Long ago, in the bad old days of Hollywood history, it was a career-killer if a star was revealed to be gay. For much of the so-called Golden Age, it wasn’t even something that could be reported openly. Outing someone in a gossip magazine was often a matter of coded language and innuendo. Celebs like Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter had to spend their entire careers in the closet. For a long time, coming out wasn’t an option at all, and even into the 1980s only the very bravest celebrities would risk their careers to come out in public.
Societal attitudes have shifted significantly in recent decades, especially in the last few years. Coming out as gay is not as potentially socially dangerous as it once was. Now, gay celebs can live their personal lives openly, without fear of losing their status or giving up roles. However, the process can still be a painful and intensely private experience. But what about going through it in public? And, even worse, what about going through it and then having to retract?
A few Hollywood celebrities have had to do just that. This list consists of people who told the press that they were gay or bisexual, but then either walked back the claim in later interviews or went on to conventional, presumably monogamous, heterosexual relationships.
10. Jessie J
Singer Jessie J made a splash in 2011 when she openly declared herself as bisexual. The announcement took place shortly after the release of her breakout single “Price Tag,” which made her a star in the UK and became a modest hit in the US.
In the well-publicized revelation, Jessie said she’s dated both men and women and that the tabloids should “get over it.” However, it turns out bisexuality was just a phase. A little more than three years later, she announced that she was now completely straight and looking for a husband. The announcement did nothing to slow down her career. Since coming out as straight, she has appeared as a coach on the Australian version of The Voice (she had already appeared on the UK version) and has had her biggest US hit yet with “Bang Bang.”
9. Megan Fox
Megan Fox has long been known as one of the sexiest women in Hollywood, appearing in such films as Jennifer’s Body and Transformers. She’s also famously had a long-term relationship with former Beverly Hills 90210 star Brian Austin Green. She met the actor in 2004, when she was still in her teens (he was 30). The pair married in 2010, though they eventually separated last year. But even though she was nominally tied-up for most of her adult life, she has somehow also managed to build a reputation as someone willing to have relationships with women. This includes an affair with a Russian stripper named Nikita, a relationship she has openly talked about in the media.
Despite these flirtations, she explicitly says she’s not a lesbian. She just finds different people sexy, she says, at one point telling GQ that “Olivia Wilde is so sexy she makes me want to strangle a mountain ox with my bare hands.”
8. Anna Paquin
If you ask Anna Paquin, she’ll deny that her sexuality has changed, even though she used to be with women and now she is in a traditional monogamous marriage with husband Stephen Moyer. Paquin, who rose to fame as an Oscar-winning child actor and is now best known for her role on the racy HBO show True Blood, came out very publicly, declaring “I’m bisexual” in a 2010 public service announcement.
However, even at the time of the PSA, Paquin was engaged to Moyer, her co-star on True Blood. She later told Larry King in 2014, when asked whether she was a “non-practicing bisexual,” that she was “married to my husband, and we are happily monogamously married.”
7. Michael Chabon
Most of the names on this list are women. That might have something to do with how society treats men who are gay versus how it treats women who are gay. Whatever the reasons, it seems like it is more acceptable for women to have a more fluid sexual identity.
But there’s at least one (relatively) high profile man who experimented with homosexuality, but turned back toward a typical heterosexual relationship as he got older. Michael Chabon is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, known for novels like Wonder Boys and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Confusion about his sexuality marked his early career. He was identified by Newsweek as a rising gay writer, despite having already been married to his first wife. He later revealed that he had had at least one sexual relationship with a man, though he eventually married another woman, Ayelet Waldman, once his first marriage ended.
6. Megan Mullally
Megan Mullally made her name on Will & Grace, one of the most high-profile gay-themed shows of its time. Perhaps with the show’s audience in mind, Mullally gave an interview with The Advocate where she said “I consider myself bisexual, and my philosophy is, everyone innately is.”
It turns out Mullally was speaking metaphorically. The actress, who was single at the time of the quote (having divorced her first husband in 1996) and is now married to former Parks & Recreation star Nick Offerman, has since clarified her comment about bisexuality. She later told AfterEllen that what she meant to say was that she was open to bisexuality, in the sense that she wouldn’t turn down a woman just for being a woman. Whether she has ever been with a woman remains unclear.
5. Zoe Saldana
In 2013, Star Trek and Avatar star Zoe Saldana told Allure Magazine that she could see herself ending up in a same-sex relationship.
At the time, she was dating (male) artist Marco Perego and around the time the magazine hit newsstands, the two were married. But Saldana has said that this long-term relationship with a man has not blunted her statement about one day becoming a lesbian. She told Hollyscoop: “As of today, I’ve been attracted to the male species, but if one day I wake up and want to be with a woman, I will do that because it is my life, therefore it is my decision.”
4. Amber Heard
To be fair, the actress had long been out as a bisexual (she never claimed to be exclusively interested in women). But it doesn’t change the fact that in 2012, she left then-girlfriend Tasya van Ree amid rumors that she was in a relationship with Depp, who she had met during filming of the movie The Rum Diary in 2009. The two eventually married in 2015.
3. Julie Cypher
Not many people these days are going to recognize Julie Cypher. But in the 1990s, she gained a bit of notoriety. She was basically famous for her partners – both men and women. In 1986, she married actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who was about to gain fame for roles in La Bamba and Young Guns. By 1990, however, the marriage was over, with Cypher leaving Phillips for a relationship with singer Melissa Etheridge. Etheridge and Cypher became one of the era’s most famous lesbian couples, appearing in ad campaigns together and raising two children together (fathered by singer David Crosby and carried by Cypher). However, in 1999 Cypher admitted to Etheridge that she wasn’t really gay. The following year, they separated. Cypher has been married to a man since 2004.
2. Angelina Jolie
Angelina Jolie‘s love life is a Hollywood gossip hound’s dream. Her marriage to Billy Bob Thornton made headlines for the couple’s general weirdness. Her relationship with Brad Pitt is now one of the biggest power-couple unions in Hollywood. Even Jolie’s relationship with her brother is the source of tabloid fodder. It’s no surprise, then, that Jolie had her brush with lesbianism. For her though, it was no casual experiment. The little known 1996 film Foxfire stars Jolie (then in her early 20s) and an actress named Jenny Shimizu. The two met on set and soon began a lesbian affair that Jolie has said could have led to marriage in other circumstances. Jolie eventually married a man, her first husband Jonny Lee Miller, while Shimizu continued dating women (including a relationship with Madonna).
1. Anne Heche
Actress Anne Heche has built a steady stream of success over the years on both the big and small screens, with roles in projects like Donnie Brasco, Six Days Seven Nights, Ally McBeal, Hung and Men in Trees. However, Heche is probably best known as the queen of sexuality-switching celebrities. When she began dating Ellen DeGeneres in 1997, she became part of the highest profile lesbian couple of the time. The relationship would only last until 2000, however, and Heche would begin a string of relationships with men. She married Coley Laffoon in 2001. She would eventually leave him for another man, her Men In Trees co-star James Tupper.