You probably know about all or most of the celebs on this list, but you may not be aware that they are only straight when they are on the screen. This is our ranking of 20 Absolutely Gay Celebrities Who Play Straight on Television. These actors are known for their great personas and skills in Hollywood, and it may surprise you to discover that their personal lives are quite different from their on-screen lives. Some of these actors have previously dated women but have since come out as openly gay. Others have always been dating the same sex, but may have kept it under the radar.
As more and more freedom and equality is granted to those in same-sex relationships, it seems that more and more celebs are taking pride in who they are. They are feeling more comfortable to express themselves more visibly and clearly for the public and their fans. And being gay does definitely not downplay their success in Hollywood. In fact, many of the stars on our list have won prestigious awards and have acted in some very notable films and television series. So sit back, read on, and enjoy these juicy tidbits about some of the actors you watch on a day-to-day basis.
21 Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Patrick Harris is well-known for playing the character of Barney Stinson on the television series How I Met Your Mother. He has also appeared in hits such as Doogie Howser, M.D., Starship Troopers, Beastly, The Smurfs, Gone Girl, Harold & Kumar films, and many more. He was named as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2010 and has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star. Patrick Harris came out as gay in 2006. He married David Burtka and they have twins via a surrogate mother (son Gideon and daughter Harper.) Elton John even attended their wedding reception!
20 John Mahoney
John Mahoney is an English-born American actor who is famous for playing Martin Crane on the sitcom Frasier. He assumed that role from 1993 to 2004 and has also performed on Broadway and on the stage in Chicago. His resume also includes voice work in The Simpsons, The Emperor’s New School, and other productions. Mahoney is very private about his personal life. He has had several romantic relationships but has never been married. He has also starred in Dan in Real Life, Burn Notice, Prelude to a Kiss, and many other works. The actor is now 75 years old and is still active in his career.
19 Jane Lynch
Jane Lynch is an actor, singer, and comedienne. She first achieved notice when she starred in the improv mockumentary Best in Show. She has played many characters in many different works such as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Rick Bobby, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Role Models, The Three Stooges, Two and a Half Men, iCarly, Weeds, and many others. She has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Her awards include a Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actress, Emmy Award, and People’s Choice Award, among others. Lynch is openly gay and is married to Lara Embry.
18 Portia de Rossi
Portia de Rossi is the famous wife of comedienne and talk show host Ellen Degeneres. Portia is known for playing a variety of characters, such as Lindsay Bluth Funke on Arrested Development. Portia has also starred on Ally McBeal, Nip/Tuck, and Scandal, as Elizabeth North. She was born in Australia and worked as a model before moving to Los Angeles in 1994. She was married to a man, filmmaker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 2001. She began dating Ellen in 2004 and in 2010 Portia published her autobiography, Unbearable Lightness. The story documents her difficult struggles with anorexia and bulimia.
17 Sara Gilbert
Sara Gilbert played the popular character of Darlene Conner, the daughter on the sitcom Roseanne. She also appeared on The Talk, a daytime talk show, when she was an adult. Gilbert is now 40 years old and has made a guest appearance on The Big Bang Theory. She also starred in Poison Ivy, Light It Up, Riding in Cars With Boys, High Fidelity, and Boys Life 3. She dated Johnny Galecki as a teen before realizing she was gay and she later had relationships with Allison Adler and Linda Perry. Perry and Gilbert got marries got married and had a son, Rhodes Emilio Gilbert Perry, on February 28, 2015.
16 Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin is perhaps most widely known for being a signer, but he is also an author and actor. He sang in the boy pop group Menudo and then started a solo singing career. Martin also starred in the soap opera General Hospital. One of the characters he has played was Miguel Morez. Martin also starred in the Mexican soap opera Alcanzar una estrella. He dated Rebecca de Alba on and off for 14 years. A surrogate mother gave him twin boys, Matteo and Valentino in 2008. He gave a speech in 2012 at the UN homophobia conference. He does humanitarian work and started the Ricky Martin Foundation.
