Ellen DeGeneres is one of the original celebrities who had a major coming out story, and she kicked off a slew of public outings across Hollywood and the United States. The first time Ellen came out was in 1978 when she told her mom, Betty, about her sexuality. There were tears, but Ellen's mother was supportive of her daughter. The second time Ellen came out was in April 1997. Ellen was on the cover of Time magazine with the words: 'Yep, I'm gay.' Those three words led to an international uproar as DeGeneres was floated from interview to interview, and she faced massive backlash from former fans and religious groups.
Two weeks after she appeared on the cover of Time magazine, Ellen came out to the world on her sitcom, Ellen. This move was hailed as funny, brave, and incredibly controversial. It's been 20 years since then, and Ellen has said, "It was the hardest thing that I ever had to do in my life, and I would not change one moment of it because it led me to be exactly where I am today, standing in front of you, which is a joy."
If you owned a radio in the mid-2000s, odds are you heard "I Write Sins, Not Tragedies" by the band Panic! At the Disco and its frontman, Brendon Urie. Brendon Urie and his band have seen massive success within the mainstream pop culture the past few years, and now, Urie's made headlines for another reason. In a 2018 interview with Paper magazine, Brendon Urie came out to the world as pansexual. In the interview, he said, "I just like good people, if your heart's in the right place. I'm definitely attracted to men. It's just people that I am attracted to... I guess this is me coming out as pansexual."
Pansexuality, in the LGBTQ community, is defined as "attraction that is not limited to people of particular gender identity or sexual orientation." Urie definitely isn't the only celebrity to come out as pansexual either, there have actually been several within just the past couple of years.
Lil Nas X
Lil Nas X is a more recent celebrity who rose to fame with his hit song Old Town Road that he did with Billy Ray Cyrus. The rapper took to Twitter in June 2019, telling his fans to pay close attention to the lyrics and music video of his then-new song C7osure. The lyrics of the song included Lil Nas X singing about his desire to live a more authentic life. Once many fans expressed confusion, he added a picture of the EP album's artwork with a zoomed-in image of a building in the background of the music video that was lit up with the gay flag.
The first time Lil Nas X came out, however, was to his father and sister just a few weeks before he came out to the world. Lil Nas X received some hate for his sexuality, but it was quickly drowned out by overwhelming support. From his fans to other celebrities, he received massive support, and no matter the hate, he continued to dominate the charts and rewrite the music history books.
Miley Cyrus is one of the most well-known pop stars in the world, and she's also known for her marriage to Liam Hemsworth. Still, she's actually not just interested in men. Cyrus first came out as pansexual to her parents, who didn't really understand at first. In an interview with Variety, Cyrus said, "My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship was with a chick...Even at that time, when my parents didn't understand, I just felt that one day they are going to understand."
Around the same time she came out as pansexual, she also stated that she identified as gender-fluid. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of gender-fluid is "being a person whose gender identity is not fixed." She may be married to Hemsworth, but she's stated that it doesn't change her queer identity. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Cyrus has said, "Relationships and partnerships in a new generation — I don't think they have so much to do with sexuality or gender. Sex is actually a small part, and gender is a very small, almost irrelevant part of relationships."
It was at the 2014 Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive conference that Ellen Page came out to the world as a lesbian. She gave a speech to the crowd in which she said, "I'm here today because I am gay, and because maybe I can make a difference, to help others have an easier and more hopeful time." In the same speech, she said that gender stereotyping would serve "no one," and she thanked several members of the LGBTQ community for their visibility and pride.
Before she officially came out to the world, Page spoke with Ellen DeGeneres, who gave her some encouragement. By the time she was going to come out, she "was so ready to do it and quite frankly so excited to do it. It was … just such a thrill to finally be at that place in my life where I was able to do that and grateful to have that moment."
Apparently, Paulson accidentally outed herself in 2005. At the time, Paulson was dating the actress Cherry Jones. Jones wound up winning a Tony Award, and Paulson said, "She won a Tony Award, I kissed her, and all of a sudden I was outed. I didn't really think about it in that way at the time — I was just doing what one would do when a person they love has just won a big fat acting prize."
Paulson and Jones have since gone their separate ways, and Paulson's moved on to date actress Holland Taylor. Paulson and Taylor have been dating since early 2015, and the two seem happy in their relationship. In an interview with Town & Country, "I do want to live responsibly and truthfully without hiding … What else can I say? We love each other."
