15 Celebrities You May Not Have Known Were LGBTQ+
Though there have been many quietly queer, transgender, and bisexual stars over the years, recent years have seen many more of our favorite celebrities open up and speak comfortably about their own gender expression and sexual orientation. With the candor of these high-profile individuals, it's likely that more and more people outside of the public eye are getting comfortable expressing their own diverse gender expressions and sexualities, too. Here are 15 of those celebs who are boldly inviting the rest of the world to live their truths, and encouraging a climate of acceptance and inclusion.
Miley Cyrus: After coming out as pansexual, Miley Cyrus further cemented that she’s not like everyone else, telling the UK’s Ross King that she feels “genderless and ageless.” She added: “I’m a spirit soul, not even divided by human beings or animals. I treat the planet with as much respect as possible. There is no us and them — there’s no me and you. I want to be everything and I want to be also nothing. I just want to be able to be myself.” (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for My Friend's Place)
Steven Tyler: Back in Aerosmith’s heydey, singer and American Idol judge Steven Tyler was often lambasted for his feminine on-stage persona. But in his 2011 memoir Does the Noise in My Head Bother You?, the “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” singer wrote, "I've been misquoted as saying that I'm more female than male. Let me set the record straight — it's more half and half." (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images)
Amandla Stenberg: Back in 2016, teen star Amandla Stenberg told Elle that not only does the star prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns (they/them), but they also didn’t want to define their dating preferences in a traditional way. Then in June 2018, Stenberg came out as gay, telling Wonderland magazine, “I was so overcome with this profound sense of relief when I realized that I’m gay — not bi, not pan, but gay — with a romantic love for women. All of the things that felt so internally contrary to my truest self were rectified as I unraveled a long web of denial and self-deprivation.” (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for MTV)
Elly Jackson: As one half of La Roux, singer-songwriter Elly Jackson has brought us bangers like “Bulletproof” while working hard to avoid labels related to gender and sexuality.
“I’m not going to put myself in that camp, or under that title,” Jackson said in 2014, when asked whether they were gay, straight, or bisexual. “I don’t feel one thing or the other, I don’t feel man, I don’t feel woman – that’s where the androgyny comes from. I probably feel more feminine than I do masculine… but if people want to hold me up as a gay role model, absolutely, I’m proud to be that, but I don’t feel the need to say that I’m gay to do it.” (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images)
Andreja Pejić: When she first landed in the modeling world, Andreja Pejić was famous for being an androgynous male model named Andrej, but as her career has grown, Pejić has come to terms with her gender identity and come out as transgender, even undergoing gender confirmation surgery in 2014.
“I want to share my story with the world because I think I have a social responsibility,” Pejić, told People at the time. “I hope that by being open about this, it becomes less of an issue.” (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Bert Marcus Productions)
Aubrey Plaza: Aubrey Plaza, everyone’s favorite junior curmudgeon on NBC’s Parks and Recreation has always spoken openly about her sexuality as a bisexual woman. Back in 2016, she laid it out with The Advocate, saying, “I know I have an androgynous thing going on, and there’s something masculine about my energy. Girls are into me — that’s no secret. Hey, I’m into them too. I fall in love with girls and guys.” (Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for MTV)
Nyle DiMarco: After his groundbreaking win on America’s Next Top Model, the deaf disability activist Nyle DiMarco came out as sexually fluid, saying that he’s interested in relationships with anyone who tickles his fancy irrespective of gender. While that’s had him facing his own challenges, particularly within the queer community, he says his decision to come out was based more in advocacy than acceptance.
“I’ve had so many LGBT+ people criticize me for my identity, and I think that’s not the point,” he said in 2017. “Why aren’t we working together for a larger goal? The bottom line is, what is our long-term goal for the LGBT+ community? [The goal should be] ending oppression or stigma - when we end stigma I think we’re going to be in a much better place.” (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Anna Paquin: Although she famously married her True Blood costar Stephen Moyer in 2010, Paquin came out as bisexual that same year. She clarified to Larry King in 2014 that she can be in a heterosexual marriage, be a parent, and still be bisexual.
“I am married to my husband, and we are happily monogamously married,” she told the befuddled host after he questioned if she was no longer bisexual. “I don't think it's a past tense thing. Are you still straight if you are with somebody?... If you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn't prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn't really work like that." (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for A+E Networks/Lifetime)
Tim Cook: When Apple’s founder and tech legend Steve Jobs died in 2011, he was replaced by long-time Apple executive Tim Cook. While Cook remained quiet about his sexuality in public, he changed his tune in 2014 by coming out in an editorial for Bloomberg.
“Where I value my privacy significantly, I felt that I was valuing it too far above what I could do for the people,” Cook wrote to explain why he’d waited to publicly reveal his sexual orientation. “I wanted to tell everyone my truth. Many people already know. For many people, it was no revelation. It’s like discovering something on your iPhone it’s always done but you didn’t quite know it.” (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Jake Zyrus: Although the name Jake Zyrus may not be immediately recognizable, Glee fans will remember the name Charice Pempengco — Zyrus' name before coming out as transgender. It wasn’t until 2017 that Zyrus debuted his true self, complete with a name change. (Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images)
Janet Mock: Transgender writer, TV host, and activist Janet Mock has made it her mission to speak openly and unapologetically about her history and identity. “I believe that telling our stories, first to ourselves and then to one another and the world, is a revolutionary act,” Mock explains in her book, Redefining Realness. “It is an act that can be met with hostility, exclusion, and violence. It can also lead to love, understanding, and community.” (Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images for GLAAD)
Vanessa Carlton: The songstress best known for her early-2000s hit song “A Thousand Miles” proudly proclaimed her bisexuality during a 2010 Pride event in Nashville, telling the crowd, “I've never said this before, but I'm a proud bisexual woman.” Since then, she has said that her coming out has allowed others to feel comfortable with their own sexuality. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images Getty Images for NAMM)
Bella Thorne: Although she nabbed headlines for dating the Kardashian-adjacent Scott Disick briefly in 2017, Bella Thorne came out as bisexual in 2016 by responding casually to a fan who asked Thorne about her sexuality, via Twitter, after Thorne posted a snap of herself kissing another woman. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)
Mara Wilson: Being out as bisexual to friends and family wasn’t enough for Matilda star Mara Wilson after the attack at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando in 2016, so the former child star decided to publicly declare her queerness, explaining why she kept her sexuality low key in an editorial on Medium.
“One of the reasons I didn’t come out for a very long time was because I grew up hearing that bisexual girls were ‘crazy,’” she wrote. “I heard that all the time. I heard that bisexual girls were ‘crazy,’ they were greedy, they were selfish and they caused drama. They were the worst. They wanted attention.” (Photo by Tara Ziemba/Getty Images)
Asia Kate Dillon: Orange Is The New Black and Billions actor Asia Kate Dillon made history at the 2017 MTV Movie & TV Awards by presenting the first gender-neutral acting award ever on a major awards program. After arriving at the podium, Dillon took a moment to mention that they were breaking new ground, being the first non-binary presenter to hand out an award to a gender-free category. They went on to say that they hoped more awards shows would take MTV’s lead and head toward non-binary award categories, before handing the popcorn trophy to Emma Watson for her role in Beauty and the Beast.
Dillon had previously challenged the Emmy Awards to go gender-neutral as well. Although they haven’t obliged, the Television Academy did say that anyone could enter any category they prefer, and they welcomed Dillon to choose which gender category they would prefer if they would like to be considered for nomination. (Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images)