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National Coming Out Day: 37 celebrities who’ve come out this year

Josh Jackman October 10, 2018

Janelle Monáe, Kevin McHale and Amandla Stenberg (Vivien Killilea/Getty, Leon Bennett/Getty and Paras Griffin/Getty)

Since the last National Coming Out Day, dozens of celebrities have stopped, taken a deep breath and revealed to the world that they’re gay, bisexual, lesbian, transgender, queer, non-binary, pansexual — and even in one controversial case, two spirit.

From singers and political figures to sports stars and Hollywood’s brightest, the past 12 months have shown, in case anyone needed reminding, that anyone can be LGBT+.

As we look ahead to National Coming Out Day on Thursday (October 11), let’s celebrate the icons who put their heads above the parapet to be representative of the community — starting with some amazing musicians.

Janelle Monáe

SANTA MONICA, CA - MARCH 03: Actor/singer Janelle Monae speaks onstage during the 2018 Film Independent Spirit Awards on March 3, 2018 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
Monáe came out in April (Tommaso Boddi/Getty)

The Dirty Computer singer came out as “a queer black woman” in April after years of speculation, revealing that she had “been in relationships with both men and women.”

Monáe explained that she had identified as bisexual at first, “but then later I read about pansexuality and was like: ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’

“I’m open to learning more about who I am.”

Demi Lovato

The “Sorry Not Sorry” singer, a longtime LGBT+ advocate, revealed last year that she was open to dating women, saying: “That’s how I’ve always felt.”

Lovato then explained more about how she sees her sexuality in March, saying: “I’m very fluid, and I think love is love.

“You can find it in any gender. I like the freedom of being able to flirt with whoever I want.”

Brendon Urie

The Panic! at the Disco frontman revealed he was pansexual in July, joining Monáe in coming out publicly in his early 30s.

The emo-rock singer, who also donated $1 million to help LGBT kids in US schools this year, said it was “just people that I am attracted to.”

He continued: “I guess you could qualify me as pansexual because I really don’t care. If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place.”

Jason Mraz

Coming out can be difficult — and so can labels. When the “I’m Yours” singer revealed in July that he had enjoyed sexual experiences with men in the past, he defined himself as two spirit.

This term, which is used by Indigenous North American and First Nations people to represent those who possess both masculine and feminine spirits and can encompass sexual, gender and/or spiritual identities, attracted backlash.

Nevertheless, it’s good that the 41-year-old musician felt comfortable enough to publicly announce his sexual orientation.

Kehlani

INGLEWOOD, CA - MARCH 11: Kehlani performs onstage during the 2018 iHeartRadio Music Awards which broadcasted live on TBS, TNT, and truTV at The Forum on March 11, 2018 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for iHeartMedia)
Kehlani (Christopher Polk/Getty)

The US singer came out in April on Twitter, writing: “I’m queer. Not bi, not straight.

“I’m attracted to women, men, REALLY attracted to queer men, non binary people, intersex people, trans people.”

Max Bemis

Rock band Say Anything’s lead singer also came out as queer, making the announcement in an emotional letter which also revealed that the group was breaking up.

Under the heading “GAY STUFF,” Bemis, 34, wrote: “I have always been bi-ish or queer or a straight guy who can also like boys.

“I always talked or joked about it with my friends and found it to be blatantly clear I was.”

Saara Aalto

The Finnish singer and Eurovision 2018 star came out to PinkNews in March, saying: “I am very proud to be lesbian and I feel very much like I am lesbian, totally.”

She said she was lucky enough to have never struggled with her sexual identity, saying: “My sexuality was never an issue.”

Anne-Marie

The British musician, who went to number one in more than 20 countries as a featured artist on Clean Bandit’s hit song “Rockabye,” opened up about her sexuality after releasing her debut album, Speak Your Mind.

She said: “I’ve never ever just been attracted to men. I’ve never just been attracted to women. I’ve never felt the need to tell anyone that I’m bisexual.