15 David Hyde Pierce
David Hyde Pierce is a 56-year-old actor and comedian. He is known for playing the character of Niles Crane, who is a psychiatrist on the sitcom Frasier. He has won four Primetime Emmy Awards for his work on that show. He has also appeared in Bright Lights, Big City, A Bug’s Life, Chain of Fools, Osmosis Jones, Treasure Planet, Saturday Night Live, The Simpsons, Sesame Street, The Good Wife, and many others. Stage, screen, and animated features he has graced. He came out in 2007 and is married to Brian Hangrove. He has spoken out about Proposition 8 and homosexuality.
14 Sarah Paulson
Sarah Paulson plays character Harriet Hayes and many other famous characters. She has appeared in American Gothic, Jack & Jill, Down With Love, Path to War, The Notorious Bettie Page, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, The Spirit, The Glass Menagerie, Game Change, and many other productions. She acts in television, film, and stage. She dated men before forming a romantic relationship with Cherry Jones. They were together from 2004 to 2009. She has received various awards and nominations for her acting work. Paulson attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Manhattan’s High School of Performing Arts before moving on to Hollywood.
13 Maria Bello
Maria Bello is known for playing Edie Stall, Dr. Anna Del Amico, and Lucy Robbins, among other characters. She has appeared in Permanent Midnight, Payback, Coyote Ugly, The Cooler, A History of Violence, Thank You for Smoking, The Jane Austen Book Club, ER, Touch, and so many other works. She founded WE ADVANCE after the earthquake in Haiti. She also worked with Darfur Women Action Group. Her ex-boyfriend was Dan McDermott. She then started dating Clare Munn and published a book in 2015, Whatever…Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves. Bello has been acting for decades now and is on The CQ Matrix Company board.
12 Ellen Page
Ellen Page is a Canadian actor who is best known for her role as the teenage title character in the film Juno. Yet she is also widely known for other roles in Pit Pony, Trailer Park Boys, ReGenesis, Hard Candy, X-Men: The Last Stand and Days of Future Past, Whip It, Inception, and many others. Her awards include ACTRA Maritimes Award, MTV Movie Award, Austin Film Critics Association Award, and Atlantic Film Festival Canadian Award. She is a pro-choice feminist and came out as gay in 2014 at the Human Rights Campaign’s “Time to Thrive” conference. She is a vegan and possibly Buddhist.
11 Wentworth Miller
Wentworth Miller is a British-American actor who is most famous for playing Michael Scofield in the hit television series Prison Break. He is also a model, screenwriter, and producer. He has starred in The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Ghost Whisperer, Joan of Arcadia, Law & Order: SVU, House, and many others. Miller has received a Saturn Award for Best Guest Starring Role on Television. He came out as gay in 2013 after denying suspicions that he was homosexual. He attended the Human Rights Campaign Dinner in 2013 and talked about struggling with sexual orientation in Hollywood.
10 Cynthia Nixon
Cynthia Nixon is an actress most famous for playing the character of Miranda Hobbes in the television series Sex and the City. She has also appeared in Amadeus, The Pelican Brief, Baby’s Day Out, 5 Flights Up, Stockholm, Pennsylvania, and many other works. Her awards include the Theatre World Award, Screen Actors Guild Award, Primetime Emmy Award, Tony Award, and Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album, An Inconvenient Truth. In 2012, Nixon married her partner Christine Marinoni. She has two children with her ex-husband Danny Mozes. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006 and is a breast cancer activist.
9 Alan Cumming
You may recognize actor Alan Cummings from a variety of works. He is also an author and activist and has appeared in movies, television shows, and plays. He is known for playing Joe Therrian and many other characters and has appeared in Accidental Death of an Anarchist, The Bacchae, Cabaret, The Threepenny Opera, X-Men: United, Spy Kids, and The Good Wife, among others. He has won made awards, including the Olivier Award, British Comedy Award, FANY Award, Theatre World Award, Prism Award, Bailey House Award, National Board of Review Award, and so many more. He lives with his partner Grant Shaffer.
