UPDATE: See the updated version of this post HERE!
"I would like to consider myself a 'whatever,' Maria Bello said this month in a column in the New York Times, revealing that after two relationships with men (one of which produced a child) she had fallen in love with a woman.
Bello's decision to come out while consciously eschewing a label is a sentiment echoed by many of those on this year's list who felt no need to declare themselves L-G-B or T but still found it necessary for some reason, like Hot97 DJ Mister Cee, to declare their "sexual freedom".
The British Olympic diver Tom Daley told UK talk show host Jonathan Ross, "Everything is all pretty new so I don't see any point in putting a label on it - gay, bi, straight, any of those kind of labels. All that I feel happy about at the moment is that I'm dating a guy and couldn't be happier, it shouldn't matter who I'm dating and I hope people can be happy for me."
Actress Michelle Rodriguez echoed that fluidity in a characteristically blunt manner, responding to people who call her a "lesbo": "Eh, they're not too far off. I've gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too f---ing curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks."
High school senior Jacob Rudolph went another route, adopting all the labels. He told his high school class, in a video that went viral: "I've been acting every single day of my life. You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of 'straight' Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT."
Rudolph later told Thomas Roberts: "I intended to come out as an LGBT and not say bisexual or gay or straight because I feel like those are the labels of the past. Especially in modern times when people are really questioning who they like and what they like I think that saying 'I'm bisexual', it could change in the future, I could be exclusively for one sex or another. So I think that putting it in a more general term like LGBT is extraordinarily appropriate even though I'm not a lesbian or a transgender."
But while the eschewing of labels is a major trend this year, there are still plenty of people happy to declare, "I'm gay" — though fewer are doing it on the front covers of magazines and many more are using more subtle forms of delivery, like the mention of a "husband" or "partner' buried in the third page of a magazine profile, or by posting an Instagram photo with a significant other.
One thing is certain. The act of coming out in 2013 remains as powerful as ever. Though tolerance, acceptance and equality have made great strides this year, there are still many pockets of the U.S., and certainly many countries abroad where LGBT people are forced to hide because being open about their sexuality would threaten their lives and their livelihoods.
Though coming out might be greeted more and more with comments like "yawn", "No disrespect intended, but DUH!", or "who cares?" from the social media peanut gallery, we should applaud the trolls in these cases, because they're one more example that progress is being made.
Who had the 52 Most Powerful Coming Outs of 2013 (so far)?
Find out (in alphabetical order), AFTER THE JUMP...
1. Kelvin Atkinson
One of this year's courageous lawmakers, Nevada Senator Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas) came out of the closet during a floor speech debating a bill that would repeal a constitutional provision passed by voters in 2002 banning same-sex marriage.
Said Atkinson: "I'm black. I'm gay…I know this is the first time many of you have heard me say that I am a black, gay male…If this hurts your marriage, then your marriage was in trouble in the first place."
2. Kristin Beck
Kristin Beck, a former member of the elite U.S. Navy SEAL Team 6, who earned a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, and served in the unit that killed Osama bin Laden, (though retired shortly before that raid) made headlines when she revealed her gender transition in a book called Warrior Princess in June.
Beck decided to undergo hormonal therapy shortly after retiring in 2011, and came out to colleagues by posting a photo of herself on LinkedIn. Support flooded in shortly thereafter, according to The Atlantic:
Soon, the responses from SEALs stationed all around the world suddenly started pouring in: "Brother, I am with you … being a SEAL is hard, this looks harder. Peace" * "I can't say I understand the decision but I respect the courage. Peace and happiness be upon you…Jim" * " … I just wanted to drop you a note and tell you that Kris has all the support and respect from me that Chris had … and quite possibly more. While I'm definitely surprised, I'm also in amazement at the strength you possess and the courage necessary to combat the strangers and 'friends' that I'm guessing have reared their ugly heads prior to and since your announcement. …"
Beck's unique story brought attention to the plight of transgender service members, who are banned from serving openly or entering military service.
3. Maria Bello
Actress Maria Bello (Permanent Midnight, Payback, Coyote Ugly, The Cooler, A History of Violence, Thank You for Smoking) came out as bisexual in a NYT column about coming out to her 12-year-old son Jack.
“So are you romantic with anyone right now?” he asked.
I took a deep breath, knowing that my answer, and his response, would have an impact on our lives for a very long time.He was right; I was with someone romantically and I hadn’t told him. I had become involved with a woman who was my best friend, and, as it happens, a person who is like a godmother to my son. How and when should I tell him? When I explained the situation to a therapist, she smiled and said, “Your son may say a lot of things about you when he’s older, but he will never say his mother was boring.”
Her advice was to wait until he asked. And now here he was, asking.
I exhaled and finally said it: “Clare.”
He looked at me for what seemed like an eternity and then broke into a huge, warm smile. “Mom, love is love, whatever you are,” he said with wisdom beyond his years. (Yes, he obviously attends one of those progressive schools in Los Angeles!)
