If we are going to say anything for 2012 it is that there were a ton of famous actors, musicians and athletes to come out in that year. Each season there are new scandals and tabloid stories, but some of the most empowering media blitzes are those that surround a celebrity embracing their sexuality and coming out of the closet. In some cases the celebrity was never hiding their sexuality, it just wasn’t an issue that they thought had to be announced publicly.
Other more tragic cases involve someone getting outed with scandal or being forced out of the closet by bloggers in the way that Lance Bass was. But however the person came out, the fact that they celebrated their sexuality openly likely served as an inspiration for a kid out there that was too scared to tell the truth to their own loved ones. In 2012 society started to see homosexual people as equals instead of ‘not to be talked about’ scourges on society.
Fights for gay rights had been long underway and people were just starting to listen. This list of LGBTQ celebs has helped to create a positive view of gay people in Hollywood which only added to the fight as gay marriage became legal in 2015.
15 Paul Iacono
Iacono is most well known for playing RJ Berger on hit MTV show The Hard Times of RJ Berger. Iacono was born to Italian-American parents in Secaucus, New Jersey. As a young man, he had his fair share of hard times after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. After receiving treatment the young actor has been in remission since he was 11 years old. Iacono attended Professional Performing Arts School in New York where he first met one of his future costars Paul McGill (Fame).
In a Springtime interview with Michael Musco of The Village Voice Iacono revealed that he was gay. He is currently dating Mason Amelotte, a student at Columbia University. The year after his interview with Musco Iacono was put on OUT Magazine’s 100 Most Influential LGBTQ people of 2013. The young man has been an activist for gay rights since coming out and remains an influential member of the queer community.
14 Gillian Anderson
Award winning actress Gillian Anderson is best known for her role on hit sci-fi television series The X-Files, she played Agent Scully. She got her start on the stage before landing her role on television alongside David Duchovny. In the 90s Anderson married her first husband to which she bore one young daughter. They were divorced a few years later and in the later 00’s she married once more in a ceremony off the coast of Kenya. They, too, were divorced and Anderson is currently single living in London with her three children.
The proud feminist revealed in a 2012 interview with OUT Magazine that she has been a part of a few same-sex relationships in her past. Although she identifies now as completely heterosexual, the actress isn’t opposed to taking on a same-sex relationship in the future. Basically, if two human beings become interested in each other she sees no issue with them exploring that despite their gender.
13 Wade Davis
After playing college football at Mesa State and Weber State, Davis took on the NFL Europe in the early 2000s. He did a couple of preseason training camps with teams like the Tennessee Titans and the Seattle Seahawks but eventually retired due to injury in 2003. The young man was raised in Shreveport, Louisiana in a Southern Baptist family that attended church four to five times a week. He was a lonely boy growing up because of his speech impediment until he found football at the age of seven and made friends with his teammates.
Wade Davis came out publicly in 2012 when he mentioned how hard it is to be a closeted gay man in the NFL. Davis is the executive director of the You Can Play Project where he works to remove homophobia from the sports world. He works creating programs, curriculum, training and opening conversations which bring inclusion and diversity into sports.
12 Drake Jensen
Canadian country star Drake Jensen was born in Nova Scotia and was heavily influenced by his mother’s love of country music. As a young man Jensen was heavily influenced by Merle Haggard, George Strait, Ronnie Milsap, John Conlee and Charlie Pride. In 2012 Jensen came out of the closet in order to shed a light on the tragedy that can occur from LGBTQ bullying. After Ottawa teen Jamie Hubley committed suicide as a direct result of bullying Jensen dedicated the video for his title track on “On My Way To Finding You” to the LGBTQ teenager. That year he also released the song “Scars” written by Don Graham and Zita DeSilva and donated all proceeds from the album to Bullying.org. At the end of 2012, the country star released a cover of Tammy Wynette’s classic hit “Stand By Your Man” with a video that featured drag star William Belli from RuPaul’s Drag Race. He lives in Ottawa with his husband and personal manager Michael Morin.
11 Matt Bomer
In hit series Chuck Bomer played an equally loved and hated role, but he gained his real fame playing con artist Neal Caffrey in USA’s White Collar. Growing up in a suburb of Houston he acted at Houston’s alley theatre and eventually left to attend college at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His first role after college was in popular soap opera All My Children and continued to work in the soap opera game for a couple more years before landing larger primetime television roles. Now Bomer is a familiar face in popular FX series American Horror Story and also a recurring character in the Magic Mike movie franchise.
