The 16 Most Memorable LGBTQ Celebrity Coming-Out Moments In Honor Of National Coming Out Day

The 11th of October is National Coming Out Day, a holiday dedicated to LGBTQ people and the process of coming out to their communities, families, or themselves.
Whether it's coming out to your family and closest friends or making it public with your sexuality, being honest about your real personality can be a challenging experience. For celebrities, doing so under the spotlight of public attention may be even more difficult.
Thanks to more outspokenly LGBTQ celebrities than ever before, transgender and queer visibility is reaching new heights. From revealing everything on a magazine cover to coming out live on breakfast TV, we got some of the most historic, inspiring, and one-of-a-kind A-list coming out moments.
In honor of the celebration, here is a list of 16 of the most memorable LGBTQ celebrity coming-out moments. From Ellen DeGeneres to Lil Nas X, keep reading to see if your favorite celebrities are on this list!

#1 Actor Billy Porter came out in his early twenties in the 1980s and rose to fame despite difficult situations.

Source: Jordan Strauss/Invision/Associated Press

Billy Porter, better known as Pray Tell in the FX award-winning series "Pose," debuted in his early twenties as an actor, musician, and Broadway performer. He told the Gay Times that his process was extremely difficult, especially given his tough childhood.

#2 Laverne Cox, an actress, and LGBTQ rights advocate, stated that she had "two coming outs" — one for her sexuality and one for her gender identity.

Source: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"Orange is the New Black" actress Laverne Cox decided to share her coming-out story in a video series created for National Coming Out Day 2017 in collaboration with Out magazine and Barefoot Wine.
Coming out to her mother was an important step in accepting her story, she said in the video. Cox's mother has since learned to accept the actress for who she is. And the mother becomes one of her biggest supporters, according to Cox.

#3 In a 2018 Paper magazine interview, Cardi B's younger sister, Hennessy Carolina, mentioned the difficulty of coming out to her family as queer.

Source: Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press

Hennessy Carolina, Cardi B's 23-year-old younger sister, has made a name for herself as a fashion influencer, an aspiring actress, and an LGBTQ icon. Carolina discussed the process of coming out to her traditional family in a 2018 Paper magazine, which ultimately led to acceptance.Carolina made her sexual orientation public during Pride month in 2018 by posting a photo of herself and Diaz kissing at the top of the Eiffel Tower.

#4 When Ellen DeGeneres came out in 1997, she faced backlash from advertisers and religious groups.

Source: Reuters/Fred Prouser

From her 16-year work as host of "The Ellen Show" to her Netflix comedy special, Ellen DeGeneres has become one of the most recognizable faces on TV. However, before becoming a household name, DeGeneres had to overcome homophobic backlash.
The comedian came out with a bang in 1997, adorning the cover of Time magazine with the headline "Yep, I'm gay," making her one of the first mainstream celebrities to publicly come out.

#5 Jason Collins, a former NBA player, came out as gay in 2013, making him the first openly LGBTQ male athlete in the four major US sports leagues.

Celebrity Coming-Out MomentsSource: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Jason Collins was a 12-year NBA veteran before coming out as gay in a Sports Illustrated column in 2013. He wrote, "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay."
Collins was signed by the Brooklyn Nets after coming out and played in 22 games before retiring from the NBA. Collins has since become an outspoken supporter of LGBTQ rights.

#6 Sara Ramirez, star of 'Grey's Anatomy,' was inspired by anti-LGBTQ violence, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting, to come out as bisexual in 2016.

Celebrity Coming-Out Moments Source: Theo Wargo/Getty Images for VH1 Trailblazer Honors

Sara Ramirez, best known for her roles as Callie Torres on "Grey's Anatomy" and Kat Sandoval on "Madam Secretary," came out as bisexual in 2016 while discussing at the True Colors Fund's 40 to None Summit.
Appalled by violent acts against LGBTQ people, such as the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016, Ramirez said she chose to come out despite her fear of discrimination to empower and support other LGBTQ people.

#7 Janelle Monáe came out as pansexual in a Rolling Stone cover story in 2018 and went on to create "Dirty Computer," which is regarded as a black queer feminist work of art.

Celebrity Coming-Out MomentsSource: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue

After years of speculation among fans and members of the media, musician, and actress Janelle Monáe revealed to Rolling Stone in an April 2018 cover story that she was pansexual.
The album "Dirty Computer" received a Grammy nomination for album of the year, and the music video for "Pynk," starring actress and fellow queer icon Tessa Thompson, received a nomination for video of the year.

#8 In 2019, NFL free agent Ryan Russell came out as bisexual. He is the only outspokenly LGBTQ professional male athlete in the 4 major professional sports leagues.

