Influencers and Celebrities Come Out for Equality in 2018

by HRC Staff

Whether it’s coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally, countless actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and more have helped advance the movement for equality. In honor of National Coming Out Day, which we celebrate each year on October 11, here are a few of the standout coming out moments.

Post submitted by former Editorial Producer, Print and Digital Media Rokia Hassanein

Whether it’s coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, or as an ally, countless actors, athletes, musicians, politicians and YouTube sensations have helped advance the movement for equality. In honor of National Coming Out Day, which we celebrate each year on October 11, here are a few of the standout coming out moments in pop culture from the last year. 

Janelle Monáe
Singer, songwriter, rapper and actor Janelle Monáe revealed in April of this year that she identifies as pansexual.

“Being a queer black woman in America… someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-*ss motherf*cker,” Monae told Rolling Stone in an interview.

Though she originally identified as bisexual, Monáe said she “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.” 

Josie Totah
In August 2018, actor and 2018 HRC Visibility Award recipient Josie Totah came out as transgender in a powerful op-ed for Time.

“My pronouns are she, her and hers,” Totah wrote. “I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female. And my name is Josie Totah.”

Totah explained that watching transgender teen and former HRC Foundation Youth Ambassador Jazz Jennings live her journey to her authentic self on television was powerful for her.

HRC was proud to honor the young trailblazer with the HRC Visibility Award at the 2018 HRC Salt Lake Gala

Rutina Wesley
Actor Rutina Wesley announced her engagement to her partner on Instagram.

Wesley posted a photo with her partner and the caption, “#FromTheInsideOut You are the sunshine of my life…”

HRC was proud to present Wesley with the Visibility Award at the 2018 HRC Louisiana Gala Dinner. 

Tessa Thompson
Actor Tessa Thompson came out as an LGBTQ woman in June.

“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… I want everyone else to have that freedom and support that I have from my loved ones,” Thompson said in an interview.

Singer, songwriter and dancer Kehlani came out as queer in November 2017.

Questions about Kehlani’s sexuality come to light when she released the song “Honey,” in which she talks about a relationship with another woman.

In an interview with MTV, the performer, whose full name is Kehlani Ashley Parrish, said that she’s “very openly queer.”

Alyson Stoner
Actor, singer, dancer and model Alyson Stoner came out as a member of the LGBTQ community through a powerful March Teen Vogue op-ed.

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

Jessica Platt
Canadian hockey player Jessica Platt came out as transgender in a heartfelt Instagram post in January. 

Reece King
Popular Instagram model Reece King came out as bisexual in early 2018. King opened up about his sexuality and biphobia in an interview with the Gay Times.

“I think a lot more creative LGBTQ people have taken the limelight, especially on social media. We see them on mood boards at shoots for inspiration,” King said. “If people just keep doing their thing unapologetically, it breaks down the barriers in more homophobic environments.”

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto
Visual and performance artist Zulfikar Ali Bhutto came out as queer in a video for the “The Turmeric Project,” which features LGBTQ South Asians living in the U.S.

“People think you’re either queer or you’re Muslim, and that somehow those two things are in opposition to one another,” Bhutto said of the negative reactions to his coming out story. 
Renitta Shannon
Georgia Rep. Renitta Shannon used the eve of 2017 National Coming Out Day to come out as bisexual, joining several other openly LGBTQ state legislators in Georgia. 

Elle Mills
In a powerful video, YouTuber Elle Mills came out as bisexual in November 2017. 

Sam Smith
In an October 2017 interview with The Sunday Times, singer and songwriter Sam Smith opened up about gender identity and came out as non-cisgender.

“I don’t know what the title would be, but I feel just as much woman as I am man,” Smith said.

Jessie Paege
YouTuber and social influencer Jessie Paege came out as bisexual in a pair of videos in June.

Paege continues to use her platform to advocate for LGBTQ people, including teaming up with HRC in an exclusive video to encourage people to turn out and vote in the midterm elections.

