2015 may have been the most progressive year in American history. After years of striving for equality, gay couples were finally granted the right to marry, as same-sex marriage was deemed legal in the United States after the Supreme Court ruled against state marriage bans. All around the country, people celebrated the monumental event by displaying the rainbow flag. Even the White House was lit up with the colors of gay pride (take that Republicans). It was also reported by several news outlets that more than half of Americans support same-sex marriage, a number that has continuously risen for years.
In fact, in 2015, the idea of sexual identity has changed altogether, becoming a less concrete matter. You no longer have to identify as gay or straight, you can be bisexual, transsexual, pansexual, sexually fluid, or nothing at all—no need to put a label on it.
It should therefore come as no surprise that 2015 marked the coming out year for a number of celebrities and prominent people. While there’s still a long way to go to until we can say that all people have equal rights, 2015 was a year of great change and progress.
Here’s the list of some of the biggest coming out stories of 2015.
10. Lily-Rose Depp
Lily-Rose Depp is the daughter of actor Johnny Depp and French singer Vanessa Paradis. At just 16 years old she’s already accomplished quite a bit for herself, having worked as a model for CHANEL and acted in a number of films. She made headlines this year for stating that she “falls somewhere on the vast [LGBTQ] spectrum.” What exactly does that mean? It means she doesn’t exactly identify as gay or straight—she’s “sexually fluid.” She represents a generation of people who no longer feel the need to identify their sexuality with strict labels. Proving that he’s a cool father, Johnny Depp said that he is proud of his daughter and supports her.
9. Miley Cyrus
While Miley Cyrus has been in a number of high-profile relationships with famous men—most notably Liam Hemsworth, Justin Bieber, and Patrick Schwarzenegger—she revealed in an interview this year that she is pansexual. Similar to being sexually fluid, pansexual means that the person’s sexual preferences are not limited to a specific gender (anything goes, basically). It should really come as no surprise that Miley is sexually progressive given her racy, highly sexualized performances, where she has been known to take the stage wearing nothing more than pasties and a thong (she recently added a giant prosthetic penis to her stage attire). Whatever your thoughts are about her, you’ve got to give her credit for breaking down social barriers and challenging prudish conceptions of sexual normality.
8. Reid Ewing
You might know Reid Ewing from Modern Family, where he plays dumb yet good-natured Dylan, the on-again, off-again (if it were up to Phil they’d never be off-again) boyfriend of Haley Dunphy. In real life, however, Ewing is gay, and he revealed this fact in the most casual way possible. When someone asked him on twitter if he had just come out, he responded by writing that he “was never in,” meaning that he had never kept his sexuality a secret. Ewing’s nonchalant attitude toward his sexuality is refreshing, and it suggests that one day soon people’s sexuality identities will no longer be newsworthy.
7. Holland Taylor
Holland Taylor is most recognizable for her role on the long-running series Two and a Half Men, where she played the mother of Charlie and Alan Harper. Taylor recently revealed in a radio interview that she is in a relationship with a much younger woman (who later turned out to be Sarah Paulson, 41, an actress best known for her work on American Horror Story) and that most of her relationships have been with women. Taylor is 72 years old, and she was likely willing to divulge her sexuality now, after waiting so long, because of the increasing acceptance of the LGBTQ community in Hollywood. It used to be that actors would hide their sexualities from the public their entire lives.
6. David Denson
You might not know who David Denson is (and chances are you didn’t know who he was before he came out as gay), but his story is no less significant than any of the celebrities on this list. Thanks to the help of Billy Bean (not to be confused with Billy Beane), a former MLB player who came out as gay in 1999, in 2015, Denson became the first openly gay active player in a Major League Baseball organization. Since coming out, he has been largely embraced by the baseball community, and MLB said that they were proud of him.
5. Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart is the star of the Twilight series and the highest paid actress of 2012. She had a highly publicized relationship with her co-star Robert Pattinson, which ended badly after it was reported that she had been cheating on him with another man. Stewart didn’t exactly come out this year—in fact, she resented the idea of “coming out,” saying that it wouldn’t be true to her—but she also didn’t deny the rumors that she had been dating a woman. Giving perhaps the most hipster response possible, she said, “If you feel like you really want to define yourself, and you have the ability to articulate those parameters and that in itself defines you, then do it. But I am an actress, man. I live in the f****** ambiguity of this life and I love it.” Good for her, man.
4. Joel Grey
At 83 years of age, Joel Grey is the oldest person on this list. He is a highly accomplished actor, having won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Tony Award (just an Emmy off from the coveted EGOT). He’s also the father of Dirty Dancing star Jennifer Grey. Before coming out as gay, Grey was married to a woman, Jo Wilder, for roughly 24 years. He came out in January in an interview with People, wherein he said, “I don’t like labels, but if you have to put a label on it, I’m a gay man.”
3. Michael Angelakos
Michael Angelakos is the lead singer of the indie band Passion Pit. Upon its release, his band’s second album, Gossamer, placed in the top ten of the Billboard 200. Like many gay men, Angelakos once tried to hide his sexuality and was even married to a woman for a brief period of time. Shortly after his divorce, he revealed in an interview with author Bret Easton Ellis that he is gay. He said in the interview that while he was married he wanted to believe that he was straight but he ultimately couldn’t deny the truth, and he attributed his inability to come to terms with his sexuality as a source of self-hate. Hopefully his coming out will help him become a happier person.
2. Tatum O’Neal
Tatum O’Neal was the epitome of a child star. Before starring in the sports movie classic Bad News Bears, she won an Academy Award at the age of 10 for her performance in Paper Moon, making her the youngest person ever to win the award. Before coming out this year in an interview with People, she was romantically linked to Michael Jackson and was married to famous tennis player John McEnroe, with whom she had three children. She didn’t come straight out and say that she is gay or bisexual, but she did say that she has mostly dated women.
1. Caitlyn Jenner
Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out as transgender wasn’t just the biggest coming out story of 2015; it was also one of the biggest stories in general of 2015. After years of speculation, Jenner went on 20/20 this April and revealed in a lengthy interview with Diane Sawyer that she is in fact a trans woman. Her coming out was especially shocking because she was a gold medal winner in the decathlon at the 1976 Montreal Olympics, and she was seen as a prime example of masculinity.
Jenner received widespread support after coming out, and she was championed as a pioneer in the trans community. She received the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2015 ESPY Awards and was named the most fascinating person of the year by Barbara Walters.
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