Ricky Martin is no stranger to putting himself out there, which is why it didn’t surprise many fans when he came out of the closet in 2010. As he’s focused more on acting than singing in the last few years, his recent casting in the next season of Ryan Murphy’s American Crime Story is the first time the star has played an openly gay character on screen — which is something he felt compelled to do, in part, to call out homophobia in a major way.

Ricky Martin at Sirius

Just like the first season (American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson) tackled racism, The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story will focus on homophobia by retelling the story of the tragic death of mega famous designer Versace, with Martin playing Versace’s long-term partner Antonio D’Amico.

Talking with Entertainment Weekly, Martin explained what drew him to playing designer Versace’s lover on ACS‘s second season. “We’re going to go mainstream with a story that talks about homophobia, that talks about hate, that talks about indifference,” the singer said. “I feel humbled. It’s so raw and honest and so dramatic and sad. But at the same time you show the love of Gianni and Antonio and 15 years of struggling, fighting. It’s something that I really wanted to be loud about.”

💥💥💥 . . #ACSVersace

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Martin admitted that filming certain scenes brought up a lot of strong emotions for him, especially since he was closeted up until 2009. “There was a scene where Gianni is weak and almost falling on the beach and I touch him and he goes, ‘Don’t touch me! Paparazzi!’ You don’t understand. That took me back to eight years ago when I was in the closet and it just moved me.”

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(h/t Refinery29; photo via Anna Webber/Getty)