Celebrities Share Their Coming Out Stories

Stars reveal what it was like to share their truth with their fans and loved ones for the first time

01 of 21

Jerrod Carmichael

Jerrod Carmichael attends the "Ramy" Premiere during the 2019 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Alamo Lamar A on March 9, 2019 in Austin, Texas.
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The writer/actor/comedian used his 2022 standup special to publicly come out. Upon speaking to the crowd at N.Y.C.'s Blue Note about learning of his father's extramarital affair, he continued, "After that was out in the open, I was left alone feeling like a liar, because I had a secret. One that I kept from my father, my mother, my family, my friends, and you. Professionally, personally. And the secret is that I'm gay."

There was a long pause of silence before the audience applauded Carmichael. "I'm accepting the love, I really appreciate the love. My ego wants to rebel against it," he said in response to the audience's reactions.

"I rebelled against it my whole life," he continued. "I never thought I'd come out. I didn't think I'd ever, ever, ever come out. Probably at many points I thought I'd rather die than confront the truth of that, to actually say it to people. Because I know it changes people's — some people — it changes their perception of me. I can't control that."

02 of 21

Emeli Sandé

Emeli Sandé
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The British singer/songwriter came out as a member of the LGBTQ community in an April 2022 interview with Metro, revealing that she's in a relationship with a female classical pianist whom she feels is "the one for life."

"We met through music. And I definitely feel happier than ever. It feels great," Sandé said, adding: "For me, true love and having love in your life makes everything fit into place."

She's even taken her new partner to meet her parents in her hometown of Aberdeenshire, Scotland, assuring that the visit was "all good."

03 of 21

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato
Sirius XM

"It was actually, like emotional, but really beautiful," Lovato said on the Radio Andy SiriusXM show in January 2020. "After everything was done I was like shaking and crying and I just felt overwhelmed, but I have such incredible parents. They were so supportive."

"My dad was like, 'Yeah, obviously,' " she continued. "And I was like, 'oh, okay dad.'"

"My mom was the one that I was like super nervous about, but she was just like, 'I just want you to be happy,' " Lovato shared. "That was so beautiful and amazing, and like I said, I'm so grateful."

04 of 21


raven symone

In 2016, the former child actress opened up about publicly embracing her sexuality after hiding it for many years to protect her career.

"I never thought I would come out because my personal life didn't matter," The View co-host shared in Lexus L/Studio's "It Got Better" docu-series. "It only mattered what could be sold as part of the Raven Symoné brand."

Symoné said she knew she was gay by the time she was 12 years old (and even had some awareness of it when she was "10, in the single digits"), but she tried to force herself to like boys. At the time, she even convinced herself that she would wind up marrying a man.

"I kind of pushed myself to open myself up to look for boys," Symoné said.

But then, "I went to college. I felt good," she said. "I had support there beyond belief, and that was the first time I felt like I didn't have to have a beard. I didn't have to have a man standing beside me because I [was] in love with a girl."

"I felt lighter," she recalled of coming out to her parents and later, the public. "I felt like I could go out and not have to put on 17 different hats to be myself."

05 of 21

Dan Levy

Emmy Family Dates

During a Schitt's Creek cast appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Dan revealed that he was about 18 when he came out to his parents.

"My mom asked me over lunch one day, and I said yes," Dan said, as dad Eugene agreed.

"My mom and I have a close relationship in that sense and it almost felt like she knew that I was ready," Dan continued.

Host Andy Cohen chimed in to say, "I think your dad is trying to say he knew too," to which Eugene said, "No, we knew."

"... For the longest time," he began. "We were waiting and mom couldn't wait any longer," Eugene added as he and Dan laughed.

06 of 21

Lil Nas X

Lil Nas X
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The "Old Town Road" rapper came out publicly on Twitter in June 2019. In an interview with Time, the then-20-year-old said that he had been taught as a child that being gay "is never going to be okay," and worried about alienating his fanbase: "I know the people who listen to [hip hop] the most, and they're not accepting of homosexuality."

He told Time that he first came out to his sister and his father in early June and, inspired by the outpouring of support for the LGBTQ community he saw during Pride Month, felt he was "pushed by the universe" to then come out to the public.

07 of 21

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus
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Cyrus, who openly identifies as pansexual, told Variety about her experience coming out and admitted that her parents didn't totally understand at first.

"My whole life, I didn't understand my own gender and my own sexuality. I always hated the word 'bisexual,' because that's even putting me in a box. I don't ever think about someone being a boy or someone being a girl," the "Slide Away" singer said.

