Although the current political climate has hampered some of the progressive strides, the LGBTQ community continues to speak up more than ever, and people are sharing their personal coming-out stories, including those Hollywood celebrities in the public eye.
In the past few years, stars have opened up about their sexual orientation, be it gay or bisexual, including actors Kristen Stewart, Colton Haynes, and Ellen Page and singers like Greyson Chance, Frank Ocean and rapper ILoveMakonnen. Even legendary singer-songwriter Barry Manilow finally came out.
Other celebrities are also using their social media to share their stories, like Bella Thorne, 13 Reasons Why's Brandon Flynn and Heroes actor Thomas Dekker. All these famous faces are helping the global effort to spread LGBTQ acceptance and positivity and seeing how these stories impact their followers is very empowering.
Here are 25 celebrities who shared their stories about coming out as gay or bisexual and are inspiring others to do the same.
1. BELLA THORNE
How she came out: The Famous in Love star first confirmed that she is bisexual on Twitter in August 2016, after photos of her kissing another girl popped up on Thorne's social media. When a fan asked her if she was bisexual, she wrote, “Yes.” Her followers quickly expressed their support. “Aww thank you all for the accepting tweets from everyone,” she wrote. “I love you guys.”
Why she inspires: Since then, Thorne had a has few more interactions with her fans on Twitter. One asked how they should come out to their family, and the actress responded, “Honesty and bluntness. You can’t hide who you are forever and be happy. be strong boo.”
2. KRISTEN STEWART
How she came out: The talented Kristen Stewart never shied away from showing PDA with the one she loves – from her former boyfriend, Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, to girlfriend Stella Maxwell – but the actress finally declared something about her sexual orientation when she hosted Saturday Night Live in 2017, saying she was “like, so gay.”
Why she inspires: But she's still open for anything, once telling The Guardian, “The whole issue of sexuality is so grey. I’m just trying to acknowledge that fluidity, that greyness, which has always existed... You’re not confused if you’re bisexual. It’s not confusing at all. For me, it’s quite the opposite.”
3. MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ
How she came out: Fast & Furious star Michelle Rodriguez has been candid about being bisexual since 2015, having been linked to a few Hollywood celebs, including Zac Efron and Cara Delevingne. Rodriguez spoke publicly about her love life when she told Entertainment Weekly, “I’ve gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too f***ing curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks.”
Why she inspires: The actress also hopes she can help others who might be struggling with their sexuality. She once told Gay Star News, “Maybe by me opening my big fat mouth like I usually do and stepping up and owning who I am, maybe it might inspire somebody else to do the same.” (via Huffington Post).
4. BRANDON FLYNN
How he came out: The handsome Flynn, best known as teen jock Justin in the hit Netflix series 13 Reasons Why, shared his thoughts on being gay in an Instagram post last September.
Why he inspires: Standing up for marriage equality in Australia, Flynn, who has been romantically linked to singer-songwriter Sam Smith, wrote on his post, “We’ve been scared sh**less our whole lives, thanks to all the stigmas that surround us. Equality takes courage, it worries me that too many people in this world lack the balls to stand up for what is right.”
5. ALIA SHAWKAT
How she came out: The Arrested Development and Search Party actress has played many quirky, headstrong characters in her career. Shawkat told Out last year, “I was a tomboy growing up, and I remember my mom asking me when I was 10, ‘Are you attracted to boys or girls?’ I said ‘I don’t know' Now I consider myself bisexual, and I think balancing my male and female energies has been a big part of me growing as an actor.”
Why she inspires: Alia further explained, “As a woman, an Arab-American, and a member of the LGBTQ community, I have to use whatever voice I have. There’s no more delicacy in being quiet.”
6. AARON CARTER
How he came out: The former teen heartthrob and signer, who just released LøVë, his first album in 15 years, posted a very emotional tweet last August, explaining how he “started to find boys and girls attractive” as a teen, and had “an experience with a male” who he “worked with and grew up with.” More importantly, Carter wrote how “a weight and a burden” had been lifted in being able to share this with his fans.
