Over the past decade tons of celebrities have come out of the closet but some cultures have found it hard to accept gay lifestyles making it harder for those who identify with those cultures to come out. Latin Americans live in a very gender identified world where the man is meant to be macho and the woman should cook, clean and stay within the confines of a feminine stereotype.
Much of this comes from the very religious background of most Hispanic and Latino communities. It has been found that ⅔ of Hispanics identify as Roman Catholic, a church that, up until Pope Francis, was 100% against any type of gay person or lifestyle. Coming out to family is hard enough as an LGBTQ Latino but for Latina celebrities it’s an even more intense process. Though family will try to overlook their long ingrained prejudices, the wide world is a bit more fickle.
These brave Latin-American celebrities overcame their fear of a backlash from their communities and came out publicly. Singers, actors and athletes of Latin descent have stood on the LGBTQ platform built by those before them and came out to their peers, fans, and haters to be some of the few Latina celebs with the guts to do so.
15 Perez Hilton
The blogger and television personality makes his living off a blog of his name that delves into celebrity gossip. One of the Perez blog trademarks is doodling over paparazzi photos, he’s also been accused of outing celebrities. Perez was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents. He went to an all boys Catholic preparatory school before getting a full scholarship to prestigious New York University in 1996. Hilton graduated from NYU in 2000 and started pursuing a career in acting while working at various companies. While working as a freelance writer for various gay magazines, Hilton learned about blogging and thought that it looks easy; so he started his site that was first called PageSixSixSix.com.
Perez Hilton has never been in the closet but he is has been known for pushing other celebrities out of their comfortably erected closets. In 2006 the queen pushed both Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris to out themselves.
14 Emily Rios
Born in Los Angeles, California and raised as a Mexican American Jehovah’s Witness, Rios was first discovered while out at the mall with friends. Since then the actress has had roles in popular shows such as Friday Night Lights, and The Bridge. Her most recognizable role is as recovering drug addict Adriana in Breaking Bad.
The star has been open about the experience she had coming out to her Mexican-American family. When she describes the plight of an immigrant she explains that a parent hears that their child is gay and they think that they have a hard road ahead of them; that is what happened with Emily’s parents. In popular FX series The Bridge Rios plays a lesbian and the second season shows a look at her relationship with her nurse girlfriend. This role added to the small bit of media representation of lesbian couples and Rios was very involved in how the characters were portrayed.
13 Ian Matos
This Brazilian diver is most known for his appearance at the 2016 Summer Olympics in the synchronized 3m springboard event. After being inspired by British diver Tom Daley’s touching coming out speech on YouTube Ian Matos decided that he would like to come out as well. In 2014 Matos chose an interview with the newspaper Correio to publicly come out as gay. He said that he knew he was gay since he was a young boy but he couldn’t truly live his life until he moved to Rio de Janeiro. A friend had mentioned that he should stay in the closet until after the 2016 Olympics but he wanted to be true to himself, go to parties and be public with his boyfriends. He came out in hopes that it would not affect his ability to perform at the Olympics or to get sponsorships. Matos finished 8th in the Olympics behind his idol Tom Daley in third.
12 Dan Bucatinsky
East coaster Dan Bucatinsky was born in New York City to Argentinian Jewish parents. He graduated from Vassar in Poughkeepsie, New York before jumping into the acting world. The talented man has written, produced and acted in tons of quirky productions but he is best known for his role in the hit television show Scandal opposite America’s darling Kerry Washington. In 1992 Bucatinsky met Dan Roos who he invited to join him at the premiere of Love Field. The pair were married in 1998 during the four-month period that same-sex marriage was legalized in California. Roos and Bucatinsky have two children together and continue to live in wedded bliss. In recent years Bucatinsky has written a book that delves into gay parenthood and also starred in NBC sitcom Marry Me.