Sara Gilbert is best known for her time co-hosting on The Talk and her time on Roseanne. For a while, Gilbert dated her Roseanne co-star Johnny Galecki, but it was during that time that she realized she was gay. It was during The Talk's secret-spilling week that she talked about her coming-out experience. During her secret-spill, Gilbert said, "We started dating and he would come over and we would make out, and then I would start to get depressed. Johnny felt badly, I think, and started to take it personally and didn't understand what was going on. So I eventually told him that I thought it was about my sexuality, and he was super sweet about it."
The two broke up, and Gilbert started dating a woman, but out of fear it would damage her career, she made Galecki keep it a secret. Gilbert didn't publicly come out until 2010 while promoting the premiere of The Talk.
Neil Patrick Harris
Best known for his role on How I Met Your Mother, Neil Patrick Harris has been a major LGBTQ icon for the past decade, and it's not super surprising that his coming out story is just as funny as he is. Apparently, Harris realized he was gay when Burt Reynolds kissed him on the '80s show B.L. Stryker. However, it wasn't until 2006 that Harris actually came out to the world.
In 2006, Harris issued a statement that confirmed the rumors that he was a gay man, saying, "I am happy to dispel any rumours or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love." Harris married his partner David Burtka in September of 2013, and the two have since become parents to twin boys.
Jesse Tyler Ferguson
Most recognized for his role on Modern Family, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is known to have to deal with lots of plot twists on his show. Turns out his coming out story is just as funny as his character on the show. Ferguson came out kind-of against his will during his freshman year of high school, according to an interview with People magazine.
In his interview with People, Ferguson revealed that he was caught by a bookstore's security in his hometown of Albuquerque, NM, after attempting to shoplift gay porn. Apparently, his parents saw what he was trying to steal, and that's how he wound up coming out. His father had an especially difficult time accepting Ferguson's sexuality. Still, by now, both of his parents are on-board and supportive, and Ferguson married his partner Justin Mikita in 2013.
Kristen Stewart, best known for her role as Bella in the hit Twilight saga movies, has made it no secret that she's gay. In fact, she's openly dated several high-profile women in the past. She officially confirmed it when she hosted the show Saturday Night Live.
In February 2017, Kristen Stewart returned to host Saturday Night Live for the second time. It was during her opening monologue that she delivered one of the most important lines of her life. In her opening monologue, she offhandedly put in, "I'm like, so gay, dude," and she was met with an uproar. In a later interview with Entertainment Weekly, Stewart said, "In that moment, to make it normal and cool and completely unashamed? It felt really cool."
Cynthia Nixon is probably best known in today's pop culture for her role in Sex and the City, but she's also an LGBTQ icon. Albeit she's been a bit of a controversial icon, but an icon nonetheless. Nixon came out to the public in 2004, but not after having to shed a little dead weight that had been seriously holding her back from being her true self.
At the time she was planning to come out to the world, Nixon's publicist encouraged her to stay in the closet. Nixon wasn't having that negative mindset, so she replaced her publicist with one who supported her idea to share her sexual identity with the public. Once she had the go-ahead, Nixon confirmed to the world that she was indeed a lesbian. Cynthia and her wife, Christine Marinoni, married in 2012.
Barry Manilow has had a half-century music career and has hits that people still absolutely love. Manilow is also one of the most recent LGTBQ celebrities to come out, as recently as 2017, when he was 73-years-old. It was in an interview with People magazine that Manilow officially came out to the public.
In early April of 2017, the music star confirmed his then-three-year marriage to television producer Garry Kief. The two married in 2014 in a private ceremony, but they kept it quiet because Manilow was worried about what his fans would think. He was especially worried that his fans would be disappointed in him, but when it was revealed, he received nothing but support.
Anderson Cooper is best known for his journalistic work with CNN, and he's reached new heights as an LGBTQ icon and advocate. However, he didn't reach those LGBTQ heights until after 2012, when he came out at the age of 45.
In 2012, Cooper sent an email to Andrew Sullivan from The Daily Beast that revealed his sexuality. Many people had suspected that Cooper was a gay man, but this email perfectly confirmed it in a simple statement. In his email, Cooper wrote, "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."