Why he inspires: Carter opened up to People earlier this year, “I was really open and honest about my attraction to men and women, and I got a lot of support from it. Whether people believe it or not, I could not care less. It’s my personal life, not yours. It belongs to me.”
7. NATALIE MORALES
How she came out: The actress, best known for playing Aziz Ansari's love interest on Parks and Recreation, penned an essay for Amy Poehler’s “Smart Girls” site and talked about her sexual fluidity. She wrote that she's “not attracted specifically to any type of gender,” but instead is “attracted to people.”
Why she inspires: “I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else but if it’s easier for you to understand me, what I’m saying is that I’m queer,” Morales added. “What queer means to me is just simply that I’m not straight. That’s all. It’s not scary, even though that word used to be really, really scary to me.
8. BARRY MANILOW
How he came out: The legendary singer-songwriter, who has been fiercely private about his personal life for his entire career, finally opened up last year about his 40-year relationship with Garry Kief, who he married a few years ago. Manilow confessed to People, “I thought I would be disappointing his fans if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything.”
Why he inspires: While Manilow was fearful of what his predominately female fans would think, he was surprised at how supportive they've been. “I didn’t know what was going to happen ... but I should have known better because my fans, and frankly the public, they care about my happiness and I have always known that,” the singer told Reuters.
9. COLTON HAYNES
How he came out: Although he had been openly gay with his family and friends, Arrow and Teen Wolf actor Colton Haynes came out publicly in 2016 after speculation arose in a cryptic Tumblr post about his “secret gay past.” Haynes told EW at the time, “I didn’t feel like I owed anyone anything. I think in due time, everyone has to make those decisions when they’re ready, and I wasn’t yet. But I felt like I was letting people down by not coming forward with the rest of what I should have said.”
Why he inspires: Haynes has been very candid about how as an actor in Hollywood, he was told he had to play straight. “I was so tired of not being myself, of having to lower my voice for certain things and having to not dress the way I wanted to dress,” he told Andy Cohen on his Sirius XM show last June. “It was life-changing when I came out.”
10. ELLEN PAGE
How she came out: Actress Ellen Page, of Juno and X-Men fame, proudly come out on her terms in 2014 when she spoke at the Time To THRIVE conference, hosted by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. “I am here today because I am gay,” she said. “I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility. I also do it selfishly, because I’m tired of hiding. And I’m tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of that pain.”
Why she inspires: When director Brett Ratner was accused by multiple women of sexual harassment and assault late last year, Page decided to share her story on Facebook about when they worked together on X Men: The Last Stand in 2006. Page claimed Ratner crudely outed her as gay, when she was just 18 and before she was ready. Page concluded, “Don’t stop demanding our civil rights. I am grateful to anyone and everyone who speaks out against abuse and trauma they have suffered. You are breaking the silence. You are revolution.”
11. MARIA BELLO
How she came out: The actress, who currently stars the long-running show NCIS, came out in 2013. She wrote a very touching essay for the New York Times, in which she told her then 12-year-old son, who she shares with ex Dan McDermott, that she had fallen in love with a woman. His response was, “Love is love, whatever you are.”
Why she inspires: This lead her to write a book, Whatever … Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, which talks about how labels can be useful – or limiting.“My hope is that other people will continue to ask questions of themselves,” she told the Advocate, “and embrace the labels that empower them and reject those that don’t.”
12. WENTWORTH MILLER
How he came out: The Prison Break star came out in 2013 in a letter to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, thanking them for the invite by informing them he couldn't attend because “As a gay man I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government.”
Why he inspires: While he had been open about his sexuality with friends and family, much like Colton Haynes, he felt like there was an onscreen persona to maintain. "The people onscreen aren't the characters they're playing," the hunky star told Details (via E!). "They're our projection of who we want them to be. I think it's possible to have a man-crush if you're not gay or to have a crush on a guy you know to be gay if you're a woman. Attraction is fluid, and I think our imaginations are strong enough to hold a container for all of this complexity, even if we know on a subconscious level something's not what it appears to be."
