28 Celebrities Who've Opened Up About Their Sexual and Gender Identity
JOSIE TOTAH: ON BEING TRANSGENDER
In a personal essay published on Time, 17-year-old Totah, who stars as Michael Patel on Mindy Kaling’s comedy Champions, revealed, “I identify as female, specifically as a transgender female” and also announced her new name: Josie.
Totah, a former Disney actor, shared that throughout her childhood, “people would just assume I was gay,” and when she entered into the entertainment industry, “people kept assuming my identity.”
“Numerous reporters have asked me in interviews how it feels to be a young gay man. I was even introduced that way before receiving an award from an LGBTQ+ rights organization. I understand that they didn’t really know better,” Totah wrote. “I almost felt like I owed it to everybody to be that gay boy. But that has never been the way I think of myself.”
JASON MRAZ: ON HIS 'TWO SPIRIT' SEXUALITY
The "I'm Yours" singer revealed in an interview with Billboard that his wife of three years, Christina Carano, helped him embrace his sexual identity, which he explored during their relationship. "I've had experiences with men, even while I was dating the woman who became my wife," he said.
"It was like, 'Wow, does that mean I am gay?’ And my wife laid it out for me. She calls it 'Two Spirit,' which is what the Native Americans call someone who can love both man and woman," the Waitress alumnus continued, adding, "I really like that."
BRENDON URIE: ON COMING OUT AS PANSEXUAL
In a new interview with Paper magazine, the Panic! at the Disco frontman came out as pansexual. "I'm married to a woman and I'm very much in love with her, but I'm not opposed to a man because to me, I like a person. Yeah, I guess you could qualify me as pansexual because I really don't care," Urie told the magazine.
"If a person is great, then a person is great. I just like good people, if your heart’s in the right place. I’m definitely attracted to men. It’s just people that I am attracted to,” he added.
AMANDLA STENBERG: ON THE JOY AND RELIEF OF REALIZING SHE'S GAY
The Everything, Everything actress proudly came out as gay in an interview for Wonderland. "I was so overcome with this profound sense of relief when I realized that I'm gay—not bi, not pan, but gay—with a romantic love for women," she explained in the interview.
"I was flooded with a sense of calm and peace because everything that I struggled with or felt discomfort around finally made sense to me, and once those floodgates opened and years of pent up pain and shame were released, I found the freedom to live my best life waiting for me just underneath," she added.
RITA ORA: ON BEING BISEXUAL
In May 2018, Ora posted a heartfelt message on Twitter in which she explained the inspiration behind her new single "Girls," which features Cardi B, Bebe Rexha and Charli XCX.
"Girls was written to represent my truth and is an accurate account of a very real and honest experience in my life,” Ora tweeted. "I have had romantic relationship with women and men throughout my life and this is my personal journey."
JANELLE MONÁE: ON 'BEING A BLACK QUEER WOMAN'
"Being a black queer woman in America…someone who has been in relationships with both men and women — I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf—," she told the magazine. While the singer added that she used to identify as bisexual, she says that changed after reading "about pansexuality."
"I was like, ‘Oh, these are things that I identify with too.’ I’m open to learning more about myself," she added.
KEHLANI: ON HER 'QUEERNESS'
After kissing Demi Lovato onstage at a concert, fans bombarded Kehlani with questions about her sexuality. The singer responded in a series of tweets, writing, "cuz I keep geddin asked… I’m queer. Not bi, not straight. I’m attracted to women, men, REALLY attracted to queer men, non binary people, intersex people, trans people...i felt gay always insisted there was still a line drawn as to which 'label' of human i was attracted when i really jus be walking around thinking ERRYBODY FINE."
After fans called her out for deleting her first tweet, she explained that she had inadvertently offended people and apologized for it, saying, "i retracted my queer tweet because i am being corrected about the way in which i listed the gender spectrum and i’m super super sensitive to being offensive especially when i’m only trying to appreciate. point is, i love love, and that love lies in every gender there is."
ANTONI POROWSKI: ON HIS 'FLUID' SEXUALITY
"Some people want to define themselves, and they should as it’s part of their identity," he explained. "For me personally, I’ve never really had a label for myself... So even being called bisexual… I remember in my early twenties I was like, 'But bisexual means I can only like girls and guys, what if I like something else?' Maybe it’s just my rebellious nature. I’m me, I’m Antoni, and I’m all these things."
