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Whether it’s coming out to your nearest and dearest or going public about your sexuality, being honest about the real you can be a daunting experience. For celebrities, doing so under the spotlight of the public glare, perhaps even more so.
From revealing all on a magazine cover to coming out live on breakfast TV, here we look back at some of the most historic, inspiring and unique coming out stories from the A-list.
Following some intense media speculation about his sexuality, Olympic diver Tom Daley decided to come out on his own terms, sharing a powerful video to YouTube, aged 19, revealing that he had fallen in love with the man, he would go on to marry, Dustin Lance Black.
“This has been a hard decision to make, but I wanted you to hear this from me,” the emotional video message was captioned.
In the clip, the Olympic gold medallist, now 28, said he wanted to “to put an end to all the rumours and speculation, and just say it, tell you guys”.
“Is it a big deal? I don’t think so,” he added.
Speaking about his choice of how to come out, Daley, who now shares son, Robbie, three, with his husband said: “I wanted to get people off my back, continuously asking questions about my love life.
“Doing a YouTube video was the way I communicated with my fans and was the only way I could say exactly what I wanted to say without getting my words twisted.”
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The video clip touched on the fact Daley had already come out to his close friends and family and he later revealed his mum had known for six months. “Mum was like, ‘Whatever makes you happy, I’m completely OK with’,” he told The Guardian.
While Daley says he felt “terrified” to share the video, he also admits to feeling relieved once the news was out.
“It was a massive weight lifted off my shoulders. I was terrified before. And then when it finally happened I was like, great, I don’t need to worry about it any more, people know, who cares, whatever…”
Coming out moments don’t come much more memorable than that of TV personality Phillip Schofield.
The This Morning presenter, 60, initially revealed he was gay in a heartfelt announcement on his Instagram stories in February 2020.
At the time he had been married to his wife Stephanie Lowe for almost 27 years, with the couple sharing two daughters.
“With the strength and support of my wife and my daughters, I have been coming to terms with the fact that I am gay,” he wrote.
“This is something that has caused many heartbreaking conversations at home. My family have held me so close: they have tried to cheer me up, to smother me with kindness and love, despite their own confusion.”
He concluded his post by stating: “Every day on This Morning, I sit in awe of those we meet who have been brave and open in confronting their truth – so now it’s my time to share mine.
“This will probably all come as something of a surprise and I understand, but only by facing this, by being honest, can I hope to find peace in my mind and a way forward. Please be kind, especially to my family.”
The ITV host then appeared live on This Morning where he discussed his news with co-host Holly Willoughby, going on to break down in tears.
Reflecting on the emotional moment on the Life, Interrupted podcast with Simon Thomas, the presenter said: "[The] date [of the interview] was decided because we didn't want it to be too close to the NTAs, we didn't want to look like it was a publicity thing.
"And then I can remember saying 'This is ridiculous, you know, this is the biggest thing I'm ever gonna do in my life. How is this a publicity stunt, for what?'”
He went on to praise Willoughby for her support throughout. "There's not a single person on this planet that I would have done that with other than Holly, it was only going to be her. And she was unbelievable.”
Caitlyn Jenner revealing she was transgender was possibly one of the most well-documented and publicised coming-out stories of all time.
Jenner appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair in April 2015 alongside the headline "Call me Caitlyn," with a profile interview detailing her transition journey.
Previously known as Bruce Jenner, the former Olympic champion and reality television star, later opened up about transitioning to a woman in an interview with ABC, which clocked up over 16.8 million viewers.
"For all intents and purposes, I am a woman," she told Diane Sawyer.
"I've been thinking about this day forever. My brain is much more female than it is male.”
Speaking on her decision to come out so publicly, Jenner revealed she didn’t want to grow old and regret not telling her truth.
"If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, 'You just blew your entire life,'" Jenner told Vanity Fair.
"I would say I've always been very confused with my gender identity," Jenner explained.
"I'm not gay... I've never been with a guy," Jenner continued.
The reality TV star later spoke about how she broke the news to her family when she became Caitlyn, telling Roman Kemp she spoke to son Brandon first before the rest of the family.
“He said to me, ‘Dad, I’ve always been so proud to be your son but I’ve never been more proud of you than right now’,” she recalled.
Jenner also revealed her daughters Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner both first suspected she was transgender when they noticed her dressing up in women's clothes.
