On this day, every year, is National Coming Out Day.
Every year since 1988, National Coming Out Day (NCOD) is celebrated on 11 October to support lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people to ‘come out of the closet’.
Inaugurated by the late psychologist Robert Eichberg and gay rights activist Jean O’Leary, one of the core beliefs of NCOD is that homophobia and shame thrive in silence, and ‘coming out’ is an important act of self-recognition and activism. It can be a wonderful occasion - something in certain instances that LGBTQ+ people do many times - but for others, it can still be a traumatic event that isolates them from family and community.
NCOD encourages to consider all the facets of coming out, and work to make it so that coming out is a joyous moment.
Participating in the event includes celebrating those who have come out, sharing stories, offering support by participating in awareness events and workshops, and above all, advocating for LGBTQ+ rights and the groups that work against discriminatory laws and policies.
Here are a few of the most memorable coming out stories by stars, who have served as an inspiration to many in combating stigma, considering life in the spotlight has meant that embracing ones true self can be difficult when it comes to job opportunities and public perception.
Ellen's name has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons of late – with accusations of bullying and fostering a toxic workplace environment. However, there’s no doubt that the comedian and talk show host’s 1997 Time magazine cover was a huge event. She may have come out to the world on The Ellen Show's groundbreaking 'The Puppy Episode' in 1997, but the cover declaring “Yep, I’m Gay” and the subsequent interviews with Oprah and Diane Sawyer were pivotal, as she was one of the first female celebrities to come out publicly.
American Horror Story actress Sarah Paulson came out publicly by mistake. In 2005, her Broadway actress partner Cherry Jones won a Tony Award, and when she went up to receive it, she kissed her. The actress told NOTOFU magazine: "She won a Tony Award, I kissed her, and all of a sudden I was outed. I didn't really think about it in that way at the time - I was just doing what one would do when a person they love has just won a big fat acting prize."
As a member of the boyband *NSync, Bass was considered heartthrob by many a teenager. In a 2006 People magazine interview, Bass’ come out and showed that LGBTQ entertainers could reveal their sexual orientation regardless of the labels the media and the public thrust upon them.
Cynthia Nixon, who famously played Miranda in Sex and the City, made the decision to come out after replacing a publicist who encouraged her not to. She came out about her relationship with activist Christine Marinoni and stated to The Advocate in 2010: “I was like, ‘Really, we can just confirm?' So that’s just what we did. It was so fantastic.”
The 'Livin’ La Vida Loca' Latino pop star revealed he was gay in a 2010 blog post on his official website, writing that he was "a fortunate homosexual man." He continued by saying that the years in "silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed."
In a blog post in 2012, R&B singer and songwriter Ocean revealed a tumultuous romantic relationship with another man. This was right before the release of his debut album, 'Channel Orange', and stood as a significant moment for the Black LGBTQ+ community, as it also challenged the stereotypes linked to rappers. He told GQ of the experience: "The night I posted it, I cried like a f**king baby. It was like all the frequency just clicked to a change in my head. All the receptors were now receiving a different signal, and I was happy. I hadn't been happy in so long. I've been sad again since, but it's a totally different take on sad. There's just some magic in truth and honesty and openness."
Juno and Inception star Ellen Page spoke at the Human Rights Campaign Time to Thrive supporting LGBTQ youth in 2014, and surprised the audience by coming out. “I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission,” Page said. “I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain.” Six years later, Page clarified their identity: ”I wanted to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot.”
The actress famous for her roles in The Hunger Games and The Hate U Give came out as bisexual in a Snapchat video in 2016. "It's a really, really hard thing to be silenced and it's deeply bruising to fight against your identity and to mold yourselves into shapes that you just shouldn't be in," she said in the video. "As someone who identifies as a black bisexual woman, I've been through it and it hurts and it's awkward and it's uncomfortable."
Stranger Things and Riverdale actress Shannon Purser used Twitter in 2017 to say she was grappling with her sexuality. Within days of doing so, she revealed that she identified as bisexual. “It’s something I am still processing and trying to understand and I don’t like talking about it too much,” she said. “I’m very very new to the LGBT community.”
The Pitch Perfect and Bridesmaids actress had a difficult coming out last year when she was "outed" by a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald, who gave her two days to comment on her new relationship with her partner. Wilson took control of the narrative by posting a picture of herself with her partner, with the caption: "I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince… but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess #loveislove".
Moving away from Hollywood for the last one in this non-exhaustive list and into sports. In May 2022, British professional footballer Jakes Daniels came out as gay, aged seventeen, becoming the UK's only male professional footballer to be publicly out at the time, and the first since Justin Fashanu in 1990. His decision to come out was praised by FA president Prince William and England captain Harry Kane.