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Under the Covers, 2014

The obvious maxim in the publishing world is sell more than you did last time. That’s why the publishers of the nation’s top-selling magazines choose someone for their cover who they believe will sell more copies of their magazine than ever before. More often than not, it's a star or a show at its peak of heat, such as Orange Is the New Black. 
 
And in 2014 those mavens selected a host of LGBT actors, athletes, and icons. Here are some of them. 
 

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ELLEN PAGE, Flare, June; Out, December/January

 
The Canadian actress who came out this year at age 27 rose to fame with roles in Juno and the X-Men movies. Page told Flare that even though she told her parents she “liked-liked girls” when she was 19, she was still coming out to herself eight years on. “You think you’re in a place where you’re all I’m thrilled to be gay, I have no issues about being gay anymore, I don’t feel shame about being gay, but you actually do. You’re just not fully aware of it. I think I still felt scared about people knowing. I felt awkward around gay people; I felt guilty for not being myself.” Out, a sibling publication to The Advocate, chose Page as a member of the Out 100 and its Entertainer of the Year.
 
 
 

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LAVERNE COX, Time, June 9

 
She was the first transgender actress to grace the cover of the nation’s most talked-about newsmagazine, next to the banner headline “The Transgender Tipping Point.” Cox shot to stardom through her Emmy-nominated performance on Orange Is the New Black on Netflix. Her appearances on talk shows helped everyday Americans — and news anchors — better understand trans people. “People need to be willing to let go of what they think they know about what it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman,” Cox told Time.
 
And then, by comparison, there was this cover...
 
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MARTINE ROTHBLATT, New York, September 7
 
One of the most disliked covers of the year among LGBT people is this one from New York magazine, which profiled the nation's highest paid female CEO and yet fell down from the outset with its cover line. The story itself, "The Trans-Everything CEO," focused less on gender and more on a revolutionary approach to business than the offensively senationalized cover suggests.
 
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JIM PARSONS, New York, May 5
 
The out actor offered two theories on why so many people watch Big Bang Theory. First, it's just easy to keep up with the plot. Second, it's maybe just visually fun to look at. You'll have to read the profile to see what he means on that last one.
 

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JASON COLLINS, Time, May 6

Chelsea Clinton writes of her former college, Stanford, where she met Collins, for a Time cover story titled “The Gay Athlete”: “Jason’s kindness and fierceness alike derive from that word too often bandied about and too rarely true: integrity. Jason has always maintained he’s first a basketball player. He is. But he’s also a leader and an inspiration.”

 

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MICHAEL SAM, Sports Illustrated, February 17; GQ, December

“Jason Collins is an activist,” the 24-year-old Missouri graduate told Sports Illustrated. “I see myself as a football player.” In choosing Sam as one of its Men of the Year, GQ wrote that when he kissed his significant other upon being picked by the St. Louis Rams in the NFL draft, “the fact that the significant other on the receiving end of that kiss was a guy named Vito Cammisano, it was mind-blowing. An NFL defensive end passionately kissing his boyfriend — had any of us ever seriously entertained that configuration of words, much less their realization on national TV?”

 
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ROBIN ROBERTS, People, April 28
 
The two-time cancer survivor and cohost of ABC’s Good Morning America not only talked about her health battles with People, but she also discussed what had been a well-kept open secret within GMA: her girlfriend of nine years, Amber Laign. “A doctor told me I had one to two years to live without a transplant,” she said of her cancer struggle. Now, “I feel like I am a walking miracle,” thanks to the success of a bone marrow transplant from her sister. Of Laign, she said, “Even though Amber is someone who shies away from the spotlight, it was important for me to let people know I have this person in my life.”
 
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ELLEN DEGENERES, People, March 3
 
The talk show host told People before hosting the Academy Awards, “I thought, why not challenge myself? I'm comfortable right now, and it's never good to be comfortable as a performer. In real life, I like to be comfortable. I go home and literally put pajamas on immediately. Creatively I need to push myself. Hosting the Oscars is pretty much the scariest thing you can do. This is up there with bungee jumping.”
 