Speaking on the Late Late Show, she said, "I was extraordinarily discreet and did what I had to do just in order to survive. I don't even remember whose clothes I was trying on but I just got caught a couple of times – once by Kim. Kendall said she caught me but I never knew she caught me.
"Kim walked in the house and nobody was in the house and I was dressed. It freaked her out a little bit, she didn't quite know how to handle it and I called her later and then never talked about it again until years later and she said 'What the hell's going on with you?' and I sat down and talked to her about it."
Elliot Page’s coming out journey is made up of two chapters. The actor, formerly known as Ellen Page, initially came out as gay at the Human Rights Campaign's Time to Thrive conference in 2014.
In the speech, Page said: "I'm here today because I am gay, and because maybe I can make a difference, to help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility.
"I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission. I suffered for years because I was scared to be out. My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I'm standing here today, with all of you, on the other side of all that pain."
Six years later, in December 2020, Page shared via social media that they are transgender, and go by he/they pronouns.
Read more: LGBTQ+ terms explained – how to get it right
Later the 34-year-old Juno actor opened up about their transition in an interview with Vanity Fair.
“All trans people are so different, and my story’s absolutely just my story. But yes, when I was a little kid, absolutely, 100%, I was a boy,” Page said. '
“I knew I was a boy when I was a toddler. I was writing fake love letters and signing them ‘Jason’. Every little aspect of my life, that is who I was, who I am, and who I knew myself to be.'
“I just couldn’t understand when I’d be told, ‘No, you’re not. No, you can’t be that when you’re older’,” he continued.
“You feel it. Now I’m finally getting myself back to feeling like who I am, and it’s so beautiful and extraordinary, and there’s a grief to it in a way.”
In a further cover interview with Time magazine Page talked about their mother and her own path to accepting her child for who they are.
"She wants me to be who I am and supports me fully. It is a testament to how people really change," the actor added.
Model Cara Delevingne’s coming out story also has layers.
Despite being photographed numerous times with ex-girlfriend Michelle Rodriguez, Delevingne didn’t directly open up about her sexuality until an interview with Vogue in June 2015.
“It took me a long time to accept the idea, until I first fell in love with a girl at 20 and recognised that I had to accept it,” she said.
“But I have erotic dreams only about men. I had one two nights ago where I went up to a guy in the back of a VW minivan, with a bunch of his friends around him, and pretty much jumped him.”
“I always will remain, I think, pansexual,” she said. “However one defines themselves, whether it’s ‘they’ or ‘he’ or ‘she,’ I fall in love with the person — and that’s that. I’m attracted to the person.”
Accepting her sexuality hasn’t come without challenges, however, with Delevingne telling actor Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop wellness podcast that she suffered from “massive depression” while wrestling with her sexuality, and still occasionally wishes she “could just be straight”.
“I do correlate the massive depression and the suicidal moments of my life because I was so ashamed of ever being that. But, actually, that was the part of me that I love so much and accept,” she said.
Delevingne said she is still coming to terms with her sexuality now, adding: “There is still a part of me where I’m like, ‘Oh, I wish I could just be straight.’ There is still that side to it. It is really complicated.”
In terms of coming out to her parents, the model said that was something of a journey too.
Recalling the breakdown of her first romantic relationship with a woman, aged 18, which left her heartbroken she said: “I’ve never been very good at talking about my emotions with my father.
“And I remember one day, I was so upset because I was heartbroken. And my dad was like, ‘You never talk to me.’ And I screamed at him, ‘I’m f—ing heartbroken.’ I ran downstairs. I remember he gave me a hug, and I started crying so much. I said, ‘She broke my heart.’
“I thought at the moment, he might kick me out. I was that scared; I was honestly terrified. And he was like, ‘She isn’t worth the energy. You deserve to be loved.’
“He was so sweet, I could cry about it right now.”
Having spent most of her early career in the midst of intense scrutiny surrounding her relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart first opened up about her sexuality during a comedy sketch on Saturday Night Live in 2017.
While guest hosting the show, she read tweets about her made by Donald Trump, with one particular tweet suggesting Pattinson “should dump [Stewart]."
"If you didn't like me then, you're probably not going to like me now, cos I'm hosting SNL and I'm like, so gay, dude," she said in response to the then president.
Later that year, in an interview with The Guardian, she said: "The whole issue with sexuality is so grey. I'm just trying to acknowledge that fluidity, that greyness, which has always existed.
