These days, it seems that everyone is exploring their sexual orientation and trying to figure out what their true attraction is. And that is perfectly fine. This is 2016, and although there are still groups of people who deem the LGBTQ movement not at all worthwhile, the majority of people would agree that this is a topic that we can’t ignore.
The truth of the matter is, there have been plenty of celebrities over the years who have shocked the crowds by turning the tables on their sexuality. Whether they burst out of the closet in public or they did it quietly and stealthily, these are 15 women who were brave enough to use their famous stances in Hollywood to come out. Their declarations of sexuality have also opened the door for other people to make the transition or come out to friends and family members. Shows like Glee have introduced the public to characters with similar struggles, and they have made gains in the LGBTQ movement. Some celebrities choose to attend rallies and marches, while others use public service announcements, campaigns, and initiatives to spread the word. Of course, social media is another great outlet that many celebs (lesbian or not) use to promote awareness and spread support. So feel free to browse through this list and learn who’s out and what they’re doing about it.
15 Jodie Foster
This 53-year-old actress has been in the public sphere for decades now, and we know her from quite a number of productions. Throughout the years and her acting career, Jodie Foster has undoubtedly played straight women, and for a while, no one suspected anything otherwise. Even when she was absolutely, 100% out about her lesbian sexuality, she still continued to play straight characters and no one batted an eye. Now that the LGBTQ movement is becoming much more widespread and vocal, people are wondering why Foster won’t take lesbian roles...probably because there aren’t many out there, especially in big-time Hollywood! Foster has been a suggested lesbian since at least the early 1990s, and in 2014 she married her girlfriend, Alexandra Hedison. Here’s to wishing them all the best, and hoping that Foster’s career never dwindles down. Her big project in 2016 was the film Money Monster, which made $93 million.
14 Sarah Paulson
This past spring, actress Sarah Paulson pulled a Raven-Symone and declared that she did not want to be labeled for her sexuality. At the age of 41, Paulson came out of the closet last year by showing off her girlfriend - legendary actress Holland Taylor (who is over three decades older than Paulson). Anyway, one would think that because Paulson demonstrated her same-sex relationship, she would self-identify as a lesbian. Yet the actress told the public and media that she didn’t want that label. According to Paulson, such a name tag on her sexuality would make her feel constrained, which we can understand. It seems that she falls more in the sexually-fluid camp than the lesbian camp. Holland Taylor is not the first girlfriend for Paulson; she dated Cherry Jones and Tracy Letts, whom she was engaged to. Perhaps the third time's the charm for Paulson, after all, her current girlfriend isn’t getting any older, no offense!
13 Portia de Rossi
The 43-year-old Australian beauty would be scooped up by just about any straight guy, but unfortunately for them, she is a lesbian - and taken. Since 2004, Portia de Rossi has been with funny woman Ellen Degeneres, and the two have been married since 2008. Despite the rumors that their marriage is falling apart, it seems that Portia and Ellen are doing okay; every couple goes through ups and downs. Anyway, as for Portia’s acting career, she has starred in several films and TV series, such as Sirens and Nick Freno: Licensed Teacher. Even though Portia has known about her sexuality for years, she took on straight roles for quite some time. Thanks to her modeling career, she managed to snag a spot on Maxim’s list of 100 Sexiest Women, and she and her wife Ellen were named a Power A-List Couple by TV Guide. Plus, she has overcome an eating disorder, so basically she’s a gay Wonder Woman!
12 Wanda Sykes
The acting and comedy credits belonging to Wanda Sykes are way too numerous to count, but there was actually a time when the pivotal comedienne was playing straight characters, despite her lesbian sexuality. From 1991 to 1998, Sykes was actually married to a man, Dave Hall. It was not until the end of 2008 that Sykes came out as a lesbian. She is married to Alex Niedbalski, and the couple has twins, Olivia Lou and Lucas Claude. Sykes has used her personal experiences in her comedy and other projects, including the situation of coming out to her parents. In fact, Sykes was already 40 years old when she told her parents that she was a lesbian. They took it hard at first, and it was quite some time before they all felt comfortable with Sykes’ sexual identity. Now Sykes can take any role she wants, and her sexuality is no longer a sore point or something to side-step.