Bello also describes finding love with her partner Clare after two relationships with men:
She was one of the most beautiful, charming, brilliant and funny people I had ever met, but it didn’t occur to me, until that soul-searching moment in my garden, that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically. What had I been waiting for all of these years? She is the person I like being with the most, the one with whom I am most myself. The next time I saw her, in New York, I shared my confusing feelings, and we began the long, painful, wonderful process of trying to figure out what our relationship was supposed to be.
But like many of those on this year's list, Bello refuses to label herself:
So I would like to consider myself a “whatever,” as Jackson said. Whomever I love, however I love them, whether they sleep in my bed or not, or whether I do homework with them or share a child with them, “love is love.” And I love our modern family.
4. Belle Brockhoff
Just one of several people inspired enough by the plight of LGBT people in Russia to come out of the closet in response, Belle Brockhoff, a 20-year-old Australian snowboarder with Olympic dreams, announced she is gay in August:
"I have a feeling that I would have to kinda go back into the closet a little bit because I don't want to risk my, like, you know, safety, being arrested or deported. I want to be able to compete and live my dream and become an Olympian. That's always what I've wanted to do. … I honestly find it a little bit disrespectful and a little bit sad not only to me but to other athletes and it's my dream, and I want to be able to be who I am, I want to be proud of who I am and be proud of all the work I've done to get into the Olympics and not have to deal with this kind of law."
5. Anastasia Bucsis
Like Australian snowboarder Belle Brockhoff, Anastasia Bucsis came out in response to Russia's anti-gay laws and the controversy surrounding the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
A Canadian Olympic speed skater, Bucsis had been out to family and friends but was prompted to make a public statement by what is going on in Russia.
“I could never promote that message of concealing who you are with all of this going on in Russia. I’m kind of happy that I did it on my own terms."
6. Mister Cee
Mister Cee, the hip hop producer and DJ from NYC's Hot 97 was wrapped up in a scandal in September involving the solicitation of a trans sex worker which led to his resignation (and eventual rescinding of that resignation) from the station. The controversy prompted him to address his fluid sexuality in a four-minute PSA about sexual health and STD testing for the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.
"The decision I've made this week to open up about my sexuality has definitely been the most difficult thing that I've ever had to do in my life. But I felt like this was the time to do it personally and professionally. For me, I felt worried about how my family would be affected, how my coworkers, and my friends, and even my fans would be affected by this decision, because in this hip hop community of ours, it's not cool to be gay. It's not cool to be bisexual. I felt that if I was to actually be honest about myself, that nobody would actually just want to deal with me anymore. But the more that I kept lying, and the more that I kept trying to deceive you and myself, the more that I was being more closed in, and not really being who I really am.
"I also realized that the more that I kept this secret, and kept lying, and kept trying to be deceitful to the people that I loved, I wasn't really helping myself, or anybody else that could need help out there. But with the grace of family and good friends around me, they made me feel comfortable to exercise my human right for sexual freedom, instead of finding myself being self-detained by discrimination, judgment, criticism, and even violence from my own community. Thank God that I have friends and family that's gonna hold me down and make sure that I'm alright. I got tired of lying and hiding. But I'm here to tell you today that you don't have to lie and hide no more about your sexual freedom."
7. Ted Chalfen
We now live in a world where a high school student's graduation speech can have an effect on thousands of people thanks to social media and Ted Chalfen, a senior at Fairview High School in Boulder, Colorado, made a viral splash back in May when he stood at the podium and said:
“I’m going to skip all of the clichés I want to rattle off right now, and get right to the point…I’m gay. Many, if not most, of the students here today know this, and most of them don’t really care. That is exactly the reason why I decided I had to give this speech.”
Charice, a Filipina megastar who was championed here by Oprah and Ellen DeGeneres and played Sunshine Corazon on Glee, came out of the closet in an interview with ABS-CBN's The Buzz in June.
"Yes, I am a lesbian. But to those who can accept me, thank you very much. We are all equal, whether you are gay or straight. I just wanna say thank you, personally… to all the people supporting me, to all the people who are still there for me. Honestly, I'm very, very happy. I can't explain how happy I am right now hearing all [these] positive things."
Charice's coming out made a huge difference in her largely Catholic, socially conservative home country.
"What's most important to me is the reaction of Filipinos. Ever since I started showbiz here in the Philippines, there were a lot of naysayers. Sadly, most of them were Filipinos. What I did here, parang buwis-buhay naman talaga kasi either Filipinos love you or they don't accept you. So it's a big achievement for me that now, Filipinos are telling me, 'we respect you.' I hope someday, sexual preference will no longer be a big deal. Like, when you see people, you won't need to ask them. You wont' need a confirmation, you know? Whatever you see is what it is, and people are equal, basically. That's what I want for everyone. I know this will happen. The time will come.
9. Jason Collins
On April 29, boundaries in the sports world were shattered with the groundbreaking news that free agent Jason Collins is gay, making him not only the first openly gay player in the NBA, but in a major professional sport.
I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay.
