Michael Sam, Athlete
In a New York Times article published Februardy 9, college football star Michael Sam, then a defensive lineman for the University of Missouri, made sports history when he announced that he is gay. Sam, who was the 2013 SEC Defensive Player of the Year and was named to the All-American team, had initially come out during the preseason to his coaches and teammates.
"I looked in their eyes, and they just started shaking their heads -- like, finally, he came out," Sam told the Times. "Once I became official to my teammates, I knew who I was. I knew that I was gay. And I knew that I was Michael Sam, who's a Mizzou football player who happens to be gay. I was so proud of myself and I just didn't care who knew. If someone on the street would have asked me, 'Hey, Mike, I heard you were gay. Is that true?' I would have said yes."
Since his coming out, Sam became the first out football player to be drafted to the NFL. Though he was dropped by the St. Louis Rams, Sam was later picked up by the Dallas Cowboys as part of its practice squad only to be cut there as well, and he still aspires to become the first out gay man to play in the NFL. -- Michelle Garcia
Jim Ferlo, Pennsylvania state senator
Pennsylvania's State Senate got its first openly gay member in September, when Democrat Jim Ferlo publicly came out during a press conference highlighting the need for inclusive statewide hate-crimes legislation in the wake of a brutal antigay attack in Philadelphia.
"I've never denied my homosexuality," continued Ferlo, whose term is ending. "Many people, friends, coworkers, obviously, many in the media, many in the community, hundreds of people know I'm gay; I just never made an official declaration. I never felt I had to wear a billboard on my forehead, but I'm gay. Get over it. I love it, it's a great life." --Sunnivie Brydum
Kristian Nairn, Actor, Game of Thrones
Actor Kristian Nairn, who plays the lumbering character Hodor in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones, surprised an interviewer in March by announcing that he's gay. When asked by fan site WinterIsComing.net if Nairn knew he had a following in the bear subset of the gay community, he replied, "Well, in all honesty, when you talk about 'the gay community,' you are talking about my community. I am aware of it, yeah, and I think it's really lovely."
In fact, Narirn, who is also a DJ, was disappointed that that the issue hadn't been discussed earlier in his career. "I've never hidden my sexuality from anyone, my whole life in fact, and I've been waiting for someone to ask about it in an interview, 'cause it's not something you just blurt out," he said. "I've tried to lead the questions a few times, to no avail!"
While Nairn considers being gay only a small part of his identity, he does understand the importance of coming out. "In this day and age, it's important to stand up and be counted," he told the site. "I have and always will stand my ground."
Djuan Trent, Miss Kentucky 2010
Djuan Trent, who as Miss Kentucky reached the Top 10 of the 2011 Miss America pageant, didn't snag the crown that year. But in February 2014, Trent won the hearts of the LGBT community and its allies when she came out in a blog post in response to Kentucky's unwillingness to recognize same-sex unions from other states. "I am queer," declared the 27-year-old, who became the first veteran of a national beauty pageant to come out.
"Ideally, I would love to one day live in a society where coming out is no longer necessary, because we don't make assumptions about one another's sexuality and homophobia is laid to rest," she said. "For now, that is more of an ideal than it is a reality. But if you want see that ideal become a reality and you have the courage to change history ... if you want to earn some gold stars, then yes, come on out and make your presence known."
Now an honorary cochair for Southerners for the Freedom to Marry, Trent later told The Huffington Post that she was inspired by the coming out of Raven-Symone, which gave her the courage to be an out queer woman of color and a role model for others. "I've had so much outreach coming from young women in the pageant community, young African-American women, young feminine women, who [now] feel a little less invisible, who feel that there's not something wrong with them. And that, to me, is amazing," she said. -- Daniel Reynolds
John Fennell, Olympic luger
Canadian Olympic luger John Fennell gave himself a priceless 19th birthday present: The high school valedictorian and business student at the University of Calgary came out publicly as gay in May.
Going into the Sochi Olympics earlier this year, Fennell reflected on how his desire to come out was thwarted by a lack of leadership, considering he had not known any male Canadian Olympians who were out.