Bomer first openly addressed his homosexuality in an acceptance speech for the Steve Chase Humanitarian Award when he thanked his partner Simon Halls and their three children. That same year (2012) Matt Bomer was given the Inspiration Award for his work at the GLSEN Awards. He has been married to his partner, publicist Simon Halls, since 2011.
10 Sally Ride
Everyone knows about Sally Ride being the first American woman in space in 1983, she was the third woman of all time in space after USSR astronauts Valentina Tereshkova and Svetlana Savitskaya. She flew twice on the Orbiter Challenger before leaving NASA in 1987. After leaving NASA Ride worked at Stanford in the Center for International Security and Arms Control for 2 years before settling in as a professor of physics at UC San Diego. Ride wrote and co-wrote around seven children’s books with the goal of getting kids interested in space and science. Sadly, Ride died of pancreatic cancer in 2012 and her ashes were spread next to her father’s in Santa Monica. Her obituary revealed one of the few things we know about her personal life, her life partner was Tam O'Shaugnessy whom she was childhood friends. The pair wrote six books together. This revelation made Sally Ride the first known LGBTQ astronaut.
9 Jim Parsons
Parsons is best known for his role in Big Bang Theory as Sheldon Cooper, in fact, he’s received tons of awards for his work as Sheldon. He’s had some success on Broadway in The Normal Heart and is cast as God in the upcoming play An Act of God. He acted onstage for the first time at the age of 6 and he was heavily influenced by sitcoms like Three’s Company and Family Ties. Parsons attended The University of Houston, during the three years that he was there he had roles in 17 plays. After college, he enrolled in graduate school at University of San Diego and was accepted into an exclusive theater program in conglomeration with Old Globe Theater. When he graduated he moved to New York City where he still lives. In 2012 he was interviewed for The New York Times and noted that he was gay and had been in a serious relationship for the last 10 years with art director Todd Spiewak.
8 Megan Rapinoe
The professional soccer player plays for Seattle Reign FC and is a member of the United States Women’s National Soccer team. She was on teams that won the gold at 2012 London Olympics, 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup, and 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The young out athlete is sponsored by Samsung, Nike and DJO Global. She has played on a couple of Women’s Professional Soccer teams including Philadelphia Independence, Chicago Red Stars and magicJack along with a team in the French professional league.
Rapinoe came out to OUT Magazine when she admitted she’s been in a relationship with Sarah Walsh for the previous 3 years. After five years together the pair split up and Rapinoe is now dating pop artist Sera Cahoone. The couple got engaged in August 2015. She advocates for various LGBTQ organizations like Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) and Athlete Ally, a nonprofit that helps fight transphobia and homophobia in sports.
7 Mitch from Paranorman
When Paramount Pictures released Paranorman the right wing blew a gasket over Mitch, the first openly gay animated character to hit the big screen. The writer and director of the animated feature about zombies Chris Butler said that featuring Mitch in the story goes with the theme of Paranorman: breaking through stereotypes and misconceptions. They wanted us to look at zombies that we usually think are going to eat our brains and think for a minute, check out the dumb jock neighbor and realize that he could also be a gay man; the creators of the film wanted to challenge our smaller views of the world. There were mixed reviews about Mitch when the film came out but ultimately Paranorman was still a modest box office success. In 2013 GLAAD nominated ParaNorman for its GLAAD Media Awards, and in the process made it the very first PG animated movie to be nominated at this awards ceremony.
6 Paul Babeu
This shocking coming out story features politician and former Republican sheriff Paul Babeu. The sheriff is friends with controversial Judge Joe Arpaio, highly against immigration and surely for Trump’s giant wall idea. In 2012 while Babeu was running an exploratory committee to run for Congress when a scandal hit the media. Undocumented immigrant Jose Orozco went public with a story that he and Babeu had been lovers since they met online in 2006. Orozco went farther to say that Babeu knew Orozco was undocumented and the sheriff threatened deportation if the man didn’t remain silent after the relationship ended. A few days after this revealing media blitz Babeu spoke up and claimed that he was in fact gay and that was the only true fact in Jose Orozco’s story. Babeu stopped his bid to run for Congress and instead sought reelection as sheriff, which he won by a wide margin. Babeu is running for Congress this year in 2016 despite his own sisters backing his opponent Tom O’Halleran.