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NEIL PATRICK HARRIS, Rolling Stone, May 22; Out, April

The popular actor will be following DeGeneres in hosting the Oscars telecast next year. Rolling Stone posed Harris on the cover naked except for a bow tie and well-placed top hat for a cover story explaining how a boy from rural New Mexico was able to transition between disparate roles like teen doctor Doogie Howser, How I Met Your Mother's libidinous Barney Stinson, and Hedwig. During the interviews, Harris also explained how coming out affected his life, how his relationship with fiancé David Burtka works, and how he learned to become “man enough to act like a woman.”

 

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SAM SMITH, Vibe, October 27; Out, December/January
 
He’s 22, has swoon-worthy blue eyes, and Vibe reported he scored the highest first-week sales for a debut album from a male U.K. artist in SoundScan’s 23-year history. After rumors began to swirl about Smith’s sexuality, he set the record straight on his own terms. Back in May, just weeks before the release of the album, Smith revealed the inspiration behind his hit Leave Your Lover was a straight man who didn’t return his love. And after his fans all gave one collective who-gives-a-damn shoulder shrug, Smith got back to singing. Out declared Smith the Breakout Star of the Year.
 
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MATT BOMER, Details, May 1
 
Out actor Matt Bomer's role in The Normal Heart put him on the cover of Details, Out magazine, Entertainment Weekly and HIV Plus magazine. It was a breakout year on screen and in print.
 
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ANNA PAQUIN, Entertainment Weekly, June 20
 
This cover might confuse the likes of Larry King. Bisexual actress Anna Pacquin was infamously interviewed by the former CNN anchor this year while promoting the final season of True Blood. She was asked whether she's a "practicing" bisexual (because she's married to co-star Stephen Moyer, also pictured above) and Pacquin explained that's not how sexual orientation works. 
 
 
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SAMIRA WILEY, Bello, March; Out, December/January

 
Wiley plays fan favorite Poussey Washington on Netflix's Orange Is the New Black. This year she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award and also made headlines when she started dating Lauren Morelli, a writer for OITNB who left her husband. Bello reported that Wiley, who cut her teeth in regional theater throughout the New York–New Jersey–Connecticut area and had appeared in small roles on CBS’s Unforgettable and Person of Interest, had a pretty good reason to keep the faith. “The one thing that I did know from the beginning was that the show would be under the control of a woman who already had an amazing history in television,” she said. She’s referring to showrunner and Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. In its Out 100 issue, Out named Wiley Ingenue of the Year. 
 
 

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TIM COOK, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, September 22

 
In a deeply personal and inspirational op-ed, the leader of Apple and successor to Steve Jobs told the world he’s gay. It wasn’t a shocker, but overnight, Tim Cook became the most prominent out executive in the world. “I believe deeply in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, who said: ‘Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?”’ I often challenge myself with that question, and I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important. … While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven’t publicly acknowledged it either, until now. So let me be clear: I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” To its credit, Bloomberg BusinessWeek posted mockups of rejected cover shoot poses online, ranging from “Sporty Tim” to “Power Tim” to “Shady Tim.” It finally settled on “Friendly Tim.”
 
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TOM DALEY, Sport, August issue
 
The out British diver got the cover of the U.K. sports magazine, explaining how he maintains focus while the media is so focused on him.
 
 
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ZACHARY QUINTO, Out, December/January
 
In naming the actor famous for his roles on Heroes and Star Trek “Artist of the Year,” Out credits Quinto for both his strength as an actor and professional savvy. Quinto told the magazine he sees “a tremendous sense of complacency in the LGBT community,” citing the rising number of HIV infections among adolescents. “AIDS has lost the edge of horror it possessed when it swept through the world in the ’80s. Today’s generation sees it more as something to live with and something to be much less fearful of. And that comes with a sense of, dare I say, laziness.”

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