The LGBTQ community is growing, both in terms of members who identify as LGBTQ or straight supporters who want to help the cause. In 2016, it seems that there is still work to do, although great gains have been made in recent years. More and more states in America are legalizing same-sex marriage and are opening their doors, hearts, and minds to same-sex couples. Still, it is difficult for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals to be taken seriously or treated with respect in some places. There are still people out there who turn these individuals away from their homes and businesses, but with the help of organizations and groups that promote acceptance and tolerance, circumstances can shift.
We are going to name 15 LGBTQ Celebrities You Didn’t Know Came Out in 2016, so that you can see just how many celebs are taking a stand for this community. You may know of some actors, musicians, and authors who have come out as gay (think Wanda Sykes and Zachary Quinto), but there may be other famous people you didn’t know identify as bisexual, lesbian, gay, or somewhere else on the spectrum. So take in this information and you will see just how many people belong to and feel connected to this community.
We should point out that there are also some celebs who have been rumored to be gay or lesbian or something else, but the gossip is false, and they won't appear below. One example is singer Selena Gomez. While she doesn’t identify as an LGBTQ individual, she is still happy that she's able to be a positive role model. Are there any names on this list that really surprised you? Feel free to share the list on social media!
15 Kristen Stewart
Actress Kristen Stewart was the other half to actor Robert Pattinson for years, and the two were a discrete power couple in Hollywood in the past. Yet in early 2016, Stewart came totally forward and proclaimed her sexuality for all to hear and see. The 26-year-old is now in a romantic relationship with her personal assistant Alicia Cargile, and before that, Stewart was dating Soko, French actress and musician. Just two years ago, Stewart was ending her long-standing relationship with Pattinson, and before that, she was dating another one of her co-stars, Michael Angarano. Stewart and Cargile have only been dating since July of 2016, but Stewart has expressed that she is very happy with their relationship. As for Cargile, she may be a bit more rampant with her sexuality, as she was seen donning a baseball cap that said “Make America Gay Again.” It was obviously a direct hit to Presidential candidate, Donald Trump.
14 Aubrey Plaza
Who didn’t love watching Aubrey Plaza play Andy’s (Chris Pratt’s) girlfriend April on Parks and Recreation? Plaza plays the perfect cynical Debbie Downer character, but the 32-year-old actress’ unique and distinguishable character traits aren’t the only thing that makes her special. Plaza revealed earlier in 2016 that gender “isn’t a factor” for her when it comes to dating and romantic relationships. The actress is perfectly fine getting with someone whether they are a girl, guy, or don’t identify as either. Plaza’s revelation came during an interview with The Advocate, one of the most influential gay news magazines. Plaza did not call herself a bisexual, but she did say that she has a very “androgynous and masculine” aura about her, and that tends to attract many different kinds of people, which she is totally cool with. She then blatantly stated that she falls in love “with girls and guys,” and that she can’t help it.
13 Mara Wilson
Sometimes it takes a tragedy for people to open up about their own struggles. So it was with Mara Wilson, the 28-year-old actress who starred in hit films such as Matilda and Miracle on 34th Street. Wilson was so deeply moved after the shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, that she Tweeted her emotions and truth for her fans. Wilson wrote “F*cking hell, Orlando.” She then referred to a picture of herself ten years ago at a gay nightclub and added the caption: “I have never had a better experience at a club than I did then...the LGBT community has always felt like home, especially a few years later when I, uh, learned something about myself.” Wilson then pointed out the Kinsey scale, which some people use as a measurement of one’s sexuality, from 100% straight to 100% homosexual. Wilson stated that she was a 2, meaning that she identifies as a queer and a bisexual.
12 Colton Haynes
Actor Colton Haynes started 2016 by unloading a heavy burden about his sexuality. The 27-year-old actor is best known for his role on the MTV series Teen Wolf, and he chose a subtle way to break the news about his sexual orientation. Taking to social media, Haynes commented on a Tumblr post that someone wrote which explained how they were shocked to hear about Haynes’ “secret gay past,” and that it got them “so excited.” Haynes then responded to the Tumblr post, writing “Was it a secret? Let’s all just enjoy life & have no regrets.” Many people have assumed that this was Haynes’ way to publicly coming out as gay, even though he didn’t say he was gay directly. It is safe to say that he took a nonchalant approach and that he no longer has to worry about his sexuality being a secret. He certainly made the Tumblr world happy!
