Whether it’s coming out as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, countless actors, athletes, musicians, politicians, TV personalities and influencers have helped advance the movement for equality.
In honor of National Coming Out Day we want to recognize and highlight some folks who have come out this past year and are living their truths openly.
Brian J. Smith
"Sense8" star Brian J. Smith came out last year as gay in a cover story for Attitude Magazine.
“I remember being so relaxed,” Smith said of shooting the series. “I thought, ‘Finally, I can just be myself, I don’t have to put on airs for any of these people.’”
Former @sense8 star @BrianJacobSmith comes out as gay and shares some advice he would've given to himself:— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 8, 2019
“I just would hug him and say ‘It’s OK. What that kid needed was somebody to pick him up and say, ‘You’re perfect as you are, it’s OK.’” https://t.co/cCOhFyFf2Q
Dedivanovic publicly came out as gay last November at the the 2019 American Influencer Awards while accepting the Artistic Achievement Award.
"Right now, I stand here for the first time in my life a proud, 37-year-old gay man," Dedivanovic said in a powerful speech.
"We are all equally deserving of the right to feel happiness & to feel loved."— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) November 21, 2019
During the American Influencer Awards, @MakeupByMario came out as gay & delivered a powerful speech about overcoming fear.
Thank you, Mario, for sharing your story with us. https://t.co/F7e8IHWwG3
Model, activist and actress came out as queer last year in December.
"Over the course of this year I had the absolute honor to know people from all communities that make me me. That being a woman, having a disability, being Dominican, and finally I can add to that magical layer being queer.”
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This SUNDAY YOULL SEE ME ON TELEVISION on @sho_thelword!!! Ok back to the program... I’ve always loved a good opportunity when I see one even if it’s the tiniest one. I’ve now dedicated my life to use the privilege of a platform that I have to elevate not only the Latin community but especially and most importantly for me the Disability community. I was shocked when I was younger that representation was little to none in the fashion /entertaining Industry, so I worked day and night. Going to college and interning everywhere I could to start changing that mind set, and I have. From landing my first worldwide campaign and slowly making my way to where I am now as a recurring guest on The L Word! All these photos are a few of my favorite moments on set. I am proud to say that I’ve done so many great things for the disability community (there is so much more to be done done tho). Over the course of this year I had the absolute honor to know people from all communities that make me me. That being a woman, having a disability, being Dominican, and finally I can add to that magical layer being queer. I’ve never publicly said that I’ve always known I was queer because personally I wasn’t ready. Although I’ve always felt at home with the queer community and when love is love I understood that I’ve always known. It’s so beautiful when you can truly feel what freedom feels like inside your own body and space your in.
TV personality Stacy London publicly shared her relationship with her girlfriend with the world in a viral twitter post.
Ice Hockey player Zach Sullivan came out as bisexual earlier this year and became the first pro ice hockey player to come out in hopes that it would help others!
UK TV Host Phillip Schofield had an emotional coming earlier this year via his instagram story. "It's my decision. It was something I knew I had to do. And I don't know what the world will be like now. I don't know what people will think...but I will sit here and say I'm proud of myself today."
Nikkie Tutorials / Nikkie de Jager
YouTube influencer and makeup artist Nikkie Tutorials took shared a deeply emotional video this year when she came out as transgender after someone threatened to "out" her publicly. She's proof that we all can take a dark moment in life and turn it into something that makes a difference for millions worldwide, and we love her for it!
To mark his 100th birthday, Polish theater legend Witold Sadowy came out as gay.
"For me, the most important thing is the survival of the truth," Wiltold said. "I am proud that I am an honest man. I didn’t get married, and I didn’t have children, something I really regret."
"But I was born different. I’m gay," he continued. "Now I have said everything, as in confession."
Sebastian Vega became the first openly gay Argentinian basketball player. Vega came out in March this year via a heartfelt social media letter.
“I was really scared, but the fear didn’t paralyze me,” said 31-year-old Vega. “I felt truly free: it had been a long time since I’d walked without such a heavy weight on my shoulders.”
"Wynonna Earp" star Dominique Provost-Chalkley publicly came out as queer via an Instagram post earlier this year.
"I am queer. I am into ALL humans. I guess maybe I am just really into love? Who knows? But finally...I am OUT."
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On my 30th Birthday, (deep breath)... #thisismeSTW 🌈🌞 Link in Bio. 🦋 Sending all the love I have inside of my heart to the beautiful souls I’ve had the fortune of meeting over the last 30 years. What a journey it has been, and in many ways, it’s only just beginning. ❤️ 📸 @andrewjamesphotography_
Rapper Da Brat came out as queer via a heartfelt instagram post.
“Never have I EVER. Needless to say... I’ve always been a kind of private person until I met my heart’s match who handles some things differently than I do,” she wrote, thanking Dupart for the “incredible birthday gift.”
She continued, “I have never experienced this feeling. It’s so overwhelming that often I find myself in a daze hoping to never get pinched to see if it’s real so I can live in this dream forever.”
"Moana" star Auli’i Cravalho came out as bisexual earlier this year in her first ever TikTok post, and in doing so sent waves of bi+ positivity across social media!
J August Richards
Actor J August Richards came out as gay this year while discussing his role of Oliver in the show "Council of Dads." In an interview Richards said he understands the significance his coming out can have on the world. "I knew how important it is to other people out there like me who would need to see that role model."
