The decision to come out of the closet is a personal one that each person is entitled to go about however they please. Some LGBTQ+ people live their lives loud and proud, while others choose to be more private about their s*xuality. However, if you are a celebrity, sometimes the privilege to choose is taken away from you by the paparazzi or someone looking to get their 15 minutes of fame.
Gay celebrities have been outed in the press throughout history. Many closeted celebrities choose to keep their s*xuality a secret because they do not want it to destroy their careers, or endure scrutiny. They might have conservative families but the media only cares about getting a juicy story out into the world.
Being outed without consent is a difficult experience that many celebrities have had to endure over the years. Some were caught in scandalous photographs, while others were betrayed by friends who spilled their secrets. Either way, these celebrities did not get to choose how the public found out about their s*xuality.
Some celebrities have come forward saying that they were ultimately glad to come out and be able to live an open and honest life. Many of these celebrities have gone on to become activists and enthusiasts for the LGBTQ+ community. Although, there are still some who choose to keep quiet about their personal lives and relationships and have never confirmed the rumors or allegations. Check out this list of 15 closeted celebrities that were outed against their will.
15 Michelle Rodriguez
Michelle Rodriguez was shocked to see herself on the cover of the lesbian magazine, Curve, mostly because she had never approved of it and had not come out as a bis*xual to the public at that point. However, she did not take it as an insult and once she had confirmed what the magazine had said about her s*xuality, the actress has been very open about having both male and female partners.
The actress also said that she had a “big lesbian following” and would never disrespect anyone who showed her love. However, she did say that it was not right for the magazine “to put words in someone’s mouth and place people in categories.” She added that the magazine never informed her that they were planning on using her image to sell their product.
14 Anderson Cooper
The famous news anchor Anderson Cooper lived his life in the closet for some time, however, he was constantly surrounded by rumors about his s*xuality. After the allegations got out of hand, Cooper came out in an email to the journalist, Andrew Sullivan writing, “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”
Although the decision to confirm his homos*xuality was ultimately his, Anderson was somewhat forced by the media to discuss his private, romantic life when he had clearly tried to keep that information to himself in the past. He said that he did not think it was “anyone else’s business” but that he believed in “standing up and being counted.”
13 Queen Latifah
Queen Latifah is an actress and talkshow host who has not ever spoken much about her s*xuality. However, when the tabloids caught a photo of Latifah with her trainer, Jeanette Jenkins, her fans had a lot of questions for her.
The photos of the actress and her then-girlfriend were published in 2010. Queen Latifah has yet to confirm her s*xuality with the public. The actress and talkshow host is fairly active in the LGBTQ+ community. Latifah's s*xuality is often referred to as an "open secret" in the Hollywood community, as she is regularly spotted out being affectionate with reported girlfriends. She recently opened up about how “difficult” it was for her to decide to play a gay character in the 1996 film, Set it Off, but said that she decided to do it so that she could “bring positive attention to the gay African-American community.”
12 George Michael
In the late nineties, the pop star George Michael was outed after he was caught engaging in an inappropriate act with another man in a public restroom by an undercover police officer. He was arrested and the news spread like wildfire. The media blew the arrest out of proportion and outed the celebrity. Following the incident, he was forced to confirm his homos*xuality and come forward about his relationship with businessman, Kenny Gross.
The superstar was ultimately handed a couple hundred dollar fine and assigned 80 hours of community service for the incident. The singer had a sense of humor about the whole incident, even mocking it in a music video for his song "Outside." Several years later, George Michael admitted to hiding his true s*xuality because he did not want to upset his mother or have her worry about AIDS.
11 Lance Bass
Lance Bass is mostly known for being in the popular boy band, N'SYNC, which had hits like "Bye Bye Bye" and "Tearin' Up My Heart." He is known today as being a proud gay advocate but unfortunately, he did not get to make the decision to come out himself. The pop culture website Perez Hilton bullied the singer into going public with his s*xuality, giving him "24 hours to decide to come out or not."
Bass revealed that the "malicious" blogger hounded him to come clean but ultimately, he went with People magazine to do an exclusive interview. The singer is now married and admits that he wished he had been honest about his s*xuality earlier in his career but that he had a lot of "pressure" to keep his "secret."
10 Matt Bomer
Matt Bomer was forced to admit that he was gay when the paparazzi released photos of him making out with another man. At that point, the photographs were pretty telling of the truth but he still felt he needed to come out to the public himself.
On the bright side, the actor said that hiding his s*xuality all these years is what he attributes to his great acting skills, even saying it was all a "ruse to survive." Bomer was raised in a conservative Christian home and felt that he had no choice but to keep his s*xuality a secret. The actor said he realized he was gay when he was performing classics like Romeo and Juliet at the Utah Shakespeare Festival when he was growing up.
9 Jonathan Knight
Jonathan Knight is another boy band singer who was pushed out of the closet. The pop star's ex-girlfriend decided to get revenge on him by saying that he "became gay" in an interview. Knight later confirmed his homos*xuality in a blog post but said that he had never "hidden the fact."
The singer said that he was also pressured by the celebrity blogger, Perez Hilton, clarifying that he was already gay and "living a gay lifestyle" but now he was being asked to talk about it. He also said that he felt "stupid" about having to make a public statement about his s*xuality. Jonathan got engaged to his longtime partner, Harley Rodriguez in 2016. The couple met in 2008 while competing on The Amazing Race together.
