Throughout 2019, stars from all across the entertainment industry have decided to open up to the public about their personal identities, providing further examples to young fans of what it means to be a representative for your community.
Today (Oct. 11), people the world over are examining what it means to “come out.” So, on this National Coming Out Day, we decided to celebrate a few of the stars who came out in some capacity this year.
Actress and singer Bella Thorne has never been one to shy away from speaking openly about her sexuality, but earlier this year, she made sure fans understood exactly who she was. During an interview on Good Morning America, Thorne came out publicly as pansexual, and went as far as teaching the audience at home what that meant. “You like beings, you like what you like,” she said. “It doesn’t have to be a girl or a guy, or a he, a she, a they, a this, a that. You just like personality, a being.”
As with many celebrities, Dear Evan Hansen and The Politician’s Ben Platt has been openly gay for a long time. But in 2019, as he began releasing his first set of solo music, the star used his music video for “Ease My Mind” to let his fans into his world, showing the singer’s character in a love affair with actor Charlie Carver. In a subsequent interview with People, Platt called the video his “first opportunity to represent my relationships and the men that I’ve loved” publicly. He added, “I’ve been out since I was 12 years old to my family and anyone in my life. I’ve never sort of hidden that or been ashamed by it. It’s just part of me.”
While the young actress Caitlin Kinnunen had been playing a queer character in Broadway’s The Prom, and even made history with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade’s first ever televised same-sex kiss, she didn’t necessarily know that she herself was queer. But in an interview with Nylon, the actress revealed that her role helped her discover something about herself. “I have identified as a straight ally for a very long time,” she said. “But recently my world has kind of opened up and I’m currently dating a woman and it is magical and new and exciting, and I’m loving it.”
The country singer publicly came out as gay in March when he released his music video for “Dancing in the Living Room,” showing all different kinds of couples slow dancing to his tune, before eventually dancing with another man. In an interview with The Advocate, the singer said that he wanted the song to encapsulate a feeling of intimacy and safety with your partner. “Being gay, it’s not as easy to dance as a couple in public together as it is for a straight couple,” he said. “I wanted to express how special that moment is for a couple, when it’s just the two of you in the privacy of your own four walls.”
Sometimes, coming out can be conflated with publicly identifying one specific sexuality — but as pop upstart Clairo showed earlier this year, that is not always the case. In an interview with Out, the star revealed that she’s still coming to terms with her identity, saying “I’m still not really sure what my sexuality is, but I do know that it’s not straight.” Throughout the interview, Clairo continued, saying that she hopes coming out has an impact on her audience. “There’s so many young girls that listen to my music that are probably going through the same thing and need someone that they look up to or listen to to tell them that it’s okay.”
For some, coming out can be as simple as saying “I’m queer.” But YouTuber Daniel Howell decided to use his platform to dive deep into his sexuality. On June 13, the star uploaded a 45-minute video titled “Basically I’m Gay,” where he walked his audience through his entire coming out story, from childhood to adulthood, addressing his fears, bullying in school, confusion and much more. Importantly, he also used the moment to let his closeted queer fans know that they would be okay. “Queer people exist. Choosing not to accept them is not an option,” he said. “To anyone watching this that isn’t out, it’s OK. You’re OK. You were born this way. It’s right. And anyone that has a problem with it is wrong.”
Eugene Lee Yang
In the same week that Howell came out, YouTuber Eugene Lee Yang of The Try Guys also posted a coming out video, titled “I’m Gay.” Unlike Howell, though, Yang didn’t use words, but a beautiful interpretive dance to tell his coming out story, from childhood to today. He later posted another video, this one over 20 minutes, showing his process of creating his coming out video, and posted a tweet alongside the final product. “I created this music video as my personal way of coming out as a proud gay man who has many unheard, specific stories to tell,” he said. “I withheld because of fear and shame shaped by my background but I promise to give my full truth in the rest of my life’s work.”