The leader of black metal band Liturgy Hunter Hunt-Hendrix came out earlier this year as transgender through her and her band's social media platforms.
“I am a woman,” she wrote. “I’ve always been one. The love I have to give is a woman’s love, if only because it is mine.”
"Riverdale" star Lili Reinhart came out as bisexual earlier this year via an Instagram post.
While promoting a Black Lives Matter rally centered around the LGBTQ community, Reinhart shared, "Although I've never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman, and I will be joining this protest today. Come join."
After playing an openly queer character on the CW's "Supergirl," actress Chyler Leigh publicly came out in a heartfelt message online. She shared how her character's own journey and LGBTQ identity inspired her to live life openly and in doing so send a powerful message to all the superhero fans out there.
Star of "Orange Is the New Black" and HRC friend Taylor Schilling came out and announced her relationship with her girlfriend in a series of Instagram stories. She'd previously shared how there isn't a need for us to label ourselves or one another and affirmed that we're all entitled to love who we love.
British actress Pearl Mackie, most widely known for her role on "Dr. Who," came out this year in celebration of Pride Month. In an Instagram post, she had a clear message:
"Proud to be bisexual. Proud to be Black. Proud of all my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters and everyone in between. We matter. You matter. Big love and nuff respect."
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Proud to be bisexual. Proud to be Black. Proud of all my LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters and everyone in between. We matter. You matter. Big love and nuff respect. Happy Pride everyone! 🏳️🌈🌈🏳️🌈🌈🏳️🌈🌈🏳️🌈🌈 🏳️🌈🌈🏳️🌈#pride🌈 #pridemonth #loveislove #pride #blacklivesmatter #allblacklivesmatter
Lead singer of Walk the Moon Nicholas Petricca came out as bisexual this year in a moving video posted to Twitter. He used the moment to shine a light on the issues many bi+ people face both within and outside of the LGBTQ community and send an inspiring message to all those who may still be navigating their coming out journey.
Martha McCabe, former Olympic and award-winning Canadian swimmer, came out this year with the hope that her story would make it easier for younger LGBTQ athletes.
"I want to be an example to young female swimmers and help ones who are struggling with this, so they can see it's normal," said McCabe. "Parents also need to recognize that this needs to be normalized. Kids don't see this everywhere, and when you don't see it, it becomes this hurdle you have to get over."
Singer Avery Wilson had one of the most iconic coming out moments of the year when he simply tweeted "I'm bisexual. Ok bye." He later said that there's no in between for him and that he likes men and women — end of discussion.
I’m bisexual . Ok bye 👋🏾— Avery Wilson (@AveryWilson) July 18, 2020
BBC presenter Shivani Dave came out as non-binary earlier this year and used their platform to send an important message about non-binary identities.
“The presence of nonbinary representation in mainstream media like the BBC is virtually non-existent,” Dave said. “In coming out so publicly I hope to show other nonbinary people that they should be proud to embrace who they are.”
Singer, songwriter, dancer, actress and all around superstar Tinashe came out as bisexual on the cover of Gay Times magazine this year.
“But when you say you’re bisexual, a lot of people think… they just have a lack of understanding about what it is. And I tend to shy away from terms – I guess this is the theme of my life! – that make people want to categorize me or put me in a box."
“Human beings are so versatile. I don’t understand why we’re so obsessed with categorizing each other.”— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) September 2, 2020
We love @Tinashe's latest feature in @gaytimesmag on why love needs no label. Thanks for being such a star, Tinashe! ❤️🧡💛💚💙💜🖤 https://t.co/YfaaDnnPzz
Former "Grey's Anatomy" star and dear friend of HRC Sara Ramirez came out as non-binary this year. They had previously come out as bisexual a few years before and in an Instagram post shared how important it is to not allow others to define your gender identity and expression.
In a moving Instagram post, Canadian soccer player and Olympic medalist Quinny came out to the world as transgender. They shared not only the importance of being out and proud, but also how people can actively be allies to the LGBTQ community.
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Coming out is HARD ( and kinda bs). I know for me it’s something I’ll be doing over again for the rest of my life. As I’ve lived as an openly trans person with the people I love most for many years, I did always wonder when I’d come out publicly. Instagram is a weird space. I wanted to encapsulate the feelings I had towards my trans identity in one post but that’s really not why anyone is on here, including myself. So INSTEAD I want to be visible to queer folx who don’t see people like them on their feed. I know it saved my life years ago. I want to challenge cis folks ( if you don’t know what cis means, that’s probably you!!!) to be better allies. It’s a process, and i know it won’t be perfect, but if I can encourage you to start then it’s something. 1) put your pronouns in your bio 2) follow/ listen to other trans/nb voices ( @janetmock , @ashleemariepreston , @alokvmenon to name a few :)) 3) practice using gender neutral pronouns with friends/ in a mirror 4) vote 5) start to catch yourself making assumptions about people in public/ bathrooms/ any space
Comedian, actress and goddess Niecy Nash came out this year in a stunning collection of photos announcing her marriage to singer and songwriter Jessica Beets. "I was not suppressing my sexuality my whole life," Nash shared with the announcement. "I love who I love."
The Human Rights Campaign reports on news, events and resources of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation that are of interest to the general public and further our common mission to support the LGBTQ community.