I didn't set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I'm happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn't the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, "I'm different." If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I'm raising my hand…
…Why am I coming out now? Well, I started thinking about this in 2011 during the NBA player lockout. I'm a creature of routine. When the regular season ends I immediately dedicate myself to getting game ready for the opener of the next campaign in the fall. But the lockout wreaked havoc on my habits and forced me to confront who I really am and what I really want. With the season delayed, I trained and worked out. But I lacked the distraction that basketball had always provided.
The revelation sparked a major conversation about out players in professional sports, prompting many pro players and officials to speak out in support of gay players and LGBT equality.
Collins even received a phone call from President Obama thanking him for his courage.
Collins's coming out has of late been shadowed by the fact that seven months later, he has still not been signed to a team, fueling speculation that his sexuality is at the root of his ongoing free agent status.
10. Lucas Cruikshank
In one of the man "so what" coming out moments of the year, Nickelodeon actor and star and creator of the popular YouTube series Fred, came out of the closet in a Q&A video posted to his channel.
"I'm gay. It feels so weird to say it. My family and friends have known this for like three years I just haven't felt any need to announce it on the internet. I feel awkward!"
11. Matt Dallas
Matt Dallas, best known for his role as the navel-less Kyle XY, came out shortly after the first of the year via Twitter, tweeting a photo of his fiancé, the musician Blue Hamilton.
Tweeted Dallas: "Starting off the year with a new fiancé, @bluehamilton. A great way to kick off 2013!"
Hamilton had been spotted with Dallas before, fueling rumors that the actor was gay. Dallas made a splash later in 2013 as a recurring character in the ABC Family series, one with a belly-button.
As of June, Dallas was still engaged to Hamilton, though no wedding date had been set.
12. Tom Daley
British Olympic diver Tom Daley came out of the closet in December in a 5-minute video posted to his YouTube account in which he says that some of the past statements he has made denying he is gay bothered him, so he wanted to speak out and feels it's time:
"Come spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone and they made me feel so happy, so safe, and everything just feels great – and well that someone is a guy. And it did take me by surprise a little bit. It was always in the back of my head that something like that could happen but it wasn't until the spring of this year that it clicked, felt right. Like I said, my whole world just changed, right there and then. And of course I still fancy girls but right now I'm dating a guy, and I just feel safe, and it really does just feel right. Is it a big deal? I don't think so."
Daley chose not to label himself with 'gay, bisexual', or any other term that might define him.
13. Clive Davis
Music industry icon Clive Davis roared out of the closet in February with a new memoir, The Soundtrack of My Life, in which he declared himself bisexual and said he's currently involved with a man.
Said Davis: "After my second marriage failed, I met a man who was also grounded in music. Having only had loving relationships and sexual intimacy with women, I opened myself up to the possibility that I could have that with a male, and found that I could….Bisexuality is misunderstood; the adage is that you're either straight or gay or lying, but that's not my experience. To call me anything other than bisexual would be inaccurate."
14. Benjamin Deeds
An mutant with the power of sympatico (becoming like the person he's talking to and weaponizing it on behalf of the X-Men), Benjamin Deeds came out in November in Uncanny X-Men #14.
His sexuality is, notably, just a small facet of who he is.
15. Jodie Foster
Starting 2013 with a bang, Jodie Foster's Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech at the Golden Globes was in turn hilarious, confusing, and bizarre, as she came out of the closet, acknowledging her longtime partner Cydney Bernard and their two kids together, but turned the speech into a sort of chastisement of the media and a meditation on privacy.
It was certainly the most unique 'coming out' speech of the year.
Said Foster, in part:
“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 goes out]
“…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. But now I’m told, apparently, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime-time reality show. You know, you guys might be surprised, but I am not Honey Boo Boo Child. No, I’m sorry, that’s just not me. It never was and it never will be. Please don’t cry because my reality show would be so boring. I would have to make out with Marion Cotillard or I’d have to spank Daniel Craig’s bottom just to stay on the air. It’s not bad work if you can get it, though.”
16. Javier Gonzales
Javier Gonzales, a former state Democratic Party chairman and Santa Fe County Commissioner, is currently running for mayor of Santa Fe. A Catholic, Gonzalez came out of the closet in a blog post in August after being inspired by statements from Pope Francis, who, when asked about the church's views on gay people, said "who am I to judge?"
You see, when you come from a traditional family with deep roots in this community, the process of accepting that you are gay is complicated with fears about disappointing those you love, or becoming disconnected with a sense of place that is as much a part of me as my sexuality.
Growing up in this town, I felt myself fully embraced by la herencia, the traditional ways that defined the history of Santa Fe. Much of it is beautiful, a celebration of family, a spirit of community, a sense of obligation to those who came before us and responsibility to those who come after us. Knowing you are a part of a continuum gives a young person a sense of place and a sense of pride. These are all gifts I hope to pass on to my two daughters.
Gonzalez's forthcoming statement was well received on social media. The mayoral election is March 4.