8 T.R. Knight
Theodore Raymond (T.R.) Knight is an actor most famous for playing the character of Dr. George O’Malley on the hit television series Grey’s Anatomy. He started his acting career at the tender age of 5 and has appeared not only on television, but on the Broadway stage as well. He married Patrick Leahy in 2013. Knight has also starred in several films, such as Garmento, The Last Request, 42, and A Year and Change. He did voice-over work for Doc Martens, Best Buy and McDonald’s. He has appeared in dinner theaters and stage readings, too! He is 42 years old.
7 Jodie Foster
Jodie Foster is an extremely famous actress who also happens to be gay. She is also a film director and producer and began acting in commercial ads when she was just 3 years old. She is known for playing various roles, including Annabelle Bransford. Foster has appeared in Taxi Driver, The Accused, The Silence of the Lambs, Nell, Contact, Panic Room, Flightplan, Inside Man, The Brave One, Elysium, and so many others. She has two sons and made a coming out speech in 2013 at the Golden Globes. She is an atheist and married actress and photographer Alexandra Hedison in 2014.
6 Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto is known for playing Dr. Oliver Thredson, Sylar, and Spock. He has appeared in So NoTORIous, 24, American Horror Story: Asylum, Heroes, the reboot of Star Trek, and many others. He is not only an actor, but a film producer as well. He came out as gay to the public in 2011, after the suicide of gay teen Jamey Rodemeyer. He appeared in Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays, which was a benefit stage reading following the approval of Proposition 8. He also starred in The Laramie Project: 10 Years Later. He is dating model and artist Miles McMillan.
5 Rock Hudson
Rock Hudson died in 1985, but he was a famous American actor. He was known for his roles throughout the 1950s and 1960s. One of his most notable roles was as Brad Allen in the 1959 film Pillow Talk. Rock Hudson has appeared in All That Heaven Allows, Giant, Tobruk, Magnificent Obsession, Ice Station Zebra, and much more. He was one of the first revered Hollywood celebs to pass away due to complications from AIDS. This sparked a lot of discussion about gay actors and HIV/AIDS. Rock Hudson kept much of his private life out of the public limelight while he was alive and acting.
4 Richard Chamberlain
Richard Chamberlain is now 81 years old. He is an actor who has appeared on screen and on the stage. He is also a singer and was quite popular during his teenage years. He was the title character, Dr. Kildare, on the television show that goes by the same name. He has also appeared in Shogun and The Thorn Birds. He had a romantic relationship with actor Wesley Eure in the 1970s. He then dated Martin Rabbett, an actor-writer-producer. Chamberlain won the Golden Apple Award in 1962, as well as a Golden Globe for Best TV Star (Dr. Kildare) in 1963. His other awards include the Photoplay Award, the Aftonbladet TV Prize, and the Steiger Award.
2 Jim Parsons
Jim Parsons is famous for his role of Sheldon Cooper on the super popular sitcom The Big Bang Theory. He has also appeared in The Normal Heart, An Act of God, Judging Amy, iCarly, Who Do You Think You Are?, Elf: Buddy’s Musical Christmas, The Muppets, School for Scoundrels, and many others. He has appeared on the television, the big screen, and on the stage. He has won TCA Awards, Emmy Awards, Golden Bloge Awards, TV Guide Awards, and many others. He has been in a gay relationship for 10 years with Todd Spiewak, an art director. He says that he and Todd have a very boring, normal romantic relationship. He’s low-key.
1 Russell Tovey
Russell Tovey is best known for playing George Sands, a werewolf character on the hit television hit Being Human. He has appeared on television and film, as well as on the stage. He also starred in The History Boys and Him & Her, among other productions. Tovey struggled with coming to terms with his sexual orientation and his family relations when he was a teenager. However, he came out when he was about 16 years old. He has been owning his sexual orientation since he was 18. He said that there was a lack of gay male role models for him during his youth. He does not identify as a flamboyant and “girly” gay man, just an average homosexual.