I'm Coming Out

8 Notable People Who Came Out In The Past Year

It’s National Coming Out Day! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve already come out—so congrats on that. If you haven’t, just change your middle name on Facebook to “Big Fat Homo.” (Life in the 21st century is sooo much easier.)

We announced our sexuality during the Cretaceous Period so when October 11 rolls around, we like to pick one random stranger to come out to. This year it was the dry cleaner. (He said it explained a lot of the stains.)

The past twelve months have seen a number of big-name outings—athletes, journalists, actors, businessmen. None is more important that the disclosure of everyday people like you, of course. But just the same, we’ve made a list of notable folks who announced they’re LGB or T since last National Coming Out Day.

Did we forget someone? Sound off in the comments!
UP FIRST: A newsman makes news

Don Lemon
A certain silver-haired anchor is still mum about his sexuality, but this rising star took a gamble and won when he announced he was gay when released his memoir, Transparent, in May 2011. So far Lemon has done a commendable job showing you don’t have to sacrifice objectivity and integrity as a out newsman—while still standing up for the LBGT community when the need arises.


NEXT: A TV star who doesn’t look at Playboy


Sean Maher
The usual strategy for actor to come out is to either wait until a scandal is about to break or their career has all but fizzled. Maher, who first caught our eye in the sci-fi series Firefly, rewrote the script: He came out to Entertainment Weekly just as he was about to embark on his highest-profile role to date, on NBC’s ill-fated The Playboy Club. The series crashed on arrival but Maher’s bold honesty made him an even bigger name in Hollywood—proving coming out can be good for your career.


NEXT: A team player stands alone


Anton Hysen
In the rest of the world, soccer is as wrapped up in national identity and masculinity as much as football is in the U.S.—if not more so. So it was kind of a big deal when Anton Hysén, the 20-year-old British-born soccer player for Sweden’s Utsiktens BK, came out in March as the only openly gay player currently in the sport. (Justin Fashanu preceded him in 1990.)

“It’s totally sick when you think about it,” he says of his lone-gay status. “Where the hell is everyone else?”

Good question.


NEXT: A soldier’s story hits YouTube


Randy Phillips
Phillips is just one of thousands of men and women who sacrificed a part of themselves under the odious policy of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. But by videotaping and uploading his coming-out conversation with his dad—and his mom, who took it a little harder—he showed straight America just how brave LGBT servicemembers are. At ease, solider.


NEXT: Scoring points off the court



Rick Welts
Welts, president and CEO of the Phoenix Suns, announced he was gay in a May 15 article in the New York Times, making him the first out executive in a major-league sports franchise. (He’s since moved on to the Golden State Warriors.)

While Welts’ revelation doesn’t have the same flashiness it would have if he were a pro athlete, its long-term impact is potentially greater: As top brass, he not only sets policy, he hires and fires and writes the checks. You can bet none of the Warriors will be calling anyone a “fucking faggot.”


NEXT: Here comes the judge!



Judge Vaughn Walker

He presided over the Prop 8 trial, where his sexuality became a point of contention for the defense, but Walker didn’t officially disclose he was gay until April 2011, after he stepped down from the bench. He was the first openly gay judge to serve on the federal level.

Ironically Walker almost didn’t get his appointment because of some perceived homophobia: After he was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan in 1987, the Senate Judiciary Committee hemmed and hawed because he had represented the U.S. Olympic Committee in a trademark lawsuit against the “Gay Olympics” (now called the Gay Games).  Rep. Nancy Pelosi led nearly two dozen House Democrats in opposing Walker’s nomination because of his alleged insensitivity to gays.



NEXT: Former teen idol has the right stuff


Jonathan Knight

Okay, so a former boy-bander waiting to come out until he was out of the spotlight for almost 20 years isn’t quite an earth-shattering revelation. But for those of us who remember when New Kids on the Block sent millions of fans into fainting spells, it was still kinda a big deal.

Seriously, he dated Tiffany!

Knight, who pulled the old “I thought everyone knew” card, did make a good point in a statement to the press: “My fellow band members don’t discuss their private lives with their loved ones and I don’t feel that just because I am gay, I should have to discuss mine!”

Oh, and for the gaybies out there, here’s a picture of Knight in his NKOTB heyday


NEXT: The kids are alright


Graeme Taylor
Taylor might not have been closeted last November, when he spoke before his county school board on behalf of a teacher  suspended for disciplining a student who said his religion declared homosexuality sinful. But  the story was picked up by media outlets nationwide (he even appeared on Ellen), so he certainly outed himself on a much broader level than most of us have.

Unlike most of the people we’ve profiled Taylor, who was just 14 at the time, doesn’t trade on his public image. In his everyday life he’s not a newsmaker or VIP (past or present). He’s just a regular kid who decided to take a stand—making his “coming out” the most important on this list.


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