Once upon a time, there were a lot of secrets in the entertainment industry because the world was a bit wary of anyone who was perceived to be different. There were many stars who had whispered rumours circulating, but throughout their entire career, continued to deny those rumours time and time again. It was riskier, back then, to come clean about who you were and who you loved. Nowadays, though, people celebrate diversity, and even continually ask the entertainment industry to become more diverse in its casting choices, story choices, and more. So, an increasing number of celebrities are opting to come out of the closet and be open and honest with their fans about their sexuality – and we’re loving it.
However, sometimes a star’s connection with the LGBT community doesn’t come from their personal orientation, but rather is a result of who they were raised by. There are many celebrities in Hollywood who were raised by LGBT parents, and as a result, have become outspoken about supporting LGBT issues and using their fame to draw attention to a cause that’s near to their hearts.
Some of these stars are very outspoken about their personal link to the community, while others prefer to keep their family’s lives private, but either way, they’ve certainly been shaped by the people who raised them. Here are 15 celebrities who were raised by amazing, strong LGBT parents.
15. De Niro’s Long-Time Secret
Everyone knows who Robert De Niro is – the man is an absolute Hollywood legend. He’s been in the industry for decades and continues to get roles because, well, he can do it all. He can play a funny, bumbling older gentleman, or a fearsome gangster, and execute both flawlessly. It’s no wonder that directors are all clamoring to work with him. However, he had some drama in his personal life as well. The legendary actor’s father, Robert De Niro Sr., was an artist. He separated from De Niro’s mother in 1946, and spent many years struggling with his sexuality at a time when people were encouraged to keep their sexuality to themselves rather than becoming outspoken advocates for LGBT rights. It just goes to show that even seemingly unstoppable forces in the entertainment industry have things in their lives they wish they could have helped to change.
14. Jodie Foster, Her Mom Evelyn, And Her “Aunt”
Jodie Foster is one of the many celebrities who was shaped by an LGBT parent. Her mother, Evelyn, was a lesbian who raised Jodie alongside her girlfriend, who Jodie apparently referred to as an aunt. And, later in life, Foster herself decided to come out – while her sexuality was something that many speculated about, and she was with a female partner for years, Foster actually didn’t come out of the closet until 2013, during her Golden Globe Awards acceptance speech. We’re not sure what her children refer to her partner as, and if she took after her mother in having them call her wife an aunt, but regardless, it’s pretty cool that two generations of Foster women are unapologetically themselves, open and honest. Talk about having a good role model!
13. Jena Malone And Her Two Moms
Jena Malone got her start in the entertainment industry at a young age in movies like Stepmom, spent a period of time as an indie darling, and eventually broke into the world of blockbusters as a part of the Hunger Games franchise. And, through it all, she’s had the support of her mother Deborah and her mother’s girlfriend. Malone was raised by the lesbian couple, and referred to Deborah’s partner as her godmother. Malone is absolutely fearless on screen, and has taken on a lot of interesting roles over the years. We can’t help but think that her two fearless mothers had a little something to do with that – which is pretty cool. Malone has even taken Deborah to red carpet events from time to time, proudly showing off her mama.
12. Breakfast Club, All Grown Up
Ally Sheedy was a huge star in the ‘80s, appearing in flicks like the iconic The Breakfast Club. As she grew up, she retreated a bit from the entertainment industry and focused on other pursuits. And, while she played a misfit in the movie she’s most known for, she’s not one to exclude anyone based on any factors. As she’s stated in an interview “it’s difficult for me to understand a family member judging or not loving or accepting another family member because they are gay. Do you love that person or not?” Sheedy has many close ties to the LGBT community – she was raised by a lesbian, her mother Charlotte, and her daughter Rebecca is also a lesbian. Luckily, Rebecca didn’t have to worry about her mother not accepting her. Sheedy’s attitude is open and loving, and being raised by Charlotte probably contributed to that.
11. Strong, Single Mother
Rene Russo’s family didn’t quite have a happily ever after. When the actress was two years old, her father figured out that her mother was gay, and instead of supporting his wife on her new journey, he just packed up and left her to raise their children alone. Russo was genetically blessed, and used her beauty to help her mother support the family as a model. And, once she officially became a celebrity after moving into the world of acting, we’re betting that Mama Russo didn’t have to worry about a thing. It just goes to show that sometimes, things get tough along the journey, but it all works out in the end. We bet that Russo’s mother is glad she didn’t spend years and years living a lie, even if the situation was difficult at first.
10. Jay Z’s Secret
Given that he’s a superstar married to an equally huge superstar, it’s tough for Jay Z to keep much a secret. People seem to find out about everything because, well, people want to know absolutely everything about Bey and Jay, rap’s royal couple. However, there’s one thing about Jay Z’s life that he hasn’t been too outspoken about – or, rather, his mother’s life. While Jay Z himself has never confirmed this, many insiders and other sources have speculated that his mother, Gloria Carter, is a lesbian who has been in a long-term relationship with Dania Diaz for many, many years. After the whole Becky with the Good Hair incident, you would think that Jay would just come forth with any secrets, but we suppose it’s not really his secret to tell.
9. Family Ties
There are many celebrities with LGBT parents who had a bit of a rocky road after it was revealed that one of them was gay. Rob McElhenney’s parents’ story is a little bit smoother. The funny celeb – who you might recognize from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia – was hit with a bombshell when he was around 7. His mother left the family in order to find herself, because after having three kids, she realized her heterosexual marriage was a bit of a lie. However, McElhenney’s dad didn’t take it as badly as many other husbands have – they actually remained quite close through the years, and his mother eventually found a female partner who made her happy. It’s a pretty cool story, and probably gave a great example to McElhenney about how you can keep the ones you love in your life, even if the relationship has to change a little bit.