17. Kevin Grayson
2013 was a huge year for out and proud athlete, both professionally and at the college level. Kevin Grayson, "one of the most decorated football players Central Virginia has ever seen" according to WTVR, came out of the closet shortly after, and perhaps inspired by, Jason Collins.
Said Grayson of his being gay:
"People didn’t believe it because I was an athlete. They’re like ‘Kevin plays football, he plays basketball he runs track–no way you know?’ Those are the types of things where if I could go back and say; ‘Why can’t I be an athlete? Why can’t I be a star player? Why can’t I be the guy making plays that helps my team win, and still on the flip side, be a gay male?’”
18. Brittney Griner
A three-time All-American center at Baylor who was the top pick in this year's WNBA draft, Brittney Griner spoke about her sexuality for the first time in an interview with SI.com in April.
Said Griner of her coming out:
"It really wasn't too difficult, I wouldn't say I was hiding or anything like that. I've always been open about who I am and my sexuality. So, it wasn't hard at all. If I can show that I'm out and I'm fine and everything's OK, then hopefully the younger generation will definitely feel the same way."
Shortly after coming out, Griner broke the WNBA dunks record in her first game.
19. Bob Harper
Bob Harper, the trainer on the massive reality series The Biggest Loser, came out of the closet publicly for the first time in November on his show, in order to help out a contestant named Bobby who was struggling with his own family.
"I haven’t talked about my sexuality on this show ever. And now, meeting Bobby, I really do believe this is the right time. I want to show Bobby that he doesn’t have to live in shame. When I came out, when I was 17 years old, it was one of those things where I realized that there was going to be so many obstacles, but being gay doesn’t mean being weak. And being gay doesn’t mean that you are less than anybody else. It’s just who you are.”
20. Earvin Johnson III
Magic Johnson's son Earvin, one of three children of the NBA legend, came out of the closet via a TMZ item in April when he and his boyfriend were filmed walking hand-in-hand on L.A.'s Sunset strip.
Shortly after the item appeared, Magic gave a lengthy interview to TMZ about his son.
"I think this is gonna be good for a lot of young black people who want to come out. EJ is really gonna help a lot of young people," he said, adding that as an owner of the Dodgers he would take care of any player who decided to come out on the team.
21. Tucker Knox
Tucker Knox, a beloved contestant on Season 10 of So You Think You Can Dance, used Instagram to broadcast two photos of him and his "hubs", an action that blew open the closet door, though Tucker's sexuality had been discussed on some of the show's fan message board.
The Instagram disclosure, in which he said he had been married for five months, was the first time he had shared information about his sexuality publicly. Knox was not out on the show though they did make some thinly-veiled references to it and his husband was seen in the audience. Knox was eliminated on August 20.
22. Anton Krasovsky
Well-known Russian TV personality Anton Krasovsky came out in January during a live broadcast and was fired from his job.
Said Krasovsky: "I’m gay, and I’m just the same person as you, my dear audience, as President Putin, as Prime Minister Medvedev and the deputies of our Duma."
Krasovsky's act of courage made international headlines and drew attention to the country's oppressive anti-LGBT laws, and he was interviewed on CNN and by MSNBC's Thomas Roberts in November.
23. Sebastián Ligarde
Mexican soap star Sebastián Ligarde, who has his own acting school in Miami, came out of the closet in June in Mexico's TV y Novelas magazine.
Said Ligarde, who starred in the telenovela Quinceañera: “I'm gay and I say this with pride. No gay person should have to walk down the street with stigma stamped on his forehead. Sexual preference is genetic… and if God and my family knows it, then let the world know it…I believe I’m at an age when I can help new values… and to have the courage to accept myself publicly, as Ricky Martin did. He has been an inspiration for me when it comes to talking about this subject.”
Loki (not Tim Hiddleston, who is seen above), became one of two fictional characters on this list to come out of the closet this year, when writer Al Ewing, who is penning a solo comic for Marvel due to come out in 2014, revealed that he would honor traditional Norse mythology by depicting Thor's brother as bisexual, and bigender.
Said Ewing to a fan question on Tumblr: “Yes, Loki is bi and I’ll be touching on that. He’ll shift between genders occasionally as well.”
25. Chelsea Manning
In late August the Army private formerly known as Bradley and sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking more than 700,000 classified documents to Wikileaks, shocked the world by declaring "I am Chelsea Manning. I am female" in a public statement.
Subject: The Next Stage of My Life
I want to thank everybody who has supported me over the last three years. Throughout this long ordeal, your letters of support and encouragement have helped keep me strong. I am forever indebted to those who wrote to me, made a donation to my defense fund, or came to watch a portion of the trial. I would especially like to thank Courage to Resist and the Bradley Manning Support Network for their tireless efforts in raising awareness for my case and providing for my legal representation.
As I transition into this next phase of my life, I want everyone to know the real me. I am Chelsea Manning. I am a female. Given the way that I feel, and have felt since childhood, I want to begin hormone therapy as soon as possible. I hope that you will support me in this transition. I also request that, starting today, you refer to me by my new name and use the feminine pronoun (except in official mail to the confinement facility). I look forward to receiving letters from supporters and having the opportunity to write back.