"I'm an athlete," he said. "Realistically, I put on a spandex suit and slide down a mountain. I'm no message board for political movements. But we need to have leaders in our sport community. If it takes a 19-year-old to step up and to that, I'm more than willing to use my voice or the platform that I've been given to give a figurehead to gay youth in sport." --Michelle Garcia
Paul Masvidal, Sean Reinert, of Cynic
Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert, who cofounded the metal band Cynic in the early '90s, talkd with the Los Angeles Times in May about their experience navigating music's masculine metal scene. Though the two have been out in their personal lives, they said they are now ready to challenge gay stereotypes by being out, proud, and as always, loud. "I see all those old dudes out there just banging their heads to our records," drummer Reinert told the Times. "And I have to think -- 'That stuff you're banging your head to? That is some gay, gay metal, man.'" --Jase Peeples
Ellen Page, Actress, X-Men: Days of Future Past
An Oscar nominee for 2007's Juno and an all-around beloved actress in films ranging from the subversive indie Hard Candy to blockbusters including Inception and the X-Men films, Ellen Page once skewered the gay rumors about her in a Saturday Night Live sketch in which she became transformed by the sights, smells, and sounds of a Melissa Etheridge concert.
But when Page spoke the words "I'm here because I'm gay" to LGBT youth at a conference in Las Vegas on Valentine's Day of this year, the news, while not entirely a surprise, was revelatory. Page, a bona fide A-lister still very much at the start of her career, proceeded to follow that up with a thoughtful, honest, tearjerking speech about the shame of being in the closet.
"Maybe I can help others to have an easier time," Page said. "I am tired of hiding, and I'm tired of lying by omission." To have said she was "lying" is still a stark contrast to the way many celebrities come out these days while simultanesouly implying they hadn't necessarily concealed anything, or while downplaying the impact of coming out. The process is surely different for each of us, even in Hollywood. For Page, "I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered, and my relationships suffered. And I'm standing here today with all of you on the other side of that pain." -- Tracy E. Gilchrist
Tyler Glenn, lead singer, Neon Trees
In a Rolling Stoneinterview published in March, the Neon Trees' Tyler Glenn, 30, revealed he's gay and the conflicted emotions he has toward his Mormon faith. "We were always taught, and I hate this word, 'tolerance,'" he said in reference to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' opposition to same-sex love both morally and politically. The result was years of repression. "I had my crushes on guys throughout high school, but it was never an overwhelming thing until my 20s," the musician said. "Then I'd be dating girls and in love with my straight friend and it was the worst feeling in the world."
Glenn began coming out privately to family and friends in October 2013 while writing music for the upcoming Neon Trees album Pop Psychology, which includes lyrics that speak about his experiences as a closeted gay man. He says his coming-out was partly inspired by athletes like NFL hopeful Michael Sam, who came forward publicly shortly before Glenn. "I really love all of the sports figures that are coming out recently," he said. "I appreciated Michael Sam was like, 'I want to be able to go to the movies and hold hands with my boyfriend.' Even hearing him say 'boyfriend,' I was just like, 'that's cool.'"
After the interview, Glenn posted a long note on the Neon Trees Facebook page thanking his fans old and new for "so much compassion and love." He then urged them to come out, no matter how that's defined. "I guess the last thing I want to say tonight and for now is if you're like me, a wanderer, a questioner, a soul searcher, a dreamer, or misunderstood for any reason at all: Come out," Glenn concluded. "Come out as a wanderer. Come out as a questioner. One day it won't matter. But it still does. Come out as YOU. That's all I really can say. That's what i'd say to me at 21, the scared return mormon missionary who knew this part of himself but loved God too. You can do both. Don't let anyone tell you you can't." -- D.R.
Pat Patterson, WWE Champion
World Wrestling Entertainment veteran Pat Patterson came out as gay on the finale of the WWE network reality series Legends House. In an emotional reveal, the 73-year-old told his fellow wrestling legends that he had not only been keeping the secret of his sexuality from the prying eyes of the public for more than 50 years, but that he had also had a partner for 40 of those years who died of a heart attack.
"For once in my life I'm going to be me," Patterson told the others, adding that while it was hard to keep his secret, he was proud he survived. Patterson was the WWE's first intercontinental champion, helped create the Royal Rumble, and is a WWE executive.
"We love you, Pat," his teary-eyed Legends mates told him, in a heartwarming show of support. "We've always loved you." -- J.P.
