Although we are now living in a time when people are taking charge of their rights and owning who they are, there was a time when people felt they had to fit a certain mold, especially if they were in the entertainment industry. There may be more and more celebrities and famous people coming out of the closet now, but how many are still denying their true selves? Here is our list of 20 famous gay people who were once married to the opposite sex. These celebs went through years of hiding their homosexuality or bisexuality from the public and sometimes even their partners.
Spanning theater, comedy, sports, television, and film, these stars had to live a “double life” for years. It is interesting that some of these people even had more than one marriage to the opposite sex. Some of these stars died without ever truly living in their presumed homosexual identity. Sexual orientation is currently a hot topic, and we can expect it to stick around. These celebs are some examples to look at and determine what role the entertainment industry and the general public play in their personal lives.
We hope you enjoy learning a bit more about these stars and how they handled their sexual orientation.
20 Billie Jean King
Billie Jean King was an award-winning tennis player and when she came out, she was one of the first athletes to come out of the closet. How can people assume that athletes don’t have homosexual tendencies? Billie Jean was first married to Larry King and participated in a “Battle of the Sexes” in 1973. In the tennis match, Billie Jean showed that women can be just as great as men and she was often speaking out about the gender inequality she experienced both on and off the court. In 1981, one of her former female assistants spoke out about Billie Jean’s homosexuality, giving her negative press.
19 Frida Kahlo
We knew that Frida Kahlo had quite a tumultuous life (and marriage to Diego Rivera.) Maybe her relationship with the Mexican muralist was so rocky because she was actually attracted more to women. Historians tell us that Kahlo had extramarital flings with women, but also men. Some of those women include Dolores del Rio, Paulette Goddard, and Maria Felix. Perhaps some of her feelings toward females were depicted in her trippy paintings. After all, she did tend to dress in very masculine clothing and often depicted herself in men’s clothes as well. She was certainly a character, and one of the best painters to come out of Mexico.
18 Anne Heche
Anne Heche’s story sure is complicated. She was straight, then gay, and now … straight again? Hmm, Anne seems to change her sexuality as often as a teenager changes clothes. First, she was in a relationship with James Tupper, whom she cheated on after discovering her bisexual tendencies. Anne was then in a very public intimate relationship with comedienne Ellen DeGeneres. Their split was tragic. And then in 2008, Anne said that she had put being gay behind her. What? Yeah, we are just as confused as you are! When all is said and done, who knows what Anne wants?!
17 Wanda Sykes
Funny woman Wanda Sykes came out as a lesbian in 2008 at a gay rally. In fact, Sykes had been keeping her lesbian relationship under wraps and didn’t announce her marriage to her wife until a month after it happened. The gay community was quite open and accepting of Sykes' announcement. After all, she was among the few black lesbian celebs in the United States. Sykes also went on a fellow lesbian’s talk show (Ellen Degeneres, of course!) and spoke out about how so many people in the black community feel that they can’t be themselves. Serious stuff for such a funny comedienne!
16 Portia de Rossi
Portia de Rossi’s inner turmoil has definitely been on public view, poor thing. There was her bout with an eating disorder (for which she wrote Unbearable Lightness,) and there’s also her sexuality to consider. Portia struggled for some time to accept that she was a lesbian, and it was not until 2005 that she openly accepted and announced who she really was. Of course, her announcement disheartened a lot of males, but hey, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. Now Portia is married to Ellen DeGeneres and the two have been in a relationship for quite some time. While rumors of divorce have circulated, we doubt it.
15 Little Richard
Well, we’ll be honest: it didn’t really come as a surprise that Little Richard was gay. I mean, his outfits, his voice, his stage presence. It was all a bit flamboyant. Anyway, there is still a lot of talk about Little Richard’s sexuality. He said that he always loved the stuff that was usually reserved for girls, like dresses and dolls. He also performed as a drag queen in the 1950s. In 1995, Little Richard publicly stated that he was a gay man. Then in 2007, he was described as a bisexual, but we can’t be sure that Little Richard himself said that.
14 Meredith Baxter
In 2013, Meredith Baxter married her long-term partner, Nancy Locke. Baxter is most known for her role on the classic television show, Family Ties. Baxter had previously been married to a man, Robert Lewis Bush. Their marriage lasted three years, during which time they had two kids. After Robert, Baxter married yet another man: David Birney. They were married for 16 years and have three kids! But that didn’t work out. Yet Baxter still married yet another guy, this one Michael Blodgett. They got divorced 5 years later. So maybe the fourth time is the charm? We hope so, especially for Nancy’s sake!
13 Peter Allen
Peter Allen died back in 1992. He hailed from Australia and made a living as a singer-songwriter. Why do we know of him? Because he was married to Liza Minnelli for seven years. He was her first hubby, too. After the divorce, Allen came out as a gay man. He then had his relationship with Gregory Connell. Both Allen and Connell passed away due to complications and sickness from AIDS, which was prevalent among the gay community, particularly in males. Yet, Allen lives on, and there was even a Broadway musical made about his life. The Boy from Oz was the winner of multiple stage awards and told the story of his life.
12 Jack Wrangler
Back in the day, Jack Wrangler was known for his steamy-hot roles on the big screen. Often portrayed shirtless or scantily clad in as little clothing as possible, Wrangler was a total sex icon. He passed away in 2009 at the relatively young age of 62. He was married to Margaret Whiting, but had a prominent spot on the gay scene. Wrangler had starred in lots of movies, many of them of an erotic nature and meant for a gay audience. Was his marriage merely a cover-up? A documentary chronicles the life of Wrangler. It’s called Wrangler: Anatomy of an Icon.
