We are living in an age like no other when it comes to being out and proud as a gay man or woman. During the “Golden Age” of Hollywood, most actors and actresses had to nearly break their own minds in order to make sure no one on the outside knew their secret. Actor Rock Hudson went to great lengths to keep the fact that he was gay under wraps. Only a select few knew about it, including his best friend and often love interest in movies, Doris Day, before speculations started spreading far and wide throughout Hollywood. Hudson eventually died of an AIDS-related illness in 1985.
Times have certainly changed for the better when it comes to actors coming out of the closet without fearing retaliation from movie studios and fans.
Thanks to A-listers like Ellen DeGeneres, who came out of the closet in the 1990’s, leading the LGBTQ community in Hollywood, more actors have followed suit and have come out in the business and are all the happier for it. And some weren’t even type-casted after admitting the news to the world.
There are some actors these days who are still struggling with coming to grips with their personal preferences and, usually, the public seems to figure out they’re gay before they even do. Here are 16 celebrities who the public figured were gay before they even had the chance to admit it out loud.
16 In The Hot Seat - Kevin Spacey
House of Cards actor Kevin Spacey is in hot water these days, and it doesn’t appear to be cooling down for the veteran actor anytime soon. Late last year, actor Anthony Rapp came out and said that Spacey had made some advances toward him when he was only 14-years old. Since then, fifteen others have come forward and made similar accusations. This prompted Spacey to come out of the closet himself, which actually angered the LGBTQ community (since his coming out was put hand-in-hand with the allegations). Most people knew of Spacey’s personal preferences before he made the declaration last year and most of which were his fans. While Spacey coming out as gay wasn’t too big of a shock, the allegations certainly were. Spacey’s place in Hollywood is being reconsidered and it’s doubtful he’ll be able to find work in the near future.
15 Livin' La Vida Loca Indeed - Ricky Martin
Puerto Rican-born singer Ricky Martin was one the hottest pop sensations to ever come out of the late 1990’s. He was the entire package: He had the voice, the moves, the talent, and the looks. Both women and men alike were throwing themselves at him during his post-Menudo days, especially after he came out with his hit single, “Livin’ la Vida Loca”. But, supposedly, most fans thought he was TOO PRETTY to be straight. And you know what? They were right. In 2010, Martin officially came out of the closet after years of speculation. “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate [gay] man. I am very blessed to be who I am,” Martin posted on his official website. Currently, he’s married to painter, Jwan Yosef, and has twin sons.
14 Her Best Self - Rosie O’Donnell
Before Ellen DeGeneres made it big with her Award-Winning daytime talk show, actress/comedian Rosie O’Donnell had the market cornered in that department. O’Donnell hosted The Rosie O’Donnell Show from 1996-2002. Literally two months before ending her talk show, O’Donnell came out of the closet as a proud lesbian woman in order to bring attention to gay adoption issues. She even addressed her sensuality on Will and Grace, where she played the gay mother of Jack’s (Sean Hayes) son Elliot. Since then, Rosie has starred on The View as well as building a pretty steady political platform via Twitter (like most celebrities are doing these days). To this day, Rosie is a strong and opinionated woman who isn’t afraid to tell people how she feels, and she’s more loved because of it.
13 Handsome And Newsworthy - Anderson Cooper
If you were ever a news junkie, you had to have a crush on journalist and television personality Anderson Cooper. The silver fox had been in the spotlight since he was a young reporter who broke news in Vietnam on the small news agency called Channel One. From there he moved to ABC News and became a correspondent on World News Now. These days, Cooper is the primary anchor on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360. Though it was speculated that he was gay during the early and mid-2000’s, Cooper didn’t come out of the closet until 2012. The New York Times even called him “the most prominent openly gay journalist on American television.” Currently, Cooper keeps his dating life on the down-low out of respect for the men who occupy his personal life.
