I DO find men handsome and I DO find women beautiful, but what’s ugly is trying to force people into a box for convenience. If you want to give me a label, then label me Martin.
Love is love. People are people. Haters are going to hate. These are indisputable facts. Meet Martin Torres A.K.A Rotisserie, a Chicagoan-turned-USC Troy Camp counselor who has a passion for life, kids, and leaving his haters in the dust. His favorite color is a blue caught in the middle of light and darkness, like a contour done right. His hobbies include all of throwing shade (very strenuous) and he says he will perhaps in the future pick up a sport but, it’s doubtful.
I had the pleasure of playing 20+ questions with this guy in an interview and these are his raw responses. When I say, raw, I mean RAW, y’all. But he brings his truth and I hope you can vibe with that.
1. Current favorite song/artist?
If you saw my Spotify most played song of 2016, it’d be Closer by The Chainsmokers and that is embarrassing. I blame LA for making me this basic, or maybe more basic than what I already was. I haven’t had a favorite song or artist but I’m still hoping Rihanna will headline Lollapalooza next year.
2. What’s your family like? (Siblings? Cousins, uncles, aunts? Direct family only? No one?
Direct family, I have both my loving parents and a younger sister who is already in college. I’m not close to my dad’s side of my family so I will skip them but on my mom’s side, it’s mostly women in their 70’s like my abuela and tías.
3. Do you feel at all connected to any immigration experience?
I’ve had a good life. I lived with my family as a child and upon moving to the U.S., despite just having the core 4 Torres fam, we managed. I’ve always been a big city boy the idea of living in the suburbs is cute but I can never see myself not living in a city. I’ve always had the support of my family and I see the sacrifices my parents have made for my sister and so, I owe them everything.
4. What was it like growing up for you (i.e. environment, familial, social, spatial)?
When I was 9 I came to the U.S from Spain, and I’ve lived more than half of my life in the U.S. I think Chicago is a great place to grow up in since it makes you grow up quickly. People always ask me if I would consider moving back to Spain and truthfully, I wouldn’t. I miss seeing my family everyday, but my life here is made; I have friends, adopted families, mentors. I think many people don’t realize how difficult immigration and being an immigrant is. It’s an expensive and lengthy process! People think all immigrants just cross a border or board a plane and come here but it’s more than that.
When I was 9, I didn’t feel American. Fourth grade kids were cruel and there was a huge culture clash. Even now at 19, I still feel this divide as “other.” I was reminded of my “otherness” when at 17 I interviewed for an Ivy League. After discovering that I was an immigrant, my interviewer commented that I “had better English than Hispanics born in this country.” To this day, it remains the most back-handed compliment I’ve ever received. It was an insult to me and all other immigrants. So, screw that interviewer.
5. What are three of the many identities that make up you?
I will say there is a distinction between Social Martin, Martin, and Rotisserie. They make me me.
6. Please share a memory that you have of how you came to find any of those parts of yourself.
My identity as Rotisserie truly changed everything for me. This past summer I got the pleasure of working with a friend as my co-counselor and we had 9 lovely 3rd grade boys to make our cabin B3 in Troy Camp’s annual summer camp. It brought a lot of surprises and I was always exhausted but the kids and I loved every second of it. The last night of camp during the last bonfire we all gathered and sang a special Troy Camp song only sung on the last night. With the first chord, I began to cry, like full on sobbing crying because at that moment I realized how special Troy Camp was and how special I was to the kids, my kids. I finally understood who Rotisserie was. I was supposed to be their mentor but they mentored me.
People assume that I get everything easily. Hell no! I put in work.
7. What is something that you are tired of people assuming about you? Something you wish society would stop pressing upon you?
Ever since I was 7 all people have ever said is “Martin is gay.” Well, shit, when I was 7 years old, I didn’t know what sex was, I didn’t know that I could be attracted to boobs, penises, butts or vaginas. All I wanted to do was go home and watch the next episode of Power Rangers. This has followed me my whole life and it took me until I was 17 to let go of it all and stop caring. I let go of all the emotions and resentment going forward and I just let people believe what they wanted. I do find men handsome and I do find women beautiful, but what’s ugly is trying to force people into a box for convenience. If you want to give me a label, then label me Martin. I can date anybody I want and I can sleep with whomever I wish to. Society pressures everybody into thinking they can only be gay or straight, that being bisexual is one step closer to gay. Nobody in my opinion is 100% straight or 100% gay, there is always some in between and society is still pressuring others into seeing those sides. People need to wake up and realize this ain’t the 60’s anymore where it’s either black or white. There are shades of grey everywhere, darker and lighter, and within the grey there are reds, blues, pinks, greens, etc. My point is, Martin is Martin and that’s the only label I want to go as…bitch!!!!
8. What is something about you and people like you that you wish others outside of your community cared about?
Follow your dreams. I’d rather happily say, “Well, shit. I’m broke,” doing what I want than say, “Yes, I got money” and hate my life every day. I think society needs to realize that we live once and that if you don’t take those chances and adventures now, you never will.
9. Why are you outside of the infamous ‘box?’
I am outside the box because I am me. You will never find another Martin Torres as funny, charming, good looking, and sassy as myself. But thinking about it, I am not this oppressed Hispanic immigrant that many people want me to be. I am not a man with a label on my sexuality despite people wanting to give one. I’ve had toxic friendships and relationships that tried to keep me down, and today those friendships are no more. I am not this person who settles without voicing my opinion. I am unapologetic and one who is unafraid to tell it how it is. I think there are people out there like me, but there will NEVER be another me.
I am outside the box. And to my haters, stay in your lane, because I am driving a Ferrari down this highway and it’d be a shame if you got into mine.
10. Are you proud of your identity? Why or why not? (Of course, it’s okay to say you don’t know yet.)
Of course! 6 years ago I was not the man I was today and I am happy. Even from 6 months ago, I have grown and matured exponentially because I have let my experiences shape and teach me lessons about who I am. Do I know who Martin is? I think so, but I am always willing to keep growing and learning to make a better me in this ever-changing world.
11. Are you happy to be yourself, why/why not?
I am happy. My life goal is to be happy. Those who support me give me the strength to keep fighting. Those who hate me give me the determination to prove them wrong.
12. Aside from helping a friend or associate, why did you choose to be a part of this project?
I wanted to share my voice and really show who I am. I’ve felt put in a box for majority of my life and as soon as I got out, many people have been saying I am different, not the same, and have changed. And that’s ok: Life is about change and discovery and I wanted people to realize that.
13. What is a message you want to say to the world about yourself and people like you?
My best advice is Fuck the Haters. Do you and keep doing you. Never apologize for who you are, the decisions you make, your personal opinions, and NEVER and I mean NEVER apologize for how you feel. A good friend once told me that, and I live that everyday because that’s what makes Martin Martin. To the world, I am ready for the challenges and bumps I will face but I am excited to keep learning and growing and just being the best version of myself that I can be.
You are loved.