“I don’t feel like I am. I just feel like I’m attracted to who I like. I honestly feel like everyone is like that.”

Indy Yelich-O’Connor

Lorde’s sister Indy Yelich-O’Connor revealed she was bisexual in May.

The 19-year-old author took to Twitter to share the news, keeping things short and sweet by simply writing: “plot twist (I like boys and girls).”

The global singing sensation’s teen sibling then screengrabbed the tweet and shared it via an Instagram story, making sure all of her followers were up to speed on her sexuality.

Zander Hodgson

Hodgson came out in April (zander hodgson/YouTube)

The British model, actor and Instagram star was one of many celebrities this year who chose to come out in a heartfelt YouTube video.

The actor, who lives in Los Angeles and has had small roles in Hollyoaks, Coronation Street and Shameless, decided to share his sexuality to inspire others who might be struggling to come to terms with their LGBT+ status.

In the video, Hodgson said: “I wanted to tell everyone that I am gay, and although that doesn’t change anything for me, and hopefully not for you, I just thought it was a really important thing to share with everyone.”

He added: “I wanted to do this video as well, because when I think about all the kids out there that are being bullied, or are really struggling with their sexuality, even teenage or adults, I just want you to know that you are not alone.”

Derek Chadwick

Another model, actor and Instagram celebrity to come out this year was Derek Chadwick, who made the announcement in July, explaining that his parents were “not very accepting” when he first told them he was gay — and that he hoped his coming out would help others.

“Coming out in this way allows me to use the privilege that I have to help other people who don’t have that,” the Scream Queens actor added.

Andrea Russett

Andrea Russett came out to her 7.5 million Twitter followers and four million Instagram fans last month, the day before Bi Visibility Day, because — she said — her best friend Sandra Poenar told her she believed that queer people go to hell.

“I came out to Sandra as bisexual four years ago. (Surprise! Yeah. Not exactly how I planned to come out publicly, but s**t happens I guess),” she wrote in a lengthy social media post.

She added that she wanted to tell “anyone who is struggling with anything similar in their life, you are not alone.

“You are not any less of a person because of who you may choose to love.”

Elle Mills

The YouTuber, who has more than 1.5 million subscribers, came out in November 2017 with a spectacular video which has so far attracted around four million views.

She told fans that her sexuality was something she had struggled to talk about to people close to her, leaving her depressed.

But after going through a personal journey, she posed in front of her rainbow-covered home and told her audience: “I’m Elle Mills and I’m bisexual.”

Robert Páez

Venezuela's Robert Paez competes in the men's 10-metre platform preliminary diving event in the FINA World Championships at the Piscina Municipal de Montjuic in Barcelona on July 27, 2013. AFP PHOTO / LLUIS GENE (Photo credit should read LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty Images)
Robert Páez (LLUIS GENE/AFP/Getty)

Sportspeople in diving, car racing, swimming, squash, golf and football took the brave step this year of showing their true colours to the world.

One of these stars was Robert Páez, a 23-year-old Venezuelan Olympic diver who shared an inspiring essay about celebrating “who he really is.”

He said that he felt “at times ashamed to go out into society” because of who he was — but no longer.

Hurley Haywood

The racing legend and three-time Le Mans 24 Hours winner, is a legendary endurance racing champ who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans across three decades – in 1977, 1983 and 1994.

The racing driver, whose sexuality had been an open secret within sporting circles for some time, publicly acknowledged he was gay at the age of 69, ahead of his autobiography being released.

He talked about helping a suicidal student in 2012 and explained: “I thought, if my voice is strong enough to help one kid, it might help two kids, or five or a hundred.”

Collin Martin

The footballer, who plays for Major League Soccer side Minnesota United, broke a huge barrier in June when he came out as gay.

Martin wrote a statement on his Twitter account which said: “June is Pride month, and I am proud to be playing for Pride, and to be playing as an out gay man.”

The 23-year-old added: “As we celebrate Pride night I want to thank my teammates for their unconditional support for who I am.