Jonathan Van Ness
While the Queer Eye star was already openly gay, 2019 saw Jonathan Van Ness owning his truth more than ever. In an interview with Out, the star revealed that he identifies as non-binary, saying that he always thought of himself in masculine terms simply because of the pressure society puts on gender stereotypes. “I think that a lot of times gender is used to separate and divide,” he said. “It’s this social construct that I don’t really feel like I fit into the way I used to … I think any way I can let little boys and little girls know that they can express themselves and they can like be — like, making iconic partnerships with brands like Essie [nail polish] no matter now they present is really important and exciting.” He later revealed in his new book (and a revealing New York Times interview) that he is living with HIV. We’re proud of you, JVN!
On almost every season of American Idol, there’s that one audition that makes you tear up. But for us, when singer Jorgie came before the judges, he made us beam with joy. In his intro clip alone, the star revealed that he was gay, and that his family didn’t know. “It’s not just me calling them and telling them – it’s me actually being on TV and spilling the truth out,” he said. “I’m here today to celebrate who I am and to end that era of being in the closet – because it’s not fun. I’m ready.” Turns out the judges were, too, giving the singer a unanimous pass through to the next round.
K.Flay & Miya Folick
Singer-songwriter K.Flay came out in what may be the cutest way possible earlier this year — by sharing her moment with her girlfriend, Miya Folick. In two simultaneous Instagram posts, the pair revealed that they were in a relationship with one another (and had been for a year), effectively revealing to the world that they were queer. “Everything is bigger and better and brighter now. thank you for taking good care of my heart,” K.Flay wrote. “I’ll keep taking good care of yours too. Happy 1 year. And happy pride everyone.”
Lil Nas X
Rapper Lil Nas X was already at the top of his game in late June of this year — he was hot off of his 12th week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 with “Old Town Road,” and was eyeing his prize of breaking the prestigious record of the longest running single atop the chart. In a post on Twitter, the star revealed that he was gay, showing a clip of the animated video for his song “C7osure.” “Some of y’all already know, some of y’all don’t care, some of y’all not gone fwm no more. But before this month ends I want y’all to listen closely to ‘C7osure,'” he wrote, before pointing out a rainbow on his EP’s cover and writing “deadass thought i made it obvious.”
In another causal coming out, YouTube star and newly-minted talk show host Lilly Singh revealed to her followers that she identified as bisexual via Twitter. Tweeting out the words “female,” “coloured” and “bisexual,” each with check marks next to them, the star said that she no longer saw these identifiers as weaknesses. “Throughout my life these have proven to be obstacles from time to time,” she wrote. “But now I’m fully embracing them as my superpowers. No matter how many ‘boxes’ you check, I encourage you to do the same.”
It’s been a big year for the “Stay With Me” singer. Back in March, Smith revealed in an interview with The Good Place’s Jameela Jamil that they identified as non-binary and genderqueer, saying “When I saw the nonbinary, genderqueer, and I read into it and I heard these people speaking, I was like, ‘F—, that is me.'” Smith later on, in September, went on to reveal in an emotional post that they would be using “they/them” pronouns from now on. “After a lifetime of being at war with my gender I’ve decided to embrace myself for who I am, inside and out,” they wrote.
Drag Race star Shea Couleé revealed in an interview with Them earlier this year that they identified as non-binary, becoming the latest in a growing number of the show’s alumni to do so. “At least for me in my personal life, being non-binary is just a lot easier. It feels less forced,” they said. “I am who am I am. It’s given me a certain sense of relief to not try and fit into such a specific mold.”
Another Drag Race alum to come out as non-binary, Valentina did an interview with Out in January where she revealed that her gender expression cannot be confined by a simple label. “I identify as nonbinary,” she said. “I don’t completely feel like a man, I don’t completely feel like a woman. I feel like a goddess. I feel like I’m my own gender.”
During an episode of Jada Pinkett Smith’s Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk, the host’s daughter Willow Smith revealed, to her mother and grandmother, that she’s not only interested in both men and women, but would also be open to having a polyamorous relationship. “I love men and women equally, and so I would definitely want one man, one woman,” she said. “I feel like I could be polyfidelitous with those two people.”