Decades ago, it would be impossible to make a list of fifteen celebrities that were brave enough to come out in their 20s. But after many stepped in the years before and come out to pave the way, the youth of today are feeling confident in their own skin which is letting them be honest about who they are from the get go. Some musicians, actors, and even YouTubers have felt that a heartfelt explanation is the best way to come out while others simply acknowledge that they can’t be labelled; no matter what the explanation we’re happy to live in a world where people can be whoever they want.
As people continue to step out into the light of LGBTQ representation we can continue to mold into a tolerant, inclusive world of people. Some of these stars came out a little bit younger than their 20s but we think that that kind of bravery belongs on this list too so we included them too. The reality is that we are cultivating a world of equality and that only continues after celebrities and people in the spotlight can continue to be open about their sexuality, political views, and other important topics.
15. Connor Franta
The young American man got his start on YouTube and can now boast being a popular vlogger, writer, and entrepreneur. Franta currently has 5 million subscribers on YouTube making him more than just a modest influencer. After getting his start with YouTube group Our Second Life Franta moved on to work as an independent member of Big Frame Network managed by Andrew Graham. Since hitting his stride with his work on YouTube Franta has made some various investments like a clothing line, music curation, and even a coffee & lifestyle brand Common Culture. In 2014 Franta filmed a video where he came out as gay in a six minute long video that has since received 11 million views, over 949,000 likes, and two years later remained the second most watched video on his page. Franta states in the video that he got a lot of help from his friends online when searching for how to come out and would love to offer the same advice to others. This young man has set milestones for others and we’re proud that the young people of the world are supporting one another.
14. Ellen Page
We all know and love Ellen Page for her role in teen pregnancy comedy Juno (2007), but the Canadian star got her start on popular show Trailer Park Boys. She later went on to land more serious roles like the one played opposite Leo DiCaprio in Inception. Page was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia where she grew up like any normal kid climbing trees and going to school. The actress describes herself as a pro-choice feminist but for a long time she refused to comment on her sexuality. That was, until her opportunity to positively use her coming out for the LGBTQ youth came in 2014. On Valentine’s Day in 2014 Ellen Page used the platform speaking at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference in Las Vegas to come out to her peers and friends. Since that year she’s been on The Advocate’s “40 Under 40” list and is now in a committed relationship with artist and surfer Samantha Thomas.
13. Raven Symone
This actress, singer, TV personality, and so much more got her start when she was just four years old on The Cosby Show. She moved on up through the television rankings, staying in the spotlight the whole time. Raven Symone starred in the hit Disney television show That’s So Raven and the Disney Channel Original Movie Cheetah Girls in the 2000’s to much acclaim from teenage girls. Since then the star has been in the media for various reasons like new albums dropping or joining ABC panel show The View. For many years the media speculated about Raven’s sexual orientation and she always responded the same way: “It’s none of your business.”. In a viral Oprah Winfrey interview Raven Symone came out with out ‘coming out’ by talking about her relationship and how she doesn’t find it necessary to label herself. The fluid actress, singer, and television host is currently single but always prefers to keep her private life private.
12. Aaron & Austin Rhodes
These blond haired, blue eyed twins become YouTube personalities some years ago and grew a quick following. In 2014 the pair filmed a riveting vid of them coming out to their father, because both of the identical twins is gay. Since the day that they posted the coming out video on YouTube it has received over 20 million views and garnered the twins massive amounts of media attention. Since that day the Ohio born boys have relocated out to Hollywood, California to appear on Ellen and were discovered by Fox executives for recurring roles on the sixth season of hit TV show Scream Queens with popular star Emma Roberts. The fame isn’t completely out of the blue for the stunning pair since they had already been modelling and doing a bit of acting before filming the coming out video on the phone with their father. The fame has been a whirlwind for the previously unknown boys from a small town but they’re quite happy with the newfound celebrity.