13. FRANK OCEAN
How he came out: The R&B artist came out as bisexual in an open letter on Tumblr in 2012, right around the time his chart-topping album Channel Orange was released. Ocean told a story about loving a male friend when he was younger. "Whoever you are, whatever you are ... I'm starting to think we're a lot alike,” he wrote in the letter and detailed how the friend reciprocated on some level but ultimately rejected Ocean's desire to name their love.
Why he inspires: While Ocean never really talked more about his candid Tumblr post, the singer did speak up again after the horrific shooting in 2016 at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. He wrote in another emotional post, “Many hate us and wish we didn’t exist,” adding, “Many don’t see anything wrong with passing down the same old values that send thousands of kids into suicidal depression each year. So we say pride and we express love for who and what we are. Because who else will in earnest?
14. MATT BOMER
How he came out: The handsome American Horror Story and The Last Tycoon star publicly came out in 2012, thanking his husband, Simon Halls, and their children at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards while receiving the New Generation Arts and Activism Award for his activism in the fight against HIV/AIDS. “I’d really especially like to thank my beautiful family: Simon, Kit, Walker, Henry. Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment.”
Why he inspires: The hardest part of his journey was coming out to his deeply religious family as a young man. He opened up to Out magazine in 2017 about it. “Telling your family is a huge, huge deal. I really view my life as divided between the time before I told my parents, and the time after. And the decisions I made, and the life I lived, before and after, are vastly different. It’s night and day.”
15. JORDAN GAVARIS
How he came out: The Orphan Black actor, who played the hilarious and very gay Felix Dawkins on the show, came out last year, talking to Vulture magazine. When asked about his sexual orientation, he said, “Oh, I'm gay,” but added, “Nobody ever asks me. I’ve never been asked.”
Why he inspires: Gavaris explained further. “I guess that’s where I’m at in terms of coming out publicly: I had this position when I started on the show that it shouldn’t matter. And I believe that. I hope that one day, the world gets to a place where you don’t need to politicize your sexuality any more than someone needs to politicize their race--that we can just act and we can exist in this Zeitgeist, telling stories about one another."
16. SHANNON PURSER
How she came out: Shannon Purser, best known as the poor doomed Barb on Stranger Things and also stars in TV series Rise, came out as bisexual last May. “I’ve only recently come out as bisexual to my family and friends,” Purser wrote in a tweet (via People). “It’s something I am still processing and trying to understand and I don’t like talking about it too much. I’m very very new to the LGBT community.”
Why she inspires: Purser later tweeted some more thoughts. “Getting comfortable with your sexuality is a process. It's going to be ok. I wish I'd known that sooner. Another thing I wish I'd known about sexuality is to take it slow. It can define you as much as you want it to.
How he came out: The Atlanta rapper, who broke out with the 2014 smash "Club Goin Up On A Tuesday" featuring Drake, tweeted about his sexual orientation earlier last year. “As a fashion icon, I can’t tell u about everybody else’s closet,” he posted. “I can only tell u about mine, and it’s time I’ve come out. And since y’all love breaking news, here’s some old news to break, I’m gay. And now I’ve told u about my life, maybe u can go life yours.”
Why he inspires: ILoveMakonnen (real name Makonnen Sheran) once talked about homophobia in the hip-hop/rap world. He once told XXL magazine, “So y’all need to stop saying all that gay this, gay that like it’s something wrong with that...feels better about themselves in this gay designer shoes or this gay designer clothes. So you going to be bashing gay people, you know what I’m saying? I’m here to break all that bullsh**.”
18. SARAH PAULSON
How she came out: The Emmy-winning actress of American Horror Story and The People vs. O.J. Simpson talked about her sexual orientation with the New York Times in 2016. “If my life choices had to be predicated based on what was expected of me from a community on either side, that’s going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don’t want to feel that. What I can say absolutely is that I am in love, and that person happens to be Holland Taylor.” Paulson and the former Two and a Half Men star have been together for two years.
Why she inspires: Paulson has never felt the need to come out, per se. She once told The Edit, “I am a woman of a certain age who chose not to have children, and who has made my career my priority. I am the captain of my own ship, and I’ve never looked to anyone else to validate that, or tell me it’s okay."
