Anderson Cooper’s email to Andrew Sullivan is just the most recent in the grand tradition of celebrity outings. From Ellen DeGeneres to Judas Priest metalhead Rob Halford, watch how other celebs tackled the Big Reveal.
Ellen DeGeneres: The Mother of All Coming-Out Stories
Ellen Degeneres may be the quintessential celebrity coming-out success story: she now hosts one of the most popular daytime talk shows, happily and nonchalantly shares details about her wife, Portia de Rossi, without fear of damaging ratings, and even appears as the most recent face of a Cover Girl campaign. The only thing that has changed for the worse is that DeGeneres was never quite able resume her brief foray into rom-coms—but, if the Rotten Tomatoes scores of those films are any indicator, that may not be such a bad thing.
Lance Bass Leaves Straight Women Tearin’ Out Their Hearts
Sure he may have had the body of a Calvin Klein underwear model, silky smooth dance moves, and some perfectly sculpted bleached-blond tips, but hey, didn’t every early-aughts boy band member? The former ’N Sync heartthrob came out in a People magazine cover story in July 2006, revealing that the biggest change he’s felt since coming out “I’m more liberated and happy than I’ve been my whole life.” Heartbroken 13-year-old girls everywhere could not say the same.
Rob Halford: The First Openly Gay Metalhead
How does the sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle work out for a lead singer a metal band who spent the height of his career in the closet? According to an interview with Rob Halford, lead singer of Judas Priest, in the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, not well. “I had the drugs and the rock ’n roll, but I was not having the sex.” That may have changed after Halford came out to MTV News in 1998, relaying a secret that many of his hardcore fans were, well, not exactly surprised by.
Ricky Martin: She Bangs No More
While Ricky Martin officially came out on his personal website in March 2010, rumors had been swirling about the Puerto Rican pop star since 2000, when Barbara Walters grilled him so ferociously about his sexual orientation that she nearly outed him on national television. A decade later, The View was one of Martin’s first stops on his Grand Coming Out press tour—giving Walters an opportunity to apologize for her intrusiveness and for Martin to come out on his own terms.
Jodie Foster Goes for a Casual Outing
Wait, what? Did she mean …? Oh, she did! Jodie Foster came out in perhaps the most casual way possible for a celebrity. While accepting an award at the annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast in 2007, Foster slipped in a discreet but sincere thank-you to “my beautiful Cydney, who sticks with me through the rotten and the bliss.” The couple was together for more than 14 years and had two sons.
An ‘Idol’ for the Next Generation of Gay Entertainers
OK, so this one wasn’t exactly a huge shock. Even during Clay Aiken’s stint as a contestant on the second season of American Idol, the ambiguity of Aiken’s sexual orientation—or rather, the lack thereof—remained a staple of late-night jokes. But after he came out to People magazine in September 2008 as a “gay dad,” splitting the cover shot with his 1-month-old son, Parker, the jokes tapered off. But maybe that can be better attributed to the existence of a newer incarnation of gay American Idol contestant: the ever-eyelinered Adam Lambert.
Well, He’s Already Lost His Religion…
After years of fan speculation, R.E.M.’s Michael Stipe decided to clear up some of the rumors surrounding band members’ sexual orientation: Peter Buck and Mike Mills are officially heterosexual! Stipe never felt the need to publicly confirm his sexuality until 2008 but said he understood it might help “some kid somewhere.” Here he pokes fun at his own official coming out, years after he told friends and family.
The Most Magical Outing of All
Is it strange that a fictional character’s coming out caused more media buzz than a good handful of real-life celebrities? In a genuinely surprising revelation, J.K. Rowling informed fans of Albus Dumbledore’s sexual orientation only after the last book of the Harry Potter series had been released, responding to a fan’s question at a public Q&A that she always thought of the wizard as gay.