"My eyes started opening in the fifth or sixth grade. My first relationship in my life was with a chick. I grew up in a very religious Southern family. The universe has always given me the power to know I'll be okay. Even at that time, when my parents didn't understand, I just felt that one day they are going to understand," Cyrus said.

When asked if she spoke with her parents about it, Cyrus elaborated: "Yeah. My mom is like an '80s rock chick - big blonde hair, big boobs. She loves being a girl ... I never related to loving being a girl. And then, being a boy didn't sound fun to me. I think the LGBTQ alphabet could continue forever. But there's a 'P' that should happen, for 'pansexual.'"

08 of 21

Sam Smith

Sam Smith
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Smith came out as non-binary during an interview with Jameela Jamil in March 2019. The singer told Jamil, "Non-binary/genderqueer is that you do not identify in a gender. You are a mixture of all different things. You are your own special creation. That's how I take it - I am not male or female. I think I float somewhere in between - it's all on the spectrum."

They explained how they came to understand their sexuality, telling Jamil, "I've sometimes sat and questioned, do I want a sex change? It's something I still think about: 'Do I want to?' I don't think it is."

They continued, "When I saw the word non-binary, genderqueer, and I read into it, and I heard these people speaking, I was like, 'F---, that is me.'"

09 of 21

Julianne Hough

Julianne Hough
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The dancer revealed in Women's Health's September 2019 issue that she is "not straight."

Hough told the magazine that she came to the realization during a journey of self-discovery, but she was worried that her then-husband, Brooks Laich, would react negatively.

"I was connecting to the woman inside that doesn't need anything, versus the little girl that looked to him to protect me," Hough said. "I was like, 'Is he going to love this version of me?' But the more I dropped into my most authentic self, the more attracted he was to me."

That intimacy allowed her to be open with Laich at the time. "I [told him], 'You know I'm not straight, right?' And he was like, 'I'm sorry, what?' I was like, 'I'm not. But I choose to be with you,'" she revealed.

10 of 21

Sarah Paulson

Sarah Paulson
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Paulson told NoTofu that she accidentally outed herself in 2005. She was dating actress Cherry Jones at the time, and Jones had won a Tony Award.

Paulson explained, "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."

The American Horror Story actress continued, "What am I gonna do, pat her on the back and say 'Good job, dude?' It didn't occur to me to do anything but what I did."

She remains just as matter-of-fact about her current relationship with actress Holland Taylor, telling Town & Country, "I do want to live responsibly and truthfully without hiding ... What else can I say? We love each other."

11 of 21

Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean
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Ocean posted a letter to Tumblr addressing his sexuality in July 2012, garnering praise from many. The rapper told GQ of the experience, "The night I posted it, I cried like a f------ 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."

He said that the change he felt in himself was instant. "Before anybody called me and said congratulations or anything nice, it had already changed," Ocean said. "It wasn't from outside. It was completely in here, in my head."

12 of 21

Matt Bomer

Todd Snyder - Front Row/Backstage - NYFW: Men's July 2017
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Bomer was raised in a conservative Christian home where he wasn't allowed to watch "secular" TV, he shared during an interview with OUT Magazine. The actor, who realized he was gay while performing classics such as Romeo and Juliet and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Utah Shakespeare Festival, knew telling his parents would be a challenge.

"Telling your family is a huge, huge deal," Bomer said. "I really view my life as divided between the time before I told my parents, and the time after. And the decisions I made, and the life I lived, before and after, are vastly different. It's night and day."

His parents didn't take the revelation well. Bomer said there "was radio silence for a long, long time, at least six months." The father of three said he went back home where he and his parents "had the blowup that I'd always feared," although things took a turn for the better.

"We got that out of the way, and we got down to the business of figuring out how to love each other," he said. "I would say within a matter of years we started to figure it out. It was a struggle. It's a struggle for anybody to take their paradigms and set of beliefs and understandings and completely flip the script."

13 of 21

Ellen DeGeneres

People's Choice Awards 2016 - Press Room
Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

She may have come out to the world on The Ellen Show's groundbreaking "The Puppy Episode" in 1997, but the talk show host first had a candid conversation with her mom, Betty, about her sexuality back in the summer of 1978, when the star was 20 years old. "We were walking along the beach and - with our pants rolled up and barefoot - and the water was coming in," DeGeneres said during a mother-daughter interview on 20/20. "I said: 'I'm in love.' And she says: 'That's great.' And I said: 'It's with a woman.'"

"And she said: 'I'm gay' and started to cry," her mother recalled. "Maybe I cried with her."

