In Hollywood right now, the LGBT community is stronger than ever. Orange Is the New Black, one of the most popular TV shows, stars transgender actress and feminine goddess Laverne Cox. American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson, who started dating Two and a Half Men actress Holland Taylor, won an Emmy for her critically acclaimed role as Marcia Clark in The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story. Not to mention, Ellen DeGeneres is still one of America's favorite talk show hosts and singer Sam Smith scooped an Oscar for Best Original Song this year.
Laverne Cox revealed that since she landed her starring role on Orange Is The New Black, her life has never been better. She told The Telegraph, "It’s been incredible to have one show change your life so completely. I was just on the cover of Variety magazine, I won a daytime Emmy award last month (for her documentary about transgender youth, The T Word), I won a SAG award. I’ve met the President, twice. It’s insane."
This is probably why a record number of young people are feeling more confident than ever to finally come out publicly. Pink News reported that more young people than ever before now identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual. They confirmed, "According to the ONS, 3.3% of 16 to 24-year-olds identified themselves as lesbian, gay or bisexual in 2015, up from 2.8% in 2014. This is nearly double the average across all age groups, with 1.7% of people identifying as LGBT across the general population. Among over-65s, just 0.6% identify as LGBT."
These following stars all chose to come out this year. Waving the rainbow flag and hopefully inspiring even more celebrities who feel as if they need to keep their sexuality a secret.
15 Robin Lord Taylor
Gotham star Robin Lord Taylor said "homophobia is real" after coming out this year and then finding himself on the receiving end of a horrible backlash. On June 18th, the 38-year-old actor posted a photo on Twitter, holding hands with his husband, and included the caption: "Five years ago today, I married the greatest man I've ever met. We are proud and unafraid. #LoveIsLove."
The same day after reading some of the horrendous comments online, he later added: "When I posted about my anniversary on Instagram, I was called a "fa***t" and a "gay ba****d". Homophobia is real and deadly."
Taylor revealed he was interested in playing the role of Oswald Cobblepot, A.K.A. The Penguin in Gotham because just like the DC villain, as a child and teenager, Oswald was also horribly bullied and made to feel like an outsider. Taylor told the Inquister, "I definitely identified with that feeling. Like, just because you didn’t look like everybody else, or there was something different about you – like in my case, I was just not a ‘sporty’ person. So it’s just that feeling of outsider-ness, and also that feeling of being counted out just by things that are out of your control."
14 Aubrey Plaza
Three months ago, Parks and Recreation actress Aubrey Plaza came out as bisexual when she revealed to The Advocate magazine, "I know I have an androgynous thing going on, and there’s something masculine about my energy. Girls are into me - that’s no secret. Hey, I’m into them too. I fall in love with girls and guys."
The 32-year-old recent star of Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates also added that growing up she felt like "an older gay man." She revealed, "Like, I grew up obsessed with Judy Garland, and I was also obsessed with how much she meant to her following." She added her thanks to the supportive gay community in her hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that also welcomed her sister when she came out aged 17. Plaza revealed it was just "in my blood" to be gay.
Although she dated Jurassic World actor Chris Pratt on Parks and Recreation, Plaza's isn't as open to the idea of hooking up in real-life, as she said her ideal first date would be "not going on a first at all."
13 Elizabeth Gilbert
Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert (pictured above, left) has recently come out as gay after she revealed falling in love with her best friend, Rayya Elias. Eat, Pray, Love was a huge success, appearing on the New York Times Bestseller List for 187 weeks, the memoir details her trip around the world after a tough divorce and what she discovered during her travels.
In a post titled ‘ME & RAYYA’ she explained on her Facebook page, "This spring, I received news that would change my life forever. My best friend Rayya Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer - a disease for which there is no cure. Here is where we stand now: Rayya and I are together. I love her, and she loves me. I’m walking through this cancer journey with her, not only as her friend, but as her partner."
The writer, whose book has since been adapted for the big screen starring Julia Roberts, added, "I am exactly where I need to be — the only place I can be. The reason I haven’t yet spoken publicly about me and Rayya is because we (and our families) have needed this cocoon of privacy over these last few months, as we face all and process all these massive changes and challenges."
12 Trey Pearson
Christian rockstar Trey Pearson came out as gay in May this year, posting a personal letter online revealing that during his 15 years as the front man of rock group Everyday Sunday he was hiding his sexuality. He told Religion News magazine, "I finally decided to come out because I couldn’t keep trying to be something that I wasn’t." Choking back tears he added, "I don’t mean to cry. It’s just been such a long time coming."
35-year-old Pearson revealed that he had known since a young age that he was attracted to men, but he attempted to suppress his feelings and "be straight" instead. He told (614) magazine, "“I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it was never an option for me."