Connor Franta, YouTuber
YouTube superstar Connor Franta used his mega-successful vlogging channel to come out to his millions of fans in December. In a very emotional video, Franta said, "I'm making this video for anyone who needs it. It's ok. It may not seem like it right now but you are going to be fine. I know it's scary but don't be afraid. You are who you are and you should love that person."
The video got so much support in return that #WeLoveYouConnor trended on Twitter. --Alexander Kirk
Ruby Rose, model
Australian model and DJ Ruby Rose has come out this year as gender fluid and identifies as gender-neutral, according to AU News
. The popular entertainer, who rose to fame for her stint on Australian MTV and highly recognizable tattoos, discussed identifying as both male and female (though she prefers to continue using female pronouns) recently with the Guardian
. Her openness accompanied the release of her short film, "Break Free," which she describes as a video "about gender roles, Trans, and what it is like to have an identity that deviates from the status quo." --Mitch Kellaway
Sam Smith, Singer
While speaking about the inspiration for his album In the Lonely Hourduring an interview with The Fader in May, the British crooner Sam Smith made no pretense about the object of his affections. He spoke candidly about how unrequited love for a man fueled the lyrics for hits like "Stay With Me" and "Leave Your Lover," the music video of which also featured a steamy moment between himself and a man.
"In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year, and he didn't love me back. I think I'm over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn't felt love before. I've felt the bad things. And what's a more powerful emotion: pain or happiness?"
Smith added that he was "very comfortable and happy with everything" concerning his sexuality, and he wanted to make the topic a nonissue as much as possible. "I just wanted to talk about him and have it out there," he told The Fader. "It's about a guy and that's what I wanted people to know -- I want to be clear that that's what it's about. I've been treated as normal as anyone in my life; I've had no issues. I do know that some people have issues in life, but I haven't, and it's as normal as my right arm. I want to make it a normality because this is a nonissue." -- D.R.
Derrick Gordon, basketball player, University of Massachusetts
University of Massachusetts Amherst basketball player Derrick Gordon came out to his teammates in April, making him the first openly gay man to play college basketball. Gordon said he has been watching the news around Brooklyn Nets player Jason Collins, who signed with the team after a lengthy free-agent period following his coming-out last year.
"I just didn't want to hide anymore, in any way," Gordon said to ESPN. "I didn't want to have to lie or sneak. I've been waiting and watching for the last few months, wondering when a Division I player would come out, and finally I just said, 'Why not me?'"
Gordon told his team with the support of his coach Derek Kellogg, Wade Davis from You Can Play, and gay high school basketball coach Anthony Nicodemo. It followed some teasing from teammates who suspected that Gordon might be gay and nearly an entire school year of not going out, not partying, and not socializing very much. "Most of the time when you see me on campus, I'm alone," he told Outsports. "I eat alone a lot. Since the school year started in September I haven't been to one party."
Daniel Franzese, Actor, Mean Girls
When Mean Girls arrived in theaters 10 years ago, few expected it to become the cultural phenomenon it is now -- least of all star Daniel Franzese, who gave life to the breakout gay character Damian. "You certainly hope when you pour your heart into something, that people will respond," the 36-year-old actor wrote this year in a letter to his younger self on IndieWire. "But to paraphrase Gretchen Wieners, 'We can't help it that we're so popular.'" The adult actor then asks his younger self, "So, why the hell did it take me so long to come out of the closet?"
In both the letter and an appearance on syndicated show Dish Nation, Franzese talked about coming out as gay 10 years after his character was caustically labeled "too gay to function" in the titular mean girls' Burn Book. Explaining the long delay, Franzese said he hit a "gay glass ceiling" in casting after Mean Girls' release. He also described being "pissed" at Damian, leading to a year and a half of celibacy.
So why come out now? In the Dish Nation interview, Franzese cited the 10th anniversary of the film as the primary motivating factor. "More and more people are coming up and talking to me about it again, and especially adult gay males, some in tears," Franzese says. "The reason I wanted to do it was that I didn't see a young, gay, chubby representation of myself. ... That meant a lot to a lot of people." -- Kevin O'Keeffe
Tom Luchsinger, Olympic hopeful
The stress of living a closeted lifestyle eventually brought Olympic hopeful Tom Luchsinger out of the closet. The University of North Carolina swimmer described his experience in a brave coming-out piece for Outsports in December, remembering a particular morning in April 2013.