11 Bella Thorne
The Disney starlet has since moved on to other projects, but the 19-year-old recently made huge headlines when she nonchalantly came out about her sexuality on social media. She had posted a photo of her female friend and herself, and the two were exchanging a kiss. Someone commented on the post and asked “are you bi?” Bella Thorne’s answer was short and sweet: “Yes.” This sparked a wave of applause and nods of encouragement to Bella for not making a mountain out of a molehill. Good for her for identifying herself as someone who is attracted to girls and not making it a big fuss. The news dazed a lot of people, because Bella was such a typical straight girl, and the characters she played were always interested in boys only. She played CiCi on the Disney Channel series Shake It Up, showing off her dance moves, fashion sense, and homogenized heterosexuality. The news of her female attraction was definitely a surprise.
10 Jane Lynch
For quite some time, actress Jane Lynch was portraying completely straight characters in her acting career. Yet the 50-something-year-old has been an openly gay woman for a while now. Part of this could be that Jane was trying to preserve her career and continue to snag roles in Hollywood. If she proclaimed that she was only going to take roles that portrayed gay characters, she might have been out of work. Another reason is that there were not many lesbian roles out there, and this is slowly starting to change, but the progress is not exactly rapid. Jane made a big name for herself when she joined the cast of Glee as coach Sue Sylvester. Jane has spoken out about how Glee has helped the LGBTQ movement and how the show can help young people who are trying to figure out their own sexuality, especially because the show has a number of LGBTQ characters. Jane said that she was in the closet for such a long time (she realized she was gay at age 12 and felt that she was the only lesbian alive).
9 Sara Gilbert
Ah, Sara Gilbert. We loved you as Darlene on Roseanne. You were so spunky and unabashedly unique. Fast-forward to 2016 and sara Gilbert is still pretty cool. She is on daytime television every weekday on The Talk, which she co-hosts and helped to create. Sara was also a recurring character on The Big Bang Theory, in which she played Leslie Winkle. This character was a straight one, and had some romantic tension with Leonard. In fact, Sara had dated Johnny Galecki back in the day, and it was during that relationship that Sara determined that she was attracted to girls. In 2001, she got into a relationship with Allison Adler, and they had two children together. In 2011, they split up and it really shattered Sara. She even cried on The Talk when discussing the relationship. In March 2014, Sara happily married Linda Perry and they have one child together.
8 Miley Cyrus
There really isn’t any topic that is off-limits for Miley Cyrus, the Disney starlet turned wild child. She may be young, but she has been around the block, and that includes exploring her own sexuality and preferences. Miley identifies as a pansexual, which means that she can be sexually attracted to girls, boys, lesbians, gays, transgendered people, or anyone in transition. Basically, she loves everyone! That wasn’t too surprising to hear, considering that Miley has made a second career out of shocking the heck out of the public and media. While Miley broke into the spotlight starring as Hannah Montana and singing songs about boys and heartbreak, she is now promoting empowerment, or at least her own version of it. Her latest movie projects have included A Very Murray Christmas and Crisis in Six Scenes. Come to think of it, Miley could play a variety of characters really, since she identifies as pansexual.
From the Cosby Show, to That’s So Raven, to The View and onward, Raven-Symone has been in the spotlight for pretty much her whole life. And while she spent most of her acting career playing boy-crazy characters, the truth is that Raven’s sexuality was a lot more complex than that. She is famous for telling Oprah that she is “a human being that loves other human beings,” and she refuses to attach a label to her sexual identity, or even her racial identity. This has caused a lot of people to spat back at Raven, call her a traitor, and all kinds of other things. Whatever you think of her, she belongs on this list because she has made a career out of portraying straight characters on the silver screen, even though she appears to be happiest when she is dating other girls. In fact, she was in a three-year relationship with model AzMarie Livingston.