11. Ryan Beatty
A California born singer who currently resides in Los Angeles, Ryan Beatty’s debut 2012 EP Because of You debuted at #1 on iTunes Pop Charts. The singer has released multiple EP’s but is currently planning to release his debut album some time in 2016. One of those was the song “Hey LA” which was featured in an AT&T campaign to discourage texting and driving. His first fame was found on YouTube where the young singer started vlogging popular covers in 2011. The most popular of these videos was a rendition of “Marry You” by Bruno Mars which boasts over 6 million views. In the Summer of 2016 Beatty uploaded an Instagram post where he came out as gay for the first time in his life. This post was in response to the massive shooting at an LGBTQ friendly nightclub in Orlando just a week prior. Like most who have been in the closet, he feels freed now that he’s out in the open.
10. Cara Delevingne
English-born model and actress dropped out of school to sign with Storm Model Management in 2009 and grew up in Belgravia, London; one of the wealthiest districts in the entire world. She comes from a long line of fabulously wealthy and sometimes famous and her own sister is also a model. Poppy Delevingne was Cara Delevingne’s inspiration for modelling and the celebrity followed her sister into the modelling world after years of struggling in school. Cara is not only super cool but openly bisexual which was confirmed after she opened up about her relationship with Annie Clark, a musician who goes by the name St. Vincent. Aside from being open about her relationships and sexuality; the actress is open about her struggle with depression and anxiety after battling through schooling while suffering with dyspraxia and often had trouble making sense of school assignments and readings. This depression was the topic of Women of the World Summit in 2015.
9. Amandla Stenberg
Young, fabulous actress Stenberg’s name means “power” or “strength” in Zulu and she is best known for her role as Rue in super popular series The Hunger Games. She had her first role in a feature film in 2011 in Colombiana as the younger version of Zoe Saldana’s character. In 2015 Stenberg was named “Feminist of the Year” by the Ms. Foundation for Women. She identifies as non-binary and an intersectional feminist, big words for such a young girl; but this girl smart. Amandla Stenberg used to identify as bisexual but in a recent interview with Elle she recanted that statement since the term implies a clear cut dichotomy of gender. In that interview she decided that perhaps the correct term for her inclusive idea of love was pansexual. Aside from acting Stenberg sings and performs on the violin and even released an EP with her band mate called Honeywater.
8. Jess Glynn
English-born singer and songwriter rose to fame quickly after her iconic voice was featured on two separate singles that both reached number one on the UK Singles Chart when they were released in 2014. One year later she released her album I Cry When I Laugh which was the first since Cheryl’s to be the first female solo artist with five #1 singles in the UK. About a year ago the star opened up about her sexuality but urges the media not to put a label on her. When she opened up about her sexual orientation it was because a song on her album was about a relationship with a girl. In an interview shortly thereafter the young woman reached out to the press to stop labelling her and let them know that her only relationship with a woman was that which she sang about. Her honesty is appreciated in a culture that was once shrouded in secrecy, but the media needs to stop forcing celebrities to put a label on something so sensitive as their sexual orientation.
7. Keke Palmer
After her film debut Keke Palmer’s whole family relocated from Illinois to California so that she could follow her dreams of acting. The actress is also a singer and released her debut album in 2007 through Atlantic Records which charted on the R&B Billboard Music Chart. Her breakthrough acting role was in Akeelah and the Bee in 2006 which followed her small role in Barbershop 2: Back in Business. Palmer has had big and small roles in tons of movies and television movies in the last decade but her most notable role is her recurring spot on horror-camp TV series Scream Queens. The young actress was once the highest paid child star on television and has since come out as sexually fluid. Like most of the young celebrities on this list Keke Palmer refuses to be stuck to labels. She is neither gay nor bi, she refuses to define her sexual preferences to anyone.
6. Michael Sam
In his college career Michael Sam was a player that offered great potential and in his final season playing at University of Missouri the Southern Conference Defensive Player of the Year came out to his teammates and then to the world. This event also took place just before the NFL draft that year where Sam was supposed to be one of the top picks but he performed poorly at the NFL Scouting Combine and then talk of his small stature came up as a negative for drafting him. Sam was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round, four rounds after he was originally predicted to be drafted. Despite his collegiate American football success Sam’s professional performance lacked a peak and he slowly petered out from camp to camp before eventually settling in the Canadian Football League. After some unexpected run ins with the law Michael Sam has retired and is focusing on his mental health for right now.