John Kim
In October 2017, John Kim, the captain of Virginia Military Institute’s swim team, came out as gay and received immense support from his teammates and community.

“By telling my story, I hope that I can help anyone who is struggling to come out,” Kim wrote for OutSports. “I realized I was gay in high school, and it still took me until I was 22 to feel comfortable telling my story.”

Kim’s inspiring story featured its struggles, including enduring the social pressures that prevent many people from coming out.

“After coming out, I can now live fully by the motto: Be you, be authentic and have fun doing it,” he wrote.

Alex G
YouTuber, singer and songwriter Alex G came out as bisexual in an October 2017 video, and wrote that she hopes it “encourages you to be your bravest, biggest self.” 

Robert Páez
In an April essay for Outsports, Venezuelan Olympic diver Robert Páez came out as gay.

“In sharing my story, I hope to help make homosexuality as common of a word as heterosexuality,” Páez wrote. “Accepting ourselves and respecting ourselves are big first steps.”

After gaining Canadian citizenship, Ugandan rapper Keko come out as lesbian. 

Keko won 2016 Female Artist of the Year at the Uganda Hip Hop Awards.

Matt Ivers
In January, professional ice skater Matt Evers came out as gay.

“I live my life by example, and I want to show young people that what you feel or how you were born isn't something bad,” Evers said in an interview with Attitude.

Terrence Stone
R&B artist Terrence Stone, formerly known as Aaron Thomas, came out as bisexual in an interview with Philadelphia magazine in January of this year.

“One of my biggest inspirations behind my coming-out story is my ex-boyfriend James… He taught me a lot about myself,” Stone said.

Alison Van Uytvanck
Tennis star Alison Van Uytvanck announced that she identifies as gay after rising to fame with her 2018 Wimbledon performance.

“I just think it’s a good thing because I have been able to come out as a gay person,” she said in an interview. “I came out because it made me feel good.”

Felix Jaehn
DJ Felix Jaehn, who rose to popularity for his remix of the song “Cheerleader,” came out as bisexual in a February 2018 interview with Germany’s ZEIT magazine.

“Now I dream of finding the person I want to share my life with, man or woman,” he said.

Lee Pace
Actor Lee Pace came out as a member of the queer community on Twitter in March. 

Joey Pollari
In an interview with The Advocate, actor Joey Pollari publicly came out as gay, although he noted that he’s been out to his friends and family since he was 18.

Pollari stars in Love, Simon, a groundbreaking coming of age movie about a gay teen. In it, he plays one of the protagonists’ potential love interests.  

Bex Taylor-Klaus
Actor Bex Taylor-Klaus came out as non-binary in July of this year on Twitter. 

“Enby” is a term used to describe non-binary. In 2016, Taylor-Klaus came out as gay, tweeting “hello my name is bex and yes the rumours are true I am v gay.”

Sandra Forgues
French olympic kayaker and gold medalist Sandra Forgues came out as transgender in an April interview with French publication L’Equipe.

“I live a dream,” Forgues told L’Equipe of her transition. “Until then, I had a really successful social, family and professional life. I was engaged in a billion things. But my intimate life was in a prison. I always thought it would be one or the other.”

Abbi Jacobson
Actor Abbi Jacobson came out as an LGBTQ woman in April 2018 in an interview with Vanity Fair.  

“I kind of go both ways; I date men and women,” Jacobson said. “They have to be funny, doing something they love. I don’t know — I’ve never really been interviewed about this before.”

Kevin McHale
In April, actor, singer and radio personality Kevin McHale came out as a member of the LGBTQ community



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Todd Harrity
Todd Harrity became the first male professional squash player to come out as openly gay in April 2018.

“I am gay, and I’m ready to live my life as an openly gay man,” Harrity tweeted with a statement. “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. I also think it is best for everyone around me, so that we can more fully understand each other.”