11 Michelle Rodriguez
This American actress, screenwriter, and DJ broke out onto the movie scene with the 2000 boxing drama Girlfight. She has also been featured in four of the eight Fast and the Furious movies and some would say she’s the most visible Latina in Hollywood. Rodriguez is well known for playing a strong, independent woman in tons of different action films since Girlfight which has always led to rumors that the actress is a lesbian. In a 2006 interview with Cosmopolitan Rodriguez said that she wasn’t a lesbian but had experimented sexually with both genders. The next year Rodriguez was outed as bisexual by Curve magazine but the actress claimed that the magazine put words in her mouth. It wasn’t until 2013 that Rodriguez finally felt comfortable telling the world that she was bisexual in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. Rodriguez believes that she’s just too curious to be interested in just one gendered human being.
10 Mondo Guerra
Mexican-American fashion designer Mondo Guerra was a runner-up in Season 8 of Project Runway, eventually going on to win the All Stars version of the series. Originally from Denver, Colorado; Guerra was the first contestant to compete on Project Runway from Denver. Before being cast Guerra attended the Denver School of the Arts. In the tenth challenge of the show Guerra told the judges that he was inspired for that challenge by his HIV+ status which he had kept a secret for many years. Though Heidi Klum was convinced that Guerra should be the winner he came in second that season. Two years later Guerra came back to compete in Project Runway: All Stars where he beat out all of the other contestants to finally take home a win. After coming out about his positive status Mondo Guerra was one of four relevant celebrities to ring out the opening bell on the New York Stock Exchange to usher in World AIDS Day.
9 Christian Chavez
The pop singer and Spanish telenovela actor who was outed by magazine photos of his intimate wedding ceremony to his Canadian boyfriend B.J. Murphy in 2007. The ceremony had taken place two years prior, the same year that same-sex marriage became legal in Canada. He came out officially the same month that the photos were posted and the singer was clear that previously he wasn’t ready to share that part of his life. Chavez and Murphy divorced in 2009 after many speculated that the pair were in an abusive partnership, though Chavez publicly states that him and Murphy have nothing but respect for each other. A few years later Chavez was linked to Los Angeles real estate agent Ben Kruger but just one year later Chavez was arrested for domestic violence at their Beverly Hills apartment. Chavez has lived a public life that has remained very controversial in the press.
8 Vicci Martinez
Third place finisher on The Voice in 2011, Vicci Martinez has since released two albums. Born to a Mexican-American family in Tacoma, Washington, Martinez started performing when she was 16 years old. She prefers acoustic rock and writes lyrical songs that are often heartfelt and autobiographical. In 2005 Martinez released On My Way simultaneously with Vicci Martinez Live, a DVD that received some positive press. Her next CD release was a Live recording from a performance at Jazzbones in Tacoma, Washington. The soulful singer won the regional tryouts for the very first season of American Idol but declined to move on due to the restrictive contract, though she did go on to star on the 2003 run of Star Search. Her real shining moment was when she competed on the popular series The Voice in 2011. Even Billboard magazine commended her for her soulful performances and her ability to mold herself into all of the fabulous songs that she chose.
7 Linda Perry
This talented singer and songwriter was famous in her early days for being the frontwoman of popular group 4 Non Blondes. Since those days she has written tons of popular songs for other artists and has actually been inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame since 2017. Perry grew up in an artistic and musical household in Springfield, Massachusetts until moving to San Francisco to pursue her dream of being involved in music. She became known as the street singer that had a big voice and started performing at coffee shops and nightclubs shortly after arriving in the city. 4 Non Blondes formed and Perry was not pleased with the amount of studio bull that had to be endured to be in a major band. Perry has been openly gay for a long time, proudly carving ‘dyke’ into her guitar for a 1994 Billboard Music Awards show with 4 Non Blondes.
6 Orlando Cruz
This Puerto Rican boxer was one of the few out boxers in the world and was one of the first inductees into the National Gay and Lesbian Sports Hall of Fame in the Summer of 2013. The amateur represented Puerto Rico at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia. Currently Cruz is ranked No. 4 among featherweights by the World Boxing Organization. The actor became the first boxer to come out as gay in 2012 and stated that he will always be a Puerto Rican and he will always be a gay man. He won his first fight after coming out on October 20, 2012; proving to the world that gay or straight he could be a professional boxer. When he came out Cruz was clear that he wanted to be a role model for any kids that may be looking into boxing. The year after he came out Cruz married his boyfriend Jose Manuel Colon in New York’s Central Park.
