With his height, this guy can catch anyone’s attention both on and off the court. He has accomplished many things throughout his life, one of them being the great basketball player he is today. It’s no easy task to play a sport like basketball while being openly gay, but this man has overcome every obstacle there is. Without further a do, I present to you this week’s Campus Celebrity: Roberto Martínez.
Name: Roberto Carlos Martínez PérezAge: 20Classfication: JuniorHometown: GuaynaboMajor: Chemistry
1. HCUPR: What inspired you to start playing basketball?Roberto: Well, the first sport I played was baseball. It was the “Pampers League” (ages from 6 to 7, more or less). I remember one evening my mom stopped me and asked me: “Robertito, do you prefer continue playing baseball or do you want to start playing basketball?” And I responded that I wanted to start playing basketball ’cause I wanted to be just like my dad.
2. HCUPR: What’s it like being on the UPR team?Roberto: It is awesome! It is a completely different experience from being on a high school team or independent league. The UPRRP team is a real family. We practice everyday for 2 to 3 hours as a way to reach our goal, which is to win the LAI Championship. The best thing is that they accepted me how I am, it doesn’t matter to them that I’m gay. They took me in, without putting any conditions to my entrance to the team, they just let me in.
3.HCUPR: We’re aware that you also are part of the Comittee Against Discrimination and Homophobia, how does that work?Roberto: I am a member of the CCHD (its Spanish acronym). The CCHD is a political action committee fighting and working from an activist basis although we do a little of everything. We have been visiting schools to talk to students, organize cinema forums, discussions and reading circles. Although it is not a student organization at the university, we are always here watching what’s happening; the vast majority of its members are or were students from the main campus of the University of Puerto Rico. Also, the CCHD was founded by people who were students on campus at some point. One of our most important activities is May 17th march in celebration of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.
4.HCUPR: What is your biggest achievement while being in the UPR?Roberto: I think that among my greatest achievements is overcoming stigmas and stereotypes that people have towards LGBT people. Definitely one of my greatest achievements in college is making the basketball team because it’s something that is not expected of a homosexual as it is a rough and “macho” sport. But without a doubt, my biggest achievement to date was winning the second place in the Literary Contest during my freshman year. I managed to collect basketball, literature, my feelings, my passion for rights of LGBT people and my knowledge in a single essay. It is published in the website for Threshold Magazine. It’s called “Playing from the Closet”.
5. HCUPR: Tell us a bit about yourself.Roberto: I’m shy, I love challenges and I love learning. Everything that challenges me makes me a better person will have its personal battle with me. I teach at a tutoring center, I’m open to anything that has to do with learning. One of my favorite songs is New Soul by Yael Naim, I love Taylor Swift and I am a hopeless romantic.
6. HCUPR: Any plans for what the future holds?Roberto: I’m open to everything that the future might bring. My goals, academically speaking, are to finish my degree in Chemistry and go to the School of Pharmacy or Law School. I would like to, in the distant future, create an organization to intervene with LGBT athletes in Puerto Rico.
7.HCUPR: Do you have a message to anyone out there?Roberto: Don’t let others’ comments and opinions affect you. You must learn to listen to people and create a filter for destructive criticism, so that only those who empower you are allowed through. Enjoy life as you can, if you take everything to heart you’ll give yourself a heart attack and a one-way ticket to the psych ward. Every second counts.