ALYSON STONER: ON THE FIRST TIME SHE FELL IN LOVE WITH A WOMAN
The former Disney Channel and Step Up actress shared her struggle to embrace her sexuality in a powerful and moving essay for Teen Vogue about how she fell in love with a woman for the first time in her life.
"In its purest sense, I felt awakened, more compassionate and like my truest self," wrote Stoner of meeting her female dance instructor, whom she developed feelings for. "She strengthened and inspired me, creating a space for me to discover myself without judgment. We were an example of true love."
SHANNON PURSER: ON THE 'ANXIETY' OF COMING TO TERMS WITH HER SEXUALITY
The Stranger Things and Riverdale star admitted to fans that she's had anxiety about her sexuality — and shared a few lessons she wishes she had learned growing up. "Getting comfortable with your sexuality is a process. It's going to be ok. I wish I'd known that sooner," she wrote in a series of tweets. Another thing I wish I'd known about sexuality is to take it slow. It can define you as much as you want it to. Either way, I know what it's like to have anxiety about it. Especially trying to come to terms with it and my faith. It can be really scary." She ended her thoughts with a message to all of her followers who might be in a similar position: "But it's gonna be ok. You're going to be ok. No, you're going to be great. All that to say, you’re not alone. You’re in my prayers and, if you're the praying kind, please keep me in yours."
BARRY MANILOW: ON THE FEAR OF DISAPPOINTING FANS
The "so private" star opened up to PEOPLE about his one-year marriage to his high school sweetheart — and his somewhat surprise coming out in 2015. Considering his fans, "I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything," he said. Turns out, "When they found out that [manager and husband Garry Kief] and I were together, they were so happy. The reaction was so beautiful — strangers commenting, 'Great for you!' I'm just so grateful for it."
DANIEL NEWMAN: ON THE RESPONSIBILITY OF SPEAKING UP IN THE SPOTLIGHT
"It's fine to keep your private life private if it doesn't affect anybody, but when there's all these kids out there that are still needing remodels and needing people to look to to know that they're not alone. Being open and public about it will help so many people. It's just so essential," the Walking Dead star told PEOPLE of his decision to come out. "Even though I felt before that I couldn't talk about my private life, I was like, 'You know what, this is something that everyone should be comfortable with, being 100 percent themselves and authentic.' "
AMBER HEARD: ON HOW INADVERTENTLY COMING OUT AFFECTED HER CAREER
"When I hear someone comment about me coming out, I think it's funny because I was never in," she said at The Economist's Pride & Prejudice Summit in N.Y.C. "I was always out. I was an activist. I went to protests. I refused to not bring my partner at the time, but no one ever asked me about it." After revealing who her partner was to a reporter at a red carpet event, "then I saw I was attached to a label … I watched as I quickly became not actress Amber Heard, but out lesbian Amber Heard. It did impact my career, it was difficult. It was not easy." When some directors questioned whether she could convincingly play a straight woman in a romantic lead role, "I rolled my eyes at that. And I said, 'Watch me do it.' "
KATY PERRY: ON SUPRESSING HER PAST
While accepting the National Equality Award at the 2017 Human Rights Campaign Los Angeles Gala, Perry opened up about coming to terms with her queer experiences after being raised in a religious environment where "homosexuality was synonymous with the word ‘abomination.'" "Truth be told, I did more than that!" she said in reference to her 2008 hit "I Kissed a Girl." "But how was I going to reconcile that with the gospel-singing girl raised in youth groups that were pro conversion camps? What I did know was that I was curious, and even then I knew that sexuality was not as black and white as this dress. But in 2008, when that song came out, I knew that it started a conversation that a lot of the world seemed curious enough to sing along to it." Perry went on to recount how she went from "praying the gay away at Jesus camps" to meeting "people outside of [her] bubble" that helped change her outlook on the rigid sexual codes of her childhood. "These people were nothing like I had been taught to fear. They were the most free, strong, kind, and inclusive people that I have ever met," she said. "They stimulated my mind, and they filled my heart with joy, and they danced with joy while doing it. These people are actually, magic, and they are magic because they are living their truth."