5 Patricia Velasquez
Some say that Patricia Velasquez is the first supermodel of Native American descent. The actress and model was born to a Venezuelan father and her mother was of the indigenous Wayuu people. Both of her parents were teachers which prompted the family's move from Venezuela to Mexico and France. In 1989 Velasquez participated in the Miss Venezuela pageant where she placed as 2nd runner-up. She studied at university for three years before travelling to Milan to pursue modelling. About a decade later Patricia studied acting in New York and Los Angeles to enhance her repertoire but just the next year she began walking in RTW shows for designers as big as Dolce & Gabbana. She’s appeared in many hottest women in the world lists for magazines like Stuff and Maxim. During February 2015 Velasquez released her memoir Straight Walk where she discussed her sexuality for the first time, making her the first out lesbian Latina supermodel.
4 Patricia Yurena
This beauty queen was the first Miss Spain to be an openly gay woman, she has represented Spain in the Miss World and Miss Universe pageants. It was 2013 that Patricia Yurena won the title of Miss Universe Spain where she earned her ticket to compete in the Miss Universe pageant in Moscow, Russia. The first time she won this contest was in 2008 but when booking her ticket to the Miss Universe finals it was found that the rules prohibited anyone under 18 from competing so the runner up went instead. When Yurena finally made it to the Miss Universe pageant in 2013 she was granted 1st runner-up to Maria Gabriela Isler of Venezuela who also happened to be her roommate. Yurena was the second Spanish woman to receive a First Runner Up prize and came out somewhat impulsively on her Instagram page in 2014. The touching post featured an intimate photo of her and girlfriend DJ Vanessa Klein with the caption ‘Romeo + Juliet’.
3 Sebastian Ligarde
The actor and coach can boast a telenovela and movie career that spans four decades working on over 25 shows and 90 films. His career first began in 1974 performing in a Mexican play Fortune and Men’s Eyes which gave him inspiration to try out for movies until landing his first film role two years later. He decided to get some foundation and got a degree at University of Texas at Austin in directing with a minor in acting. After graduating, Ligarde moved back to Mexico to further his acting career. He came out well into his career in an interview with TVyNovelas magazine saying that he was gay and has been in a stable, loving relationship for the last ten years. Ligarde said that he was inspired by Ricky Martin coming out in 2010, it’s hard to be a male celebrity in the Latino community where machismo is coveted. Ligarde saw Ricky Martin come out and felt like he could do it too without hurting his career.
2 Ricky Martin
After years and years of press and fans questioning whether or not Spanish speaking singer Ricky Martin was gay he finally came out in 2010 in a post on his official website. He stated that writing his memoirs got him really close to his own inner truth and he realized that living in a lie would diminish his own natural glow that he has passed onto his twin sons. Beginning his career at the age of 12 obviously stopped Martin from being able to address his sexuality openly because he had been groomed to be a Latino and American sex symbol. But he has grown out of that natural instinct to hide his sexual preferences and has since spoken at the UN Homophobia conference in November 2012. Martin is currently in a relationship with Syrian Swedish painter Jwan Yosef. Ricky Martin has stated that coming out feels so good that he wished he had done it 10 years prior.
1 Wilson Cruz
This stage and television actor is beloved for his role in cult classics like My So Called Life and Rent. He was born in Brooklyn, New York to a Puerto Rican family that eventually moved to Rialto, CA where he attended Eisenhower High School until he graduated in 1991. When Cruz entered the acting world he set a goal to remain out and proud for his entire career which probably helped to land him the historic role of Rickie in My So Called Life opposite Claire Danes. Rickie was the first openly gay character in a leading role on a television series. After the series was cancelled in 1996 Cruz starred in a couple of other roles until landing a Broadway stint as Angel in the popular musical Rent.
After playing such pivotal roles representative of gay youth Cruz got involved with LGBTQ Youth activism, specifically with gay youth of color. He has been Grand Marshal of the 1998 West Hollywood and the 2005 Chicago Pride Parades. In 2008 Cruz was even the keynote speaker for the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Lavender Graduation and Rainbow Banquet which is meant to honor LGBTQ graduate students.
Sources: afterellen.com, huffingtonpost.com, outsports.com, rollingstone.com
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