The declaration, which came after three years of intense scrutiny, imprisonment, and a trial which revealed struggles with gender identity, among other things, instantly made Manning the most visible transgender person in the world and created a dialogue in the media about properly addressing gender identity. Conservatives, clearly not a fan of Manning's to start out with, continued to misgender her as another form of punishment.
26. Ross Matthews
Former Tonight Show intern-turned-talk show host Ross Matthews made a joke about celebs having to come out of the closet, and came out at the same time, in an interview with HuffPost Live in August.
Matthews joked that coming out is still in his plans:
"I'm still going to one of these days. I'm officially going to 'come out' on like the cover of People. But instead of "Yep!" it's going to [say] "Duh!"'
27. Reverend Gary Meier
Gary Meier, a Missouri-based Catholic priest, published a book back in 2011 called Hidden Voices: Reflections of a Gay, Catholic Priest. The book was published anonymously.
This year, because of struggles he had with the church's anti-gay stance, Meier republished the book under his real name, coming out publicly at the same time.
Said Meier: "I am accusing the church of a lack of tolerance and acceptance." He added: “To be a priest and active in ministry, you can’t say what I’m saying. I don’t think I’ll be getting any more paychecks from the archdiocese.”
28. Representative Mike Michaud (D-ME)
U.S. Representative Mike Michaud (D-ME), who is also running for governor of Maine, came out of the closet in November in response to "whisper campaigns, insinuations and push-polls some of the people opposed to my candidacy have been using to raise questions about [his] personal life."
Michaud said that he didn't want to be seen as someone ashamed of who he is:
Growing up in a large Franco-American Catholic family, it’s never been in my nature to talk about myself. I write this now merely to let my opponents and the outside interests who fund them know that I am not ashamed of who I am. And if seeing someone from my background, in my position openly acknowledge the fact that he’s gay makes it a little bit easier for future generations to live their lives openly and without fear, all the better.
29. Wentworth Miller
Prison Break star Wentworth Miller, who for years denied he was gay despite being tied to actor Luke MacFarlane, was prompted to come out of the closet by the situation LGBT people in Russia are facing.
Miller, who was scheduled to appear at the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, chose to decline the invitation, and published the letter, in which he came out of the closet publicly, to GLAAD's website.
Said Miller in the letter:
Thank you for your kind invitation. As someone who has enjoyed visiting Russia in the past and can also claim a degree of Russian ancestry, it would make me happy to say yes.
However, as a gay man, I must decline.
I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government. The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly.
Perhaps, when and if circumstances improve, I'll be free to make a different choice.
30. Jim Nabors
After years of speculation, Jim Nabors, the actor behind the classic 60's sitcom and character Gomer Pyle, came out of the closet in an announcement that he married his partner of 38 years, Stand Cadwaller, in Seattle on January 15.
Said Nabors: I'm 82 and he's in his 60s and so we've been together for 38 years and I'm not ashamed of people knowing, it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody," Nabors said. "I'm very happy that I've had a partner of 38 years and I feel very blessed. And, what can I tell you, I'm just very happy."
As promised, Nabors has continued to live a very private life.
Nabors was the subject of a longtime rumor that he had 'married' Rock Hudson. Hudson said that the urban legend was started by "middle-aged homosexuals who live in Huntington Beach" who sent out a joke invitation to their marriage, which blew up into something that a few people started to take seriously. It reportedly damaged their relationship forever.
31. Maulik Pancholy
Maulik Pancholy, who played Jonathan on 30 Rock and Sanjay on Weeds, spoke for the first time about his sexuality in a profile for this year's OUT100 in Out magazine.
Said Pancholy: "I just celebrated my nine-year anniversary with my partner. It feels like a nice time to be celebrating something like that, especially on the heels of the DOMA and Prop 8 decisions."
32. Micah Porter
Micah Porter is a four-time state champion high school track & field coach in Denver, Colorado. In September, the story broke that Porter had called his team together to break some news.
Outsports had the report:
He let them know that an article about him would be coming out this week, and that the article discussed him being gay and would talk about his partner, Brandan. The news was met with the same silence that stared back at him when he came out to his wife four years earlier.
After a few seconds, one of the team leaders – who Porter says could end the season as a conference champion – stood up, shook his hand, told him it didn't matter to him, and asked what that day's practice had in store for them. The rest of the team laced up their shoes and followed suit.
Porter's story was just one more refreshing example that sexuality is becoming a non-issue for today's youth, and that LGBT people in sports deserve to be able to live openly and honestly.
33. Will Portman
Senator Rob Portman's son may not have come out to his friends and family this year, but he came out to the world through his father, a Republican lawmaker whose shift on marriage equality made him the first sitting GOP senator to bak same-sex marriage.