"I wake up and look at the clock. 2:58 AM," Luchsinger begins. "I don't have to be up for another two hours and five minutes for the first of three workouts. Yes, I'm that exact. In the wee hours of twilight my mind begins to race. I can feel my heart rate rising and my body beginning to perspire as I think, 'You're gay.'"
Liam Davis, pro soccer
Liam Davis, a midfielder for the mid-tier U.K. football club Gainsborough Trinity, announced that he's a proud, partnered gay man in a lengthy interview in January with the Lincolnshire Echo newspaper. The 23-year-old told the paper that "The support I have received hopefully shows that most clubs will be the same," Davis said. "Gainsborough is a good club, but they are not any different to a lot of teams in how they look after their players. I don't think many changing rooms would make outcast of teammates. I think it is becoming more socially acceptable." --Sunnivie Brydum
Matt Llano, professional distance runner
Professional distance runner Matt Llano came out publicly for the first time September 30 in a video released by his running club, Northern Arizona Elite. The video is a part of the club's YouTube series, "An Open Look," which follows Llano as he prepares for the Bank of America Chicago Marathon.
In the episode, Llano remembers how he felt as a young man stuggling with understanding who he is, and his conscious decision to release the shame of being closeted. "You feel alone; you feel scared; you feel like you're the only one who's going through this, when in reality, you're not at all alone."
Llano says he had a difficult time working up the courage to come out to his parents, particularly uttering the phrase "I'm gay." And he speaks with nostalgia about being in a more than three-year relationship during college, and how much easier it would have been had they felt comfortable being out. "I do wish that we could have been more open about it, and that people could have known us more in the context of our relationship, rather than just two people who are friends." The response from young athletes expressing their gratitude to him for coming out publicly has been "surreal and humbling." -- Annie Hollenbeck
Lauren Neidigh, swimmer, University of Arizona
In a column on Outsports in April, University of Arizona swimmer Lauren Elizabeth Neidigh described the hardship felt by closeted athletes.
As a person so focused on fitness and training, Neidigh realized staying closeted was affecting her body and her health. "'The overwhelming emotional damage that I'm inflicting on myself by holding all of this is in taking too much of a toll on me,' I told my cousin. 'I feel physically drained and I can't think clearly or focus on anything. This isn't a healthy way for me to live.'"
Rob Kearney, strongman
The world's (second) strongest man happens to be gay.
Rob Kearney, a professional StrongMan and first runner-up in the 2013 World's Strongest Man competition, took to Facebook in October to announce that he is happily dating another man.
Check out the photos of them together if you need a heartwarming moment.
M.K. Nobilette, Singer, American Idol contestant
It's taken 13 seasons, but American Idol finally had its first openly gay Top 10 contestant this February -- in the form of 21-year-old M.K. Nobilette.
While the singing competition reality show has had several contestants who have come out after their season ended, or had acknowledged their orientation off-air, Nobilette is the first to come out publicly on-camera during an episode.
"I'm very obviously gay, and there are always going to be people in America and everywhere else who will definitely hate me," Nobilette said after she was asked if she thought she could be the next American Idol on the show's previous episode. "But I think that in the last two years, there have been a lot of things that have really changed that, and have made it a positive thing." -- Jase Peeples
Lauren Morelli, writer, Orange Is the New Black
In an essay on Mic.com, Orange Is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli talked about how the show changed her life entirely and made her realize she's a lesbian. "As we started to shape our characters and debate fictional Piper's 'true' sexuality that first season, we engaged in long discussions about sex, gender and our own experiences. I eagerly shared details of innocent, 'above-the-waist' flirtations with girls when I'd been younger. I'd even excitedly blurted out, 'I would totally sleep with her,' about an actress who had auditioned for Alex (now played brilliantly by Laura Prepon, who shares the role with a pair of glasses). I went to therapy that night and casually mentioned that perhaps I was higher on the Kinsey Scale than I previously thought." --Rebekah Allen
Samira Wiley, actress, Orange Is the New Black
After Morelli's news, another round of headlines started when she and actress Samira Wiley announced they're dating. The couple is incredibly cute on Instagram, by the way.