5 Frank Ocean
Singer, songwriter and rapper Frank Ocean has won the hearts of many with his smooth, innovative R&B tracks as well as his work with rap family Odd Future. In 2012 Ocean came out as not exactly straight in an open letter to his Tumblr blog. He announced that he had been in love before and that love was for a man, he used that blog post to thank the unnamed man for his influence.
This was a huge occasion in the hip hop community that is commonly known as a homophobic space. Beyonce and Jay Z were among the huge stars that voiced their support of Ocean in coming out and being able to finally feel like himself in the public eye. Russell Simmons used Ocean’s coming out letter as an opportunity to call out to the hip hop world for compassion and inclusive love at this pivotal time for the community. Ocean has since put out a new album that is transforming modern R&B.
4 Anne Burrell
Anne Burrell was an instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City until 2007, one year before her first show Secrets of a Restaurant Chef appeared on the Food Network. Anne’s first real work on the network was as sous chef to Mario Batali on the Iron Chef America series for the entire run of the popular show. She has appeared in countless other Food Network shows like The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Guy Fieri Roadshow and Chef Wanted with Anne Burrell. Her real breakout series was reality show Worst Cooks in America where she helped America’s least talented cooks pick up some basic skills.
Burrell claimed that she never kept her sexuality a secret so it’s impossible that she be outed, but the first public statement about her sexuality was from cookbook author Ted Allen on a radio show. After that interview, Burrell released a statement to the New York Post confirming that she is a lesbian and informing the world that she’s in a happily committed relationship with chef Koren Grieveson. The pair got engaged later that year.
3 Tammy Smith
Brigadier General of the US Army Tammy Smith was nominated to her position in 2012. She was awarded to Brigadier in a private ceremony held in Arlington National Cemetery at the Women’s Memorial. After Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was repealed Smith came out and married her partner Tracey Hepner in a lovely ceremony at the Jefferson Memorial in Washington D.C., the ceremony was officiated by a military chaplain. Smith’s wife, Hepner, co-founded the Military Partners and Families Coalition. This is a national organization that provides resources, support, education and advocacy for LGBTQ military partners and families. In 2013 Hepner was announced by First Lady Michelle Obama as a personal guest for the State of the Union Address. Tammy Smith served a year in Afghanistan and currently serves as Commanding General of the 98th Training Division in Initial Entry Training. When Smith came out she gave a voice to thousands of military personnel that were still hiding in the closet.
2 Ezra Miller
This actor, model, and musician made his break into film with Afterschool in 2008 but it wasn’t until his role in The Perks of Being a Wallflower that Miller really got noticed by Hollywood. He first started training for his place in the entertainment industry when he was just six years old. Miller began training as an opera singer to overcome a speech impediment and found a real talent in the craft. The actor has sung with the Metropolitan Opera and performed in the American premiere of White Raven, an opera by Philip Glass. In 2012 Miller spoke on his sexuality saying basically that he didn’t care much about gender, but that mostly he’s attracted she’s. He left the situation open-ended but alluded to past relationships with men. Since his coming out story Miller has been the star of dramas, comedies, and even superhero films so it is clear he’s here to stay in Hollywood whatever his sexuality may be.
1 Anderson Cooper
Timeless reporter Anderson Cooper is the sole host of Anderson Cooper 360° and is a major correspondent for 60 Minutes. His father was a writer and his mother was a fashion designer and heiress to old railroad fortune. Cooper comes from the Vanderbilt line, a family with a rich American history. He has been in the spotlight most of his life, as a baby Cooper was featured in Harper’s Bazaar and was a guest on The Tonight Show when he was only three. When he was 10 years old Cooper modeled for renowned agency Ford Models in campaigns for Macy’s, Ralph Lauren and other big brands.
For years as a famous reported Cooper avoided all talk of his personal life in interviews. But in 2012 he decided to candidly come out through an open email to a friend where he admitted to the public that he is gay. Cooper has been in a committed relationship with bar owner Benjamin Maisani since 2009, the couple purchased the Connecticut Rye House together in 2014. Anderson Cooper is the most prominent openly gay journalist in the world right now and he’s helping change the way we see LGBTQ people.