SARA RAMIREZ: ON HELPING OTHERS' VOICES BE HEARD
In a Twitter post, the former Grey’s Anatomy actress wrote a message in support of LGBT youth – and, for the first time, came out publicly as bisexual. "So many of our youth experiencing homelessness are youth whose lives touch on many intersections – whether they be gender identity, gender expression, race, class, sexual orientation, religion, citizenship status," she wrote. "And, because of the intersections that exist in my own life: Woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American, immigrant, and raised by families heavily rooted in Catholicism on both my Mexican and Irish sides, I am deeply invested in projects that allow our youth’s voices to be heard, and that support our youth in owning their own complex narratives so that we can show up for them in ways they need us to," the 41-year-old actress said. Ramirez is best known for her role as Dr. Callie Torres, who identified as bisexual on Grey's Anatomy. She has been married to her husband Ryan Debolt since 2012.
KRISTEN STEWART: ON HOW DATING GIRLFRIEND ALICIA CARGILE FEELS DIFFERENT
"When I was dating a guy I was hiding everything that I did because everything personal felt like it was immediately trivialized, so I didn't like it. We were turned into these characters and placed into this ridiculous comic book, and I was like, 'That's mine. You're making my relationship something that it's not.' I didn't like that … But then it changed when I started dating a girl. I was like, 'Actually, to hide this provides the implication that I'm not down with it or I'm ashamed of it,' so I had to alter how I approached being in public. It opened my life up and I'm so much happier."
EVAN RACHEL WOOD: ON THE PUBLIC REACTION TO HER BISEXUALITY
"I think because we're usually erased, people just don't have the information. There's so many negative connotations with that label. I understand the argument about labels and the desire to do away with them altogether. I think that's a great idea. But before that we have to give people a chance to identify with somebody or a group in some way. That helped me. It's so confusing, especially when there's not a lot of information out there … Erasure is causing people harm and diminishing self-esteem and putting people in harm's way. It's a real need. I want people to know that it's ok, [bisexuality] is valid, and their stories matter."
AUBREY PLAZA: ON FALLING 'IN LOVE WITH GIRLS AND GUYS'
"I know I have an androgynous thing going on, and there's something masculine about my energy," Plaza said in an interview with the Advocate. "Girls are into me – that's no secret. Hey, I'm into them too. I fall in love with girls and guys. I can't help it."
SARAH PAULSON: ON REFUSING TO LABEL HER SEXUAL ORIENTATION
"I've always walked to the beat of my own drum," the People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story star tells PEOPLE of her inherent independent nature – particularly when it comes to her dating life. "If my life choices had to be predicated based on what was expected of me from a community on either side, that's going to make me feel really straitjacketed, and I don't want to feel that," Paulson told The New York Times earlier this month. "What I can say absolutely is that I am in love, and that person happens to be Holland Taylor."
COLTON HAYNES: ON WHETHER OR NOT HE'S HAD A 'SECRET GAY PAST'
"Was it a secret? Let's all just enjoy life amp have no regrets."
DEMI LOVATO: ON SEXUAL EXPERIMENTATION
"I am not confirming, and I'm definitely not denying. All of my songs are based off of personal experiences. I don't think there's anything wrong with experimentation at all."a
MILEY CYRUS: ON BEING PANSEXUAL
"I'm very open about it – I'm pansexual. But I'm not in a relationship. I'm 22, I'm going on dates, but I change my style every two weeks, let alone who I'm with."a
ANNA PAQUIN: ON EQUAL MARRIAGE RIGHTS (AND HER OWN SEXUALITY)
"Proud to be a happily married bisexual mother. Marriage is about love, not gender."
SHAILENE WOODLEY: ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN LOVE AND GENDER
"I fall in love with human beings based on who they are, not based on what they do or what sex they are."
MEGAN FOX: ON SOCIETAL PRESSURES
"I think people are born bisexual and then make subconscious choices based on the pressures of society. I have no question in my mind about being bisexual."
BILLIE JOE ARMSTRONG: ON THE TABOO OF BEING BISEXUAL
"It's ingrained in our heads that it's bad, when it's not bad at all. It's a very beautiful thing."
MEGAN MULLALLY: ON HER UNDERSTANDING OF BISEXUALITY
"I said that I thought that everybody is innately bisexual. I think there are different levels of awareness attached to that, so I may believe that everybody is innately bisexual, but somebody who is very homophobic may not see that quality in themselves in any way, shape or form."
KESHA: ON LOVING WHO SHE LOVES
"I don't love just men. I love people. It's not about a gender. It's just about the spirit that exudes from that other person you're with."