14 of 21

Sara Gilbert


The star first realized she was gay while dating her Roseanne costar Johnny Galecki. "I thought he was super cute and had a total crush on him," she said during the talk show's secret-spilling week. "We started dating and he would come over and we would make out, and then I would start to get depressed." She added: "Johnny felt badly, I think, and started to take it personally and didn't understand what was going on. So I eventually told him that I thought it was about my sexuality, and he was super sweet about it."

15 of 21

Ruby Rose

G'Day USA Black Tie Gala 2018
Splash News Online

For the Orange Is the New Black actress, coming out as gay to her mom wasn't exactly the surprise of a lifetime. "She knew when I was six apparently," she told Willie Geist on Today. "I didn't know anyone else that was gay or a lesbian. So I didn't really know how to word it. So I was just like, 'I think I should let you know that when I eventually get a boyfriend, they'll be a girl.' And she was just like, 'I know.'"

16 of 21

Gus Kenworthy

Special Screening Of 20th Century Fox's "Love, Simon" - Red Carpet
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The Olympic skier knew he was gay since he was about 5 years old - but "because I was afraid of being different, that became my secret," he recounted to PEOPLE. He first came out to his best friend, fellow skier Bobby Brown, and Brown's girlfriend after the 2104 Olympics in Sochi. "I was crying, but it made me feel so good, so real, and I'd never, ever felt that," Kenworthy shared.

17 of 21

Sara Ramirez

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As doctor Callie Torres on Grey's Anatomy, Ramirez played one of TV's groundbreaking bisexual characters - but "I didn't know if I was ready to come out publicly," Ramirez, who identifies as queer and bisexual herself, told PEOPLE.

Ramirez said hearing about continuing violence against the LGBTQ community, including the 2016 shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, convinced her she needed to speak out.

"During a movie night at my house one night, I pressed pause and then I shared my truth with the room and I waited because I wasn't sure what to expect," she recounted. "But everyone was very supportive and very happy for me. The reaction was something like, 'Huh, cool. Can we go back to the movie now?'"

18 of 21

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

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Like many a plot twist on his show Modern Family, Ferguson's real-life coming out story is equal parts embarrassing and hilarious. As a freshman in high school, he got caught by security at a bookstore in his hometown of Albuquerque, N.M. attempting to shoplift gay porn. "My mom and dad saw the nature of the material I was stealing, and that's how I came out," he shared with PEOPLE. "I find it funny now, but at the time it was incredibly traumatizing. Ironically, my father still had a hard time catching up. I snuck some straight porn in there too, so that threw him off just enough." His father eventually caught on, however. "I'm now married [to Justin Mikita], and my father, who had such a hard time accepting my sexuality, danced at my wedding very happily," Ferguson said.

19 of 21

Keiynan Lonsdale

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Flash actor told PEOPLE that even though he went to a dance high school with a large population of gay students, he was afraid to come out to his fellow classmates. "There were rumors going on around the dance world back home," he said. "It was breaking my heart - I was going crazy. I was lying and lying and lying, doing everything I could to hold on to my secret."

But after having a heart-to-heart with one of his best friends, he eventually decided to address the rumors head-on while at a party. "I said, I'm not straight. I don't really label myself as anything. I have been in love with guys and I have been in love with girls," he recalled. "That's me."

20 of 21

Charlie Carver

SAG-AFTRA Foundation Patron of the Artists Awards 2017 - Arrivals
Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan

The Teen Wolf star didn't come out until his late teens, although he knew from a young age that he was different from his twin brother, Max. "At a certain age I started to realize how him and I are different and I wasn't able to really put a finger on it because the language wasn't available yet," the actor recalled. "[As a child] I loved to put on makeup and my mom's dresses - and he didn't."

Carver shared that when he was ready to come out as gay to his friends and family, his dad - who had split from Carver's mom because he had come out as gay, himself - and brother confessed they "already knew."

21 of 21

Tyler Oakley

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The YouTube sensation found support from his friends and most of his family after coming out in high school - but struggled with one key figure in his life: his biological father.

"The one last person who I never told was my biological dad," he told PEOPLE. "I knew that he came from a more conservative background, a more religious background, that leaned a little bit less supportive of gay people."

One night, his dad invited him to dinner and asked Oakley if he was gay. When Oakley said yes, his dad offered to pay for conversion therapy. "I look back and I realize that homophobia can really disguise itself as concern," he explained. "And that concern, [my dad] thought it was out of a place of love."

Over the years, Oakley's relationship with his dad has improved. "I'm really glad that I was patient with him. I'm really glad that he took time and put in the effort, because for a lot of parents I don't think it's that easy right off the bat," he said.

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