National Coming Out Day has been observed annually on Oct. 11 for more than three decades. The first such celebration was held in 1988 on the one-year anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, which reportedly drew 200,000 protesters to the nation’s capital.
In honor of National Coming Out Day 2020, here are just some of the many notable LGBTQ coming-out stories so far this year.
Aaron Schock, a former Republican congressman known for supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation, came out as gay in an Instagram post in March.
“The fact that I am gay is just one of those things in life in need of explicit affirmation, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person,” Schock, who had dodged rumors about his sexuality while in Congress, wrote. “In many ways, I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner.”
Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, came out as bisexual in September during an interview with talk show host Tamron Hall.
“You put it out there whether or not I identify as gay, and the answer is I don’t identify as gay, but I do identify as bisexual,” Gillum said.
It was the first time the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor in Florida had spoken publicly about his sexuality.
Auli’i Cravalho, star of Disney’s “Moana” and “The Little Mermaid Live,” came out as bisexual in a since-deleted video posted to her TikTok account in April.
When lip-syncing along to Eminem’s song “Those Kinda Nights,” Cravalho recited the lyrics, “’No, I’m bi.” And when one Twitter user asked the actor, “Do u like girls?” she reportedly responded, “If I may escort you to my TikTok…”
Avery Wilson, an alum of NBC’s “The Voice,” took to social media in July to share a personal message with his fans and followers: “I’m bisexual. Ok bye,” he wrote on Twitter, adding in a subsequent tweet, “From the mouth of the horse is the ultimate understanding.”
On Instagram, the singer — who competed on season 3 of the singing competition show — elaborated on his sexuality in a since-deleted post.
“In my eyes, life isn’t about being perfect. It’s about growth, evolving, setting & smashing goals and most importantly happiness and LOVE,” he wrote. “I’m all about perfecting my love of self while not being afraid to love whoever I want, however I want.”
Rapper Da Brat came out publicly in March, confirming her relationship with Kaleidoscope Hair Products CEO Jesseca Dupart in a tearful Instagram post celebrating an early birthday gift.
“I’ve always been a kind of private person until I met my heart’s match who handles some things differently than I do,” she wrote. “I have never experienced this feeling. It’s so overwhelming that often I find myself in a daze hoping to never get pinched to see if it’s real so I can live in this dream forever.”
French-Canadian actor François Arnaud, best known for his role on Showtime’s period drama “The Borgias” and his appearance in the award-winning series “Schitt’s Creek,” came out as bisexual in an Instagram story shared just before Bi Visibility Day, which is celebrated on Sept. 23.
Arnaud said he wanted to share his story to help fight “assumptions of straightness” and bisexual erasure.
“Last week, I was chatting with work friends, and as I brought up a trip I’d taken with an ex-girlfriend, I asked myself — for the ten-thousandth time — how to tell such a story without making it seem like that was the whole story of me,” he wrote. “I’m sure many bisexual guys feel the same and end up doing as I did: letting other people’s assumptions of straightness stand uncorrected.”
J. August Richards
Actor J. August Richards, best known for his role on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” publicly came out as gay in April when discussing his role on the NBC series “Council of Dads,” where he portrayed Dr. Oliver Post, a married gay black man and father.
“If I think about why I even got involved in this industry, it was really to combat oppression,” he told his castmate Sarah Wayne Callies during an Instagram Live interview. “I knew how I was affected by the people of color I saw on television, or that I didn’t see on television.”
“Honestly, it required me to show up fully in a way that I don’t always when I’m working,” he said of his role on “Council of Dads.” “I knew that I could not portray this gay man honestly without letting you all know that I was a gay man myself … I’ve never done that with the people that I’ve worked with.”
Actor and activist Jameela Jamil came out in February following criticism about her being cast in a new HBO Max voguing competition series, which some social media users said “belongs to queer people.” Following the backlash, “The Good Place” star came out as queer in a lengthy statement posted on her Twitter account.
“This is why I never officially came out as queer,” she wrote. “I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid.”
Born to a Pakistani mother and Indian father, Jamil said she struggled for many years to “officially” come out because of fear that she wouldn’t be accepted in the South Asian community.
“It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you’re already a brown female in your thirties,” she wrote. “This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out.”
In an Instagram post shared in June amid nationwide protests against racial injustice, “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” actor Justice Smith came out as queer and revealed he was dating a man.
“Nicholas Ashe and I protested today in New Orleans,” Smith wrote. “We chanted ‘Black Trans Lives Matter’ ‘Black Queer Lives Matter,’ ‘All Black Lives Matter.’ As a Black queer man myself, I was disappointed to see certain people eager to say Black Lives Matter, but hold their tongue when Trans/Queer was added.”
After his initial post, Smith addressed the reaction from his fans and followers, tweeting, “yo tf i didn’t come out, y’all came in.”
“Riverdale” star Lili Reinhart came out as bisexual in June, opening up about a part of her life she had never shared before with her fans.