6 Josephine Baker
French entertainer Josephine Baker may not be on many people’s radar, but she was an iconic actress and dancer who also happened to be a lesbian. Known worldwide as “La Baker,” she was quite a personality, owning exotic animals, rubbing elbows with Grace Kelly, and dancing around in skimpy outfits. She was quite the civil rights activist back in the day. As an African American (and the first black woman to star in a major feature film), Baker refused to perform at venues with segregated audiences. She was bisexual and was married a whopping four times. Her acting credits were predominantly straight characters, but her real-life relationships included trysts with Frida Kahlo, Willie Wells, Georges Simenon, and Robert Brady. Later in life, Baker began adopting large numbers of children and called them “The Rainbow Tribe” collectively because they were from many different countries of origin and ethnicities. An ironic name, given her bisexuality.
5 Drew Barrymore
It’s hard to believe that our beloved Drew Barrymore is in her 40s now, and she has been acting for almost that many years. As far as the LGBTQ movement is concerned, Drew Barrymore is a famous name that should pop up. In 2003, Drew said in an interview that she has always considered herself bisexual, and that she finds women sexually attractive. Despite that revelation, Drew continued to get roles that portrayed straight characters, and her romantic relationships were strictly heterosexual. Was she really into women? Probably. In fact, in 2012 she purchased a nightclub known for its gay clientele. And we also know that Drew has been a presence at various LGBTQ rights demonstrations and rallies. She is clearly a supporter of the LGBTQ movement, even if she isn’t in a same-sex relationship herself. She is one of those celebs that is totally open about discussing these things with anyone, and that’s nice to see.
4 Ellen Page
As actress Ellen Page continued to support the LGBTQ movement, she realized that she needed to come clean about her own inner struggles. At a Human Rights Campaign conference in 2014, Page came out of the closet and it was a beautiful moment. She revealed that she was very depressed hiding who she really was, and although she was great at playing witty heterosexual characters, it wasn’t who she truly was. She actually said that she felt guilty for hiding her sexual identity for so long, given that she is a person with greater privilege than most. Now she hopes to be a beacon of light to others; to smash gender stereotypes and to be unabashedly herself. Her career certainly has not been hurt by her proclamation; for 2017 she is slated to appear in the films Flatliners and Mercy, and she is currently starring in the documentary series Gaycation.
3 Cynthia Nixon
For years, Cynthia Nixon portrayed the straight and narrow character Miranda Hobbes in Sex and the City. From 1988 to 2003, Cynthia was married to a man in real life: Danny Mozes. The couple had two children together but divorced after nearly 15 years of marriage. Shortly after the split, Cynthia began dating a woman, Christine Marinoni, showing the world that she was an out lesbian. Then in 2012, Cynthia self-identified as a bisexual, stating that she was with men all her life, but when she finally got with a woman, it didn’t feel strange at all. This past summer, she and her wife Christine attended the Gay Pride March in New York City, along with their young son Max. Cynthia publicly proclaimed to Advocate that sexual orientation isn’t a choice, and she continues to be a staunch supporter of the LGBTQ movement. Oh, and she’s still acting in film and television, too!
2 Anna Paquin
Being famous, bisexual, and a mother is something that Anna Paquin happens to do quite well. She became engaged to her True Blood costar, Stephen Moyer, in 2009. In 2010, Anna used a public service announcement to come out of the closet as a bisexual woman, and declared that there isn’t a set of rules or parameters to determine who she is attracted to. Her husband seems to be just fine with that, and Anna has become a great role model for others, being a famous married woman who happens to be sexually attracted to both men and women. She uses social media to promote LGBTQ awareness as well. In fact, in one post she wrote that “marriage is about love, not gender,” and she supported Twitter accounts for the NOH8 Campaign, “It Gets Better” initiative, and Equality California. What a busy bee she is! Check her out in 2017’s Alias Grace.
1 Nell Carter
Actress Nell Carter was only 54 years old when she passed away, but she left a legacy. The winner of a Tony Award and Emmy Award was known for her vocals and acting talent. She appeared on Broadway, NBC, CBS, and as part of several other major productions throughout her career. While her work didn’t really explore the topic of the LGBTQ movement, and the fact that she married a man, Nell was a bisexual woman. Many people still do not know that Nell was sexually attracted to both men and women, and it could have been that internal struggle of deciding whether or not to come out that caused the upset in Nell’s life. She attempted suicide and dealt with drug addiction throughout her life. Her early death was due to complications from diabetes. On a side note, her brother passed away from the AIDS virus in the 1980s.