11 Alice Walker
You may know Alice Walker as the author of The Color Purple, for which she won a Pulitzer Prize. Walker was first married to Melvyn Leventhal (much to the surprise of those around her) and then later had relations with multiple ladies. Perhaps her most famous lesbian pairing was with singer Tracy Chapman. Some have pointed to clues of Walker’s sexual orientation in The Color Purple. In the book, Walker depicts many of her male characters as being devilishly malicious. If anything, Walker’s life has been tumultuous. Her own daughter accused her of abandoning her. We’ll still read her book, though.
10 Michael Huffington
The public was utterly shocked when Michael Huffington came out as a gay man. What was the big deal? Weren’t people used to homosexuals in 1998? Anyway, the politician must have felt pretty relieved to get his secret out in the open. He even said that he was glad he wasn’t the senator of California, after spending a fortune on his campaign. He owns who he is, saying being gay is “part of who I am.” He was first married to Arianna Huffington, who supposedly knew Michael had gay tendencies before the marriage. Who knows what their friendship is like now?
9 Elton John
Singer Elton John (or Sir Elton John to all of us!) was first married to Linda Woodrow. The two had been dating for some time and the song “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” even references her. She must have been very special to Elton John! However, the singer then married Renate Blauel and then David Furnish. Elton John wasn’t always comfortable with his sexuality. Back in the 1960s, he was living as a heterosexual. It wasn’t until the late 1970s that he called himself “bisexual” and then in 1988, he deemed himself gay. We can imagine that the singer was thrilled when gay couples could be legally married in the UK.
8 Rock Hudson
It has been 30 years since actor Rock Hudson passed away, but his personal story is still getting a lot of talk. There was his public persona and life and then there was the story behind the scenes, after the camera stopped rolling. Hudson was hidden in the closet, and did not want the public to know about his sexuality. During the 1960s, Hudson was dating Lee Garlington, who is still alive today. Hudson himself passed away from AIDS, but back in the day, he had been evading rumors of his homosexuality. He eventually got together with Garlington and the two became lovers, but didn’t show any kind of romantic interest in each other while in public.
7 Alan Cumming
Apparently now Alan Cumming is bisexual, but back in the day he was just considered to be a straight man. We’ve seen Cumming in lots of different productions, such as The Good Wife, Cabaret, and the Spy Kids movie franchise. He was previously married to actress Hilary Lyon, and he even dated Saffron Burrows for two years. But in 2007, he came out and married a man, Grant Shaffer, with whom he lives in New York. Cummings has spoken out about LBGT issues and that identifying as gay pigeonholed him. He prefers to be deemed a bisexual because he feel that’s what he is.
6 Peter Marc Jacobson
Peter Marc Jacobson is the ex-husband of Fran Drescher, the actress who played the main character in The Nanny. Even so, Drescher and Jacobson are still good friends, and after 21 years of marriage, Jacobson is finally pursuing his real life and identity. Apparently, Jacobson told Drescher after several years of marriage that he suspected he might be bisexual. He was into fashion, but he also expressed his deep love and affection for his wife. Yet, refusing to give in to his homosexuality caused some inner turmoil for Jacobson. Now that he’s out, things are actually a lot better for both him and his ex-wife.
5 Jonathan Plummer
Jonathan Plummer was once married to Terry McMillan. The two actually appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show back in the day. Plummer is an interesting example, because he said that he didn’t discover his homosexuality until he was in his twenties. He was questioned by Oprah and the general public for that remark. How does one go through a heterosexual marriage without realizing that they’re actually gay? It was an interesting interview on the talk show segment. Plummer talked about how his culture “never thought about being gay,” it was looked down on, and “nobody wants to be gay.” Hm…
4 Freddie Mercury
Freddie Mercury passed away back in 1991, but people still remember this musical icon. He was the front man for the popular band Queen and who hasn’t tried to do his rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody"? It was no secret that Freddie Mercury had quite a stage presence, and while we all suspected he was “different” and “unique,” there were various accounts of how he approached his sexuality. Some people say that he was openly gay while others claim he was hiding his homosexuality from public view. Evidenced by his clothing choices and stage persona, we can’t really say he was hiding it…
3 Cynthia Nixon
In 2012, Cynthia Nixon finally married her partner Christine Marinoni. We know Nixon from her stint on Sex and the City, but she has also been an outspoken proponent of gay rights in the United States. Yet, Nixon was not always so adamant about her sexual identity. She was previously married to Danny Mozes, with whom she has two children. After the two split, Nixon started her relationship with Marinoni, stating that “homosexuality is a choice.” Needless to say, that was taken poorly by the LGBT community. Nixon actually considers herself a bisexual, which she calls “not a choice,” but a “fact.”
2 Vincente Minelli
Vicente Minelli was the father of Liza Minelli. He married Judy Garland in 1945, then split from her and went on to marry three other women. Even with all of his marriages, many people were suspicious that Vicente was not an entirely straight man. There were rumors that he was bisexual or even gay. Some said that he was openly gay before he started working in the film industry. Given his background in theater and acting, it was quite easy for Vicente to mask any homosexual tendencies with his career. And while people can debate about it, we can all agree that he was great at his career.
1 Richard Cromwell
Richard Cromwell was married to Angela Lansbury and made a living as an actor starting in 1930. He appeared in many prestigious productions and was admired for his skills and rise to fame. If you ask the historians, they’ll tell you that Cromwell was rumored to have had an affair with Howard Hughes. He was also said to hang around with George Cukor, who was gay himself. There was so much upheaval in his life: a marriage with a large age gap, secret friendships and meetings, and maybe even movie roles that hinted at his sexuality. Cromwell died when he was only 50 years old, the result of liver cancer.
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