Wiley's had a big year with a prominent plotline on OITNB while also being named "Ingenue of the Year" as she appeared on the cover of Out magazine as part of its annual OUT100.
Ian Thorpe, Olympic swimmer
Olympic champion swimmer Ian Thorpe confirmed he is gay in an interview that was broadcast July on Australia's Channel 10. There had been speculation about Thorpe's sexuality for years, and in his 2012 autobiography, This Is Me, he denied being gay and called the rumors hurtful.
But in an interview with Sir Michael Parkinson, the Aussie swimmer, now 31, finally revealed his truth, saying, "I'm not straight. And this is only something that very recently, we're talking in the past two weeks, I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me exactly that."
Thorpe, who won five gold medals, three silver, and one bronze over the course of the 2000 and 2004 Olympics, said he had wanted to come out for some time but feared the reaction. "What happened was I felt the lie had become so big that I didn't want people to question my integrity," he told Parkinson. "And, you know, a little bit of ego comes into this. I didn't want people to question that ... have I lied about everything?" He added that he felt some shame about not coming out earlier. Now, he said, "I'm comfortable saying I'm a gay man. And I don't want young people to feel the same way that I did. You can grow up, you can be comfortable, and you can be gay." -- Trudy Ring
Patricia Yurena, Miss Spain 2008 and 2013
Patricia Yurena Rodriguez, winner of Miss Spain in both 2008 and 2013, came out as a lesbian in an Instagram post in August, making her the first openly lesbian beauty queen.
The picture, captioned "Romeo and Juliet" shows Rodriguez in an intimate moment with girlfriend, Vanesa Klein, a Spanish DJ and singer. (Our sister site, SheWired, assembled a tribute of sorts to Miss Spain that shares 11 more photos from her Instagram account.)
Rodriguez later took to Twitter, saying, "Thanks for all your comments. I published the picture completely spontaneously and in an impulsive manner. Thank you for all your support."
Andreja Pejic, Model
Andreja Pejic was a 19-year-old wunderkind in the fashion world when The Advocate first profiled the Bosnian-born model in 2011. Pejic, our publication wrote, is "on the brink of supermodel status," and has an ability to walk Jean-Paul Gaultier's catwalk in both men's and women's attire that placed Pejic in "in a post-gender league of his own."
As a model, Pejic has already achieved wild success, having appeared on the cover of New York magazine as well as in the music video for David Bowie's "The Stars Are Out Tonight." In July, after years of challenging the gender divide in fashion, Pejic came out as a transgender woman on Entertainment Tonight. Following her appearance, Pejic wrote a note on her Facebook wall thanking the public for its support and also extending a hand to gender-noncomforming youth.
"I know it's hard, I've been there, but remember it's your right to be accepted as what you identify with -- you deserve the same respect as any other human being on this planet," she wrote. "As a transgender woman I hope to show that after transition (a life-saving process) one can be happy and successful in their new chapter without having to alienate their past. Most importantly differences should not equal divisions, let's all stand together in union." -- Daniel Reynolds
Vicky Beeching, singer-songwriter
British-born Christian rock singer and religious commentator Vicky Beeching, who has a large audience in the U.S., came out in an interview published in August in the U.K.'s Independent. Reporter Patrick Strudwick describes a meeting with her in which she handed him a note confirming "I'm gay."
Beeching, who was brought up in a Pentecostal church and then joined the evangelical branch of the Church of England, says she has been attracted to the same sex since she was a child and that she went through an exorcism at a Christian camp as a teen, an experience she describes as "degrading." Five years ago, she had a life-changing experience. She was diagnosed with a serious autoimmune disease called linear scleroderma morphea, which turns the body's soft tissues into scar tissue. Shortly into a course of treatment that would last 18 months, she made a vow to come out by age 35. --Trudy Ring
Brad Thorson, former NFL prospect
Former football player Brad Thorson took the plunge in July to publicly declare that he is gay. "I've been told many times that the process of coming out is cathartic," Thorson wrote
in a blog post. "Yet since coming to terms with my sexuality, I found it arduous and unnecessary. At least that's what I kept telling myself. So today, I'm putting it in writing and not looking back. I'm gay. I'm also an athlete. For years, I struggled to unite these two identities in my own mind."