In 2008, Pearson married and had children but he explained, "I was not making it an option to be gay so I could be loyal to her and my children. But then I realized the only way I was ever going to be my best for them was to be healthy myself."
11 Brian Anderson
40-year-old Brian Anderson, one of the biggest and most successful names in professional skating, came out as gay late September this year. Anderson, who has a reported net worth of around $15 million, has previously secured lucrative sponsorships from global brands Spitfire and Nike. Although family and close friends were aware of his sexuality, Anderson, who has been a pro-skater since 1998, decided only to come out now revealing "I consider myself a skateboarder first, gay second."
In an interview with Vice Sports he revealed, "People ask: ‘Why are you doing this now and not earlier?’ It would have been a lot more beneficial. Hearing ‘fa**0t’ all the time, it made me think at a young age, it was really dangerous to talk about it." He added during the interview, "I figured it out how to balance it to where nobody questioned it and I was a big tough skateboarder, of course they’re not going to question that. Nobody thought anything."
10 James Franco
For years, many fans have speculated James Franco's sexuality after he was open about favoring roles that allowed him to play a gay character instead of a straight one. Now he has finally come out - well in his own words, he's come out "a little bit."
The 37-year-old told New York magazine that the media was spending too much time "over focusing" on his sexuality. He revealed, "If your definition of gay and straight is who I sleep with, then I guess you could say I’m a gay c*** tease. It’s where my allegiance lies, where my sensibilities lie, how I define myself." He then added, "Yeah, I’m a little gay, and there’s a gay James."
Last year he caused a lot of speculation when during an interview with FourTwoNine magazine he said, "I like to think that I’m gay in my art and straight in my life. Although, I’m also gay in my life up to the point of intercourse."
His latest film King Cobra, also starring Molly Ringwald and Christian Slater, is based on the 2007 murder of gay adult film director Bryan Kocis. Franco produced the film and will also star, he took to Instagram to post a shirtless promo picture of his posing with his oiled up co-star Garrett Clayton.
9 Charlie Carver
Teen Wolf star, 27-year-old Charlie Carver, came out earlier this year revealing, "I knew from a young age." He posted a series of heartfelt Instagram posts explaining that although his family had known for a long time, he wasn't so confident coming out as gay whilst working as a professional in Hollywood.
He wrote: "As a young boy, I knew I wanted to be an actor. I knew I wanted to be a lot of things! I thought I wanted to be a painter, a soccer player, a stegosaurus... But the acting thing stuck. It was around that age that I also knew, however abstractly, that I was different from some of the other boys in my grade."
He continued, "Over time, this abstract 'knowing' grew and articulated itself through a painful gestation marked by feelings of despair and alienation, ending in a climax of saying three words out loud: 'I am gay.'" Carver's inspirational post, that was accompanied by a picture that read "Be who you needed when you were younger' was praised my thousands of his fans.
8 Bella Thorne
Another Teen Wolf star that came out this year was 19-year-old Bella Thorne. However the reception when the former Disney star came out was quite different from Carver's as she actually suffered a negative backlash. In August, she tweeted an image of her kissing a girl and when a fan asked if she was bisexual, she tweeted back: "Yes."
Since then Thorne claims her sexuality wasn't so well received within the showbiz industry. During an interview with Maxim magazine she explained, "It is hard in this business for us. It really is. I have already had people talk s**t to me. And it comes from people in the industry, not even fans. I've had studios tell me my image is too 'out there,' hinting at (my bisexuality) but not really saying it."
Throne added, "People tell me all the time about my social media and my Snapchat, but I’m not going to change myself for this business and I’m not going to change myself for anyone else."
7 Colt0n Haynes
A third Teen Wolf star to come out this was Colton Hayes who also starred as as Roy Harper/Arsenal in the superhero television series Arrow. Haynes had never spoken publicly about his sexuality until May this year when fans began to question him after shots from a raunchy photo shoot appeared online.
A thread on Tumblr appeared claiming Haynes had a 'secret gay past', but Haynes replied, "Was it a secret? Let's all just enjoy life & have no regrets." Sadly the media frenzy that followed sent Haynes into a downward spiral, he checked into rehab for help with anxiety issues he has suffered with all his life.
He later told Entertainment Weekly, "I should have made a statement, but I just wasn’t ready. I didn’t feel like I owed anyone anything. But I felt like I was letting people down by not coming forward with the rest of what I should have said."
Haynes revealed he was "tired of acting (straight)" and that "people want you to be that GQ image that you put out, but people don’t realize what it’s like to act 24 hours a day. I’d go home and I was still acting." He has since confirmed that coming out has made him happier than he's ever been.
6 George Shelley
Union J band member George Shelley decided this was the year he finally wanted to come out to his fans and the rest of the world. The 23-year-old pop star and I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here runner-up posted a video online opening up about his sexuality.