12 More Like How I Met Neil - Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris is a perfect example that as a proud gay man, you don’t have to be type-casted by Hollywood and only play gay roles. Harris is extremely versatile in his skill set and can go from playing a womanizer one minute to a vindictive Count the next. He came to fame in the late 1980’s by playing the title character (and boy wonder) on Doogie Howser, M.D. but seemed to really hit his stride when he took on the role of Barney Stinson, the serial-dater womanizer on the hit comedy series How I Met Your Mother. He’s even taken Broadway by storm when he played the title character in Hedwig and the Angry Inch which won him a Tony Award. Harris came out in 2006 and is happily married to actor David Burtka and is the father of twins.
11 The Saintly Knight - T.R. Knight
If you were a massive fan of ABC’s hit medical drama Grey’s Anatomy from the get-go, you’ll know exactly who T.R. Knight is. Knight played the much beloved (and sometimes whiny) George O’Malley on the drama and was noted for his chemistry with all his female co-stars. However, as the seasons stretched on, a notable tension between castmates started to surface and boil. One cast mate, in particular, was allegedly let go because he called Knight a homophobic slur, which then prompted Knight to come out of the closet. After that, his role on the show started to diminish until he finally left, his character being killed off after he was hit by a bus. However, since his coming out, his personal life has been flying high. In 2013, he married ballet dancer Patrick B. Leahy.
10 Courage And Grace - Robin Roberts
She started in sports before taking the broadcasting world by storm. In 1990, Robin Roberts joined ESPN as a sportscaster and moved on to be one of the hosts of their timeless sports show, SportsCenter. She left in 2005 to head off and work for ABC News as a featured reporter on Good Morning America (which she actually juggled with ESPN for years before departing from the latter network to work solely for ABC). In 2007, Robins was diagnosed with breast cancer and bravely fought the disease with chemotherapy and radiation. She hit another roadblock in 2012 when she was diagnosed with MDS (a bone marrow disease) and was able to get a bone marrow transplant. Though friends had known about her personal orientation, Roberts came out in 2005 to the public.
9 Stealing The Show - David Hyde Pierce
When NBC first introduced the comedy series Frasier, viewers knew that it was something completely different and not your average, run of the mill “spin-off”. David Hyde Pierce played the fastidious Niles Crane, brother to Kelsey Grammar’s title character Frasier Crane. Sure, on the show, Niles came off as rather delicate, but we soon realized his orientation when he fell head over heels in love with Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), a flighty live-in physical therapist. But in real life, Pierce came out of the closet in 2007 and married his long-time boyfriend Brian Hardgrove a year after coming out. When he won the Tony Award for Curtains, Pierce actually thanked Hardgrove in an emotional speech. People have long suspected that Pierce was gay, but he was adamant about keeping his personal life personal, which he did for a long period of time.
8 Woman Power Force - Jodie Foster
Actress Jodie Foster has been a force of nature in Hollywood since she was a little kid. At the age of three-years-old, she became a child model before moving over to Hollywood where she acted in the television series Mayberry R.F.D. However, she became highly noticed (in more ways than one) when she starred in Taxi Driver, a revealing role that earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. After attending Yale, she came back to Hollywood and starred in The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs, both of which earned her two Academy Awards for Lead Actress. Because of her extreme private nature, audiences assumed that she had to be gay and it was even a subject of controversy when Lambs was released. At the time, Foster was in a relationship with another woman but didn’t actually come out until 2007.
7 N'Syncing It Up - Lance Bass
He was part of the hottest boy bands in history back in the late 1990’s. Lance Bass was actually asked by Justin Timberlake back in 1995 if he wanted to join the latter singer’s all boy-band named NSYNC, and the rest is history. Bass, along with Timberlake, JC Chasez, Chris Kirkpatrick, and Joey Fatone shot straight to the top of the charts with hits like “I Want You Back”, “God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You” and “Bye, Bye, Bye”. After the band eventually broke up and Timberlake went on to superstar status, Bass stuck his toe into the acting pool and starred in the 2001 movie On The Line, and Zoolander among other things. Even though he famously dated actress Danielle Fishel, Bass eventually came out of the closet (fans had speculated for years about his sensuality) and married boyfriend Michael Turchin in 2013.