Said the elder Portman of his shift:
"I had a very personal experience which is my son came to Jane, my wife and I, told us he was gay and that it was not a choice, that's just part of who he is and that he had been that way since he could remember."
Will Portman later wrote that he was "especially proud" of his father for coming out for marriage equality.
34. Jennifer Pritzker
Jennifer Pritzker, the billionaire heir (formerly known as James) to the Pritzker fortune came out of the closet in August in a statement to her staff, Crain's Chicago Business reported:
In a memo to employees at the Pritzker Military Library and Tawani Enterprises, the retired Army lieutenant colonel and wealth management CEO said he is now living as a woman named Jennifer Natalya Pritzker.
A statement released by email said this:
"As of Aug. 16, 2013, J.N. Pritzker will undergo an official legal name change, will now be known as Jennifer Natalya Pritzker. This change will reflect the beliefs of her true identity that she has held privately and will now share publicly. Pritzker now identifies herself as a woman for all business and personal undertakings."
A spokeswoman declined to answer questions about Col. Pritzker's sexuality or possible hormone therapy.
Pritzker became one of several transgender military veterans coming out this year, along with Chelsea Manning and Kristen Beck. Pritzker served 11 years in active duty in the U.S. Army, including in the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, Ky., and VII Corps at Kelly Barracks, Germany. That service was followed by 16 years in the U.S. National Guard.
35. Greg Rikaart
Young and the Restless star Greg Rikaart came out via Twitter in June after being inspired by the striking down of DOMA by the U.S. Supreme Court. Rikaart tweeted a selfie of him and his boyfriend, writing:
"Not getting married anytime soon, but celebrating #equality tonight nonetheless."
36. Michelle Rodriguez
Actress Michelle Rodriguez put an end to years of speculation with a blunt statement to EW in October in which she refused a label but said she's fluid in her sexuality:
"I don't talk about what I do with my vagina, and (the media are) all intrigued. I've never walked the carpet with anyone, so they wonder: What does she go with her vagina? Plus, I play a butchy girl all the time, so they assume I'm a lesbo…Eh, they're not too far off. I've gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too f—ing curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks."
37. Robbie Rogers
In early February, Robbie Rogers, a little known former Major League Soccer player who had played for the Columbus Crew and then in Europe, made headlines after coming out of the closet in a post on his personal blog. Rogers' blog post, in which he also announced he was retiring from football, was quickly international news.
Said Rogers in his blog post:
Secrets can cause so much internal damage. People love to preach about honesty, how honesty is so plain and simple. Try explaining to your loved ones after 25 years you are gay. Try convincing yourself that your creator has the most wonderful purpose for you even though you were taught differently.
I always thought I could hide this secret. Football was my escape, my purpose, my identity. Football hid my secret, gave me more joy than I could have ever imagined… I will always be thankful for my career. I will remember Beijing, The MLS Cup, and most of all my teammates. I will never forget the friends I have made a long the way and the friends that supported me once they knew my secret.
Now is my time to step away. It’s time to discover myself away from football. It’s 1 A.M. in London as I write this and I could not be happier with my decision. Life is so full of amazing things. I realized I could only truly enjoy my life once I was honest. Honesty is a bitch but makes life so simple and clear. My secret is gone, I am a free man, I can move on and live my life as my creator intended.
LGBT advocates expressed disappointment over Rogers' retirement, noting the lack of out professional athletes and the position he was in to make a difference.
But Rogers returned with a vengeance after some time off, signing with the L.A. Galaxy and stepping up with renewed confidence as an openly gay player.
38. Jacob Rudolph
Jacob Rudolph, a high school senior in Parsippany, New Jersey, came out of the closet to his entire class at their awards ceremony in January. The video of Rudolph's coming out has since been viewed more than 1.8 million times.
Said Rudolph in the clip:
"Sure I've been in a few plays and musicals, but more importantly, I've been acting every single day of my life. You see, I've been acting as someone I'm not. Most of you see me every day. You see me acting the part of 'straight' Jacob, when I am in fact LGBT. Unlike millions of other LGBT teens who have had to act every day to avoid verbal harassment and physical violence, I'm not going to do it anymore. It's time to end the hate in our society and accept the people for who they are regardless of their sex, race, orientation, or whatever else may be holding back love and friendship. So take me leave me or move me out of the way. Because I am what I am, and that's how I'm going to act from now on."
Rudolph told Roberts that it was his intention to eschew specific labels: "I intended to come out as an LGBT and not say bisexual or gay or straight because I feel like those are the labels of the past. Especially in modern times when people are really questioning who they like and what they like I think that saying 'I'm bisexual', it could change in the future, I could be exclusively for one sex or another. So I think that putting it in a more general term like LGBT is extraordinarily appropriate even though I'm not a lesbian or a transgender."
Rudolph also proved himself a leader by taking his high-profile status to the New Jersey legislature and testifying for S2278, the bill that was later passed banning gay conversion therapy for minors.
39. Derek Schell
Hillsdale College basketball player Derek Schell broke another barrier in sports in October in an open letter to Outsports in which he declared that his decision to come out reignited his love for basketball.
