15 Celebrities Whose Coming Out Stories Deserve to Be Celebrated

portia de rossi, ellen degeneresComing out stories can be joyful, sad, awkward, funny, triumphant -- or, in the case of celebrities, extremely public. When you're in the spotlight, revealing your sexuality to the world means you're really revealing your sexuality to the world, and that level of bravery and honesty deserves to be celebrated. And now, in light of the tragic shootings in Orlando, it's more important than ever to stand with the LGBT community and to share these moments of triumph.

Check out our slideshow of LGBT stars whose coming out stories both moved and inspired us -- and whose commitment to living their truth continues to make us proud!

 

Image via London Entertainment/Splash News

  • Neil Patrick Harris

    1

    How I Met Your Mother star Neil Patrick Harris addressed rumors that he was gay in 2006 by happily confirming them.

    "The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life," he told People magazine.

    He said:

    Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships. So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, 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.

    NPH is now married to actor/chef David Burtka; they are the parents of uber-adorable twins Harper and Gideon. 

  • Ellen Page

    2

    At a 2014 conference in Las Vegas benefiting LGBT youth, Juno star Ellen Page (who was 26 at the time) came out in a powerful speech, saying:

    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. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.

    And:

    I am tired of hiding and I am 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 all that pain.

  • Miley Cyrus

    3

    Fans love Miley Cyrus because she tells it like it is, and that's what she did in an interview with Elle UK in 2015 when she opened up about her sexuality. "I'm very open about it -- I'm pansexual," said Cyrus, who has also said that she came out to her mom as bisexual at the age of 14. 

  • Zachary Quinto

    4

    After playing a gay man whose boyfriend has AIDS in Angels in America on Broadway, Zachary Quinto (Star Trek's Dr. Spock) was moved to come out in a profile in New York magazine. On the sad topic of a gay teen's suicide, Quinto said, "As a gay man I look at that and say there’s a hopelessness that surrounds it, but as a human being I look at it and say 'Why? Where’s this disparity coming from, and why can’t we as a culture and society dig deeper to examine that?’ We’re terrified of facing ourselves."

    More from CafeMom: 15 LGBT Celebrities Who Give Us Cute Family Inspo

  • Ellen DeGeneres

    5

    It was truly groundbreaking when Ellen DeGeneres came out on Oprah Winfrey's show in 1997; as DeGeneres said last year, "I didn’t think I was going to come out, period."

    "I didn’t think I’d be coming out on a show, ever," she said.

    Shortly after DeGeneres came out, her character on the sitcom Ellen followed suit, breaking still more ground!

  • Cynthia Nixon

    6

    Cynthia Nixon didn't announce it to the world when she first started a relationship with Christine Marinoni while campaigning for reduction in class sizes in NYC schools, but her Sex and the City castmates noticed. ("They’d be on the phone and writing speeches," Kristin Davis said. "And I thought, She’s really into this."). Finally, after intense media scrutiny, Nixon's publicist suggested she confirm the rumors.

    "I was like, 'Really, we can just confirm?'" said Nixon. "So that’s what we did. It was so fantastic."

  • Jonathan Knight

    7

    The New Kids on the Block member was technically outed by ex-flame and fellow '80s pop star Tiffany, who told talk show host Andy Cohen that her former boyfriend was gay in 2011, but Knight says his band members and plenty of other people knew about it already. 

    "Even when the band got back together in 2008, New Kids fans knew I was gay," said Knight. "Everyone did."

  • Jodie Foster

    8

    The iconic actor/director Jodie Foster playfully and brilliantly confirmed years of rumors about her sexuality -- sort of -- during her acceptance speech at the 2013 Golden Globes for the Cecil B. DeMille award.

    "I have a sudden urge to say something that I've never been able to air in public," she began. 

    "I'm just gonna put it out there loud and proud ... I am single. Yes I am. I am single."

    So while Foster didn't exactly say she was gay, she echoed a speech she made in 2007 at a Hollywood Reporter breakfast when she thanked "my beautiful Cydney," referring to then-girlfriend Cydney Bernard. Put it all together and it's as much of a revelation as anybody will ever get from the ultra-private Foster!

    More from CafeMom: 13 Celeb Parents Who Have Major Pride in Their LGBT Kids

  • Jesse Tyler Ferguson

    9

    Modern Family star Jesse Tyler Ferguson's coming out story definitely falls into the "awkward" category: The actor was caught stealing gay porn when he was 14 and his parents found out:

    When I stole the porn it was like, 'OK, are you gay?' And I was, like, 14. I didn’t really know. I didn’t know what I was going through. But then in my later teen years I did come out to [my dad], and it was like he needed to be told three times. ... [When I was 21] he asked me if I had a girlfriend at the time, and I was like, 'Dad! You know I’m gay, right?'

  • Sara Gilbert

    10

    Sara Gilbert says she knew she was gay back when she was dating former Roseanne co-star Johnny Galecki of The Big Bang Theory, but she didn't publicly come out until 2010 while promoting the premiere of The Talk. She's now married to musician Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes.

  • Wanda Sykes

    11

    Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes didn't just reveal her sexuality when she came out in 2008, she revealed her married status (Sykes had legally married her wife in California the month before). 

    "I’m proud to be a woman," she said. "I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay."

  • Lance Bass

    12

    The former 'N Sync member came out publicly in 2006, but he came out to his bandmates earlier -- after Joey Fatone found out the truth by accident.

    "Joey walked in on me with the guy I was dating just kind of sitting on my lap," said Bass. "Straight guys don't do that." 

    For his part, Fatone was like "'Dude, I don't care. I have so many gay friends -- I don't care,'" said Bass.

    More from CafeMom: 8 Cutest Celebrity Same-Sex Couples (PHOTOS)

  • Sean Hayes

    13

    Sean Hayes came out publicly in 2013, but the Will & Grace star has said that he feels he owes the gay community an apology for coming out too late.

    "I didn’t want the responsibility, I didn’t know how to handle the responsibility of speaking for the gay community," Hayes said.

    He continued:

    I always felt like I owed them a huge apology for coming out too late. Some people in the gay community were very upset with me for not coming out on their terms. They don’t stop to think about what’s going on in somebody’s personal life, and the struggles that they’re having. It was all very scary. We got death threats. It was a really rough time for me, but I was also having the time of my life.

  • Chris Colfer

    14

    During an appearance on Chelsea Lately, Glee star Chris Colfer announced that, like his character, he's gay. 

    "Your character on the show's gay. We know that you're gay," said host Chelsea Handler. "That's good for you. Congratulations. Don't be shy about that. Seriously. You shouldn't be shy about that because every time ... an actor like you is helping a zillion other people that are scared to talk about their sexuality so good for you."

    "Thank you," replied Colfer. "You know what my answer to that question was prior to coming out -- was that I was straight as every other actor in Hollywood."

    More from CafeMom: 19 Proud Bisexual Celebrities (PHOTOS)

  • Portia de Rossi

    15
    According to Portia de Rossi, it wasn't long before she married Ellen DeGeneres that she revealed her sexuality.
     
    "When I really, truly came out was at the Golden Globes, when Arrested Development was nominated," she said, adding:
    Ellen and I had been together for a month, and I was very, very nervous going to that because I knew that I was going to meet up with her after the show and that there was press. That was the first time that we actually stepped out together as a couple, but for me, it was the first time that I'd stepped out as a gay woman, really.
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