It’s Pride 2021, but this world still has a long way to go when it comes to accepting people in the LGBTQ+ community. As we discussed on our Pride webcast this past weekend, Obergefell v. Hodges – the landmark case that gave us marriage equality on a federal level in the United States – was only six years ago. And for many cishet people, that was the end of it. But the rest of us know that there is still a massive uphill battle when it comes to true equality, which is why it is still a very big deal when celebrities come out. There have been numerous celebrities who have come out in the past year – from actors to athletes – and this article will spotlight some of them.
Pride Month is a celebration as well as a reminder of everything the LGBTQ+ community has been through. The first Pride was a riot – at the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village, 52 years ago today. As the queer community is not a monolith, everyone approaches Pride differently, but I believe the first Pride after you come out hits a little different, which is why I’d like to wish the highlighted people below a very special Pride. (And ok, for some of these people, it’s not their first Pride, but still.)
Elliot was already an active and outspoken member of the queer community before he revealed that he was trans in an Instagram post in December 2020. With more than 250 anti-LGBTQ+ bills being proposed in the US just in the last year alone, most of these against the trans community, it is more important than ever to have visible representation. Elliot used his coming out post to spotlight the staggering violence against the trans community, particularly for those who are Black and Latinx. Said Elliot in his statement, “[…] you are hurting people. I am one of those people and we will not be silent in the face of your attacks.”
Yokoyama, who plays in the US National Women’s Soccer League and is a member of the Japanese national football team, came out as trans last week in a video posted to a former team member’s YouTube channel, which Yokoyama then shared on Twitter. As bad as it is to be trans right now in the US, it’s worse in Japan, where being trans is not even a recognized identity. Still, Yokoyama hopes to eventually quit soccer and live in Japan as a man, raising awareness for the LGBTQ+ community. Yokoyama is one of two trans athletes who will be competing at the Olympics in Tokyo next month.
Even if you’re not a sports fan, you should know that Nassib being the first active football player to come out is a big deal. For a player in a sport like football – a “man’s” sport – being out can be a career killer. (Michael Sam, who was the first openly gay player to be drafted into the National Football League, was cut during the preseason and did not play professionally in the US.) Only last year did the Supreme Court rule that a person cannot be fired for being LGBTQ+. Nassib came out in an Instagram post where he also highlighted the Trevor Project and expressed his hope to help in the fight for equality.
Kaitlyn Weaver, Jason Brown, Paul Poirier, and Kevin Aymoz
As we continue with athletes who have recently come out, I’m lumping these four together because they are all figure skaters. It might surprise some of you to learn that figure skating is actually a very homophobic sport, which is why so many skaters wait until after they retire to come out. So having so many skaters all out at once is a big deal – Weaver, Brown, and Poirier all came out on the same day, actually, earlier in June. (I should point out that Weaver is retired. But Brown and Poirier join Amber Glenn, who came out as bi/pan in January 2020.) Aymoz was featured in a documentary about out French athletes that premiered just a week or so later.
Rubinstein is one half of Monday night’s hottest couple, Tarlos – aka TK and Carlos on FOX’s 9-1-1: Lone Star. The two of them are basically the only reason I continue to watch the show. Rubinstein, who came out as bisexual in an interview with Variety in April, admitted that it was his portrayal of TK, as well as the fans’ ready acceptance of Tarlos, that made him feel comfortable enough to talk about and embrace his identity. Rafael Silva, the other half of the pairing, is already out and extremely vocal about increasing intersectional queer representation in media.
Another actor whose role inspired them to come out is Badaki, who plays Bilquis – an ancient love goddess and the Queen of Sheba – on Starz’s American Gods. Badaki, who came out as bisexual in an interview with Digital Spy in January, revealed that trying to figure out what her character would do in certain situations led her to look at her own sexuality. This is why she believes that it’s vitally important to have these kinds of sex-empowering and sex-positive conversations, because they lead to more personal freedom.
Perhaps known best for her roles as Cora Hale on Teen Wolf and Mary Queen of Scots on Reign, came out as bisexual in a TikTok where she basically made a meme of her own announcement. Kane’s caption, where she admitted her nervousness at going public, and her general overall anxious appearance, are a reminder that while many people react to celebrities coming out with “who cares?”, it is still often very much a big deal for the person doing the coming out.
X-Men: Apocalypse and Love, Simon actress Shipp came out on an Instagram post at the beginning of June. In the caption, Shipp says she didn’t come out until she was 28, and that she struggled with the decision for a long time in fear that it would affect her career. Shipp’s post highlights the reality many people wrestle with their sexuality for years. So many people think that you just know you’re queer, which is not always the case. (I didn’t realize I was queer until I was in my 30s. I am still in my 30s.) I also applaud her honesty when she talks about how scared she was, because it’s a fear so many of us face daily, and it’s a comfort to know that we’re not alone in that.
Admin Angel already wrote about Siwa’s coming out (via YouTube and confirmed in a Twitter post) in January and why it’s important, but just to reiterate, Siwa is only 18 and her audience skews younger. For many kids, having Siwa to turn to as inspiration could be life-changing. And considering that her audience is younger, it’s especially brave of Siwa to come out publicly and risk backlash from bigoted parents who don’t understand. But as long as Siwa is out there, being her happy self, there will be teenagers who will look up to her and know that they are not alone.
Lovato, who had previously identified as queer, had a couple of coming outs this year! First, they came out as pansexual in an interview with Joe Rogan on his podcast in March. Then they came out as non-binary in a video posted to their Twitter account in May. Lovato’s journey helps understand that coming out isn’t just a one-and-done for a lot of people. As long as heterosexuality is the assumed default, people in the LGBTQ+ community will have to keep coming out over and over again. But it isn’t just that. Lovato’s journey also serves as an excellent example that sexuality is a spectrum. Some people stay fixed on one point on the spectrum, while some are more fluid. Neither is wrong.
Nash, star of Geekiary favorite Claws on TNT, came out in a big way last August when it was revealed that she had married singer Jessica Betts. Nash, who announced the wedding on Instagram, later shared with PEOPLE that she didn’t consider the marriage a coming out, but more of a “going in”, where she was looking into herself and being honest. Nash’s second wedding at 50 is a great example of how it is never too late to be true to yourself and find love. So many coming-of-age tales revolve around first love and childhood sweethearts, and for those of us who never had that, it often feels like we’re getting left behind in a race we didn’t even know we were running. So to see Nash find such happiness at 50 is a spot of light in the dark.
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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