“In light of who I am I want to encourage others who play sports professionally or otherwise to have confidence that sport will welcome them wholeheartedly.”

Todd Harrity

Harrity, who has twice picked up the US Nationals title, became the first openly gay man at the top of squash in April.

In a post to social media, the 27-year-old athlete wrote: “To everyone I know, and to all who know me, I have something that I am finally ready to get off my chest.

“I am gay, and I’m ready to live my life as an openly gay man. I have decided to come out because I am convinced that having everyone know this about me is the only way I can truly be content.”

Abrahm DeVine

DeVine, a swimmer on the US national team, came out as gay last month, admitting that coming out was “really tough” for him and that he was afraid of how his team would react.

He broke the ice by first telling a former teammate, who he said “did a lot” for him “and was really there for me as a friend.”

And DeVine soon discovered that his apprehension about coming out to his teammates was unfounded, as everybody around him reacted well to the news.

Tadd Fujikawa

HONOLULU, HI - JANUARY 12: Tadd Fujikawa of the United States plays his shot from the 15th tee during the first round of the Sony Open In Hawaii at Waialae Country Club on January 12, 2017 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Tadd Fujikawa (Sam Greenwood/Getty)

In September, Fujikawa became the first male professional golfer to come out as gay and said he hoped his story would help others in the LGBT+ community.

The American sportsman from Hawaii posted a photo of himself on Instagram on World Suicide Prevention Day, alongside a caption explaining why decided to go public about his sexuality.

“So… I’m gay. Many of you may have already known that,” he wrote.

“I don’t expect everyone to understand or accept me. But please be gracious enough to not push your beliefs on me or anyone in the LGBTQ community.

“My hope is this post will inspire each and every one of you to be more empathetic and loving towards one another.”

Mark Foster

At the age of 47, the former world champion and Olympic swimmer confirmed he was gay.

The British sportsman said: “I got really good at the dance of telling half-truths. I’ve supported the Terence Higgins Trust, Stonewall, Ben Cohen’s Stand Up to Bullying campaign.

“But I’ve always done it under the radar.”

He added: “I’ve lived an openly gay life to my friends and family. But I always hid it as a swimmer.”

Tessa Thompson

The Thor: Ragnarok actress spoke publically about her sexuality for the first time in June.

Thompson, who’s best known for her appearances on dystopian drama Westworld, as well as her role as the explicitly bisexual hero Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, said: “I can take things for granted because of my family – it’s so free and you can be anything that you want to be.

“I’m attracted to men and also to women. If I bring a woman home, [or] a man, we don’t even have to have the discussion.”

Amandla Stenberg

The 19-year-old, who made their name in The Hunger Games series and uses gender-neutral they/them pronouns, previously came out as queer and—in 2016—as bisexual.

But in an interview with lesbian pop singer King Princess—real name Mikaela Straus—in June, they said: “*Insert Ellen DeGeneres’ TIME Magazine cover squat and wide smile* Yep I’m gay.”

The actor, who has since starred in hit film The Hate U Give, added: “I’m grateful for how being gay has afforded me this ability to experience and understand love and sex, and therefore life, in an expansive and infinite way.”

Bex Taylor-Klaus

In July, at the age of 23, the Arrow and Scream actor revealed that they’re non-binary.

Taylor-Klaus came out as gay in 2016 by tweeting: “hello my name is bex and yes the rumours are true I am v gay.”

And their latest announcement was made with a similar air of nonchalance, with Taylor-Klaus — who’s a series regular on Netflix’s Voltron: Legendary Defender — tweeting it out in much the same way.

They wrote: “I came out as trans non-binary in a room full of people today. Guess it’s time for me to do that on here, too…

“Hi. I’m Bex, and the rumours are true. I’m v enby.”

Garrett Clayton

The actor, who rose to fame in Disney Channel movie series Teen Beach, came out as gay in August, revealing at the same time that he was in a long-term relationship with screenwriter Blake Knight.

