When a celebrity comes out publicly as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer, it may no longer warrant a Time magazine cover or a prime-time television interview, but it’s nonetheless a meaningful revelation for the individual sharing their story and an important milestone for the community as a whole.
Psychologist Robert Eichberg, who co-founded National Coming Out Day with activist Jean O’Leary in 1988, spoke about the broader impact of a person coming out of the proverbial closet three decades ago: “Most people think they don’t know anyone gay or lesbian, and in fact everybody does. It is imperative that we come out and let people know who we are and disabuse them of their fears and stereotypes,” Eichberg said in a 1993 interview, according to his New York Times obituary.
National Coming Out Day is celebrated annually on Oct. 11, a date that was chosen to mark the anniversary of the 1987 National March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights, which drew hundreds of thousands of people to the nation’s capital. But lucky for us, LGBTQ people — celebrities or not — come out 365 days a year.
While it would be impossible to honor them all, here are just a few of the countless queer people who came out in 2023.
“Stranger Things” star Noah Schnapp came out as gay in a TikTok video posted in January. In a written message that appeared on the video, the 19-year-old actor revealed that when he “finally told my friends and family I was gay after being scared in the closet for 18 years,” their response was simply: “We know.”
“The Last of Us” star Bella Ramsey came out as gender-fluid in an interview published in The New York Times in January. The actor, who first rose to fame in HBO’s hit series “Game of Thrones,” told the paper that her “gender has always been very fluid” and said if she sees “nonbinary” as an option on a form, she will tick it. However, she added, “Being gendered isn’t something that I particularly like, but in terms of pronouns, I really couldn’t care less.”
Czech Republic soccer player Jakub Jankto came out as gay in a video shared on social media in February. “I am homosexual, and I no longer want to hide myself,” he said in the video, which has nearly 18 million views on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Sparta Prague, the professional club Jankto was playing for at the time, retweeted the video, saying, “You have our support. Live your life, Jakube. Nothing else matters.”
“Freelance” and “GLOW” star Alison Brie came out as bisexual in a video for BuzzFeed News in February, where she and her husband, Dave Franco, were reading thirsty social media posts from fans about each other. At one point, Brie reads a tweet to her husband: “Listen, I am bisexual for a reason, and that reason is strictly to be used in a threesome by Dave Franco and Alison Brie.” Brie and Franco high-five, and then Brie says, “That’s also why I’m bisexual.” Franco responds, “You’ve been waiting for this tweet from someone you don’t know who they are or what they look like?” Brie shrugs and says, “Yeah.”
Comedian and actor Mo’Nique came out as queer in her Netflix comedy special, “My Name Is Mo’Nique,” which debuted in April. She told a tearful story about how she never came out to her grandmother due to her grandmother’s tense relationship with Mo’Nique’s Uncle Tina, who was assigned female at birth but presented masculine, according to the Gay Times. Later in the special, Mo’Nique revealed that she came out to her husband, Sidney Hicks: “I said, ‘Daddy, I want to be with another woman sexually.’ And he look at me, so beautifully and so patient and so loving, and said, ‘B—-, me too.’”
Chloe Veitch, the star of Netflix’s reality series “Too Hot To Handle,” came out in April in an interview with The Sun. She said “doing breath work forced me to dig deeper.” She added, “I realized, ‘This is what’s bothering you — you’re bisexual and you haven’t told anyone.’ I’ve definitely been battling it, to be honest. I mean, being in and out of little flings with girls. I felt like it was my dirty little secret so it has taken the weight off my shoulders.”
Lauv, the singer-songwriter known for his song “I Like Me Better,” came out in a TikTok in June. The video shows Lauv in what appears to be the back of a car under the text, “When ur dating a girl but ur also a little bit into men.” He added in the caption, “Does it have to be that big of a deal? i havent done much aside from kiss so tbh don’t wannna jump the gun but tbh i feel things and i dont wanna pretend i dont.” Many of his fans were supportive in comments, with one writing, “Lauv is lauv is lauv.”
The lead of Netflix’s show “Glamorous,” which also stars Kim Cattrall, came out as a transgender woman in a June essay for Time magazine. Miss Benny revealed that her character, Marco, would also transition in the show. She said she was afraid to come out as herself on a show featuring a trans character at a time when dozens of states have considered bills to restrict trans rights. “But then I am reminded that this fear is exactly why I wanted to include my transition in the show: Because I know that when I was a terrified queer kid in Texas, it was the queer joy I found in droplets online that guided me to my happiness,” she said.
