Founded in America in 1998, National Coming Out Day will be celebrating its 30th year anniversary on October 11, 2018! Obviously, the "out and proud" community is growing.
Coming out can be a pivotal moment; however, the process is not a piece of cake. It’s still difficult for many people to tell those who are close to them, and celebrities are no different. Celebrities live under a microscope and that can be tough. It’s possible that coming out to the public puts even more pressure on them. Some celebrities stayed in the closet for most of their lives because they feared that being honest would ruin their livelihood, affect the roles they play, and more. It’s not a surprise that some even denied that they’re gay.
Over the years, more celebrities have taken an important step in coming forward by doing interviews with magazines, posting on their social media accounts, and writing speeches to show everyone that they’re not hiding anymore. It’s taken a burden off their shoulders, and there's the added benefit of helping raise more awareness.
Everyone has a unique coming out story. Here’s a list of 25 celebrities’ coming out stories that are emotional and empowering. They’re out and proud! A heartfelt congratulations to all who came out, and hopefully these stories will inspire more people to do so. After all, love is love.
25 Colton Haynes: "I Feel Really Bad That I Had To Lie For So Long..."
After a fan commented on Colton’s “secret gay past” on Tumblr in January 2016, there were speculations that he came out when he responded with, “Was it a secret?”
His family and friends have known for a long time, but it wasn’t until May 2016 when he publicly announced his orientation in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Colton later told OUT magazine, “I feel really bad that I had to lie for so long. But I was told that was the only way I was going to be successful.” Coming out made him happier than ever.
24 Ellen DeGeneres: “This Was Not Something That I Was Going To Live The Rest Of My Life Being Ashamed Of."
In April 1997, Ellen was on the cover of Time magazine with a headline that read, “Yep, I’m Gay.” Her character from her sitcom Ellen came out as well in “The Puppy Episode,” making her the first openly gay lead character on television.
Last year, Ellen celebrated the 20th anniversary of her “coming out” episode on her talk show. She 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."
23 Lance Bass: “At The Time, I Thought I'd Never Be Able To Tell Anyone."
The former boy band heartthrob came out as gay in an interview with People in 2006. He kept it a secret throughout his career because he feared that coming out would negatively affect NSYNC. He told the magazine, “I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys’ careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said (that I was gay), it would overpower everything.”
He added, “I didn’t know: Could that be the end of NSYNC?"
"So I had that weight on me of like, ‘Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it’s bad.’ So I just never did.”
22 Ruby Rose: “When I Eventually Get A Boyfriend, It Will Be A Girl.”
In an interview with Sunday TODAY with Willie Geist, Ruby talked about the struggles she had with coming out to her mother when she was 12. She said, “I knew how I felt and what I kind of identified as, but the words gay or lesbian… I didn’t know anyone else that was gay or a lesbian. So I didn’t really know how to word it.”
Because she wasn’t sure how to express her feelings in words, Ruby told her mother that her first boyfriend would be a girl. Her mother, surprisingly answered, "I know."
21 Aaron Carter: “When I Was Around 13, I Started To Find Boys And Girls Attractive."
Last August, Aaron came out as bi in a heartfelt message on Twitter. Before he revealed that he’s attracted to both females and males, he wrote, “This doesn’t bring me shame, just a weight and burden I have held onto for a long time that I would like lifted off me.”
Aaron also talked about his first experience having a boyfriend when he was 17.
He added, “After a few relationships with girls, I had an experience with a male that I had an attraction to who I also worked with and grew up with."
20 Sam Smith: “I Feel Just As Much Woman As Man.”
Sam publicly came out as gay in 2014. However, last year he told Sunday Times that he doesn't identify himself as a cisgender male (via People). He said, “I don't know what the title would be, but I feel just as much woman as I am man.”
He added, “There was one moment in my life where I didn’t own a piece of male clothing, really. I would wear full make-up every day in school, eyelashes, leggings with Dr. Martens and huge fur coats, for 2 ½ years.” Sam also mentioned that he loves to wear heels.
19 Amandla Stenberg: “I Was So Overcome With This Profound Sense Of Relief."
The actress first shared with the world that she was bi during her interview with Teen Vogue on Snapchat in 2016, but this past June, she confirmed that she's gay during her interview with Wonderland Magazine.
Amandla said she "was so overcome with this profound sense of relief" when she acknowledged her true self.
She explained, “All of the things that felt so internally contrary to my truest-self were rectified as I unraveled a long web of denial and self-deprivation.” After coming out, she “was flooded with a sense of calm and peace."