With his declaration Schell became the first openly gay NCAA Division II basketball player, hopefully paving the way for many more.
Schell described telling his teammates:
I went to each of them and told them I treated them as brothers, since I have none biologically, and that this is just a part of me they finally deserved to know […]
They all respected me and recognized that nothing had changed and I was the same teammate and friend that I was before. Despite attending a conservative college, I have been accepted for who I am by those on my team and others close to me. Eventually, I was so tired of living my life in fear. I was mentally exhausted. Instead, I realized that I could be an athlete, be a friend, be a son, be a brother, be an artist, and be gay as well.
40. Andrew Scott
Irish actor Andrew Scott, who plays Moriarty in the BBC1 series Sherlock alongside Benedict Cumberbatch, spoke publicly about his sexuality for the first time in November when asked about Legacy, a BBC2 drama about spying between the UK and USSR during the Cold War years.
“There isn't a huge amount of footage of Russians speaking English as a second language, so I started looking at Vladimir Putin videos on YouTube. But then Putin introduced anti-gay legislation this summer – so, being a gay person, I switched to Rudolf Nureyev videos instead. It was another Nureyev defection of sorts! … Mercifully, these days people don't see being gay as a character flaw. But nor is it a virtue, like kindness. Or a talent, like playing the banjo. It's just a fact. Of course, it's part of my make-up, but I don't want to trade on it. I am a private person; I think that's important if you're an actor. But there's a difference between privacy and secrecy, and I'm not a secretive person. Really I just want to get on with my job, which is to pretend to be lots of different people. Simple as that."
41. Nikki Sinclaire
Nikki Sinclaire, a British member of the European Parliament revealed in a book published in November that she underwent gender reassignment at the age of 23 and knew since she was 3 years old that she is transgender:
"It sounds weird, but I knew something was wrong even then – I've always felt I was in the wrong body. I remember dressing up as a girl on my first day of school. It then started to happen every day. The other kids knew I was different," she said."
"If I hadn't become a woman I would have led a lonely, neurotic life, forever out of place, endlessly consulting doctors and therapists at public expense. As it is I have become a happy, fulfilled achiever and I have repaid, in tax, the cost of my NHS operation many times over….I feel passionately that true equality happens only when your colour, creed, gender or sexuality is not a label used next to your name. We are not there yet."
42. Troye Sivan
Troye Sivan, the diminutive teen who played the young Wolverine in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, has a devoted following as a YouTube vlogger, and decided to be straight up with them in a clip posted in August.
"On August 7, 2010 I told my family that I am gay. And on August 7, 2013 I want you guys to know that I am gay. It feels kind of weird to have to announce it like this on the internet but I feel like a lot of you guys are genuine friends of mine. I share everything with the internet. Whether or not that's a good thing I don't know but this is not something that I'm ashamed of…"
The clip has been viewed more than 2,000,000 times.
43. Rod Snyder
Rod Snyder wrapped up a three-year tenure as President of the Young Democrats of America this year, but coming out of the closet in August may have been his crowning personal achievement.
But in the midst of all this historic progress, I’ve never taken the opportunity to tell my own story – that I am a Christian, an American, a West Virginian, a Young Democrat, a rural advocate, a singer-songwriter, a brother, a son, a grandson, a nephew, an uncle, and a gay man.
Growing up in a conservative Christian family in rural West Virginia, my own journey to a place of self acceptance has been a long and difficult one. Over the past two years, now in my early thirties, I’ve finally found the courage to look in the mirror and insist upon honesty and authenticity, overcoming so many negative messages I had internalized as a child and young adult. I’ve reached a place where I believe my story can help increase understanding, provide encouragement and be a catalyst for change.
44. Bobby Steggert
Broadway star Bobby Steggert was one of 2013's 'nonchalant' coming outs, buried in a September profile of the performer in OUT magazine, and not an announcement per se, but a discussion of his craft:
The role also marks Steggert’s most mature, complex portrayal to date. Up until his turn as a gay dad in Mothers and Sons—"I think it's a gay actor's responsibility to give full-blooded life to gay characters"—the 32-year-old actor spent years starring in coming-of-age stories. He played a conflicted gay soldier in the Off-Broadway World War II musical Yank! and earned a Tony nom for his performance in the 2009 revival of McNally’s Ragtime. His work in the latter actually inspired the four-time Tony-winning scribe to write a role for him in Mothers. “Now I’m playing men dealing with adult issues,” Steggert says.
Many familiar with the Broadway world knew that Steggert is gay, but it's certainly a step for many to discuss it publicly.
45. Raven Symonè
Cosby Show actress Raven Symonè ended years of speculation in August when she tweeted "I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you"
Symoné had never said publicly if she was gay but addressed the rumors previously in response to a National Enquirer article that reported she was living with an America's Next Top Model contestant in New York City.
46. Simon Thibodeau
One of many sports figures to come out this year, Simon Thibodeau became one of just a handful of openly gay NCAA Division 1 head coaches when he made his announcement to his team at the University of California – Santa Barbara.
