Singer Vicci Martinez on Coming Out: "I Believed God Cared More About Me Loving and Being Loved" (EXCLUSIVE)

President Barack Obama made history when he talked about gay rights in his inaugural speech — proof that support for same-sex marriage is growing. But the change of attitude is even more apparent in the usually socially conservative Latino community than among the general public. In 2006, 56 percent of Latinos opposed same-sex marriage. Now 52 percent say they support it. Times are changing, and so are our feelings about our gay hermanos y hermanas.

Survey Says:

A poll released in April 2011 by the National Council of La Raza and Social Science Research Solutions found that while 66 percent of those surveyed identified as Roman Catholic, 49 percent favored allowing same-sex marriage.

- That number climbed to 59 percent in favor of giving gay and lesbian couples the same legal rights as married couples.

- 69 percent favored allowing gay or lesbian couples to marry in their church or religious institution.

- 52 percent did not view homosexuality as a sin, compared to 38 percent who did

- 69 percent said that good Christians should accept all people as God’s creation and not cast judgment, while 60 viewed discrimination against gays and lesbians as a sin.

We caught up with Vicci Martinez, the 28-year-old finalist on The Voice and outspoken advocate, to talk about her experiences as a young gay Latina.

When did you come out?

I was 16 when I told my parents. It was definitely a shock. At first they just kind of wanted me not to talk about it and keep to myself, but I didn’t feel okay with that and so at 17 I left home and was on my own. I actually didn’t speak to my father for almost a year.

Do you think their reaction was because of their cultural or religious beliefs?

Probably both. They thought you have to show faith that God will help you through this. I believed God cared more about me loving and being loved.

Were they eventually able to accept you?

After a year, my father did come around. He told me that he was sorry and we were good for a few years and then he passed away. My mom definitely still stands with her religion and belief system But her thing is, “You’re my kid. I love you.” And I also have an older brother who is gay. Whether she agrees with us or not, she doesn’t make us feel like she loves us any less.

Do you think attitudes about homosexuality have changed within the Latino community?

There are always going to be people who are uncomfortable, at least at first. But the more we talk about it, the more younger kids especially will realize that if people judge you for who you are and who you love, then those aren’t your real friends.

What advice do you have for young Latinas who may be in the same position you were in?

More than anything, live your truth. I’m just happy that more and more people are talking about gay rights, just like civil rights and equality for women. It’s an evolution. It takes time. But the more we fight, the more possible equality becomes.