8 Ricky Martin
Ricky Martin was speculated to have been gay long before he was outed. The Latino singer was outed by his skincare guy, Ole Henriksen, during an interview. The aesthetician was asked who he would like to go on a romantic getaway with and he replied, "I'd say my client Ricky Martin."
Ricky Martin then came out on his official website, writing a lengthy note to his fans in English and Spanish which said that "these years in silence made [him] stronger and reminded [him] that acceptance has to come from within." He continued to say that his coming out was an important step in finding "inner peace." He finished by saying that he was "proud" to be a "fortunate homos*xual man." Despite the fact that he was nudged into coming out of the closet following the remarks Henrikson said, he was ultimately glad to finally be living truthfully.
7 Neil Patrick Harris
Another victim of Perez Hilton's blackmail bullying was the actor Neil Patrick Harris. The actor described it as a "witch hunt," which ultimately factored into his decision to come out publicly. The How I Met Your Mother actor said that he could sense "media scrutiny" coming his way and he did not want his "private life" to be "based on a scandal."
Harris made a statement in order to "squash the fires" and said that he was happy to "dispel any rumors or misconceptions" and that he was happy to be living as a "content gay man." By that point, the actor had been in a relationship with the same man and their families had already known but he was still forced to let the public in on his private life. The couple is now married with two adorable children.
6 T.R. Knight
T.R. Knight was outed by a fellow homophobic actor, Isiah Washington, who was allegedly fired from Grey's Anatomy for calling Knight a very offensive word during a heated argument with Patrick Dempsey. T.R. later went on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and told the host that he had never been called that in his life and "something shifted" for him when he had.
Although he was not officially outed per se, T.R. Knight was forced to publicly come out of the closet after his former co-star made those comments, referring to him as a gay man. Looking back, the actor has said that he now feels a "strength" in knowing that he is being true to himself. He is now happily married and acknowledges that the fact that gay marriage is legal in the United States is "incredible" and that many people "suffered greatly" in order for him to be able to live his life this way.
5 Kristen Stewart
Kristen Stewart was in a relationship with her Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson back when she was getting used to stardom. After they ended things, the actress was spotted looking romantic with a female in Hawaii. The paparazzi snapped photos of the pair holding hands and snuggling, which essentially outed Kristen.
Stewart later appeared on Saturday Night Live, where she referred to herself as “so gay.” She now describes herself as an “utterly proud” bis*exual and has found the whole experience with coming out to be “empowering.” She said that she thought that it was “cool” that she didn’t feel the need to “nail down” her s*xuality and that she was acknowledging that s*xual “fluidity” has always existed but now everyone is able to talk about it.
4 Tim Cook
Tim Cook, better known as the CEO of Apple, was outed by the CNBC news anchor, Simon Hobbs in 2014. Hobbs said on television that he thought "Tim Cook [was] fairly open about the fact that he's gay and the head of Apple," while his guest, a New York Times journalist named Jim Stewart, refused to comment.
Cook did not seem to mind too much. A few days after Hobbs outed him, he was spotted posing with fans at San Francisco's Gay Pride Parade. Cook had defended the LGBTQ+ community in the past, saying people needed to "embrace immigration reform and eliminate discrimination of the LGBT community." He later confirmed that he was a "proud" gay man in an opinion piece for Bloomberg Businessweek.
Raven-Symone tried to keep her s*xuality a secret for many years but the Disney Channel star was outed as a lesbian when the tabloids published a story about her moving in with her girlfriend, AzMarie Livingston. The two live together in Symone's luxury New York City apartment and reportedly does not "care what her family thinks" and that she is a "lesbian and wants to live that way."
The actress did not speak much about her private life and has said that "it's about the work" when asked about it in the past. However, in 2013, Raven confirmed her homos*xuality with a tweet saying "I can finally get married!" after the government legalized same-s*x marriage. She told her hundreds of thousands of social media followers that she was "living [her] PERSONAL life the way [she's] happiest" with a photo of her and Livingston.
2 Portia De Rossi
Portia de Rossi was not too keen on coming out as a lesbian to the public but when photos of her and her then-girlfriend Francesca Gregorini were leaked to the press, she had no choice but to come clean. The actress was "very, very nervous" about coming out of the closet publicly because she claimed she "just didn't want to be a lesbian." She said she "truly came out" at the Golden Globe Awards when Arrested Development was nominated in 2005.
She also opened up about her personal life on The Conversation With Amanda De Cadenet, saying she had previously considered it "strange" to be gay, mostly because she was not aware of too many publicly known gay women in the industry. Portia later ended up marrying the talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres in 2008 and are now recognized as one of Hollywood's gay power couples.
1 Zachary Quinto
Zachary Quinto has starred in big-name projects like American Horror Story and Star Trek but he did not want the world knowing that he was gay. However, New York magazine contributing editor Mark Harris did not seem to take Quinto's feelings into consideration when he tweeted something that essentially ended up outing the actor to the world.
Quinto never outed himself with any "big announcement" but he did refer to himself as a "gay man" a few times during his interview with New York magazine. He also commented that he realized that there was a lot that still needed to be "looked at and addressed." He has played a series of gay roles including one on Tori Spelling's TV show, So NoTORIous, and American Horror Story on FX.
Sources: people.com, eonline.com, huffingtonpost.com, huffingtonpost.com, independent.co.uk, dailymail.co.uk, usmagazine.com, huffingtonpost.com, rollingstone.com, people.com, huffingtonpost.com, forbes.com, out.com, dailymail.co.uk, nymag.com