18 Wentworth Miller: “As A Gay Man, I Must Decline.”
There were rumors about Wentworth for years, but the actor denied them in an interview with German InStyle in 2007 (via HuffPost). However, Wentworth decided to come out in a letter declining the invitation to St. Petersburg International Film Festival in 2013.
The letter read, “As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes. However, as a gay man, I must decline.” He didn’t want to attend the festival because of the country’s anti-gay laws.
17 Ellen Page: “I Am Tired Of Hiding And I Am Tired Of Lying By Omission.”
Ellen came out as gay during an emotional speech at the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Time to THRIVE conference on Valentine’s Day in 2014. 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.”
Ellen wanted to live freely, and coming out lifted the weight off her shoulders.
She also added, “I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out.”
16 Keiynan Lonsdale: “I Like To Take Risks With How I Dress, I Like Girls, And I Like Guys (Yes).”
Although some of his friends and family knew, Keiynan hid his identity when he became an actor. But he decided to come out to the public after Love, Simon wrapped up. Keiynan revealed that he’s bi on Instagram last May.
He wrote, “Spent way too many years hating myself, thinking I was less valuable because I was different... which is just untrue. A couple years ago I was able to accept myself, and it saved my life, but now I've gotten to a new roadblock and I feel kind of lost. I gotta take the next step and actually embrace who I am, which is pretty exciting.”
15 Charlie Carver: “Let The Record Show This - I Self-Identify As Gay.”
In 2016, Charlie shared with his fans on social media that he’s gay. He wrote, “As a young boy, I knew I wanted to be an actor… I also knew, however abstractly, that I was different from some of the other boys in my grade."
Charlie came out to his family at 17, but he wasn’t comfortable coming out as an actor.
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.’”
14 Halsey: "Who I Love And How I Feel Is Not A Phase.”
The "Bad at Love" singer has been openly bi since she rose to fame and she’s spoken out against bi stereotypes many times. When Halsey couldn’t attend the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards this past May to receive an award for Outstanding Music Artist, she sent a video message.
In the video, she said, “Who I love and how I feel is not a phase. It’s not part of some confusion that’s going to change or could be manipulated. So I tried really hard to find the courage this year to write female pronouns into my music.”
13 Miley Cyrus: “I Remember Telling [My Mom] I Admire Women... I Said, I Love Them. I Love Them Like I Love Boys.”
In a candid interview with Paper Mag in 2015, Miley said she came out as bi to her “conservative” mother at 14. She told the magazine, “It was so hard for her to understand. She didn't want me to be judged and she didn't want me to go to hell. But she believes in me more than she believes in any god. I just asked for her to accept me. And she has."
Miley also said, “I don't relate to being boy or girl, and I don't have to have my partner relate to boy or girl."
12 Gus Kenworthy: "I Was Kind Of Lying By Omission."
A year after Gus won silver at the Winter Olympics 2014 in Sochi, the Olympic freeskier publicly came out as gay in an interview with ESPN. He said, “I never got to be proud of what I did in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn't do.”
Earlier this year, he told CBS News, “I was kind of like lying by omission, but then when you're actually lying… It made me resent myself and made me realize that I didn't want to be ashamed of who I was… I wanted to just be able to be me."
11 Matt Bomer: “I Just Thought It Was Time To Live My Life Truthfully.”
Matt told OUT magazine last year that he struggled with coming out to his family. He said, "I was raised in a conservative Christian household. We weren’t even allowed to watch 'secular' television.”
That said, Matt felt he couldn't come out to his parents in person, so he wrote them a letter. It didn't go well.
He said, "There was radio silence for a long, long time, at least six months." He also revealed that he and his parents had a “blow up” when he went home. They worked things out years later.
10 Sara Gilbert: "We Started Dating... And Then I Would Start To Get Depressed."
During The Talk’s secret-spilling week in 2013, Sara spilled that she was dating Johnny Galecki when she realized that she was gay. She told Johnny how she felt, and he was sweet about it. The couple broke up, and Sara went on to date an older woman who was also in the public eye, but she didn’t want to come out publicly.
She said, “I always felt so scared. If it came out, what could happen? Could I lose my career? Will I ever be able to play a straight role again?”
9 Janelle Monáe: “Being A Queer Black Woman In America...”
Janelle first identified as bi when she revealed that she's dated both females and males. However, she came out as pan in an interview with Rolling Stone this past April. She said, “I read about [pan] and was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about who I am.”