“Although I’ve never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman,” the actor wrote in an Instagram Story paired with a flyer for an LGBTQ+ for Black Lives Matter protest taking place in West Hollywood, California.
“Outer Banks” star Madison Bailey came out as pansexual in a TikTok video shared in May, later revealing she is dating Mariah Linney, a women’s basketball star at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.
In an interview with Entertainment Tonight during LGBTQ Pride Month, Bailey said being pansexual is “basically just loving people for people, regardless of gender or any type of sexuality or any type of anything.”
A few weeks after boyfriend Justice Smith came out publicly on Instagram, “Queen Sugar” actor Nicholas Ashe penned his own heartfelt note on Instagram to Smith.
“justice— you have been the author of all my recent smiles. you make me feel safe. seen. heard. inspired. admired. returning the favor has been my favorite adventure,” Ashe wrote in August. “it’s difficult to fully encapsulate my gratitude, but here’s an Instagram post to help me try. happy birthday, beautiful man. i love you most of all. thank you for all this good.”
Comedian and actor Niecy Nash broke the internet this past summer when she not only came out, but she also introduced her new wife to the world.
The “Claws” and “Reno 911” star announced her marriage to musician Jessica Betts in August, sharing a joyful photo of herself and Betts walking down the aisle after just saying, ”I do.”
But Nash, who had previously been married to men before, revealed that while she may have shocked fans with her announcement, she did not perceive it as coming out per se.
“I don’t feel like my marriage is my coming out of anywhere, but rather a going into myself and being honest about who I love,” Nash told People shortly after tying the knot. “And I’m not limiting myself on what that love is supposed to look like.”
Best known for playing Tracy Turnblad in the 2007 cult classic film “Hairspray,” actor Nikki Blonsky came out as gay in June, LGBTQ Pride Month, during a festive TikTok video that showed her dancing and lip-syncing to Diana Ross’ 1980 hit “I’m Coming Out.”
“Hi, it’s Nikki Blonsky from the movie I’m Gay! #pride #imcomingout #hairspray,” the Golden Globe nominee captioned the clip.
Nikkie de Jager
Popular YouTube creator and makeup artist Nikkie de Jager, who is also known as Nikkie Tutorials, revealed in January that she is a transgender woman to her more than 12 million YouTube followers, saying the move was prompted by attempted blackmail.
While she lamented the opportunity to reveal her journey on her own terms, de Jager said she was coming out publicly to “tak[e] back my own power.”
“I can’t believe I am saying this today to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It’s time to let go and be truly free,” de Jager said in the video. “When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender.”
Viral sensation Rebecca Black came out as queer and revealed she had previously dated a woman during an interview on the “Dating Straight” podcast in April.
“To me, the word ‘queer’ feels really nice,” the “Friday’ singer said. “I have dated a lot of different types of people, and I just don’t really know what the future holds. Some days, I feel a little more on the ‘gay’ side than others.”
Soccer star Quinn, who represented Canada at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup, publicly came out as transgender with a post on Instagram in September. In it, Quinn — who uses they/them pronouns and now goes by just their last name — discussed the difficulty of coming out publicly, adding important tips for the cisgender community on how to be a better ally to the transgender community.
“Coming out is HARD (and kinda bs),” Quinn, who plays for Washington state’s OL Reign team in the National Women’s Soccer League, wrote. “I know for me it’s something I’ll be doing over again for the rest of my life. As I’ve lived as an openly trans person with the people I love most for many years, I did always wonder when I’d come out publicly.”
Rosario Dawson officially came out during a wide-ranging interview in February, where she clarified that a 2018 Instagram post about Pride, in which she stated that she was “sending love” to her “fellow LGBTQ+ homies,” was misinterpreted.
“People kept saying that I (came out) … I didn’t do that,” she said. “I mean, it’s not inaccurate, but I never did come out come out. I mean, I guess I am now.”
Dawson did not specify how she identifies, but she added that she “never had a relationship in that space, so it’s never felt like an authentic calling to me.”
In 2019, it was confirmed that Dawson was dating Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and in August it was reported that the two were moving in together.
Best known for playing Dr. Callie Torres on “Grey’s Anatomy,” Sara Ramirez came out in August as gender nonbinary. In a post shared on Instagram, the Tony Award-winner said, “In me is the capacity to be” everything from a “girlish boy” to a “boyish girl.”
Ramirez added the hashtag #nonbinary to the caption of their post and updated their bio on social media accounts to read “non-binary human.” Their bio also states that they use both she/her and they/them pronouns.
During LGBTQ Pride Month in June, “Orange Is the New Black” star Taylor Schilling confirmed to fans that she was in a relationship with a woman.
The actor re-shared a photo to her Instagram story that musician and artist Emily Ritz had previously posted of them together with the heart-emoji-filled message, “I couldn’t be more proud to be by your side @tayjschilling “Happy Pride!”
In a 2017 interview with Evening Standard Magazine, Schilling said, “I’ve had very serious relationships with lots of people, and I’m a very expansive human. There’s no part of me that can be put under a label. I really don’t fit into a box — that’s too reductive.”
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