the best time to show my real self. It started in 2001 when I told my parents.”

Cruz laughs as a way of easing his emotions. “You should have seen me,” he says, remembering the moment he told his mother he was gay. “I was crying! She was crying! I am emotional and I am so close to my mother. She said: ‘It doesn’t matter. You are my son. I love you.’ That made me cry some more.”

Cruz pauses before addressing his father’s reaction. He sighs, his breath leaving him in a muted hiss of resignation. “My dad is more difficult because of the macho thing. Now, it’s better. He supports me but… there is always a ‘but’…”

The fighter raises his eyes and there is no need for him to explain more. “My parents are separated. My dad lives in Miami but I’m glad he will be at the fight to support me. And my mother and I will fly together to Orlando. She was always more sympathetic – she’s a special friend. And my sister and brother are the same. They have been great. They have all known for a long time.”

His phone rings repeatedly but Cruz has been so engrossed that he waves dismissively at it. Eventually he picks it up on the caller’s fourth try. “Oh,” Cruz says in English, looking at his phone in surprise. “It’s my trainer. The two o’clock call…”

On a public holiday in Puerto Rico, Cruz’s usual gym has been shut for the day. Yet he had still set his alarm for 4.30 that morning. Thirty minutes later he had slipped out into San Juan’s sultry blackness. What did he think about on his long and lonely 5am run? “I thought about the fight against Pazos. October 19 holds my future because if I win then the next fight is for the world title. So I go through the fight in my head, round by round, and I see myself knocking him out.

“Sometimes my team runs with me. But this morning it was just me. I had the space to think about everything. I moved to New Jersey two years ago because my manager wanted me to get disciplined. There are too many distractions in Puerto Rico. And when I was in New Jersey I started the psychological process of being able to come out.”

Cruz seems briefly pensive as he charts the arduous journey he has taken to reach this point of release. “After a while the psychiatrists say: ‘Are you ready?’ I say: No, not yet.’ A few months later they ask the same question. I shake my head. I was nervous a long time because it’s a big step to be the first in history. Even six months ago I was worried how people would take it. I had to wait until I was physically and emotionally prepared.

“It was still a big surprise to a lot of people in boxing. But the response was good. Miguel Cotto [the great Puerto Rican light-middleweight who is the same age as Cruz and his former team-mate on the national amateur team] said some beautiful things in support of me. Miguel suspected I was gay but I could never discuss it with him. But I always knew Miguel would support me. I never doubted that.”

Does Cruz believe that his coming out will help other gay boxers follow the same path? “I don’t know. Probably in other sports it will happen. But boxing will still be difficult because it is so macho.”

Cruz’s face grows sombre and he nods when asked if he knows the tragic story of Emile Griffith and Benny Paret. “Of course,” he says. Fifty years ago, in April 1962, at the weigh-in before their third bout in a bitterly ferocious series, Paret taunted Griffith as a maricón. Griffith beat up Paret so badly that the Cuban welterweight was reduced to a punching bag in the 12th round – absorbing 29 unanswered blows. Paret fell into a coma and died 10 days later. Griffith was haunted for decades afterwards.

“Griffith was gay,” Cruz says, “but he could not do what I did. It was only years later he could admit to being bisexual. I understand.”

Cruz listens intently while I read a quote from Griffith – who said these words before he succumbed to dementia: “I kill a man and most people forgive me. However, I love a man and many say this makes me an evil person.”

He sinks back into his chair, a strange expression flitting across his face. “It shows the hypocrisy of the world,” he murmurs in Spanish. “He probably wanted to say those words 50 years ago but he was not living in the moment we are now. He was not as lucky as me.”

Cruz carries a sense of boxing history inside him and cites Muhammad Ali as his favourite fighter. He covers his face in embarrassment when I suggest that, in his own humble way, he has made the kind of history that usually belongs to fighters as monumental as Ali. Cruz has not risked jail, like Ali did in refusing to serve in the US Army in Vietnam, but he has broken the last great taboo in boxing.

“Thank you,” he says before lightening the moment with a quip. “Even women here in Puerto Rico were surprised. They used to say to me: ‘Oh, you are beautiful!’ Now they say: ‘Oh my God! You are gay! I’m sorry!’ But they accept it. They are still nice and warm.”

When did Cruz realise he was gay? “Before the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney I tried to deny it to myself. I dated girls as a straight man. I had sex with girls. It was only after I came back from the Olympics that something changed inside me and I took another path. But, still, I didn’t want to accept the truth about myself. It’s been a long, painful journey.”

At the sound of his doorbell Cruz jumps up. “You’re going to meet my father-in-law,” he says. Jim Pagán is a veteran of the ring, having trained Puerto Rican fighters like Eric Morel and Cruz for years, and he arrives at the condo with a weathered face and a quiet gravitas. Cruz tells me how Pagán, who speaks little English, has trained him since he was seven years old. “Twenty-four years,” Cruz exclaims, as he reflects on their bond.

Cruz jumps rope during his training prior to his fight with Orlando SalidoCruz jumps rope during his training prior to his fight with Orlando Salido. Photograph: Herminio Rodriguez for the GuardianAnother more emotive bond ties the two men together. “I went out with Jim’s daughter for five years,” Cruz says. “Her name is Daisy-Karen and she has supported me. Just like Jim.”

With Cruz acting as translator I ask the trainer how he feels now that his daughter’s former boyfriend has come out as a gay man. “We have great respect for each other,” Pagán says in soft but gravelly Spanish. “I have always known Orlando is a very good person.”

Cruz laughs. “Not always,” he says, switching back into English. “He once told me to fuck off and leave his gym. I had no discipline as a kid. But I always came back to him. He’s my second father.”

Walking in tow with Pagán’s two young sons – one who hopes to become a professional fighter while the other dreams of playing baseball for a living – Cruz leads us to a gym at the far end of the complex. It is neat and clean and without any of the grit and stink of Pagán’s boxing gym in downtown San Juan.

Inside, Cruz skips with a rope and then smacks his fists into Pagán’s raised pads. They make eerie shadows when silhouetted against the fading afternoon light; but the old tattooed beat of their pad-work calls up a shared and enduring love of boxing. Cruz is now just a fighter preparing for a dangerous battle.

During a brief break, I ask if he feels nervous. “Not yet,” he says. “The worst is two hours before the fight. Oh my God! Then there are big nerves. I go very quiet. But as soon as the knock comes on the locker-room door I am fine. And on Friday I will be ready.”

Once the fight is over, and he has hopefully secured his crack at Salido’s world title, Cruz will party a little in Kissimmee. “And then,” he grins, “I go to Disneyland in Orlando with my mom. She loves it.”

Cruz might get hurt or pushed to the edge of his ability against Pazos. Yet he insists that, after the greater struggle he has just won in real life, he will prevail in the ring. “Pazos is a tough, typical Mexican fighter. We respect each other. When they asked him about me he says he doesn’t care about my sexual preference. He knows I am a good fighter and that’s his main concern. I am the same towards him. I keep my private and professional life separate but for one thing…”

Cruz looks up, his eyes shining in his sweat-streaked face. “If I am inside or outside the ring I just want to be me. And, now, I’m happy I can do it. I can be true to myself.”

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