Coming out stories shared by those in the LGBTQ+ community can bring tears of both joy and pain. And while some of those experiences can trigger our own individual traumas around coming out, it can also bring positivity and hope to a community that continues to grow and embrace all walks of life and love. To honour those brave celebs who have shared their experiences, we’re paying tribute to all the coming out stories that will fill your heart with warmth, compassion and, most importantly, pride.
"With this platform I have, the privilege that I have, and knowing the pain and the difficulties and struggles that I have faced in my life, let alone what so many other people are facing, it absolutely felt just crucial and important for me to share that," Page told Winfrey. Meanwhile, in the Time cover story, Page revealed an anecdote from his childhood in Halifax where he’d asked his mom if he “could be [a boy] someday.”
Page has taken it upon himself to be vulnerable and share his personal experiences in an effort to fight back at transphobia and, hopefully, normalize the notion of gender fluidity for those who still resist its existence.
Amrit reflected on the episode in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. "I mean, with a moment like that, there isn't any editing that's necessary because the words, the conversation, the expressions, everything speaks for itself and everything speaks volumes,” he said of how the moment came across on television. “Putting aside that, it was a little bit of a somber moment, and there were some happy, there were some sad, but overall, I was very satisfied with how the finished product came out.”
The image was captioned with, “Ms. Carol Denise Betts" and the hashtag #LoveWins. Nash, who had been married twice prior, matter-of-factly expanded on her sexuality, expressing, “My marriage has absolutely nothing to do with gender, and it has everything to do with her soul." And when it comes to fans who felt shocked by the news, Nash had this to say, "I was not suppressing my sexuality my whole life. I love who I love. At one point in my life, I married twice, and I love those people. And today, I love this person. I've done everything I wanted to do on my own terms and my own way. So my choice now in a partner has nothing to do with who I've always been. It's a matter of who I am in this moment."
Lil Nas X
The singers' coming out story was met with widespread surprise from both fans and the media, but in an episode of HBO's The Shop: Uninterrupted, he spoke out about the positive impact of coming out at the height of fame. "If, for me, the 'cool dude with the song on top of everything,' to say this at any other time, I'm doing this for attention in my eyes. But if you're doing this while you're at the top, you know it's for real. It's showing it doesn't really matter, I guess."
After coming out, Reinhart, who publicly dated her co-star, Cole Sprouse, on and off for two years, told several media outlets that she was reluctant to share her sexuality with the world. She felt bisexuality had become somewhat of a "trend" in Hollywood. She also feared the judgement would come in droves. "I felt that since I've exclusively been in heteronormative relationships, it would be too easy for any outsider, especially the media, to vilify me and accuse me of faking it to get attention, and that's not something I wanted to deal with.”
“There’s a poignancy to being with someone older,” she’s said. “I think there’s a greater appreciation of time and what you have together and what’s important, and it can make the little things seem very small. It puts a kind of sharp light mixed with a sort of diffused light on something. I can’t say it any other way than there’s a poignancy to it, and a heightened sense of time and the value of time.”
She used the power of the show as the driving force to address her fans, and the world, about the role she plays in the LGBTQ+ community. Leigh chose to speak to her fans through an organization she co-founded with Angelo Lagdameo and her husband Nath West called Create Change. She delivered an honest proclamation that beautifully described what it felt like to be on the other end of a coming out story. Leigh elaborates, “My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest each take we filmed, every time presenting another opportunity to get those honest words out of my mouth. Though they don’t exactly match my personal dialogue, the heart behind it surely did.”
But it wasn’t until the singer was honoured with the Outstanding Music Artist title at the 2018 GLAAD Media Awards that she decided to make it clear that coming out as bisexual is not without its difficulties. During her video acceptance speech, Halsey had this to say on the subject, “I’m a young, bisexual woman, and I’ve spent a large part of my life trying to validate myself — to my friends, to my family, to myself — trying to prove that 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.”
Brian J. Smith
Having grown up in Texas, Smith found himself facing bullies that chipped away at his self worth on an on-going basis. “I could never be who I was. I was constantly having to check myself and make sure I wasn’t looking at someone too long or making someone feel uncomfortable,” he said.
Smith wasn’t ready to reveal his sexuality to his parents until he was 30, but their response may have taken him by surprise, and in fact, it also encouraged him to embrace parts of himself he had been closed off from. “They said they were just waiting for me to say something. They were a lot more advanced than I gave them credit for. I think that’s when I became OK with it, too. Just in terms of being, ‘Oh that’s the world, it’s not as dangerous as I thought it was.’”
As someone who has been incredibly open about his sexuality, Smith realized it was time to get just as comfortable with conversations about gender and how he identifies there as well. “I’ve sometimes sat and questioned, do I want a sex change? It’s something I still think about: ‘Do I want to?’ I don’t think it is,” Smith told Jamil during the interview. “When I saw the word non-binary, genderqueer, and I read into it, and I heard these people speaking, I was like, ‘Fuck, that is me.’”