"But maybe only now are we allowed to start talking about it. I think things (the culture) are changing. Individually we are all part of that change and so I can take some credit for it, I guess – there's no reason why I should shy away from that."
As the interview continued, the actor seemingly confirmed that she was bisexual, saying: "You're not confused if you're bisexual. It's not confusing at all. For me, it's quite the opposite.”
Though she is now happily engaged to long-time partner and fiancee Dylan Meyer, at the time of her coming out she told Harper’s Bazaar in August 2017 she wanted "to try everything" when asked if she would still date men.
One of the most momentous coming out stories belongs to that of Ellen DeGeneres, who clocked up all the headlines in 1997 when she covered Time magazine with the headline: "Yep, I'm gay."
Around the same time, DeGeneres' character on her comedy series Ellen also came out in the groundbreaking Puppy episode.
The episode, which was recorded in front of a live audience, was a ratings hit, with 42 million viewers tuning in, and went on to earn Emmys for both writing and editing.
But an uproar from advertisers and religious groups saw the show cancelled after one more year.
Speaking about her decision to come out in the accompanying Time interview she said: “I watched my friend Melissa [Etheridge] come out, and she became ‘the lesbian rock star’. I never wanted to be ‘the lesbian actress’. I never wanted to be the spokesperson for the gay community. Ever. I did it for my own truth.”
When asked whether it was harder coming out to the public or her friends and family, DeGeneres said it was much more difficult opening up on the world stage.
“I mean, I don’t understand a fear of coming out to your friends and family,” she said.
“I’ve been really lucky. I have a really great family. I have parents who understand. My mother understands, now even more so. My father is supportive. My dad said the most hilarious thing when I told him what I was going to do on the show. He said, ‘You’re not going to go all flamboyant, are ya?’ I was like, ‘Yeah, Dad, I’m going to completely change. I’m going to start wearing leather vests. I’m going to get one of those haircuts that they all have’.”
Reflecting on her coming out moment on the show’s 25th anniversary earlier this year, the comedian said she’d come a long way.
"When I came out, people warned me that it was going to ruin my career, and they were right for a while," she said. "Actually, for exactly three years, I lost my career. But look at me now."
"So, it's been 25 years since my coming out episode, and the only time I'm in the closet now is when Portia and I play hide and seek," DeGeneres added, referencing her wife, Portia De Ross who she married in 2008.
"I think about what the next 25 years will bring, and I hope that we keep evolving. I hope, like a little tiny egg that turns into a caterpillar that then turns into a cocoon that eventually, emerges and spreads its big gay butterfly wings."
Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John’s coming out story was far from straight forward.
In 1976, Elton John discussed his sexuality for the first time, initially revealing he was attracted to both men and women during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, which he appeared on the cover for.
"There’s nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex,” he said. “I think everybody’s bisexual to a certain degree. I don’t think it’s just me. It’s not a bad thing to be. I think you’re bisexual. I think everybody is."
The subject was further confused when the singer wed Renate Blauel in 1984, with the couple going on to divorce in 1988, after four years of marriage.
It wasn't until the Rocket Man singer reached his 40s that he told the same publication he was gay, revealing he thought his sexuality was already “common knowledge”.
Reflecting on the topic in an interview with U.S. Today he said: "Nobody asked me. When (journalist) Cliff Jahr asked me in Rolling Stone, 'I'm gonna ask you a question, but if you don't want to answer it, I'm gonna turn the tape recorder off.' And I said, 'You're gonna ask me if I'm gay or not.' And he said, 'How did you know that?'. I said, 'I've been waiting for people to ask me this. It's not exactly a secret. I live with my manager. I'm openly gay outside. I don't have a girlfriend... I just thought it was common knowledge.'"
Despite only officially coming out as gay at the age of 45, the star later told Variety that he was 23 when he actually realised he was gay.
“I got off to a very slow start,” he said. “I was like the tortoise and the hare, and then suddenly the tortoise overtook the hare, and I made up for lost time.”
While John now claims he “loves being gay”, he revealed to the same publication that his mother told her son he would never be truly loved because he was gay.
“It’s wonderful to be gay. I love being gay. I really do,” he told Variety. “And I think I wouldn’t have had the life I’ve had if I hadn’t been gay. And I’m very proud of that. I’m very proud that I can appreciate that.”
The legendary singer, 75, is now married to long-time partner David Furnish and the couple have two children together, sons Zachary Jackson Levon, 11, and Elijah Joseph Daniel, nine.
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