Andy Cohen is a radio and TV talk show host, writer, and producer known best for the Bravo's late-night talk show. He's also known for starring and appearing on several other shows, including his own SiriusXM Radio channel. In addition to all of that, he's an LGBTQ icon. Cohen grew up in the '80s, and there wasn't much LGBTQ representation in media, so he didn't come out until he was in college.
While on Watch What Happens Live, Cohen revealed that his mother was the first to find out after she accidentally discovered a letter he'd left out detailing his sexuality. He said, "I said, 'I don't want to tell you,' and she said, 'you have to,' and I said, 'well, you know.' She said, 'you have to say the words so that you can say it. So I said it, I'm crying, crying, and about an hour later she said, 'You know I would have hated your wife anyway.'"
Ryan Russell is one of the biggest free agents in the NFL. So far, he's worked with the Dallas Cowboys, Tampa Bay Buccanneers, and the Buffalo Bills. He was drafted originally by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 after he had an incredibly successful football career at Purdue University. Currently, Russell is the only openly LGBTQ male pro-athletes in any of the four major professional sports leagues.
In August of 2019, Russell published a personal essay on ESPN. In his essay, he came out to the world as a bisexual man. Russell discussed his disappointment that there was no LGBTQ representation in most national sports leagues. "I want to change that — for me, for other athletes who share these common goals, and for the generations of LGBTQ athletes who will come next," Russell wrote.
Known for his performances on Broadway (specifically as Lola in Kinky Boots) and his recent beginnings to transfer into television and film, Billy Porter is the ultimate icon. Porter actually came out in the 1980s while he was in his early 20s. In an interview with the Gay Times, recounting the difficult and "traumatic" time in his life.
In his interview with Gay Times, Porter said that his childhood was "violently homophobic and I knew then that if I was going to survive, I was going to have to extract myself from that." From there, he went on to say that he found the theater and the arts, and he's grown into a vocal member of the LGBTQ community.
Laverne Cox is an American actress well known and loved for her roles in various TV shows (such as Orange is the New Black) and movies. She's had an illustrious career with several awards under her belt. Cox is also a trans woman who's an outspoken LGBTQ community advocate and trailblazer in the trans community.
In a partnership with Out magazine and Barefoot Wine, Laverne Cox shared her coming out story in a series of videos. Cox said that she actually kind-of had two coming outs. She started out coming out to her mom as gay her sophomore year. It didn't quite go well. However, Cox did say later on that "when I came out to my mother as trans a few years later, it was after I started my medical transition, she took that easier." Now, Cox's mother is one of her biggest supporters.
Okay, so let's be real, who didn't love *NSYNC in the early 2000s? Well, maybe most people just loved Justin Timberlake, but you can't go wrong with all the others! Especially, Lance Bass, who held a special place in most people's hearts. And in July 2006, he came out as gay to the world.
As a 2006 cover story for People magazine, Bass revealed that he had to hide the way he felt to his bandmates because "it would overpower everything." He worried that if it got out, it could end the group, so he kept it under the radar and never told anyone outside his family and close friends. He married his husband, Michael Turchin, in 2014, and the two have been happy ever since.
Best known for his roles in The Hobbit franchise and Guardians of the Galaxy, he's a beloved actor, and recently, he's become a public member of the "queer community." Pace's sexuality had been questioned by reporters and fans alike in the past. It was after a particularly annoying interview, in which the reporter intrusively asked about his sexuality, that Pace spoke out.
In an interview with W, Pace told the magazine, "I've dated men. I've dated women. I don't know why anyone would care." He took to Twitter after the interview to explain his reaction "My privacy is important to me, so I protect it. When interviewed by the media, I keep the focus on my work. As a member of the queer community, I understand the importance of living openly, being counted, and happily owning who I am."
If you watched TV in the 1970s, then you probably remember the actor Gordon Thomson, who played the notorious villain Adam Carrington on the show Dynasty. The irony behind that role is that the very homophobic villain was played by a gay man. Of course, nobody knew that at the time.
In late 2017, Thomson had an interview with The Daily Beast, where he revealed that he was actually gay. In his interview with The Daily Beast, Thomson said, "I'm assuming that people know, and now that I'm my age, that's fine… I'm probably as homophobic as any gay man alive because of my background."