The pressures of being a celebrity can be daunting. Whether it’s on the red carpet, signing autographs, giving interviews, going to charity events, working on a new role or branding themselves in a new light, celebrities are always being watched (and judged) by the outside world.
Even the most celebrated of celebrities can face criticism from fans and critics alike when it comes to their personal life. Because they are in the spotlight, celebrities are often expected to lead nearly perfect lives. With the pressures to not only be (near) perfect at their jobs, but to be (or at least appear) flawless in their personal lives, it’s no wonder that coming out can be challenging for celebrities.
While most celebrities say they’ve had a positive reception to coming out as being bisexual or gay, others have credited coming out with harming their careers. As in any other career path, celebrities should be able to express their sexuality in any manner they choose without fear of being reprimanded for being honest about who they are.
Whether they’ve been out for years and simply don’t draw much attention to their sexuality, or they’ve just recently come out and caused a stir in the media for coming out, these eleven celebrities have shed light on their sexuality, knowing that doing so could draw a bit of positive - or negative - attention to their careers. Still, being true to who they are and not being afraid to be themselves has lead these celebrities to come out.
11 Kevin Spacey
Acting in some of Hollywood’s most memorable and shocking films, and having a role in one of television’s most popular series, it seems there isn’t much Kevin Spacey can’t tackle in his acting career.
His iconic roles in films like The Usual Suspects, L.A. Confidential, and American Beauty have solidified his acting resume. His role as Francis Underwood in the Netflix hit House of Cards allows viewers to see Spacey’s skills in action on an episode to episode basis. In addition to his awesome acting skills, Spacey is known for being a stickler about his privacy.
While he has never confirmed the rumors (that have been circulating since a piece by Esquire magazine asserted the actor was gay) about his sexuality, there have been many rumors circulating over the years alleging his attraction to men. Whether he’s bi, gay or straight, Spacey deserves as much happiness as anyone else.
10 Jason Collins
If you’re a fan of professional basketball, chances are you’re familiar with (now retired) NBA player Jason Collins. While Collins retired after his 2013-2014 season with the Brooklyn Nets, Collins helped his team get to the Semi Finals. Playing Center, Collins had 13 years of experience as a professional basketball player when he retired.
Coming out as the first openly gay NBA player in a May 2013 issue of Sports Illustrated, Collins kept his announcement simple. In the Sports Illustrated issue, Collins simply stated “I’m a 34 year old NBA Center. I’m Black. And I’m gay.” What makes Collins story so inspiring isn’t just that he was the first to come out as an openly gay NBA star, but that he acknowledges that being gay is simply part of who he is.
9 Wentworth Miller
British born American actor Wentworth Miller has had a diverse and varied acting career. Starring in both television and the big screen, Miller is known for his roles in the creepy, action-horror films including Resident Evil: Afterlife and Underworld, and television dramas including Prison Break and The Flash.
In a July 18th, 2014 interview with E! Online, the actor noted that coming out to the public in 2013 was a relief because he no longer felt that his public image was misrepresenting who he is. Despite his clean-cut and kick ass on screen persona, Miller seems relaxed and relatable in his identity.
8 Alan Cumming
Actor Alan Cumming is hard to forget. His unapologetic and creative nature seems to flow naturally and almost effortlessly. In his ever expanding career as a performer and entertainer, Cumming has had roles in various films, including GoldenEye, X-Men 2, The Smurfs and The Good Wife. Cumming has also penned a memoir (Not My Father’s Son) and a novel (Tommy’s Tale), and has the distinction of being a Tony Award recipient.
As a bisexual, Cumming has made his support of fellow actors coming out well known. In an interview with The Guardian in May 2012, Cumming noted he feels that people, particularly actors, should embrace their sexuality and noted that fellow gay entertainers Neil Patrick Harris and Ricky Martin are successful in their careers while being out of the closet. Alan Cumming’s commitment to being himself and being supportive of others is something everyone can learn from.
7 Ian McKellen
An icon in the world of classic Hollywood actors, Ian McKellen has been in the spotlight for fifty years. The actor has had roles in some of today’s most memorable fantasy and comic book films, including playing Gandalf in The Hobbit trilogy films, The Lord of the Rings films, and Magneto in the X-Men films.
