On National Coming Out Day, we celebrate living openly and offer support to those just announcing their truth. Whether you’re seeking inspiration or just some “good feels,” these celeb coming out stories are worth reading.
In 2013, British Olympic diver Tom Daley came out on YouTube. In a video, he revealed that he was in a relationship with a man. “Of course, I still fancy girls,” he added, but he has thus far chosen not to put a label on it. In 2017, he married American screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, and the two welcomed their first child in 2018.
Ellen’s very public coming out was a turning point for television and, arguably, for the world. In 1997, she came out on the cover of Time magazine, then in an episode of her self-titled sitcom. Time’s April 14th issue featured a picture of DeGeneres with the text “Yep, I’m Gay.” On the next Ellen, her character came out over an airport loudspeaker (accidentally). Classic Ellen.
In 2019, Ryan Russell became the very first NFL player to come out as bisexual. “My truth is that I’m a talented football player, a damn good writer, a loving son, an overbearing brother, a caring friend, a loyal lover and a bisexual man,” he told ESPN. Today, he is out and proud on YouTube with his boyfriend, Corey O’Brien.
Singer Janelle Monáe came out in 2018, to many fans’ glee. In an interview with Rolling Stone, she referred to herself as a “queer black woman” and explained that she considers herself pansexual. The interview came on the heels of the release of her album “Dirty Computer.” Among other elements, the album celebrates the fluidity of sexuality.
Alternative R&B artist Frank Ocean started out writing for music’s biggest names, but eventually came to work on his own music. In 2012, to pre-empt speculation about his album’s lyrics, Ocean came out as bisexual in an open letter on his Tumblr. The artistic post revealed that he first fell in love with a man at 19, and thanks the man for his impact. Ultimately, Ocean’s letter was met with support and celebration. “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore,” said the musician. “I feel like a free man.”
In 2014, Missouri college football star Michael Sam came out publicly as gay to ESPN’s Chris Connelly. Sam had come out to his Mizzou team in 2013 (though many already knew), and said their support helped him open up. “I want to own my truth,” he said. “No one else should tell my story but me.” Many worried the announcement would hurt his chances of being drafted by the NFL. However, in the seventh round of the 2014 draft, he was picked up by the St. Louis Rams. Michael Sam made history as the first openly gay player to be drafted to the NFL.
Before the U.S. Olympic figure skater medaled at Pyeongchang, he made his mark with an authentic coming out. In 2015, Rippon came out as gay in an interview with the official U.S. Figure Skating magazine. He expressed that athletes are willing to be more open about their lives, and that coming out helps the athletic community progress. Just a few years later in 2018, Adam Rippon became the first openly gay man to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
For many years, Latin pop star and sex symbol Ricky Martin had been portrayed as your typical superstar ladies’ man, with super-suggestive, super-hetero song lyrics and music videos. Many saw right through the charade, causing rumors to swirl throughout the early 2000s. In 2008, Martin became the father of twin sons via a surrogate, which for some was a silent admission. In 2010, he officially came out on his website, calling himself a “fortunate homosexual man.” Since then, he has continued to be embraced and celebrated by his fans.
Like many entertainers, actor Zachary Quinto had avoided discussing his sexuality. This changed after the highly publicized suicide of a teen who’d endured homophobic bullying. In a 2011 blog post, Quinto said that “living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it” was not enough. “I believe in the power of intention to change the landscape of our society,” he said, “and it is my intention to live an authentic life of compassion and integrity and action.”
For Team USA, 2015 was a big year. In the same month as Adam Rippon’s coming out, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy came out as gay in a tweet. Included in the tweet was a picture of himself on the cover of ESPN The Magazine, in which the silver medalist went into greater detail. “Hiding everything away is so painful,” he told ESPN. “I’m just at that point where I’m ready to kind of open up and let everyone see me for me, and I hope everyone accepts it.”
Famed English pop singer George Michael’s coming out didn’t start in the best of ways. In 1998, he was arrested after an incident with an undercover cop in a public restroom. News of the arrest effectively outed him to the public. However, Michael didn’t look back on it as unwelcome. Instead, he said he viewed it as a “subconsciously deliberate act” resulting from years of feeling “fraudulent.” He officially addressed the topic and came out on CNN in 1998.
In the late 1960s, Elton John was engaged to a woman. The relationship ended two weeks before the wedding. It wasn’t until 1976 that he would come out to Rolling Stone as bisexual. John later married another woman in the 80s, but ultimately determined he was “living a lie.” By 1992, Elton John had fully embraced himself and essentially came out again as gay.
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