Former “RuPaul’s Drag Race”contestant Adore Delano came out as transgenderin July. In a video shared with her millions of Instagram followers, Delano said she initially came out as trans when she was a teenager but went back in the closet when she competed on “American Idol” in 2008.
Japanese pop star Shinjiro Atae came out as gay at a fan event in Tokyo in July. “For years, I struggled to accept a part of myself … But now after all I have been through, I finally have the courage to open up to you about something,” he told his fans, according to the AP. “I am a gay man.” Atae, who is now based in Los Angeles, performed for 15 years in the popular group AAA before taking a break in 2020.
Former “Bachelorette” star and Denver Broncos cheerleader Gabby Windeyrevealed that she’s in a relationship with writer and comedian Robby Hoffman. In an Instagram post shared in August, Windey included several photos of herself and Hoffman and cheekily wrote, “Told you I’m a girls girl!!”
“Let’s Make a Deal” host Wayne Brady came out as pansexual in an interview with People magazine that was published in August. LGBTQ media advocacy group GLAAD defines pansexual as a descriptor for someone “who has the capacity to form enduring physical, romantic, and/ or emotional attractions to any person, regardless of gender identity.”
“Sex Education” star Ncuti Gatwa came out publicly as queer in an interview with Elle UK published in August. Gatwa, who played one of the Kens in this summer’s wildly popular “Barbie” blockbuster, shared a touching story about meeting “another queer Rwandan person” at Manchester Pride several years ago. At the time, he told the magazine, “I thought I was the only one in the world.”
“Heartstopper” star Joe Locke plays an openly gay teenager who faces bullying for who he is in the popular coming-of-age series based on Alice Oseman’s graphic novels, but Locke didn’t publicly discuss his sexuality until August.
“People have assumed and written it,” he told Teen Vogue of his sexuality, “and I haven’t ever corrected anyone because I haven’t felt the need to. But I’ve never specifically stated my sexuality.”
He told the magazine that he can’t recall when he first knew he was gay, but that he’s been openly gay since he was about 12.
Singer-songwriter Sufjan Stevens seemingly came out in an Instagram post in October about his late partner, Evans Richardson, to whom he dedicated his latest album, “Javelin.” Stevens wrote that Richardson, who died in April, “was one of those rare and beautiful ones you find only once in a lifetime — precious, impeccable, and absolutely exceptional in every way.”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 5 contestant Jade Jolie came out as transgender in a short post on X in October, writing, “Deciding to choose myself and move forward with my transition.”
Che Flores became the NBA’s first out nonbinary and transgender referee after coming out in October. Flores, who uses they/them pronouns, told GQ being misgendered as she/her “felt like a little jab in the gut,” and that after coming out they could be more comfortable in the world and at work. “I just think of having younger queer kids look at somebody who’s on a high-profile stage and not using it,” Flores told GQ. “And I’m not using the league to an advantage in any way. This is just to let young kids know that we can exist, we can be successful in all different ways.”
Karan Brar, who starred in the comedy “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and the Disney Channel’s “Jessie,” penned an emotional essay for Teen Vogue in November in which he came out as bisexual. He wrote that his yearslong struggle with his sexuality and grief over the loss of his friend and fellow Disney star Cameron Boyce led him to develop a “deeply unhealthy relationship with alcohol” until he checked himself in to an inpatient treatment center in 2020. “I still keep things close to the vest online, but the gap between who I am and who I appear to be is shrinking,” Brar wrote. “It’s not closed yet, and it may never be.”
Singer-songwriter Billie Eilish said she was surprised when she found out people didn’t know she isn’t straight. The 22-year-old described being attracted to women in a November interview with Variety, saying of women, “I’m attracted to them as people. I’m attracted to them for real.” Earlier this month, she told Variety at an event that she didn’t intend for her comment to be major news. “But I kind of thought, ‘Wasn’t it obvious?’ I didn’t realize people didn’t know,” she said. “I just don’t really believe in it. I’m just like, ‘Why can’t we just exist?’ I’ve been doing this for a long time, and I just didn’t talk about it. Whoops.”