Landon Foster
Former University of Kentucky punter Landon Foster came out as gay in a June essay in Outsports, noting that he hopes his story inspires people and promotes inclusion and acceptance in the sports world.

“I am gay,” he wrote. “Now I will do everything I can to contribute as much to diversity and inclusion in both the sports and business worlds.”

Brendon Urie
Entertainer Brendon Urie came out as pansexual in July.

“I guess you could qualify me as pansexual because I really don't care,” the Panic! At The Disco frontman said in an interview with PAPER Magazine. “If a person is great, then a person is great… I guess this is me coming out as pansexual.”

Panic! At The Disco has been an active supporter of HRC in the past, collaborating on a t-shirt to go along with their single “Girls/Girls/Boys” and is has participated in HRC’s Equality Rocks campaign. 

Bradley Kim  
Air Force football player Bradley Kim made history in 2018 as the first active football player at a service academy to come out.

“The biggest reason I want to share this is to be able to reach people who are in similar situations struggling with the same things I have struggled with,” Kim, a safety with the Air Force Falcons, told OutSports in July. “I want to be that example for kids that you can be gay, you can pursue your dreams, and you can have an athletic career.”

Garrett Clayton
Actor Garrett Clayton came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in a touching Instagram post in August. 


With the release of my new movie REACH coming up, I thought it was important to explain why I took on this project in the first place. REACH deals with some very serious and timely topics that have affected me personally, and have likely influenced many of your lives as well. (I also prefer to share things that are particularly important for me here on my IG) instead of in some random magazine or online article - because you are the ones that have been rooting for me and following me on my professional and personal journey in life. When I read the script for REACH, I immediately knew it was a film I had to be a part of. I have personally dealt with suicide within my own family, intense bullying in high school, and - on top of it all - 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. These topics - not always easy to discuss- are all close to my heart, and, knowing how serious they are, I wanted to share this with you all. This film has come from the perspectives of people who care deeply about these issues, and if watching it helps even one person... then it was all worth it. ♥️

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Tadd Fujikawa
Professional golfer Tadd Fujikawa came out as gay in September of this year — on World Suicide Prevention Day — making history as the first professional golfer to be openly LGBTQ. 


*PLEASE READ* Coincidentally, today is world suicide prevention day. However, I was going to share this regardless. So...I'm gay. Many of you may have already known that.�� 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. I've been back and forth for a while about opening up about my sexuality. I thought that I didn't need to come out because it doesn't matter if anyone knows. But I remember how much other's stories have helped me in my darkest times to have hope. I spent way too long pretending, hiding, and hating who I was. I was always afraid of what others would think/say. I've struggled with my mental health for many years because of that and it put me in a really bad place. Now I'm standing up for myself and the rest of the LGBTQ community in hopes of being an inspiration and making a difference in someone's life. Although it's a lot more accepted in our society today, we still see children, teens, and adults being ridiculed and discriminated against for being the way we are. Some have even taken their lives because of it. As long as those things are still happening, I will continue to do my best to bring more awareness to this issue and to fight for equality. Whether the LGBTQ is what you support or not, we must liberate and encourage each other to be our best selves, whatever that may be. It's the only way we can make this world a better place for future generations. I don't want this to be focused on me. I just want to spread love and acceptance to others who are in a similar situation. If anyone out there is struggling, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. YOU ARE LOVED AND YOU ARE ENOUGH...AS IS, EXACTLY AS YOU ARE!❤️ I can't wait for the day we all can live without feeling like we're different and excluded. A time where we don't have to come out, we can love the way we want to love and not be ashamed. We are all human and equal after all. So I dare you...spread love. Let's do our part to make this world a better place.��️‍��❤️��������

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Andrea Russett
YouTuber Andrea Russett came out as bisexual  in September, the day before Bi Visibility Day, after her best friend made anti-LGBTQ comments to Russett and her LGBTQ friend.

“I’m choosing to move forward and focus on the people in my life who love and accept me for who I am,” Russett said. “And to 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.” 



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