Thorson was an NCAA offensive lineman for Wisconsin and then Kansas. When he attempted to go professional, he did not get drafted to a team in 2011, but signed with the Arizona Cardinals later that year. However, Thorson did not get the chance to play during the regular season after breaking his foot, Outsportsreports
. After a brief stint with the Canadian Football League, Thorson decided to leave football altogether. He now plays rugby in San Francisco with the Fog. --Michelle Garcia
Lee Ryan, boy band member
Singer Lee Ryan of the British boy band Blue casually revealed during an episode of the U.K. reality series Celebrity Big Brother that he's had sexual relationships with men.
Ryan was talking with castmates Jasmine Walts and Luisa Zissman and said, "Yeah, I've been with a man," He later added, "Of course, man. I'm a well-traveled person. I've never admitted it anywhere. No one's bothered to ask."
Charlie King, Reality TV Star
Just in time for Coming Out Day, reality star Charlie King appeared on television this week to come forward about his identity. Seen as being in a romantic relationship with a woman on the British series The Only Way Is Essex, King came clean that his portrayal in the reality series was not as real as the category would imply.
"I feel that I'm ready now. And even though I'm nervous sitting here sort of talking about it, I know that the time is now," he told Amanda Holden of ITV's This Morning.
Addressing how his search for identity was a plotline of the show, King said, "I never really knew where I belonged. I never really knew where I fitted in. And it was something I had to address, and it's taken me a good few years to kind of get here now and say, 'I'm Charlie. I'm 29 year old. I'm a gay man and I'm very comfortable with that.'"
"I had a girlfriend, she was the first person I spoke to and told," King confirmed. "It was a proper relationship, but I was very aware when I was seeing her things weren't quite right. If something doesn't click, it doesn't click."
Marcus Juhlin, athlete
Marcus Juhlin, Swedish champion in American Football, came out in the April issue of QX magazine. In the story, Juhlin says that he didn't just come out for himself, he did it for all young people who feel that they don't belong or fit in. He's the first American football player in Sweden to come out.
--Jerry Portwood, Out magazine
Kristen Kish, Top Chef winner
Top Chef winner Kristen Kish came out in a New York Times magazine article in March, and she took a photo of her and her girlfriend celebrating their one-year anniversary.
"And earlier this month, during Kish's final shift, Lynch, who is separated from her husband, brought her girlfriend, Jacqueline Bernat, and her girlfriend's son to Menton for dinner. She invited a surprise guest to complete the table. 'Oh, I know who that is,' Kish said, and smiled when a server told her there was an unexpected fourth person. It was Jacqueline Westbrook. She and Kish have been together nearly a year, but they kept their relationship under wraps at first. Westbrook, who is the assistant to the Food & Wine editor in chief, Dana Cowin, recalls telling her boss, 'So, you know my friend Kristen? Well, she's not just my friend.'"
Monica Raymund, actress
When Monica Raymund (Dana Lodge on The Good Wife and Gabriela Dawson on Chicago Fire) tweeted that she's bisexual in support of a video protesting Russia's antigay legislation, it was accompanied by the hashtag #10YearsOut&Proud. --Rebekah Allen
Emily Rios, actress
The Bridge star Emily Rios told the crowd at the TCA's that she has a lot in common with her character Adriana -- namely being Mexican and lesbian. "I'm gay, personally, so being Mexican and a lesbian -- this is why I love the character because I deal with the same type of things with my own family," Rios said at TCA, according to AfterEllen. "Mexican-Americans especially -- because this generation, we come into America and your family wants to be proud. You want to come to this country and say 'This is what I have to show for it. I brought my family and we're living our better life.' For my family, my mom didn't want me to live a difficult life. She brought me here for a better one so she's like 'Your coming out...I don't want this to be this. I want you to be comfortable.'" --Tracy Gilchrist
Thomas Hitzlsperger, pro soccer
Former German international and Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger, who is retired, came out as gay in an interview in January with German magazine Die Zeit. The Munich-born player has represented the German national team in more than 50 appearance, and has played for top-tier clubs in England, Germany, and Italy.