11 Reid Ewing
If the name Reid Ewing sounds familiar, that’s because he is one of the famed actors from the hit TV series Modern Family. Ewing plays the role of Dylan, who is a recurring secondary character in the show, which is no stranger to exploring societal norms and challenges, such as same-sex relationships. The 27-year-old actor stepped forward earlier this year to share some serious information about himself. When writing on a guest blog post for HuffPost Healthy Living, Ewing wrote about his struggles with body dysmorphia before taking to Twitter to tell everyone in the chillest way possible that he is gay. His tweet read: “Saw Eugene Bata on @GMA in the Body Dysmorphia segment connected to my article I just want to say he is hot af.” Someone commented and asked “Did you just out yourself?” to which Ewing replied “I was never in.” *Drops mic* That’s the way to do it!
10 Shane Dawson
For years, YouTube sensation and funny guy Shane Dawson was suspected of being gay. He would often perform hilarious skits in which he would play flamboyant characters or feisty females. Plus, with his cute emo haircut and his higher-pitched voice, he set off plenty of people’s gaydar. A few months ago, Dawson released a YouTube video on his channel simply titled “I’m Bisexual.” In the video, Dawson told his 6 million followers that he had been struggling with his sexual identity for years, and that he wasn’t sure whether he was straight or gay or somewhere in between. He hoped that by releasing his video for his fans, others would realize that they’re not alone in their struggles with sexuality. Stating that, “I don’t know who I am 100 percent. And I know that a lot of you guys might feel the same way,” Dawson preferred to call himself a bisexual.
9 Ryan Beatty
Another celeb who came out in 2016 was singer Ryan Beatty. The 20-year-old became famous thanks to his stellar YouTube videos that showed off his vocal talent and charming good looks. Beatty then began to break out into the public sphere and could be one of the next great male solo artists. A few months ago, Beatty used social media (fittingly enough, since that’s where he achieved fame) to tell his fans that he was gay. His Instagram post included the words “raging homosexual” and “gay power.” Beatty stated that it took him two decades to come to terms with his sexuality, but now he is “comfortable enough to say it” and “can finally breathe.” The singer also took to the Twitterverse and Tweeted: “i’m so happy i’m gay” and he also thanked his friends and family for their support. The announcement came right before the release of his single, “Passion.”
8 Rayvon Owen
Some of you may remember Rayvon Owen from American Idol’s 14th season, on which he was the third runner-up. The 24-year-old singer was nearly guaranteed success in the music world after his American Idol performances, but people were not expecting the star to come out, especially in the way that he did. Owen released a music video for his song “Can’t Fight It” earlier this year, and in this video, he explores the concept of his sexuality and how he had to come to terms with it. In “Can’t Fight It,” Owen can be seen going through a nightclub, and the sexy vibe lets us know that something’s up. By the end of the music video, Owen has found a guy that suits his fancy. He takes the man’s hand, kisses him, and thus reveals that he is now an openly gay singer. Plus, the other guy in the video was played by Shane Bitney Crone, a pivotal advocate and public figure in the LGBTQ community.
7 Gloria Vanderbilt
Famed and respected news journalist for CNN, Anderson Cooper, has been out as a gay man since 2012, but earlier this year he was thrown for a loop when his own mother, Gloria Vanderbilt, dropped some bombshell information. Vanderbilt spoke during a joint interview alongside Cooper and revealed that when she was a teenager, she had a lesbian relationship with one of her classmates. It was a piece of information that had been unknown to Cooper for his entire life, and the way the journalist reacted was downright adorable, as he shrugged his shoulders at his mom and said, “What? This is news to me.” Mother and son shared a cute giggle together and Cooper seemed grateful to know that his own mother had experimented with her sexuality. The whole thing was quite touching, and in fact, Vanderbilt wrote a book with her son which was recently published entitled The Rainbow Comes and Goes: A Mother and Son On Life, Love, and Loss.