Ahead of his film Reach being released, he wrote on Instagram that he had “personally dealt with suicide within my own family [and] intense bullying in high school.”

He added that “myself and the man I’ve been in a relationship with for a long time (@hrhblakeknight) have both experienced shootings within our hometown school systems, and have witnessed the heartache that takes place in affected communities after such tragic events.”

Abbi Jacobson

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 07: Actress Abbi Jacobson on stage at The Paley Center For Media's 32nd Annual PALEYFEST LA - A Salute To Comedy Central at Dolby Theatre on March 7, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Abbi Jacobson (Frazer Harrison/Getty)

The star and co-creator of comedy series Broad City came out in April.

While promoting 6 Balloons, her Netflix film with Dave Franco, she said: “I kind of go both ways; I date men and women. They have to be funny, doing something they love.

“I don’t know — I’ve never really been interviewed about this before.”

Alyson Stoner

24-year-old musician and Disney actress Alyson Stoner came out as bisexual in March.

The star, who is best known for her roles in Cheaper by the Dozen and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, opened up about her sexuality and struggles with religion in an emotional essay for Teen Vogue.

She wrote: “I, Alyson, am attracted to men, women, and people who identify in other ways.

“I can love people of every gender identity and expression. It is the soul that captivates me.”

“It is the love we can build and the goodness we can contribute to the world by supporting each other’s best journeys,” she added.

Kevin McHale

The Glee actor appeared to come out on Instagram in March, when he posted a picture of a photo of one man’s hand on top of a different male hand, with an emoji performing the hand gesture for “I love you” in ASL.

The next month, he made his rumoured relationship with fellow actor Austin McKenzie Instagram official, posting multiple photos of the happy couple embracing.

The pair both featured in When We Rise, a 2017 TV miniseries created by Dustin Lance Black that told the story of the struggle for LGBT equality in the US.

Cory Michael Smith

The Gotham star spoke about his sexuality publicly for the first time in March, while starring in a drama set during the AIDS crisis.

Smith, who is best known for playing Edward Nygma, aka supervillain The Riddler, on Fox’s popular Batman prequel TV series, revealed he identifies as queer.

The actor added that his own family responded with “a lot of love” when he came out.

Josie Totah

Totah has starred in Champions and Glee (Mike Coppola/Getty)

The actress, known for her TV roles in Glee, Champions and Jessie, came out as transgender in a powerful essay for Time magazine.

Totah, 17, said she was “grateful” for roles she has played over the years, but regretted allowing herself to become known as a gay male rather than as a transgender female.

She also spoke about her faith, saying she has “come to believe that God made me transgender” and added that when it came to auditions for female parts, she was planning to “gun for those roles.”

After all, she added: “It’s a clean slate – and a new world.”

Rutina Wesley

True Blood actress Rutina Wesley quietly came out in November 2017 as she revealed her engagement.

The star, who played Tara Thornton on the cult vampire show and has also appeared on Queen Sugar, uploaded a series of Instagram photos revealing her engagement to Shonda, a chef from New Orleans.

She referred to her new fiancée as the “light of my life” and “fire of my loins” in the posts, adding hashtags which read: “Always more, never less. I said yes” and “I love you more than words.”

Rebecca Sugar

The Steven Universe creator came out as non-binary in July.

The 31-year-old is the mind behind the popular American cartoon series, which has repeatedly earned praise for its portrayal of queer characters like lesbians Ruby and Sapphire, who got engaged earlier this year.

Sugar, who has previously worked on Adventure Time and has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award five times, revealed: “One of the things that’s really important to me about the show is that the Gems are all non-binary women.

“They’re very specific and they’re coming from a world where they don’t really have the frame of reference. They’re coded female which is very important.”

Sugar added: “I am also a non-binary woman, which has been really great to express myself through these characters because it’s very much how I have felt throughout my life.”

Ronan Farrow

We move on from one kind of brilliant writer to another, and Ronan Farrow’s decision in April to publicly come out.

