A number of high profiled names came out in 2013, and in an age where visibility still matters in many places in the world, we’re very glad they did. Here are just a few people we’d like to say thanks to for being honest and open about who they are, and the diverse ways in which they did it.
Good Morning America host Robin Roberts, who has just completed her 100th day following a bone marrow transplant as part of her treatment for a rare blood disease, confirmed this week that she is in a same-sex relationship. The news anchor took to Facebook to say:
“I am grateful for my entire family, my long time girlfriend, Amber, and friends as we prepare to celebrate a glorious new year together. I am grateful for the many prayers and well wishes for my recovery. I return every one of them to you 100 fold.”
While Roberts has never publicly addressed her sexuality she has never really needed to guard her identity either and has in fact been in a relationship with Amber, a massage therapist, for the past 10 years.
Her coming out has drawn praise from a number of big names, including First Lady Michelle Obama who tweeted Roberts: ”I am so happy for you and Amber! You continue to make us all proud.”
When we talk about using our coming out as a statement to affect change or to make a protest, there can perhaps be few better examples than when Russian newsreader Anton Krasovsky came out in January of 2013, protesting the then-proposed gay propaganda law that would ban all mention of gay rights in the public sphere.
Krasovsky reportedly told audiences of the national TV station: “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.”
This story made international news later in the year but wasn’t immediately publicized because it appears that the TV network for which he worked attempted to erase all footage.
Here’s the CNN report from the time:
While we’re talking about protesting Russia’s anti-gay crackdown, who can forget when Prison Break actor Wentworth Miller came out earlier this year? While having previously denied being gay, Miller decided to publicly decline an invite to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, saying in an open letter to the organizers:
“[Thank you for your invite but] 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.”
There are many, many ways to come out. Few have been as blunt as actor Michelle Rodriguez who for the first time publicly confirmed her fluid sexuality in 2013, and with quite a bit of sass too. She told EW in a statement:
“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.”
There’s nothing you can really add to that, is there?
British diver and Olympic Bronze medalist Tom Daley came out at the start of December 2013 in a YouTube video in which he confirmed that he was dating someone of the same sex:
“Come spring this year my life changed massively when I met someone and it 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 spring this year that something just clicked. It felt right. Like I said, my whole world just changed there and then. Of course I still fancy girls but, I mean, right now I’m dating a guy and I couldn’t be happier. It feels safe and it really does feel right.”
The news made international headlines partly because, during the London Olympics, Daley emerged as one of the leading faces of the 2012 Olympics. It is of course also significant that he has come out with much of his career still ahead of him.
Another sports star, Robbie Rogers caused an international stir when at the beginning of the year he quit soccer while at the same time announcing his sexuality.
He did so with the intent of retiring from soccer, but wanted to make a statement. He wrote on his own blog:
“I’m a soccer player, I’m Christian, and I’m gay. Those are things that people might say wouldn’t go well together. But my family raised me to be an individual and to stand up for what I believe in.”
As there were no out top flight soccer players, Rogers decision to publicly recognize his sexuality was treated as significant and he was praised. At the same time though, it was lamented that he had not stayed in the game.
By the summer of 2013 though, Rogers announced he would be back on the pitch playing for American side LA Galaxy. He later took to the pitch amid a standing ovation from the crowd.
And here’s a video of the day Rogers took to the pitch:
WWE superstar Darren Young made headlines in August of 2013 when, after being quizzed by a TMZ reporter about whether he thought a gay man could ever succeed in WWE, he promptly said:
“Absolutely. Look at me. I’m a WWE superstar and, to be honest with you, I’m gay.”
World Wrestling Entertainment backed Young with a short and simple statement of support: “WWE is proud of Darren Young for being open about his sexuality, and we will continue to support him as a WWE Superstar.”
Then Washington Wizards player 34-year-old NBA center Jason Collins came out in a piece he wrote for May’s Sports Illustrated, saying:
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.
You can also watch a great interview with Collins below:
In August, the U.S. soldier known to the world as PfC. Bradley Manning was sentenced to 35 years in prison for leaking classified U.S. documents which were then distributed by Wikileaks. After sentencing Manning issued a statement in which she publicly confirmed her gender identity and her desire to transition while in prison:
“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.”
Brittney Griner, a three-time All-American center at Baylor, confirmed she is indeed a lesbian in an interview with Sports Illustrated.com in April. While having never hid the fact, this was the first time she had spoken to the press about her sexuality.
“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.”
Griner has since broken records and continues to be an outspoken advocate for LGBT sports awareness.
And there you have it, our list of just some of the famous faces that came out in 2013. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list by any means, but we hope that in 2014 we see many more people opening up about their personal identities and providing examples for young LGBTs of how you can be successful and accomplished in your field while being true to yourself.
Here’s to 2014!
Photo credit: Thinkstock.