Out of the closet: Ellen Degeneres, Anderson Cooper, John Amaechi & 22 other celebrities who say they’re gay
by Rachel Ogbu
In line with our #TheGayDebate #IssueOfTheWeek, we take a quick look at 25 Hollywood celebrities who talk about their sexuality and how they feel coming out of the closet even in an industry that still stereotypes gays.
Some of them got married to hide the stigma, other tried to keep it a secret as long as they could. Celebrities like Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan described themselves as bi-sexuals. Are these the first of the brave ones?
See our top 25 list here:
- Zachary Quinto
Until now, Zachary Quinto hasn’t spoken publicly about his sexual orientation. But in a new interview with New York Magazine, the actor who played Spock in 2009’s “Star Trek” movie and was Sylar on TV’s “Heroes” opens up for the first time about life as “a gay man.”
- Ricky Martin
Out Date: March 29, 2010
Quote: “I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am. To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with. These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn’t even know existed.”
Out Date: 1973 as bisexual; 1988 as gay, after his split with wife Renate Blauel
Forum: Rolling Stone interview
“[Coming out] gave me the freedom to be who I was for the rest of my life. I don’t have to hide around corners. The worse thing is to be afraid of who you are — it’s horrible.”
- John Amaechi
The first openly gay former NBA player says prejudice against homosexuals is rife in British sport.
Amaechi retired from the NBA in 2004 and acknowledged in 2007 that he was gay.
In the end, I asked myself why I’d bothered to hide at all. I’m not sure why I felt the need to stay away from those darkly alluring American nightclubs. I suppose I feared the aggressive sexuality, the love of the glitter of celebrity and gossip.
Perhaps I feared I would enjoy them a little too much, see what I’d been missing all these basketball years, and never want to leave.
- Ellen Degeneres
Out Date: April 1997
Forum: She wrote it into her sitcom in a highly-rated episode of “Ellen” — a very meta-outing; followed up with a Time magazine interview
“I never wanted to be ‘the lesbian actress.’ I never wanted to be the spokesperson for the gay community. Ever. I did it for my own truth.”
- Neil Patrick Harris
Out Date: November 2006
Forum: People mag interview, natch
“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 and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love.”
- Cynthia Nixon
Out Date: 2004
Forum: Gave several interviews that same year; no official coming out, but was outed once she started living with her now-fiancée Christine Marinoni
“In terms of sexual orientation I don’t really feel I’ve changed … I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”
- Adam Lambert
Out Date: June 2009
Forum: Rolling Stone interview; heavy applications of guyliner
Quote: “I’m proud of my sexuality. I embrace it. It’s just another part of me …Right after the finale, I almost started talking about it to the reporters, but I thought, ‘I’m going to wait for Rolling Stone, that will be cooler.'”
- Wanda Sykes
Out Date: November 2008
Forum: At a gay rights rally in Vegas
“I felt like I was being attacked, personally attacked — our community was attacked. Now, I gotta get in their face. I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman. And I’m proud to be gay.”
- Sean Hayes
Out Date: March 2010 officially; unofficially in his eight years playing Jack McFarland on “Will & Grace”
Forum: Interview with the Advocate
“I never have had a problem saying who I am… I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never.”
- George Michael
Out Date: April 1998 after that whole bathroom whoopsie-daisy
Forum: CNN interview
“I feel stupid and I feel reckless and weak for having allowed my sexuality to be exposed this way, but I don’t feel any shame whatsoever. I don’t think I ever wanted to address [my sexuality] and certainly not quite this way.”
- Rosie O’Donnell
Out Date: January 2002
Forum: First guest starring as a gay woman on “Will & Grace” (following in Ellen’s footsteps, obvs); followed up with announcing it officially in a stand-up gig at a benefit
“I’m a dyke! I don’t know why people make such a big deal about the gay thing … People are confused, they’re shocked, like this is a big revelation to somebody.”
- Lady Gaga
Her bisexuality has been an ongoing problem in her relationships with men.