8. 50 Cent And His Challenging Upbringing
In comparison to some other rappers, 50 Cent has been surprisingly forthcoming about his life and his past. Of course, everyone knows about his story of getting multiple gunshot wounds – he raps about that in several songs – but he’s also spoken about his mother. And no, she wasn’t simply a single mother like many other rappers were raised by. Apparently, 50’s mother was a drug addict and a lesbian. She passed away when the rapper was just a child, and he lived with his grandparents for the remainder of his youth before eventually finding music industry insiders who loved his sound and climbing his way to the top of the charts. Still, while he hasn’t kept his mother’s sexuality a secret, it’s not something that many people who just love his songs know.
7. A Bodybuilding Mom
At this point, if you don’t know who Amy Adams is, you probably had your head under a rock for the past decade. The redheaded bombshell has been absolutely tearing up the film industry, starring in challenging role after challenging role and stunning fans worldwide. She also has a close tie to the LGBT community – her mother, Kathryn. While Adams’ mother was originally married to her father, the two divorced when Amy was 11 years old because her mother moved in with another woman. While Adams and her siblings initially went to live with her father after the split, she’s still remained close with her mother and the two have been spotted together by the paparazzi numerous times. And, as if you weren’t already impressed by Kathryn Adams’ bold move later in life, she also took up the sport of bodybuilding after her split. She’s literally a strong, powerful woman – no wonder Amy turned out to be such a powerhouse!
6. The Real L Word
Daniela Sea became more well known when she snagged a role on the television series The L Word, which featured compelling lesbian characters that audiences around the world fell in love with. For Sea, the casting was likely even more impactful than for her co-stars, because she is a lesbian herself. So, helping to shape the way LGBT characters were portrayed in Hollywood was likely quite an experience. However, Sea had an excellent example growing up – her father is actually gay as well, and came out when she was quite young. While the decision to come out is certainly never easy, we imagine that having her father’s bravery as an example helped encourage Sea to share her true self with the world – which is pretty amazing.
5. X Factor Contestant With A Ton Of Family Drama
The name Bea Miller might not ring a bell immediately (unless you’re a massive fan of The X Factor), but the aspiring singer actually made it to the top ten of the second season of the popular competition reality show. She revealed a bit about her personal life in the clips about the contestants that always play on those types of shows, and shared the fact that she grew up with two mothers. She was forthright with Idolator, saying that “to me having two moms is no different than having a mom and a dad, a single parent, or two dads raise you. It doesn’t matter what a family looks like as long as you get the love, support and encouragement to be whatever you want to be and do great things in life.” Inspiring! Unfortunately, Miller has since had a bit of a dramatic relationship with her parents, claiming that one of her mothers took money from her over the years.
4. An Angel And Her Two Gay Parents
Josephine Skriver may not have achieved the worldwide renown that Victoria’s Secret Angels like Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio or Gisele Bundchen have, but there’s no doubt that the bombshell is on her way to the top. She also has quite the interesting family. Skriver was raised by not one, but two gay parents – a lesbian mother and her partner, and a gay father and his partner. Skriver was conceived through in-vitro fertilization and grew up with a happy, loving, super-sized family. The experience has had a hugely positive impact on the young model, and she’s said that she feels “blessed that I was brought into a family that was taught to be so open. For me, the fundamental part of every childhood should be love, and my parents had so much to give.” Adorable!
3. A Comedian And An Activist With Unconventional Parents
Kaitlin Colombo is a young comedian trying to make it big in the entertainment industry, and like many other comedians, she uses some of her personal life and upbringing in her routine. However, we’re betting that not many comedians can use the same material she uses – it’s a bit of a unique situation! Colombo was raised by a gay man and a lesbian woman who wanted to have a child and made the relationship work. As a result of her upbringing, the comedian is very involved in activism for LGBT rights (I mean, the issue hits pretty close to home for this funny lady). There are plenty of gay comedians out there, but Colombo certainly has a bit of a different perspective on the issue – and we can only imagine growing up with a family like that probably makes for some interesting material!
2. An Earlier Era In Hollywood
Kicking it back to the archives with this one. The gorgeous Dorothy Dandridge, who was a star in the 1940s and 50s. Dandridge holds the distinction as being the first African-American actress nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress – no small feat. She sang, she danced, she acted, she did it all – and though she was married and divorced twice, to men, she was actually raised by a lesbian mother. Dandridge’s mother Ruby was a lesbian for Dorothy’s whole life, and was in a loving, long-term relationship with her partner Geneva Williams. It seems that the Dandridge family was breaking all kinds of preconceived notions and barriers – and that’s a very cool thing. Sure, Ruby may not have been on stage receiving any awards, but her strength and openness likely impacted daughter Dorothy as she set out on her career in the industry.
1. A Drag Queen Tribute By A Scissor Sister
Ana Matronic, the lead singer of the group Scissor Sisters, is a bit of an LGBT icon. She is very outspoken about LGBT rights, and frequently performs in drag. However, there’s a reason behind that, which some people may not know – she was actually raised by a gay father. Unfortunately, the singer’s father tragically died of the AIDS virus when she was still a teenager, and she’s found that performing in drag and advocating for LGBT issues is the best way to honour her father and pay tribute to his memory. He likely nurtured her talent (and killer vocal ability) when she was growing up, and helped her walk the often difficult path of becoming a musician, and her tribute is pretty touching. She probably wishes he could be there in the audience to watch her perform.