The reaction of his team is indicative about the lay of the land for LGBT people at the moment:
There was awkward silence, mostly stemming from surprise. One player applauded. The rest smiled, shrugged and wondered about the summer schedule.
“No one thought it was a big deal,” said Erica Cano, captain of last year’s team and now an assistant coach. “All this big buildup, then: ‘Oh. O.K.’ ”
To Thibodeau’s college players, perhaps, it was not a big deal. But to him, it was a life-altering moment after years of inner turmoil.
40-year-old Thibodeau proves that it's never too late to start living your truth.
47. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo
Ronaiah Tuiasosopo was thrust into the spotlight in January after making headlines as the man behind an elaborate hoax targeting Notre Dame player Manti Te'o.
Tuiasosopo told Dr. Phil "yes" he was gay, but "confused". The hoax fueled rumors about Te'o's sexuality, prompting him to strongly deny he is gay to Kate Couric in an interview. "Far from it," he told Couric. "Faaaar from it."
The Te'o – Tuiasosopo also generated discussion about the lack of openly gay college and professional football players.
48. Brendon Urie
The frontman for the band Panic! At The Disco, Brendon Urie revealed to PrideSource in November that he, too, has a sexuality that is fluid, and has had relationships with both men and women.
Said Urie: "I find myself being attracted to dudes all the time. I'm like, 'Wow, that's a beautiful man.' There's no shame in it; that's how I feel. To stifle that would probably bring on stress and probably make somebody homophobic. I guess if I had to classify myself, I'd say I'm straight. But I have, in the past, experimented in other realms of homosexuality and bisexuality. Overall I'm more attracted to women. Like with my wife, I'm just so insanely in love and attracted to my wife that I go, "Well, OK, my love of musicals can't trump that I love pussy." (Laughs) It's fun to dabble!"
49. Tuc Watkins
Desperate Housewives actor Tuc Watkins came out to Marie Osmond nonchalantly, on an episode of her talk show, also revealing that he is a single gay parent.
"A lot of people at some point in their lives think, 'Am I going to be a parent? Do I want to be a parent?' And when I was young, I knew three things: I knew I was gay, I knew one day I was gonna be a dad, and I knew that Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory was going to be the best movie of all time."
50. Ben Whishaw
British actor Ben Whishaw (Skyfall, Brideshead Revisited, Cloud Atlas) confirmed he's gay in August via a statement from a publicist about his marriage to Australian composer Mark Bradshaw.
Said Whishaw's spokesperson: Ben has never hidden his sexuality, but like many actors he prefers not to discuss his family or life outside of his work. Due to speculation, I can confirm that Ben and Mark entered into a civil partnership in August 2012. They were proud to do so and are very happy."
51. Jenna Wolfe
TODAY show weekend anchor Jenna Wolfe came out of the closet in an on-air announcement that she and her partner, NBC News correspondent Stephanie Gosk, were having a baby and that she was carrying it.
"This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to us. But I don’t want to bring my daughter into a world where I’m not comfortable telling everyone who I am and who her mother is."
Wolfe's daughter Harper Estelle was born in August. She already has 7,600 Twitter followers.
52. Darren Young
WWE superstar Darren Young flew out of the closet at the prompting of a TMZ paparazzo in August upon arriving at LAX, Young was asked by TMZ whether a gay man could succeed in the WWE to which Young responded, "Absolutely. Look at me. I’m a WWE superstar and, to be honest with you, I’m gay." The confession caught the camera-man off guard and Young made instant headlines, fueling the ongoing dialogue about gays in professional sports.
World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. offered its support of Young following his statement: "[The] WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar."
53. Jenny Owen Youngs
Singer-songwriter Jenny Owen Youngs made the proud pronouncement in June in a blog post on Tumblr: "I am super gay."
She also announced that she was marrying her girlfriend Kristin Russo.
Said Owen Youngs:
I didn’t want to come out. I don’t want coming out to be a thing that anyone has to do.
A short list of things I’d rather be doing than “thinking about being gay” includes (but is not limited to) writing a song, reading a book, climbing a tree, dancing a jig, and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer for the zillionth time. Don’t get me wrong – I think it is in the best interest of everyone to strive for a greater understanding of the self. I just wish that being gay (or transgender, or asexual, or fill-in-the-blank here) was as unremarkable to the masses as being left-handed or blonde.
In a perfect world, nobody would have to experience any of the negative side-effects of figuring out that you’re gay, which can include feeling confused, shameful, afraid, lost, or alone. In a perfect world, everyone could just like who they like, and get on with it.
Spoiler alert: We do not live in a perfect world.
As with all lists, it's hard to hit everyone, and every individual's coming out is a victory. Please feel free to pay tribute to any we might have missed in the comments below…
And, if you're getting nostalgic for 2012, and want to revisit the list we did last year, you can check out The 50 Most Powerful Coming Outs of 2012 HERE.