2013: The Year in Coming Out
BY Lucas Grindley
December 31 2013 12:00 PM ET
COMING OUT TO PROTEST RUSSIA
Above from left: Wentworth Miller, Belle Brockhoff, Brian Boitano
Wentworth Miller, actor
The former star of Prison Break broke out of the closet in August when he was invited to a film festival in Russia. "Thank you for your kind invitation," Miller wrote in a letter to the organizers publicized via GLAAD. "However, as a gay man, I must decline." Miller took the moment in the spotlight to condemn Russia's antigay laws. "I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government," the 41-year-old actor continued. "The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly."
Anton Krasovsky, Russian TV anchor
As the Russian Parliament considered a ban on so-called gay propaganda, with President Vladimir Putin expected signed it into law, it was already dangerous to talk publicly about being gay. Yet Russian TV anchor Anton Krasovsky dared to challenge what was happening by coming out — live on air. In January, he looked into the camera and told viewers of Kontr TV, which was launched by the Kremlin, that he is gay and "as human as President Putin."
Belle Brockhoff, Australian snowboarder
Before heading to Russia for the Winter Olympics, Brockhoff told Australia's ABC TV in August that heading to Sochi gives her “a feeling that I would have to kinda go back into the closet a little bit, because I don't want to risk my, like, you know, safety, being arrested or deported." Brockhoff said "I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I've done to get into the Olympics and not have to deal with this law."
Brian Boitano, figure skater
The U.S. delegation to the Winter Olympics in Russia is sending a message about the country's antigay laws. As part of the group, Boitano announced in December that he is gay and hopes his example will inspire others. "I am many things: a son, a brother, and uncle, a friend, an athlete, a cook, an author, and being gay is just one part of who I am," Boitano said. "First and foremost I am an American athlete and I am proud to live in a country that encourages diversity, openness and tolerance. As an athlete, I hope we can remain focused on the Olympic spirit which celebrates achievement in sport by peoples of all nations."
Masha Bast, lawyer in Russia
Among those bravely coming out while faced with their country's antigay laws is this activist and lawyer. Bast is chairwoman for the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights and told The Moscow Times in September that she is a bisexual transgender woman. "I couldn't just sit there and do nothing," she said.
COMING OUT IN SPORTS
Above from left: Tom Daley, Fallon Fox, Kevin Grayson, Brittney Griner, Bob Harper
Tom Daley, British Olympic diver
When Daley came out in December via a YouTube video he recorded himself, it was in part to correct the record. He made headlines earlier in 2013 when a newspaper had quoted him as saying he isn't gay. "Recently I was misquoted in an interview, and it made me feel really angry and frustrated and emotions I have never felt before when reading something about myself," he said. "For me, honesty is something that I really do believe in. And I have always been honest. I may have been vague in some of my answers but I have always been honest." In the video, he is clear that he does "still fancy girls" but that a new mystery boyfriend inspired him to come out. That boyfriend turned out to be activist and screenwriter Dustin Lance Black — creating an instant celeb couple.
Robbie Rogers, MLS player for Los Angeles Galaxy
First, Rogers came out in February with a letter posted on his blog and immediately retired from professional soccer. Then he returned to the sport in May to a stadium's standing ovation. "I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest," he said in the blog post. Rogers is the first MLS athlete to come out, and he recently told ABC News that not a single other athlete anywhere in professional sports has contacted him to say they're in the closet.
Jason Collins, NBA center
The first active, openly gay player in major league sports came out in April in an essay published in Sports Illustrated. "I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, 'I'm different,'" he wrote. "If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand." Collins, who has played for six pro teams, is a free agent and has yet to find a team this season despite looking. On his lasting impact, Collins wrote at the time, "Some people insist they've never met a gay person. But Three Degrees of Jason Collins dictates that no NBA player can claim that anymore."
Kevin Grayson, football star
The Italian Football League player from Virginia was named his league's MVP while playing for the Parma Panthers. In a television interview in May, after Collins came out, Grayson said, “Just because you’re gay doesn’t mean you can’t be the athlete you want to be. Doesn’t mean you can’t be a star."
Darren Young, WWE wrestler
The first professional wrestler to ever come out did it when cameras from TMZ just happened to stop him in August at a Los Angeles airport to chat. Asked whether a wrestler could ever come out while still active, Young gave them the scoop. "Absolutely. Look at me. I'm a WWE superstar and, to be honest with you, I'll tell you right now, I'm gay. And I'm happy. I'm very happy."
Fallon Fox, MMA fighter
The elite-level mixed-martial-arts fighter told OutSports in March that she is a trans woman who has kept it a secret for six years in the MMA. "For years I've known at some point it's very likely the shoe would drop," Fox told Outsports. "Maybe someone would guess that I'm trans. Maybe they would know me from my life before I transitioned. I've been waiting for that phone call to happen. And Saturday night, it happened." A reporter had started asking questions, and so Fox came out on her own.
Brittney Griner, WNBA star
The WNBA's number one draft pick who plays center for the Phoenix Mercury capped her career at Baylor by coming out in several interviews in April. "Don't hide who you really are," she advised others in sports.
Abby Wambach, U.S. soccer star
The member of the U.S. women's national team came out in July when announcing her support for Athlete Ally. “I am excited to be an ally and stand up for people like me in the LGBT community,” she said in a post on the group's website. She explained in an October interview with ESPN that she never considered herself closeted. “I can’t speak for other people, but for me, I feel like gone are the days that you need to come out of a closet. I never felt like I was in a closet. I never did. I always felt comfortable with who I am and the decisions I made.”
Bob Harper, reality star and personal trainer
The inspiring and tough personal trainer on NBC's The Biggest Loser came out during an episode of the reality show. Harper told one of the contestants, Bobby, about when he first came out to his father at age 17. "Being gay doesn’t mean being weak," Harper told Bobby. "And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”
Sharnee Zoll-Norman, WNBA player
In an interview with the Windy City Times in June, the Chicago Sky guard said she planned to march in the Pride parade with her wife of four years. "If I was straight, I wouldn't have to come out and say that I was straight," she told the newspaper. "So I've never had an official coming out, or something where I felt I had to announce that I was gay. But everyone knows, I wear my wedding ring proudly.”