He said to the camera, "I want to start 2016 with a clean slate. I don't feel that I should hide anything. I've been reading a lot of speculation online as to whether I'm straight or gay or (bisexual). It’s all these labels and it's a little bit old fashioned and this is why I'm not going to label it myself."
Shelly, who became a member of the band following an X Factor audition, continued, "I've had girlfriends that I've loved. But I've also had boyfriends. I want you to know that whether I decide to be with a girl next or be with a guy next it's because I love them. It shouldn't be a big deal. I don't want to be scared anymore, I don't want to feel like I can't be myself because I'm worried about what somebody might be saying about me. I've not changed, I'm still me."
5 Amandla Stenberg
17-year-old Amanda Stenberg, best known for her roles as a young Cataleya in Colombiana and Rue in Hunger Games, appeared on Teen Vogue's Snapchat earlier this year and chose that moment to come out as bisexual.
She spoke in the video series about the importance of being true to yourself as she explained, "It’s deeply bruising to fight against your identity and mold yourself into shapes you just shouldn’t be in." She added, "As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman I’ve been through it, and it hurts, and it’s awkward and it’s uncomfortable."
Stenberg credits strong black female stars Solange Knowles, Ava DuVernay and Willow Smith as an inspiration to be brave, courageous and true to herself. She said with pride, "We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow."
4 Rayvon Owen
American Idol star Rayvon Owen, who landed fourth place in 2015, came out this year after he refused to kiss a woman for his music video. The 25-year-old singer was almost ready to shoot the video for his breakout single Can't Fight It but he knew something wasn't right.
He told Billboard magazine, "When I read that treatment, I knew I couldn’t be dishonest. Not that I ever lied to people in the past, but the truth had been omitted. I felt like I was doing a disservice because I’ve always been an honest, loving person." The ending was then changed and Owen kisses a man during the closing scene.
Owen was inspired to be his true self after he lost a close friend. He revealed, "Someone I knew passed away. He never got to live his truth. I’ve been given such an awesome platform so why not use it to help, when there are so many people out there like me who haven’t come to terms with who they are or even worse, have been kicked out of their home or who have been bullied or who have committed suicide. As long as this is happening, it’s worth bringing this to people’s attention."
3 Lilly Wachowski
The Matrix and V for Vendetta director Lilly Wachowski (pictured right) came out as transgender this year and made her first public appearance on the red carpet for the GLAAD Awards in March. Six years earlier, her sister Lana Wachowski (pictured left) also came out as transgender.
The award show celebrates the fair, accurate and inclusive representations of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community and the issues that affect their lives. Wachowski was clearly nervous before her public appearance as she told The Wrap, "My flight instinct is off the charts right now but you have to fight against it." She scooped the Outstanding Drama Series award that night for her Netflix series Sense8.
During her speech she stated, "I am one of the lucky ones. Having the support of my family and the means to afford doctors and therapists has given me the chance to actually survive this process. Transgender people without support, means and privilege do not have this luxury. And many do not survive."
2 Mara Wilson
Following the tragic massacre at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, former Hollywood child star 29-year-old Mara Wilson came out as bisexual and showed her full support for the LGBT community. She posted a photo of when she was aged 18-years-old with the caption: "Me at a gay club. I felt so welcomed there. I have never had a better experience at a club than I did then. Great music and people. And one of my friends met his partner that night."
When a fan asked if she identified as a gay woman, she replied, "Bi. Yeah." She also confirmed she was a "2" on the Kinsey sexuality scale, which means that someone is primarily heterosexual, but homosexual in certain instances. The Matilda and Mrs Doubtfire star added, "Let me put it this way: I’m a 2. I know a lot of people don’t like the Kinsey scale, and that is fine by me. But I’m pragmatic at heart and find comfort in numbers."
Following the outpour of tweets, praising her for being honest, she tweeted, "Thank you so much to everybody who has sent me words of support. I support you all, too."
1 Kristen Stewart
Somewhere in the world right now, model Cara Delevingne's heart is breaking. Her ex-girlfriend and rumoured fiancee, 34-year-old singer St Vincent, has been spotted holding hands with new girlfriend, Hollywood actress 26-year-old Kristen Stewart, who only came out earlier this year. A source told People magazine, "They have spent almost every day together since Kristen brought St. Vincent to her premiere (of Certain Woman at the New York Film Festival)."
Although Stewart is notoriously private, she revealed to Elle magazine that she had fallen in love with film producer Alicia Cargile. In July she revealed, "Right now I’m just really in love with my girlfriend. We’ve broken up a couple of times and gotten back together, and this time I was like, 'Finally, I can feel again.'"
Stewart also had a serious relationship with her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, although the Hollywood rumors were that this relationship was staged for publicity.