Janelle later told CBS This Morning, “I think that it’s important for people to be proud of their identity."
She added, "I am very proud to be a queer, young black woman in America. I’m proud of who I am.”
8 Zachary Quinto: “Living Life Without Publicly Acknowledging It Is Simply Not Enough.”
After years of speculation, Zachary finally came out. The actor referred to himself “as a gay man” in an interview with New York Magazine in 2011. He further explained his decision to come out on his website.
He wrote (via HuffPost), "When I found out [what had happened to] Jamey Rodemeyer — I felt deeply troubled. But when I found out that Jamey Rodemeyer had made an 'It Gets Better' video only months before [the tragedy], I felt indescribable despair… While his [passing] only makes me wish that I had done this sooner, I am eternally grateful to him for being the catalyst for change within me.”
7 Sean Hayes: “It Was 1988 When I Came Out... My Mom Said I Needed To Go See A Therapist."
Sean shared his coming out story with People earlier this year. He said, “I kept it hidden, the fact that I was in high school plays, from my brothers and my family because this is 1986, being gay then was different.”
Sean came out to his family at 18, and his mother didn’t accept it at first.
He said, “My mom said I needed to go see a therapist. She wrote me a 10-page letter, both sides on legal pad size paper. ‘This is not what God …’ You know, the whole uneducated view of it.” She’s now very supportive of him.
6 Portia de Rossi: “I Was About 18 When I Realized I Had To Date Other [Women].”
Portia first came out as gay on The Conversation With Amanda De Cadenet in 2005. She talked about the struggles she had hiding her identity on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2010. She said, “Having to hide something like that ruined me.” Portia realized she was attracted to women at 18.
She said (via AccessOnline), “The thing that made me think that I wasn’t [straight], was I developed very strong feelings for my best friends. I had a series of mini-heartbreaks throughout my teens because my fantasy of what life could be like with my best friend wasn’t shared with my best friend.”
5 Jesse Tyler Ferguson: "In My Later Teen Years I Did Come Out To [My Dad], And It Was Like He Needed To Be Told Three Times."
In 2014, Jesse shared his awkward coming out story on Aisha Tyler’s podcast, Girl on Guy. The actor got caught taking something without paying, so his dad was brought into the store.
Jesse said, “They showed him the nature of the material I was [taking], and it was really, really humiliating. So I always consider that my coming-out process."
He continued, “[My dad] was like, 'Okay, are you gay?' And I was, like, 14. I didn't really know. I didn't know what I was going through." He came out to his dad in his later teen years.
4 Maria Bello: “I Had Become Involved With A Woman Who Was My Best Friend.”
Maria wrote a New York Times piece called "Coming Out as a Modern Family" where she talked about how she came out to her son. She wrote, “I was with someone romantically and I hadn't told him. I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son.”
Maria told her son after he asked her about her love life, and he said, “Mom, love is love, whatever you are.” She had already come out to her “large, Italian-Polish, ‘traditional’ Philadelphia family," and they were supportive.
3 Anderson Cooper: “Always Have Been, Always Will Be."
“Is Anderson Cooper gay?” It’s the question many people asked for years until Anderson publicly came out in an email to writer Andrew Sullivan in 2012. He 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.”
But Anderson came out to his mom much earlier.
He told People in 2016, “I came out to my friends in high school, but it wasn’t until I was 21, I think, that I came out to my mom… She accepted it and met boyfriends I had and life continued.”
2 Kristen Stewart: “In That Moment, To Make It Normal And Cool And Completely Unashamed? It Felt Really Cool.”
Kristen has been romantically linked with several women since she and Robert Pattinson broke up, but she never officially came out until February 2017. It was her first time hosting SNL, and her opening monologue was, “I’m, like, so gay, dude.” The audience loved it, and people couldn’t stop talking about it on social media.
The following month, Kristen told Entertainment Weekly, “I’ve been talking about it for a really long time! I’ve lived pretty openly. I guess because it was simple and straightforward. Just — ‘I’m so gay, dude.'”
1 Neil Patrick Harris: “I Am A Very Content Gay Man Living My Life To The Fullest.”
It was the year 2006 when Neil told People, “I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest.”
In 2013, Neil revealed on HuffPost Live that he came out because he didn't want to hide his love for his now-husband, David.
"I didn't want to disrespect David. I didn't want to make David feel like he didn't exist in my life, and at the same time I didn't want David's identity to be, 'The guy that's dating me.'”
References: Time, People, Huffington Post, Rolling Stone, NY Times