6 Nur Warsame
Nur Warsame is an imam in Australia, and for those of you who don’t know an imam is an Islamic worship or mosque leader in the Muslim faith. Warsame came out at the start of the summer in 2016 and became the first imam in Australia to openly identify as gay. Naturally, Warsame has dealt with an outpouring or both support and hate. There have been a number of mosques in Australia that will not accept Warsame through its doors, while other Muslim leaders have spoken out against Warsame and said that his acceptance of his sexuality is wrong. On the other hand, there have been other leaders and people in the public who have commended Warsame for his actions. Warsame was previously married to a woman and he also has a young daughter. He is now an advocate for other Muslims who may be struggling with their own sexuality.
5 Justine Greening
Justine Greening is a 47-year-old politician in England. She recently revealed that she had been in a same-sex relationship, and this makes her the very first openly-out female cabinet minister of the British Government. What makes this even more newsworthy is that Greening belongs to the Conservative party of the British Government and became the Secretary of state for Education earlier this year. Back in 2013, she made it onto the list of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the United Kingdom, as compiled by Woman’s Hour. In June 2016, Greening used Twitter to tell the world that she and her girlfriend were in a very happy relationship together. She was clever about it too, using a nice pun when she referred to the EU Membership Referendum, which considered whether or not Britain should leave the United Kingdom. Greening played it up by Tweeting: “I campaigned for Stronger In but sometimes you’re better off out!”
4 George Shelley
Singer George Shelley is famous for being part of the music group Union J, and now he is playing with the prospect of becoming a solo artist and trying to make his way in Hollywood. The young and sweet star is not willing to identify himself as “gay,” but he definitely is not straight either. Shelley has admitted in the past that he had a big crush on Dutch DJ Calvin Harris, but Shelley also stated that he is attracted to girls as well. His bisexuality is something that he is okay with, but he does not necessarily want to be labeled as a bisexual. As he stated in an Internet video that he released for his fans at the beginning of 2016, Shelley told everyone that he “wouldn’t put a label on” his sexual orientation because he still likes girls and wouldn’t want to be in relationships only with men.
3 James Franco
Actor James Franco spoke to People magazine and had something interesting to say about his sexuality. The 38-year-old actor said that he identifies as “a little gay,” meaning that he is not one-hundred percent straight, but he is not one-hundred percent gay either. While he does not find himself sleeping with loads of gay men, he is a bit of a “tease” and does not mind being flirtatious with them. Granted, Franco has been a pivotal actor in recent years and he has not been afraid to take on important yet challenging roles, including his character roles in Milk, Howl, and I Am Michael. The actor also spoke out and said that Hollywood and the general public are just a bit too obsessed with figuring out celebrities’ sexuality. It can feel a bit forced, and that is so not how sexuality should be. We’re sure there are others who would agree with him.
2 Amandla Stenberg
Cutie Amandla Stenberg is best known for playing Rue in The Hunger Games film series. The 17-year-old actress came out in a heartfelt video in early 2016 to tell the world that she was “a black bisexual woman” and that she understands the discrimination and hate that is being flung at the LGBTQ community. She said that she feels the pain and that it hurts, and she wants to be an advocate for change and acceptance. Given her reputation and presence in the teenager public sphere, Stenberg talked to Teen Vogue via SnapChat to interact with the magazine and its readers. She feels so much better now that she doesn’t have to hide or limit who she is and how she really feels. Citing other black actresses and singers, Stenberg said that she was getting loads of support from the Hollywood community and that she was extremely grateful for that.
1 Rowan Blanchard
14-year-old actress Rowan Blanchard spoke up at the start of 2016 and proclaimed that she did not want to be tied down by any labels in regards to her sexuality. The star of the Disney Channel TV series Girl Meets World loudly and proudly affirmed her queerness, and her public statement could be the shifting of tides when it comes to the Disney Channel and its reputation for employing straight-laced and clean cut child and teenage actors. Blanchard used Twitter to declare to the world that she was not interested in sticking a label on herself or her identity, but that she preferred to just be known as a queer actress. In her Tweet, the actress wrote: “I personally don’t wanna label myself as straight, gay, or whateva so I am not gonna give myself labels to stick with - just existing.” She is “open to liking any gender,” and that is why she identifies as queer.