The influential journalist, who was key in exposing Harvey Weinstein, quietly came out as he accepted an honour from the Point Foundation, which supports LGBTQ students.

The former NBC News personality, who is the son of Mia Farrow and director Woody Allen, told the audience: “Each and every LGBT person who has to go through a process of accepting themselves and turning rejection and isolation into strength is richer and more creative and more determined for that journey.”

Daniel Mallory Ortberg

The author and co-founder of The Toast came out in February, after realising his identity while researching for his latest book, The Merry Spinster.

“It turns out I’m trans!” said Ortberg, who has also written Texts From Jane Eyre.

“I’ve spent a lot of time thinking through this and going to support groups, and I started medical transition after an initial ‘trial period’ to see how I felt about it.”

He added: “I’ve been dealing with realising that the feelings I had before were not the whole story.

“How do I create a vision for the future that doesn’t negate the past? It was wild to have all of this come up consciously for me in the middle of writing the book.”

Li Huanwu

As well as culturally important people, the past year has also been notable for the political figures who have taken the brave step of revealing their true identities.

One of these was Huanwu, the grandson of Singapore’s first prime minister, who sparked celebrations in the country — where homosexuality is illegal — when he came out as gay in July.

Huanwu, who is also the nephew of current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, broke the news through Out in Singapore, an exhibition for “LGBTQ persons who wish to come out to family, friends and peers in the community.”

Huanwu, 31, changed his Facebook profile picture to a photo of him and Yirui Heng, a 27-year-old veterinarian, after they were pictured together in the exhibition.

Tommy Ahlers

Ahlers was on Denmark’s version of Dragons’ Den (Tommy Ahlers/facebook)

The Danish cabinet minister revealed he was bisexual after years of speculation.

Ahlers, who has been the Minister of Science, Technology, Information and Higher Education since May,
said that he was coming out publicly at the age of 42 because his position as a minister meant he could not hide any part of himself.

“When people mention that they have heard a rumour, I explain to them that it is not a rumour, because there is no touch of fiction in it,” he said.

“But the truth is also that I have come to the conclusion that I like both men and women.”

Mounir Mahjoubi

The French cabinet minister, who serves as Secretary of State for the Digital Sector, came out at 33 on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia.

The En Marche politician wrote: “Homophobia is an ill that eats away at society, invades high schools, and poisons families and lost friends.

“Worse, it haunts the minds of gay people, and sometimes forces us to hide and lie to avoid hatred, to live.”

Shevrin Jones

Jones, who sits in the Florida House of Representatives, came out as gay almost six years after he was first elected.

In doing so, the politician became the first openly gay African-American legislator in Florida.

He revealed that he had known he was gay since kindergarten, but only opened up about his sexuality around five years ago when he decided to tell his family.

Jones came out by allowing Equality Florida’s political director to include him in a list of endorsements of openly gay candidates, saying he was initially unsure if it would be the best “coming-out party” before deciding to go ahead.

And here’s one more for this retrospective, which was too ambiguous to include as a definitive coming out moment, but too amazing to leave out entirely.

Harry Styles

Harry Styles with the Pride flag at one of his concerts (pukinghoran/twitter)

That’s right, the one and only Harry Styles provoked an outpouring of enthusiasm from fans earlier this year, after lyrics in his new song seemed to reveal he was queer.

The former One Direction singer had spoken about his sexuality before, saying last year that he had “never felt the need” to label himself.

But Styles’ lyrics for his song “Medicine” led his fans to explode with excitement and hail him as a bi icon, as the 24-year-old star sang: “The boys and the girls are here, I mess around with them, and I’m okay with it.”

He followed up those sensational lines by singing: “I’m coming down, I figured out I kinda like it, and when I sleep I’m gonna dream of how you tasted.”

More: bisexual, Brendon Urie, coming out, demi lovato, Gay, janelle monae, Jason Mraz, kehlani, national coming out day, non-binary, Queer, tessa thompson

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