Christian Chávez Gets Real About How Coming Out Impacted His Career and Reuniting With RBD
Christian Chávez has always been one of the most colorful members of RBD. Throughout his original tenure in the Mexican pop group in the early 2000s, he sported practically all the colors of the rainbow in his hair, and he later came out as gay shortly before the group split in 2009. Now, Chávez is excited to be reuniting with his bandmates for an RBD world tour, which kicks off in the US this summer.
“It’s super special for me to have the opportunity to be with RBD again with this freedom now,” he tells POPSUGAR. “Now I have the opportunity to be myself. Now I have the opportunity to be on stage and I can be my queer self.”
“It’s super special for me to have the opportunity to be with RBD again with this freedom now.”
Chávez is one of the six members of RBD, a group that was spun off of the Mexican telenovela “Rebelde” in 2004. Alongside Anahí, Dulce María, Christopher von Uckermann, Maite Perroni, and Alfonso “Poncho” Herrera, the group graduated from the fictional Elite Way School to Latin Grammy-nominated success. They channeled the Latine teen angst of the time into pop-rock hits like “Rebelde,” “Ser o Parecer,” and the melodramatic “Sálvame.”
“‘Rebelde’ was a bang!” Christian recalls. “Being recognized all over the world, not only as an actor but also musically speaking – that was a huge thing. We were working, but at the same time, we were also having fun. Getting the opportunity to really touch so many hearts all over the world – that was so special.”
“Being recognized all over the world, not only as an actor but also musically speaking – that was a huge thing.
While RBD was achieving multi-platinum success and touring the world, Chávez secretly eloped with his partner in Canada in 2005, when same-sex marriages became legal there. He was always open about his sexuality with his bandmates, but he had kept that part of himself private from the public, he says. In 2007, a person with photos from Chávez’s civil ceremony in Canada turned his life upside down. Chávez became one of the first high-profile Latine celebrities to say he was gay; this was a few years before Ricky Martin came out.
“They outed me – the media – because I got married when I started ‘Rebelde,'” he says. “That was a very not nice part of my life. It was really hard and I tried very hard to live my life as I could at that moment because I didn’t have anyone to tell me how to do it. But at the end of the day, it was meant to be like that.”
Chávez was now an out gay man during a time when attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community weren’t as accepting or understanding as they are today, especially in the machismo-fueled Latine culture. Mexico City became the first Mexican jurisdiction to legalize same-sex marriage in March 2010. It took over a decade for the rest of the 31 Mexican states to follow suit one by one. Chávez recalls one particular instance during a radio show in New York with RBD in which the host made a homophobic joke toward him. In solidarity, his bandmates joined him in walking out from the interview.
“We’re a family,” he says of his relationship with RBD. “I think that support really helped so many gay guys and girls with their families. They understood the power of family. You’re not going to f*ck with my family. You’re not going to be rude to my brother or my sister. I think the message came through very clearly.”
After RBD disbanded in 2009, Chávez discovered just how homophobic the entertainment industry was in Mexico. His opportunities both as an actor and singer dwindled because of his sexuality, he says.
“We’re talking about 16 years ago, so obviously it was a totally different world, especially in Latin America,” he says. “It did f*ck my work life, especially because I was working for Televisa and the soap operas. We live in a double-standard society. At the moment, they were like, ‘Sorry dude, no one is going to believe that you’re a straight guy, so we don’t have work for you.’ In the music industry at that time, they didn’t want to play ‘gay songs,’ which I was very angry about.”
Chávez fell into depression and addiction, he says, which included a suicide attempt. To get through that dark period in his life, he sought out support and therapy. At the same time, he also released the empowering duet “Libertad” with Anahí, in which he sang about being the free and proud queer person he is. “With therapy, with life, and working on it, I got through it, and now I’m happy,” he says.
Though being outed was of course a very traumatic experience for Chávez, he feels fulfilled watching RBD fans embrace their sexuality and gender expressions because of his experience. He is especially happy to see that Gen Zers are embracing who they are – and that gender-fluid artists like Bad Bunny and queer Latine acts like Tokischa, Young Miko, and Blue Rojo are thriving.
As he puts it: “I was just trying to live my life. I was just trying to be myself. I was just trying to be free. That’s all, but I’m so thankful to know that because of what I went through, I helped so many people.”
Now, Chávez is gearing up to hit the road with RBD again (sans Poncho). In August, the Soy Rebelde Tour will kick off in El Paso, TX. Throughout the rest of the year, RBD will be performing in stadiums across the US, Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia. And Chávez can’t wait to perform again for the band’s dedicated fan base.
“You can expect a lot,” he teases. “We’re preparing a huge show. I think you guys are going to dance, are going to cry, are gonna feel so emotional in so many ways. We’re preparing a humongous show in terms of production. I think it’s the best show we’ve ever had and that we have ever dreamed of. I’m so happy, so excited, and so proud.”
On this second go-round with RBD, Chávez is also excited to hit the stage as the empowered queer man that he is. “I can do whatever I want on stage with my dancing and my clothing, without second-guessing or thinking, ‘Oh my god! What are people going to think about me?’ I don’t give a damn!” he says. “It’s going to be so special and I’m longing for it. I just want to be me. I just want to be relaxed, happy, and keep doing things for my Latino community and gay community.”