5. Lily-Rose Depp
Daughter of American actor Johnny Depp and French model, singer, and actress Vanessa Paradis was born in France and splits time between Paris and Los Angeles. The young woman is super popular on social media and has debuted as a model for Chanel after some small work with Australian magazine Oyster. Every birthday that she has had, every event that she’s attended, and every style choice she’s made has been highly scrutinized by the public since Depp was born because of her parent’s fame. Last year the teen (yeah, yeah, we’re sorry that she’s not quite 20) posed for iOTillett Wright’s Self-Evident Truths Project which implied that she fell somewhere on the LGBTQ spectrum. Depp has since dropped out of high school to pursue her acting career after friend Harley Quinn Smith’s dad director Kevin Smith asked her if she was interested in acting. Since that question she’s been cast in three films and continues to find roles.
4. Sam Smith
This singer has the voice of an angel that swooned everyone when he hit the scene in 2012 with a couple of different features that he did for artists that year. His studio debut album hit shelves in 2014 and In the Lonely Hour was released to multiple #1 hits in more than one country. The star singer was nominated for six Grammy awards in 2014 and went home with four of them. He was nominated for and won tons of other music awards and all of this activity landed him two spots in the Guinness Book of World Records. About the time that single after single from his debut studio album rose up the charts in the UK and US Sam Smith came out openly as a gay man. He acknowledged a since ended relationship with Jonathan Zeizel when accepting an award at the Grammy’s. Sam Smith thanked him for ending it and breaking his heart because those songs were inspired by that very heartbreak.
3. Colton Haynes
This small town boy was born in Andale, Kansas and raised alongside five siblings by his “free-spirited hippy” parents. The family moved around quite a bit and Haynes attended three high schools before graduating in Texas. When he was 15 he began his career modeling in New York City and found success with a Bruce Weber photoshoot for teen clothing brand Abercrombie & Fitch. He auditioned for tons of acting roles after his modest modelling success before landing his breakthrough role as Jackson Whittemore on MTV Series Teen Wolf based on the 1985 movie of the same name. He moved on from Teen Wolf to play Roy Harper who becomes the protege of the superhero on Arrow. Haynes was outed by the Tumblr community after posing in gay XY magazine a decade prior. The anxiety prone actor and model couldn’t handle the pressure and went to a mental health facility to seek treatment for severe anxiety. When he emerged he came out as gay in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
2. Kristen Stewart
Born to parents in the movie industry in Los Angeles, California, it’s no surprise that Stewart has been in films almost her entire life. Her first role of notoriety was as Jodie Foster’s daughter in Panic Room and was nominated for a Young Artist Award as Best Leading Actress in a Feature Film for her work. She went on to star in a couple more movies before working on the film adaptation of novel Into the Wild and was nominated for a Screen Actor’s Guild award after it came out. What really propelled the actress to stardom was being cast as Bella in the tween mega series Twilight opposite Robert Pattinson. Starting in 2008 she and Pattinson picked up a very secretive love affair that lasted for six years before they finally quietly split. Stewart has never claimed out and proudly that she’s gay but she basically said to just Google it, and then you’ll know. The actress has been linked to French musician and actress Soko as well as her former assistant Alicia Cargile.
1. Miley Cyrus
This American singer, songwriter, and actress grew up in front of our eyes from Disney star Hannah Montana to raunchy pop singer who was just being Miley. Her wholesome image was quickly changed after the 2008 Vanity Fair scandal which showed the 16-year-old singer topless holding a sheet up to her chest. These $2000 photos marked the beginning of her shift to sex symbol over the next 8 years. In 2014 the star came out as genderfluid, stating that she just didn’t identify as a boy or a girl and that her partner didn’t necessarily have to identify as such either. She is a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community and often speaks on their behalf. Aside from her open and sometimes dramatic allegiances, Cyrus is very open about her cannabis use and cites it as “the happy drug” along with MDMA. Miley is currently engaged to Liam Hemsworth but the couple seem to court drama so stay tuned to see what happens next with her.