“The fact that I’m into women, they’re all intimidated by it,” she told the magazine. “It makes them uncomfortable. They’re like, ‘I don’t need to have a threesome, I’m happy with just you.’ ”
- Lindsay Lohan
Would she classify herself as bisexual? “Yeah.”
“I don’t want to classify myself,” she continued. “First of all, you never know what’s going to happen — tomorrow, in a month, a year from now, five years from now. I appreciate people, and it doesn’t matter who they are, and I feel blessed to be able to feel comfortable enough with myself that I can say that.”
- Sir Ian McKellen
McKellen became a household name, winning millions of new fans as Gandalf the Grey, the wise wizard in The Lord Of The Rings films, and now he returns in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. He is also the mutant villain Magneto in the X-Men films
McKellen has been a high-profile campaigner for gay rights since he came out, at 49, during a BBC radio interview. When I came out, I told my stepmother Gladys, and she just said she had known for years and was glad I wasn’t lying any more,’ he says. ‘Before that, I presumed it would be bad for my career.
‘In the Fifties and Sixties, the life of a gay man was a secret. Homosexuality was illegal, so you didn’t draw attention to yourself. But coming out is the best thing I ever did and I’ve never met a gay person who didn’t think the same.
- Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster ended years of rampant media speculation when she casually came out of the closet while accepting her Cecil B. Demille award at the Golden Globes Sunday night.
- Anderson Cooper
CNN Anderson Cooper’s sexuality had been scrutinized for years but it wasn’t until July 2012 that he finally addressed the issue when he came out in an email to his friend and fellow journalist, Andrew Sullivan, this summer.
In Cooper’s message, which was posted on Sullivan’s blog, “The Dish,” on The Daily Beast, the CNN anchor states, “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be.
- Tracy Chapman
Author Alice Walker discussed her affair in the 90s with folksy alternative music artist Tracy Chapman in a recent interview. She said she didn’t want to serve as anyone’s poster woman for lesbianism, and that’s why she’s kept quiet about it up until now.
She became known as a supported of civil liberties and minority rights, as well as gender equality and sexual freedom.
- Derren Brown
He has sparked controversy in the past – with stunts such as playing Russian roulette and holding a seance on screen.
In 2008, he revealed he is in a “perfect” relationship with a man – and apologised to his admiring female fans.
Derren has come out so that his sexuality does not become a “dark secret”.
He said: “I’ve been with my partner for a year – and it’s perfect.
“Coming out when you are in the public eye is one of those things that isn’t an issue to yourself, your friends or your family. But you have to make a statement about it.
“You have to be open and up front – or you end up turning it into a dark secret in your mind.”
- Frank Ocean
No mainstream black male hip-hop artist had ever come out until Frank Ocean did in July 2012, just before he debuted his first solo album, “Channel Orange.”
The singer-songwriter posted a Tumblr post which read, in part, “4 summers ago, I met somebody. I was 19. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Everyday almost.
- Chris Colfer
The “Glee” actor came out on the “Chelsea Lately Show” in December 2009.
- Jim Parsons
New York Times scribe Patrick Healy confirmed “The Big Bang Theory” star’s sexuality as part of a profile.
The revelation came late in the article, when Healy describes the 39-year-old actor’s role in the 2011 revival of Larry Kramer’s HIV/AIDS crisis drama, “The Normal Heart.”
Wrote Healy: ‘”The Normal Heart” resonated with him on a few levels: Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship, and working with an ensemble again onstage was like nourishment, he said.”
- Portia Lee James DeGeneres (born Amanda Lee Rogers; 31 January 1973), known professionally as Portia de Rossi
She was married to documentary film-maker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999, initially part of a plan to get a green card, but she did not go through with it. She said that “it just obviously wasn’t right for me”. In a 2010 interview on Good Morning America, she explained that as a young actress, she was fearful of being exposed as a lesbian.
In 2005, she opened up publicly about her sexual orientation in interviews with Details and The Advocate. She became engaged when DeGeneres proposed with a 3-carat diamond ring.They were married at their Beverly Hills home on 16 August 2008.
What do you think?