The issue of sexuality is discussed in Hollywood more than ever before. There used to be a time when the sexual orientation of a celebrity was not revealed to the public. Stars kept their personal lives private, and were simply admired for their work in music or on screen. Then came the time when speculations started to swirl about whether or not a celebrity was gay, but the celebrity didn’t address the rumors. In some cases, confirmation of the star’s homosexuality wasn’t released to the public until after the celebrity’s death.
These days, however, more and more stars are “coming out of the closet” and revealing their sexual identities to the world. Of course, there are also a number of celebrities who have made it easier for gay and lesbian individuals to be accepted in Hollywood, such as Ellen DeGeneres, Ross Matthews, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Jane Lynch and Ricky Martin, just to name a few. But it’s also true that there are some homosexual celebrities who just aren’t comfortable talking about this part of their lives in public. Some gay stars even married people of the opposite sex before coming out, and even after this, they prefer to keep some of their private lives away from the public eye. Here are 12 stars who were married before they came out of the closet.
12 Wanda Sykes
Comedienne and actress Wanda Sykes was married from 1991 to 1998 to Dave Hall before coming out. In 2008, Sykes officially announced that she was a lesbian. She had been living with her partner, Alex for a while by that time, and the two married later that year. The Virginia native is also a TV and film producer and screenwriter, and is known for her work in The Muppets, Continental Drift and Clerks II. Sykes also continues to speak about social issues in her comedy acts, and often talks about the challenges of raising her white children with a white partner (Alex, who is French, gave birth to the couple’s children).
11 Rock Hudson
Legendary actor Rock Hudson is still known for movies like Giant, Lover Come Back and Pillow Talk. He also starred in Dynasty. Hudson and actress Phyllis Gates were marred from 1955-1958. However, there have long been rumors about Rock Hudson’s sexuality. He was famous during a time when homosexuality was fiercely hidden from the public, so he never publicly spoke about being gay. Many people speculate that Rock’s marriage to Gates was only to cover up the fact that he was gay, which is why the union only lasted a few years. Hudson died at the age of 60 from AIDS-related complications in 1985.
10 Meredith Baxter
Meredith Baxter will always lovingly be known as Elise, the mom from Family Ties. She also starred in All the President’s Men and The Onion Movie. She was in three heterosexual marriages before revealing to the world that she was a lesbian. Baxter had two children with Robert Lewis Bush, her first husband. The two were married in 1966. The actress also has three children with her second husband, David Birney, who she married in 1974. Baxter has also spoken about the severe abuse she suffered at the hands of Birney, and her Family Ties co-stars have confirmed this. On The Today Show in 2009, Meredith Baxter stated that she was a lesbian and had been living with her partner, Nancy Locke, since 2006. Baxter and Locke married in December of 2013.
9 Lauren Morelli
Lauren Morelli is a screenwriter who is most well know for her work on Orange Is The New Black. In 2012, Lauren realized she was a lesbian while she was writing for the show. She was married to Steve Basilone at the time, and the two had only been husband and wife for five months before Lauren came to terms with her sexuality. The couple divorced in 2014, and according to their divorce documents, the split was amicable. Morelli later announced that she was dating Samira Wiley, one of the stars of Orange Is The New Black. Perhaps working on the show made it easier for her to come out.
8 Little Richard
Little Richard has long been regarded as one of the most talented performers of our time. It has also been public knowledge that he is gay for quite a while. From 1959 to 1963, Little Richard was married to Ernestine Campbell. The union likely occurred because the singer didn’t want people to know his sexual orientation, although he did care for Campbell. Little Richard admits that he always enjoyed wearing makeup, and he even performed in drag queen shows in the 1950s. In 1995, Little Richard stated that he was gay during an interview with Penthouse, and confirmed that he always knew that he was homosexual.
7 Anthony Perkins
Anthony Perkins will always be known for his role in Psycho. He also starred in The Black Hole, The Last of Sheila, Catch-22, and Murder on the Orient Express. Perkins married fellow actor Berry Berenson, and they had two children together, Oz and Elvis. Anthony was clear that Berry was the love of his life, but ended having relationships with men throughout his life. Perkins was living in a time when his career could have been ruined had he come out of the closet. In 1992, when Perkins was 60, he passed away from complications related to AIDS, which confirmed his sexuality for many of his fans.
6 Alice Walker
Renowned author Alice Walker, best known for her novel The Color Purple, was married to Rosenman Leventhal from 1967 to 1976. The two had a daughter, Rebecca Walker, who is also an author. Alice Walker came out as a lesbian years after her marriage, and was in a long-term relationship with singer Tracy Chapman. Walker continues to speak out about gender and race issues in society, particularly the way black women are viewed in the world, but tends to keep her romantic life very private these days. She is also known for her works Fierce Light and Jennifer Berezan: Praises for the World.
5 Julie Cypher
From 1987 to 1990, Julie Cypher was married to actor Lou Diamond Phillips. The year she and Phillips divorced, she got into a relationship with singer Melissa Etheridge, who has always been outspoken about her sexuality, and continues to be an activist for human rights. Cypher and Etheridge have two children together, Bailey Jean, born in 1997, and Beckett, born in 1998. David Crosby is the biological father of both of the children, and Cypher gave birth to them. Julie Cypher decided to “get back in the closet” after her relationship with Etheridge, and has been married to Matthew Hale since 2004. Cypher is known for her work in Arduous Moon and Teresa’s Tattoo.
4 Portia de Rossi
Most people know Portia de Rossi as the love of Ellen DeGeneres’ life, but she’s also a pretty talented actress. De Rossi, who is known for her work in Ally McBeal, Arrested Development, Better Off Ted and Scandal, was married to Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999. The Australian actress publicly came out in 2005. Three years later, she and Ellen tied the knot. Portia has been on her wife’s talk show several times, and fans of both women love seeing the two of them interact on television. Like her famous funny wife, Portia is also a comedienne. De Rossi has also done some modeling, but it’s her wife that is an official Cover Girl.
3 Oscar Wilde
Legendary writer, poet and playwright Oscar Wilde, was a gay man. However, the mere thought of being homosexual was widely frowned upon by society during his time, so he married Constance Lloyd. The two were husband and wife from 1884 until 1898. In 1895, Wilde was charged with sodomy, which was considered a crime back then. He was sent to prison for two years. Wilde and Lloyd had two children: Cyril Holland, born in 1885, and Vyvyan Holland, born in 1886. Oscar Wilde is known for his works The Importance of Being Earnest, Dorian Gray, The Pursuit of Dorian Gray and A Good Woman.
2 Vincente Minnelli
Vincente Minnelli was the father of renowned actress and singer Liza Minnelli. He was married several times. His wives included Judy Garland, Liza’s mother (from 1945 to 1951), Georgette Magnami (from 1954 to 1958) and Lee Anderson (from 1980 to 1986). Vincente’s biography also stated that when he was in New York, Minnelli was openly gay. However, in Los Angeles, he was “straight” in order to maintain his fame in Hollywood. Liza took after her mother Judy Garland’s taste in men, and married Peter Allen, who came out of the closet after his 1974 divorce from Liza.
1 Elton John
Elton John is one of the most outspoken gay rights activists of our time. He is rarely seen without a colorful outfit and glasses on, and often has some pretty catty things to say about other celebrities. That’s why it’s still hard for many of his fans to believe that in the 80s, he was married to a woman. John and Renate Blauel, a recording engineer from Germany, were husband and wife from 1984 to 1988. Later, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Elton John confirmed that he was “comfortable being gay.” He got into a relationship with David Furnish in 1993, and the two got married in 2005.