6 Combination Of Fire And Ice - Maria Bello
For millions of Millianals, actress Maria Bello was best known for her role as the hard owner of the New York bar Coyote Ugly in the 2000 film Coyote Ugly but truth be told, the actress happens to be a veteran who has been wowing for a while now and has been starting in both film and television since the early 1990’s. Since then, she earned critical acclaim by starring in films like The Cooler and A History of Violence. Bello has actually had hetero relationships, including one with Dan McDermott, which resulted in her son. Back in 2013, Bello actually came out of the closet and wrote about being in a gay relationship with her close friend Clare Munn. Bello has been vocal about being bi and isn’t afraid to hide who she is.
5 Just Jack - Sean Hayes
Audiences always “assumed” that actor Sean Hayes was gay thanks to his most famous flamboyant character to date, Jack McFarland from NBC’s hit comedy series Will and Grace, a character that won him critical acclaim and one Emmy Award and four Screen Actor Guild Awards. For years, Hayes refused to admit his sensuality because he feared that he would be type-casted in TV and film, but he finally came out during a 2010 interview with The Advocate. “Really? You’re gonna shoot the gay guy down?” he jokingly implied of his personal preference in a roundabout way. “I never have had a problem saying who I am.” And in 2014, Hayes actually married his partner of eight years, Scott Icenogle. Even though he never seemed to hold back while in character in Will and Grace, he’s now out, proud, and more at ease in the reboot.
4 Sheldon Who? - Jim Parsons
If you didn’t know any better, you’d assume that actor Jim Parsons is a lot like the character who made him famous. For those not in the know, Parsons plays Dr. Sheldon Cooper on the CBS comedy series The Big Bang Theory, and his character is, well, a tad of a “bit” of a genius physicist with social apathy who is constantly getting on his close friends' nerves. Even though the character is now in a steady relationship, audiences just assumed that Sheldon lacked the emotional capacity to actually be in a relationship. Thanks to his physical comedy, Parsons has earned several awards, including four Emmy Awards. In real life, Parsons is a happily wedded gay man who has been out since 2012, when The New York Times said that he had been in a relationship with art director Todd Spiewak, whom he married just last May.
3 His Own American Idol - Clay Aiken
When audiences first laid eyes on him, he appeared to be a rather shy young man with an extremely beautiful voice who won hearts by appearing on the second season of American Idol. In 2003, Aiken was fed up with the rumors circulating about whether or not he was gay and aired his grievances out in Rolling Stone magazine. “One thing I’ve found of people in the public eye, either you’re a womanizer or you’ve got to be gay,” he said. “Since I’m neither of those, people are completely concerned about me.” It would take five more years to confirm that some of those people who assumed he was in the closet were right. In September of 2008, Aiken came out in an interview with People magazine.
2 Comedic Genius - Wanda Sykes
She happens to be one of the most famous funny faces on the planet, and that’s including male comedians, some of whom Wanda Sykes wipes the floor with. She started her stand-up career in the 1980’s and was discovered opening for Chris Rock at Caroline’s Comedy Club. After she joined The Chris Rock Show’s writing team, her career took off. She was given her own Fox show called Wanda At Large and appeared in an hour-long Comedy Central special titled Tongue Untied. Even though Sykes was married to record producer Dave Hall for seven years in the 1990’s, she finally decided to come out of the closet in 2008 at a same-gender rally in Las Vegas. Currently, she’s happily married to her partner of 12 years Alex Niedbalski and the two have a pair of fraternal twins.
1 Standing Her Ground - Cynthia Nixon
Out of all the women who graced the HBO hit series Sex and the City, Cynthia Nixon was a stand out in a bizarre way: Her character, Miranda Hobbes, was a no-nonsense lawyer who had her head firmly on her shoulders, knew what she wanted, and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind while the other three women flitted around. She was always a billion times smarter than the men she dated, so audiences started assuming that Nixon, in real life, preferred not to deal with men at all. Turns out, she had actually been in relationships with men before marrying education activist Christine Marinoni in 2012. Nixon identified herself as bi since she had been in steady relationships with men in the past. Quite honestly, I’m pretty sure Nixon would make Miranda extremely proud.