After another hugely successful celebration of Pride across the world, including a World Pride Human Rights Conference at the end of June 2014, most supporters of human rights are feeling pretty good about the progress that’s being made for the LGBT rights movement. Indeed, both average citizens and celebrities are now increasingly comfortable in going public with their sexual preferences, whatever that may be. Two of the world’s favourite celebrities, Ellen DeGeneres (who just made it on to Forbes’ 10 most powerful celebrities list) and Neil Patrick Harris are publicly and happily in long term same-sex relationships, garnering no more scrutiny than any well-loved, high profile celebrity couple.
But we needn’t remind even our youngest of readers that the positive changing tide is a notably new phenomenon. As recently as the late 90s, a celebrity ‘coming out of the closet’ (a phrase that’s now almost redundant, so loaded is it with relatively antiquated taboo) was headline-worthy news. So of course, for anyone who grew up with same sex parents in more backward times, the taboo surrounding such an issue was an ever-present and pressing concern.
Few people are aware that some of our favourite stars were in fact raised by parents who were members of the LGBT community – and, of course, we have their parents to thank, at least in part, for making these admirable celebrities who they are today.
These LGBT parents of celebrities are special in that they raised their talented children in homes that fought against the debilitatingly traditional norms of heterosexual parenting and successfully brought some open minded, high profile gay rights activists into the world of celebrity stardom.
Of course, not all the parents mentioned in this list were great role models – some of their parenting skills certainly don’t seem to have been up to par. However, other celebrities with gay parents had extremely happy childhoods that they wouldn’t change, despite the fact that they grew up during much more trying times for the LGBT community. So, which celebrities are we talking about? The following are ten well-known faces and famous names who grew up with LGBT parents.
10. Rene Russo
Beautiful redhead Rene Russo is a talented actress known for her roles in The Thomas Crown Affair, Yours Mine & Ours, and Ransom. She was scouted as a model when she was a teenager, and luckily for Russo, her life took a turn for the better. She had a rough childhood with her father abandoning her gay mother when Russo was only 2 years old. Russo’s mother had a hard time providing for her children; however, the burden was lifted once Russo made it into the model spotlight.
9. Natasha Richardson
Natasha Richardson was a talented across who died too young in an unfortunate skiing accident back in 2009. Before her unfortunate death, Liam Neeson‘s wife Richardson was open about discussing her father’s preferences and LGBT lifestyle. Her father, Tony Richardson was openly bisexual, and Natasha seems to have made it part of her celebrity mission to help people understand bisexuality. Tony Richardson unfortunately passed away in 1991 due to complications from AIDS.
8. Joe Valentine
Baseball pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds, Joe Valentine is another child who was raised by gay parents. He was raised by his biological mom Deb Valentine and her lesbian life partner Doreen Price. Price was in the picture since Joe was born in 1979 in Las Vegas. The lesbian couple has been together for over 30 years and Joe has supported their relationship his entire life. He is said to admire and respect the two strong women who raised him from birth since his father was never in the picture.
7. Ana Matronic
Ana Matronic is the lead singer of the Scissor Sisters, and she grew up in Portland, Oregon with her mother and father. When Matronic was a young girl, he parents split after her mother found out that her father was, in fact, gay. At the age of 15, she lost her father due to complications from AIDS and has since immersed herself in the gay culture. She has sung in drag shows and says that by immersing herself in the LGBT community, she feels closer to her father.
6. OJ Simpson
Prior to his accusation of murdering his wife and her friend, OJ Simpson was a successful running back in the NFL. What many people don’t know about Simpson is that his father Jimmie Simpson was quite famous as well, but for a completely different reason. Jimmie Simpson was a very well-known drag queen performer who unfortunately passed away due to complications from AIDS back in 1986. OJ Simpson is now in prison with a 33-year sentence on armed robbery and kidnapping felony charges.
5. Jena Malone
Actress Jena Malone recently lit up the big screen with her role in The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. She grew up in Sparks, Nevada and was raised by her mother, who is a lesbian. Her mother Deborah Malone and her girlfriend raised Jena together until Jena was 10 years old. Jena’s mother later introduced her to acting at the age of 12, and she now graces the silver screen in one of the biggest franchises of the decade.
4. Marvin Gaye
Singer Marvin Gaye first began releasing music back in the 1960’s. Before he was known for his talents, Gaye experienced a very rough childhood. His father, a minister, physically abused him. Behind closed doors, Gaye’s father was a closet gay man and cross dresser. His relationship with his family was troubled and Marvin Gaye was tragically killed by his father in 1984.
3. Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster has been an actress all her life. She was starring in commercials at the age of 3 and she had already won her first Oscar award at the age of 14. Foster openly came out during one of her acceptance speeches, but she wasn’t the first LGBT member of her close family: Jodie and her 3 siblings were raised by their mother and their mother’s live-in girlfriend.
2. Robert De Niro
Robert de Niro is indisputable Hollywood royalty today, and a father of six children. Growing up, de Niro had a troubled relationship with his dad and he has said he believes the rocky relationship was because Robert de Niro Sr. was dealing with his struggles regarding his sexuality. Robert de Niro Sr. struggled with his identity as a gay man for a long time and was likely tortured by being unable to live openly. Robert de Niro Jr has openly stated that he wishes he could have talked about it openly and freely with his father instead of letting his father deal with the issues alone.
1. 50 Cent
Well-known rap artist 50 Cent was raised in South Jamaica, Queens and did not have an easy childhood. Another celebrity whose father was not in the picture, 50 Cent’s mother did the best she could to raise her son. His mother, who was bisexual, was unfortunately involved in drugs and when 50 Cent was a teenager, his mother was found murdered. Instead of letting his life circumstances get him down, this successful rapper took it as inspiration to turn his life around and became one of the most well-known rappers of the 21st century.