19. ANDERSON COOPER
How he came out: The CNN journalist finally made it public he was gay in 2012 when he wrote an email to Daily Beast's Andrew Sullivan (via Huffington Post). “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,” he wrote.
Why he inspires: Cooper went on to say that in not speaking up he was probably doing more harm than good. “It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something, something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true. I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.”
20. SARA RAMIREZ
How she came out: The former Grey’s Anatomy star, who played bisexual doctor Callie on the show for years, came out in 2016 while supporting True Colors: 40 to None Summit in Los Angeles, an event named after the 40 percent of youth experiencing homelessness who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Why she inspires: Here's what she said about how she felt and why owning all of her “identities” was so important: “Because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides, I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth's voices to be heard, and that support our youth in owning their own complex narratives so that we can show up for them in the ways they need us to."
21. RUTINA WESLEY
How she came out: The former True Blood actress, now starring in the OWN show Queen Sugar, sort of came out with a series of sweet Instagram messages, revealing her engagement to her girlfriend, Chef Shonda, and calling her the “light of my life.”
Why she inspires: Wesley posted a few loving photos of the couple, but also one that included this message: “Overthinking is our biggest cause of unhappiness, keep yourself occupied. Keep your mind off things that don’t help you. Think positive.”
22. KEIYNAN LONSDALE
How he came out: The Australia actor--best known for his roles in the CW show The Flash and the recent romantic comedy Love, Simon--talked about his bisexuality in an Instagram post last year. “I like to take risks with how I dress, I like girls, & I like guys (yes), I like growing, I like learning, I like who I am and I really like who I’m becoming,” he wrote in the post.
Why he inspires: In his powerful post, Lonsdale wrote more about his feelings and why he doesn't want to hide anymore. “I gotta take the next step & actually embrace who I am, which is pretty exciting. Not faking sh** anymore, not apologising for falling in love with people no matter their gender. I've become bored of being insecure, ashamed, scared... no one should feel like that about themselves, especially when there is so much good life to live... The truth is we are all family, we're all one.”
23. THOMAS DEKKER
How he came out: The actor, known for his work on The Sarah Connor Chronicles and Heroes, opened up last year about being gay after being inadvertently outed by a “prominent gay man” (it was TV producer and former Heroes writer Bryan Fuller; read full story here). Dekker responded in a heartfelt Instagram post, “While it is an odd situation, I thank him because it presents a prime opportunity for me to publicly say that I am indeed a man who proudly loves other men. In fact, this April, I married my husband and I could not be happier.”
Why he inspires: Dekker wanted to come out his way because he didn't want to be “robbed of the glorious joy that belongs to me.” He added, “If we are to stand strong in the gay community, our mission should be support, not exclusion; love, not shame. I choose not to look back on the past with a regretful heart but rather focus on the future with a hopeful one. A future where myself and all others can feel free to express their true selves with honor and dignity...Be proud of who you are. No matter how long it takes.”
24. GREYSON CHANCE
How he came out: The singer/musician, who became an Internet sensation in 2010 when a video of him performing Lady Gaga's “Paparazzi” went viral, also used his Instagram to announce he's gay. Posting last year, Chance said he was inspired to come out by a “brave individual,” writing, “I came to fully recognize that I was gay when I was sixteen. I decided not to publicize my sexuality largely due to a matter of privacy, as I was still trying to find comfort and confidence within my own skin.”
Why he inspires: The young singer added on his post, “While this message is most definitely overdue, I encourage anyone who is navigating their sexuality to devote as much time as they need to the process of finding self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-love. Hell, for me, it took years to write this message. Nevertheless, I figured now was the time to let a few more friends know that I am happy, I am here for you, and I am proud of who I am.”
25. CODY ALLAN
How he came out: The country singer and CMT host came out as gay last January on social media. “This is not a choice I made, but something I’ve known about myself my whole life. Through life’s twists and turns, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, successes, failures--I’ve landed on this day, a day when I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.”
Why he inspires: Allan continued with some thoughtful words: “My hope for the future is to live the most honest, authentic, loving, and open life possible. Here's to being happy with yourself, no matter who you are, who you love, where you come from, or what cards life has dealt you.”