But that all seemed to change when she fell in love with producer Bonnie Chance Roberts while working on the film, How to Build a Girl. Not one to publicly announce her sexuality, Feldstein kept the news of the relationship incredibly earnest with one very simple statement.
“Not to sound flippant, but I was in love with her and all of her, and she’s a woman. That’s not scaring me or deterring me. And it wasn’t just women in general; it was her specifically.”
“I was flooded with a sense of calm and peace because everything that I struggled with or felt discomfort around finally made sense to me. And once those floodgates opened and years of pent up pain and shame were released, I found the freedom to live my best life waiting for me just underneath.”
Eugene Lee Yang
Yang took to Twitter on the day of the video's release and had this to say, “I created this music video as my personal way of coming out as a proud gay man who has many unheard, specific stories to tell. I withheld because of fear and shame shaped by my background, but I promise to give my full truth in the rest of my life’s work.”
Instead, he explains, "We need respect for our humanity. We demand respect for our humanity, and we will give respect for everyone else so that we can all move forward. Everybody’s humanity is valid, even if we don’t understand it or like it. That’s what I would tell my younger self and anybody today that you must do. You must break free. It’s the only way you will survive."
During his speech, which he delivered in front of several of his Schitt’s Creek co-stars, including Annie Murphy, Emily Hampshire, Noah Reid and Sarah Levy, the star spoke to the pain of hiding his sexuality while falling in love with his best friend as a teen. This experience helped shape his coming out to a supportive group of family and friends. And for his part, he credits the show he built with his father as a means of helping future youth accept who they are with positivity and grace.
“When I found myself in a position to tell stories on a global scale, I seized the opportunity to make a television show that might, in its own way, offer some support, encouragement and love to those who might not have it in their homes or in their schools or in their day-to-day lives,” Levy said. “It’s a place where acceptance incubates joy and creates clarity that allows people to see themselves and each other more deeply. It’s fiction, yes. But I’ve always been told to lead by example, and this felt like a good place to start.”
But when she began dating Sarah Paulson, reporters and fans alike began to buzz around with more questions about the 32-year age gap than the fact that they are both women. But addressing those questions also forced her to acknowledge coming out. In speaking to with WNYC, Holland had this to say, “... I’ve been really wrestling with this lately because most of my relationships have been with women and I don’t like talking about them because I don’t like talking about the politics of it all because I’m not political about it. I think we’re ridiculous in this country about it. Ridiculous. And so, it’s awkward because if I talk about relationships in my life or people that have been in my life, or somebody I’ve been seeing for a while or this, that and the other thing, I’d like to be able to just say that, without having to stop and say, ‘so have you come out?’ No, I haven’t come out because I am out. I live out.”
Ocean took the opportunity to post a sincerely fervent open letter to the public on his website that beautifully described himself coming to terms with his past so he could remain happy in the present.
After a kiss between Betty and Veronica aired, Purser began tweeting her support of a relationship between the two characters while fans were chirping away about the episode on the platform.
Riverdale has been accused of “queerbaiting” on more than one occasion, often pushing the boundaries of characters' sexuality identities, but never fully coming through on the subject matter. As many fans began to come for Purser and call her out for tone-deaf tweets, the star took the opportunity to come out.
"I don't normally do this, but I figure now is as good a time as any to get personal," Purser tweeted. "I've only just recently come out as bisexual to my family and friends. 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 LGBTQ community." She dove a bit deeper by expressing, "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."
The star, who goes by they/them pronouns, explicitly referred to their mother's adverse reaction, claiming she went as far as pushing them towards conversation therapy under the pretense of “it wasn’t normal to be gay.” It was then that they realized acceptance and self-love was a journey they would have to go alone, and after coming out on the other end of it, Moore had this to say, "I went through hell to get here, and I'd go through it again because I love who I am. I carry so much of who I was inside of who I am now, and although I've suffered a lot of trauma, I still manage to love myself enough to be as brave as I was then."
Neil Patrick Harris
In 2006, the star came out as gay by letting his fans and the world know, "I am happy to dispel any rumours 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."
The actor credits his time on the set of Love, Simon as the inspiration to help him come out, especially since he was dating a man at the time and hiding it from his castmates, a direct reflection of the plotline of the film he was involved in. In an interview with The Hollywood Report, Lonsdale expanded on his experience, "Before we got to the filming wrap party, we just went out for drinks. Like, all the cast and I. I don't even know how I said it, but I just said it to the group, and they were, of course, really supportive, and I explained to them that I wish I had said something earlier. It was great. It's an interesting thing to go through that kind of growth and learn those lessons while your character is also learning those lessons. I'm very thankful for it."