Hitzlsperger told Die Zeit that he came out in hopes to "advance the discussion of homosexuality among professional athletes." --Michael Regula
Neal Baer, producer
In a column for The Huffington Post in July, Neal Baer -- a writer and producer best known for his work on ER, Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, and CBS's Under the Dome -- came out publicly and talked about how he used his writing as an outlet to tell gay narratives and even infused himself into the stories he wrote for TV.
"Then I started writing for television, and I didn't realize it, but who I really was seeped into stories on ER
. I wrote about the struggles and accomplishments of gay youth, destigmatizing HIV/AIDS, whether transgender youth should be allowed to take hormone blockers, bullying, the pain of being on the down low (I really know about that one), AIDS deniers. Those stories were preparing me to come out." --Dennis Hinzman, Out magazine
Eric Radford, figure skater
Eric Radford, who took home a silver medal with his skating parter, Meagan Duhamel, at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, came out in December in a piece in Outsports. The 29-year-old Ontario native is the first elite figure skater to come out at the hight of his competitive career. The only other Olympian to come out during his career was Rudy Galindo, but Galindo retired that same year.
Radford considered coming out before. He even contacted GLAAD for advice before the Sochi games, but decided against it. "My concern was that I would be known as 'the gay athlete' if I came out at the Olympics, rather than Eric the medalling figure skater who happens to be gay. And I felt uncomfortable with that title." --Alex Panisch, Out magazine
Mark McAdam, sports reporter
"I don't know of any other gay sports reporters ... there's nothing to compare this to," Sky Sports correspondent Mark McAdam told Gay Times
during his coming out interview with the magazine this year (which came with an equally revealing photo shoot
According to Outsports.com, McAdam has been a sports reporter with Sky Sports for seven years and says he battled with his "sexuality for years and years," and was bullied and physically harmed while he was in school. Of course, now that McAdam has a successful career, he's managed to develop a thick skin and a sense of humor, telling Gay Times: "I watch football, I watch the darts, I sit around and scratch my bollocks and p*ss on the toilet seat. And I'm gay." --Ross von Metzke
Ty Herndon, country music star
Country music star Ty Herndon announced in November that he is "an out, proud, and happy gay man" in an interview with Entertainment Tonight. The singer's career includes 17 Billboard hits over a span of nearly two decades.
Then in December, he proudly walked the red carpet with his partner Matt Collum (pictured above left) at the TrevorLIVE L.A. benefit. It marked the first time Herndon made a public appearance with the man who has been his partner since 2008.
"So many times in my life and career I've had to do these things alone, and leave the person I love at home sitting on the couch because I wasn't brave enough to bring him and I wasn't out," Herndon emotionally toldThe Advocate
. "So this is monumental for both of us tonight." --Jase Peeples
Billy Gilman, country music star
Drawing inspiration from Herndon, the next day singer Billy Gilman announced he is also gay in a video posted online.
"It's difficult for me to make this video, not because I'm ashamed of being a gay male artist or a gay artist or a gay person," Gilman says in the video. "But it's pretty silly to know that I'm ashamed of doing this knowing that because I'm in an genre and industry that is ashamed of me for being me."
At the age of 11, Gilman became the youngest singer to land a Top 40 hit on the country music charts with his debut single, "One Voice," in 2000, and his debut album of the same name was certified double platinum in the U.S. Gilman quickly followed up with a Christmas album, Classic Christmas, and his sophomore effort, Dare to Dream. Both were certified gold in the U.S., with Dream peaking at number 6 on the Billboard country music albums chart.--Jase Peeples
Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia's foreign minister
Latvia's foreign minister, Edgars Rinkevics, come out as gay in November with a post on Twitter both in English and in Latvian. "I proudly announce I am gay," Rinkevics tweeted. "Good luck all of you."
The foreign minister's decision to come out is all the more courageous considering that Latvia, a former Soviet republic, once considered a bill similar to Russia's nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda. --Thom Senzee
Tim Cook, CEO of Apple
By coming out as gay, Tim Cook becomes the most influential and powerful CEO of any company to live openly, providing an example that was missing at the highest levels of the business world.
"While I have never denied my sexuality, I haven't publicly acknowledged it either, until now," Cook wrote in an essay for Bloomberg BusinessWeek. "So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me."
Rather than being a hindrance, Cook went so far as to say being gay has actually helped him to lead Apple.
"Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It's been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple." --Lucas Grindley