Coming out should be a celebration—or at least something people feel comfortable doing in their own time. But sometimes things don’t go as planned, especially when you’re a high-profile personality.
Whether it’s being forced out of the closet by an arrest, getting caught out in public with a hustler or sharing your truth in a truly awkward acceptance speech, some celebrity outings are truly cautionary tales.
Below: 7 famous folks whose coming out could have gone much, much better!
1. Liberace: The Palimony Pianist
The flamboyant performer was the subject of rumors about his sexuality throughout his career. However, when Liberace’s chauffeur, Scott Thorson, sued the pianist for palimony—asserting he was Lee’s live-in lover for five years—the truth kind of hit the fan. (The case was eventually settled out of court). Though Liberace never confirmed he was gay, Betty White admitted she had served as his beard on several occasions.
For more on Liberace’s down-low dealings, be sure to check out Steven Sondheim’s upcoming bio-pic, Behind the Candelabra.
Photo: Alan Light
2. Dr. George Rekers: The Luggage Lifter
What happens when a Christian minister who promotes reparative therapy goes to Europe on his ministry’s dime? He hires a male escort to “lift his luggage.” At least, that’s the story Rekers told when he was spotted with a hustler at the airport (above).
Rekers admits he found “Lucien” on Rentboy.com but says he only learned he was a prostitute midway through their vacation: “I had surgery and I can’t lift luggage. That’s why I hired him.”
Right, because when you need someone to do some heavy lifting, you want a 130-pound twink who describes himself as having a “smooth, sweet, tight ass” and “perfectly built 8-inch” member.
Photo: Brandon K. Thorp
3. Ted Haggard: The Pastor With A Secret
Pastor Ted was the among the nation’s most influential evangelicals until 2006, when escort Mike Jones announced that Haggard paid him for meth-fueled sexual encounters for three years. At first, Haggard, who was forced to resign from the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, claimed he just bought the meth but never used it. Eventually, though, he admitted to affairs with men, and went for intense three-week spiritual counseling, with ministers announcing he was now “completely heterosexual.”
Since then, Haggard has started a new church and told GQ, “probably, if I were 21 in this society, I would identify myself as a bisexual.” He remains with his wife of 35 years, Gayle. e, and
4. T.R. Knight: A Hostile Work Environment
During a fight on the set of Grey’s Anatomy, Isaiah Washington reportedly shouted at co-star Patrick Demsey, “I’m not your faggot like T.R. Knight.” The tabloids got ahold of the story and Washington was forced to leave the hit show. Knight, who hadn’t discussed his sexuality before, felt obligated to publicly address it in a statement:
I guess there have been a few questions about my sexuality, and I’d like to quiet any unnecessary rumors that may be out there. While I prefer to keep my personal life private, I hope the fact that I’m gay isn’t the most interesting part of me.
Knight was content to let sleeping dogs lie until Washington claimed he never dropped an F-bomb on the set. Knight went on Ellen and confirmed the whole sordid incident and thanked DeGeneres for being such an inspiration.
5. Larry Craig: Senator Wide Stance
The former lawmaker from Idaho became the subject of a torrid scandal when he was arrested for soliciting sex in a men’s room at the Minnesota-St. Paul International Airport. Craig’s infamous defense was that he had a “wide stance” when relieving himself and his contact with an undercover cop was purely accidental. Craig still maintains he’s straight, but several men have come forward to say they’ve engaged in sexual activity with Craig.
Someone get us an air-sickness bag!
Photo: U.S. Senate
6. Kwame Harris: The Boyfriend Basher
The retired 49er fumbled out of the closet when, earlier this year, he was charged with assaulting his ex-boyfriend for stealing his underwear and using too much soy sauce.
Harris’ attorney confirmed that his client was gay but said, “he doesn’t like to talk about his personal life.” He also claimed that Harris’ ex, Dimitri Geier, had started the physical assault.
Photo: San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department
7. Jodie Foster: The Rambler
While accepting an honorary Golden Globe Award , Jodie Foster publicly commented on her sexuality for the first time—sort of.
So while I’m here being all confessional, I guess I have a sudden urge to say something that I’ve never really been able to air in public. So, a declaration that I’m a little nervous about but maybe not quite as nervous as my publicist right now, huh Jennifer? But I’m just going to put it out there, right? Loud and proud, right? So I’m going to need your support on this.
I am single. Yes I am, I am single. No, I’m kidding — but I mean I’m not really kidding, but I’m kind of kidding. I mean, thank you for the enthusiasm. Can I get a wolf whistle or something? [Audio is silent for seven seconds] … be a big coming-out speech tonight because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met…
Her rambling speech was met with a lot of head-scratching: Some fans felt in was too little, too late; others believed Foster had been clear enough in the past, and some were irritated she couldn’t just be direct.
Photo: Tom Sorensen