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Gay, Bi, Transgender: The 80 Most Powerful Comings Out of 2014

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"I think coming out...is really about coming out as your authentic self, coming out as the person you always knew you were but no one else may have known, and now you're sharing that honestly with people for the first time."

2014faces2Such is how Rodrigo Lehtinen, the trans son of Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, explained to CBS Miami last month what it meant for him to now be open about who he is.

It's as simple as that, whether you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer or some fluid combination of any of them. But it's certainly an act of courage in a world where LGBTQ people face obstacles in marriage, employment, and even basic acceptance. In many places, the status of being 'out' about one's sexual orientation or gender identity is dangerous, even life-threatening.

In 2014 thousands, perhaps millions of people came out all over the world. They all made a difference. The folks featured here are just a few who happened to make a big difference and caught our eye on Towleroad this year. Some are well-known, some are little-known: the CEO of the largest corporation in the world, an NFL player, a Kenyan literary figure, fashion models, the foreign minister of a Baltic state, country singers, Mormon pop stars, a few of the stars of your favorite television shows, and unknowns from the world of YouTube.

When it comes to coming out, 2014 was certainly the year of the athlete.

Of the 80 people on our list this year, more than 1/3 come from the sports world — football, baseball, boxing, tennis, long distance running, hurling, basketball, rowing, and diving. Many of these athletes are making a name for themselves in college sports, many in conservative places. Twenty-one come from the entertainment world. And they are from all over the world — Japan, Peru, Ireland, Uruguay, Brazil, Germany, Australia, Finland, Canada, Spain, Chile, and more... Also, the leader of a company worth more than all the world's airlines combined, worth more than the entire Russian stock market.

It's quite an impressive group of folks. We're proud of all of you. By choosing to come out as L, G, B, T, queer, or whatever label your sexual orientation or gender identity is telling you is yours, you've made life easier for all those who haven't come out yet, and all those who are currently struggling for their civil and human rights.

Please enjoy reading their stories. And share this post with your friends, family, and anyone in the closet to whom you'd like to offer a bit of courage or support.

 

Read on, AFTER THE JUMP...

Contributions to this post were made earlier this year by Kyler Geoffroy, Sean Mandell, Joseph Ehrman-Dupre, Steve Pep, Brian Sloan, Daniel Villareal, Anthony Costello, Jim Redmond, Charles Pulliam-Moore, Christian Walters, John Wright, and Jake Folsom.

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Continue reading "Gay, Bi, Transgender: The 80 Most Powerful Comings Out of 2014" »


British Pro Football Captain Casey Stoney Comes Out as Gay, Speaks Out Against Russia

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Casey Stoney, a defensive player for both the England women's football and Arsenal Ladies teams, has come out after years of silence surrounding her sexuality. Stoney cited inspiration from German footballer Thomas Hitzlsperger and Tom Daley, as well as a strong relationship of her own as impetus for her decision. And, in keeping with the times, Stoney was highly critical of Russia's anti-gay laws, particularly given that the World Cup will be hosted there in 2018.

Inside World Soccer reports:

"I've never hidden it within football circles because it is accepted. But to the outside world, I've never spoken about my sexuality

"I feel it's really important for me to speak out as a gay player because there are so many young people struggling with being gay.

"You hear about people taking their own lives because they're homosexual, now that should never happen. They should never feel those pressures.

"How can I expect other people to come out and speak about themselves if I'm not willing to do that myself?

"Now is the time because I'm in a loving relationship where I feel strong, I feel safe and I don't care what other people think any more."

Stoney said that she used to lie, saying she had a boyfriend, or acted in a way that she thought would take attention off of her sexual orientation. Now, though, it seems that there was too much at stake to remain closeted, including the Sochi Olympics and the upcoming soccer World Cups. 

She said: "I won't be going to Russia or Qatar to watch a World Cup because I wouldn't be accepted there.

"I think it's incredible that these countries get World Cups and Olympics when they don't accept everybody to go there and be part of it.

"There will be (Olympic) athletes competing out (in Sochi) who are gay. I can't imagine how frightened they must feel going out there and competing.

"When Russian President Vladimir Putin says that gay people can come over but please don't go near the children, what sort of message is that sending if he is that uneducated and he's ruling that country? It seriously worries me.

"It's about educating the people at the top, all the way down."

Congratulations, Casey! Welcome to the team. 


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