Celebrity Coming-Out MomentsSource: Kevin Wolf/Associated Press

In 2019, NFL free agent Ryan Russell came out in a personal essay published on ESPN. Russel has received support from athletes, advocates, and fans alike since coming out, including tennis legend Billie Jean King, who tweeted, "His desire to make this process easier for L.G.B.T.Q. professional athletes in the future is inspiring."

#9 Caitlyn Jenner, an Olympic gold medalist, made headlines and history when she came out as transgender in 2015.

Celebrity Coming-Out MomentsSource: Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Caitlyn Jenner's coming out was one of the most well-documented and widely publicized stories of the decade.
Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair with the headline "Call me Caitlyn," and the interior pages featured a full-length article describing her transition process. In addition to the Vanity Fair story, Jenner discussed her transition on an ABC News television special, which drew 16.8 million viewers the night it aired.

#10 Hayley Kiyoko, the 'Lesbian Jesus,' as dubbed by Twitter, discovered she was gay at the age of six, but she became a 'lesbian icon' after the release of her hit single 'Girls Like Girls' in 2015.

Celebrity Coming-Out Moments Source: Evan Agostini/Invision/Associated Press

Before releasing videos promoting queer love and performing at Pride events, Hayley Kiyoko was known for her acting role as Velma in the live-action film "Scooby-Doo! The Mystery Begins." With her role in the Disney Channel musical film "Lemonade Mouth" in 2011, the actress began her transition to music.
But it was her 2015 music video "Girls Like Girls," which told a love story between two teenage girls and the violence that queer people often face for living authentically, that many say catapulted her into LGBTQ iconography. Kiyoko told Paper magazine that she first came out to one of her cowriters, Lili-May Young while producing the song.

#11 Raven-Symoné used Twitter to express her displeasure with the Supreme Court's decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

Celebrity Coming-Out MomentsSource: Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for The Actors Fund

The Defense of Marriage Act was struck down by the US Supreme Court in 2013, ruling that a federal ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.
Actress and singer Raven-Symoné tweeted shortly after the decision was announced, "I can finally get married. Yay government! So proud of you!"

#12 During Pride Month in 2019, Lil Nas X released a series of cryptic tweets to come out.

Celebrity Coming-Out Moments Source: Paras Griffin/Getty Images

In June 2019, "Old Town Road" rapper Lil Nas X came out to fans in an unconventional, yet all-too-Gen-Z way.
On the very last day of Pride month, the artist posted a series of tweets instructing fans to "listen closely" to "C7osure," the final track on his EP "7." A rainbow emoji was also included for extra emphasis.
Lil Nas X's decision to come out publicly has been praised by fans and celebrities alike.

#13 Singer Frank Ocean came out in a Tumblr post in 2012, which many LGBTQ people still find meaningful.

Celebrity Coming-Out Moments Source: Jason Merritt/Getty

Frank Ocean, best known for his hit albums "Blonde" and "Channel Orange," revealed his sexual orientation in a Tumblr post in 2012. Ocean shared his experience of falling in love with a man four years prior in the post.

#14 Sam Smith, a singer-songwriter, came out as non-binary in 2019 and announced on Instagram that they use 'they' and 'them' pronouns.

Celebrity Coming-Out MomentsSource: Alexander Koerner/Getty Images

During a presence on the Instagram-based show "I Weigh Interviews" with Jameela Jamil, singer Sam Smith told the actress, "I am neither male nor female." I'm somewhere in the middle." Smith continued by asserting that they identify as genderqueer, or as neither a man nor a woman.

#15 Tessa Thompson came out more modestly in a 2018 interview, but some argue her performances in Janelle Monáe's 'Pynk' and 'Make Me Feel' music videos spoke loudly.

Celebrity Coming-Out Moments Source: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for MTV

Tessa Thompson is an actress best known for her roles in "Avengers: End Game," "Creed," and "Dear White People." Thompson has attracted the public with her rumored romantic relationship with actress and musician Janelle Monáe.
The nature of her and Thompson's relationship was further doubted after they appeared in music videos for Monáe's songs "Pynk" and "Make Me Feel."
Thompson discussed her family's freedom to explore her sexuality and date whomever she wants in a 2018 interview with Net-A-Porter.

#16 Lilly Singh, the YouTube superstar-turned-talk-show host, came out as bisexual in 2019 — and now uses it as a punchline in her new show.

Celebrity Coming-Out Moments Source: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

In 2019, Lilly Singh, a YouTube sensation, used Twitter to come out.  Singh listed "female," "colored," and "bisexual" as identities that have "proven to be obstacles from time to time" that she is now "fully embracing" as "superpowers" in a February tweet.
She discussed the process of gaining the courage to tell her family and friends about her sexuality in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, setting a deadline for herself to tell them about her sexuality by her 30th birthday.
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