In his roles, McKellen is able to make you believe his characters could in fact be real. Perhaps that believability has to do with McKellen’s great talent as an actor because of his honesty about his sexuality. In a 2015 interview with The Daily Mail, McKellen noted that coming out (at the age of 49 in 1988) allowed him to be a better actor because he was being true to who he is.
6 Rupert Everett
One Hollywood celebrity who’s had a less than ideal experience with coming out publicly is Rupert Everett. Everett’s film career includes the rom-com My Best Friend’s Wedding, the family friendly animated film Shrek 2 and the fantasy film Stardust.
Despite decades of acting experience and a healthy array of roles, Everett has expressed misfortune since his coming out. In a July 2014 interview with The Guardian, Everett noted that he feels his career has been lacking since coming out because no one wants to give a gay actor a role as a straight man. While this may be true, Everett’s talents should outweigh his sexuality when going out for new roles.
25 year old actress Raven-Symoné is known for both her film and television acting career. Starring in films like Doctor Dolittle and its sequel, and in hit television series like That’s So Raven and Kim Possible, Raven-Symoné has had a wealth of success in her young career.
While the actress has been vocal about her appreciation for gay marriage rights on her Twitter account, saying in a 2013 tweet “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.”, she has been careful in choosing her words when describing her sexuality. As the Huffington Post noted, when interviewed by Oprah, Raven-Symoné said that she preferred people didn’t use labels like “gay” to describe her.
In a world obsessed with labels and validation from such labels, it’s refreshing to see an actress like Raven embrace who she is without feeling that she has to conform to cultural norms.
4 Victor Garber
Working as one of Hollywood’s most notable actors, Victor Garber is hard to miss. Garber’s career has spanned decades and includes a wide variety of both television and film roles. Garber is known for roles in films including Argo, Sleepless in Seattle, and Titanic. Garber’s television roles include The Slap, Power, Motive, and The Flash.
According to a January 2013 article on E! Online, Garber was inspired to come out about his sexuality (and his partner of over a decade, Rainer Andreessen) after fellow actors and actresses made the bold move to come out publicly at an awards show. Comfortable in both his career and his personal life, Garber has no reason to hide his sexuality.
3 Jonathan Knight
The spotlight has been on singer Jonathan Knight for decades thanks to his boy band beginnings. Jonathan is one of the five members of the hit 90s boy band New Kids on the Block. With a loyal following of both old fans and new, NKOTB continues to tour and preform together in front of thousands of fans.
According to an ET Online article, Knight’s sexuality came to light thanks to another singer outing him. What is refreshing is Jonathan’s attitude about it all. In that same interview, he noted that his sexuality was never something he tried to hide, it was just never made public to preserve the band's image, though he made it clear that he is not ashamed of who he is. Knight’s relaxed approach to accepting and acknowledging his sexuality is something everyone can learn from.
2 Anderson Cooper
Television news anchor and in-the-trenches journalist Anderson Cooper is a passionate and dedicated celebrity reporter. Best known for his show Anderson Cooper 360 which appears weeknights on CNN, Cooper keeps his viewers informed on the latest national and global news. Cooper briefly had a talk show titled Anderson that had a two season run.
Unafraid to travel and explore the dangerous areas that create the nightly news headlines, Cooper is a natural in the realm of journalism. While he preferred to keep his personal life private, Cooper decided to clear the air on his sexuality in a 2012 interview with The Today Show. The news anchor noted that while he hadn’t talked about it publicly before, his sexuality was nothing new; he had always known he was gay.
1 Jane Lynch
A comedic powerhouse and acting veteran, Jane Lynch is known for both her memorable characters and natural acting ability. Lynch has been acting since the late '80s and is known for her roles in a variety of shows and films, including The Fugitive, Judging Amy, The West Wing, The 40 Year Old Virgin, The L Word, Boston Legal, Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs and most notably, her role as tough and sarcastic Sue Sylvester on the hit show Glee.
Despite her glowing success as an actress, Lynch has struggled to find acceptance with her sexuality. In a 2014 interview with People magazine, Lynch noted that she had a hard time accepting her sexuality as just a part of who she was, and felt it was like having a disease because being different made her feel insecure as a child and teenager. We are happy to see that today, Lynch has overcome her personal struggles and used those trials to motivate her toward her success.