Of the celebrities who took the brave step of coming come out in 2016, Colton Hayes (above) is the biggest Instagram sensation with 5.5 million followers.
Shirtless photos, silly videos, set shots, new hairstyles and vacation memories were sometimes balanced this year with more deep and thoughtful posts including a link to his coming out interview with Entertainment Weekly in May.
There had been plenty of speculation about the former Arrow and Teen Wolf star’s sexuality and he finally put the rumors to rest: he is gay.
‘I should have made a comment or a statement, but I just wasn’t ready,’ he told EW.
‘I didn’t feel like I owed anyone anything. I think in due time, everyone has to make those decisions when they’re ready, and I wasn’t yet.
’But staying in the closet was painful: ‘People want you to be that GQ image that you put out, but people don’t realize what it’s like to act 24 hours a day. I’d go home and I was still acting.’
Kristen Stewart would have to rank as the biggest star to come out in 2016. An A-list actress who juggles big studio flicks with independent features went public in July with her relationship with girlfriend Alicia Cargile.
‘I would never talk about any of my relationships before, but once I started dating girls it seemed like there was an opportunity to represent something really positive,’ the actress told The New York Times Style Magazine.
‘I still want to protect my personal life, but I don’t want to seem like I’m protecting the idea, so that does sort of feel like I owe something to people.’
Charlie Carver played gay on TV’s Teen Wolf but viewers did not know that he is also gay in real life.
The former Desperate Housewives actor, whose twin Max Carver is straight, posted a heartfelt essay on Instagram in January about his journey towards coming out as a gay man: ‘I’ve lived “out,” not feeling the need to announce so. I was comfortably out in my private life. And for a time, that was enough. …
‘I now believe that by omitting this part of myself from the record, I am complicit in perpetuating the suffering, fear, and shame cast upon so many in the world. …
‘In my silence, I’ve helped decide for to you too that to be gay is to be, as a young man (or young woman, young anyone), inappropriate for a professional career in the Arts (WHAAA???) So now, let the record show this- I self-identify as gay.’
For many years Sara Ramirez played bisexual doctor Callie Torres on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy. But it wasn’t until early October that she revealed publicly that she is also bi in real life.
The Tony Award winner for Spamalot made the announcement in a speech at the True Colors Fund’s 40 to None Summit in Los Angeles. Ramirez described herself as ‘woman, multi-racial woman, woman of color, queer, bisexual, Mexican-Irish American immigrant.’
Nico Tortorella, one of the stars of the TV Land series Younger, came out publicly as sexually fluid in June. Then last month, the 28-year-old actor amended that and now describes himself as bisexual.
‘I’ve been so hesitant about using the word for so long, because it does have a negative connotation in our generation,’ he says. ‘People fought for so long for that B in LGBT, and I refuse to be the person that’s going to throw that away because I think I have a more colorful word.’
Aubrey Plaza who played April Ludgate on NBC’s Parks and Recreation for many years casually came out as bisexual during a magazine interview in July.
‘I know I have an androgynous thing going on, and there’s something masculine about my energy,’ she told 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.’
Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Stephanie Beatriz used Plaza’s coming out interview as a way to come out herself. Beatriz simply posted a message on Twitter agreeing with Plaza’s comments on loving both men and women.
Lilly Wachowski, half of the famous duo behind the Matrix movies and the TV series Sense8, made her first public appearance since coming out publicly as a transgender woman in March at the GLAAD Media Awards in Los Angeles.
Her sister and directing partner, Lana, came out as transgender in 2012. Lilly claims a reporter from the UK publication Daily Mail showed up on her doorstep wanting to do a story which essentially forced her to come out publicly.
She told the GLAAD audience: ‘My sister Julie likes to joke, “You can’t write this shit.”’
Robin Lord Taylor
Robin Lord Taylor plays Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penguin) in the Fox series Gotham which tells the origin stories of a number of Batman villains. One of the off-screen stories that Taylor finally went public about was being gay and being married to a man for five years.
He had danced around the topic in previous years, then in June wished his husband a happy anniversary in an Instagram post.
Christian rocker Trey Pearson of the band Everyday Sunday posted this simple message on Facebook back in May: ‘To my fans and friends: I’m finally being honest with myself. I love you all.’
He attached a link to an article in 614 Columbus in which the man married to a woman and father of a young daughter declared that he is gay.
‘I never wanted to be gay. I was scared of what God would think and what all of these people I loved would think about me; so it never was an option for me. I have been suppressing these attractions and feelings since adolescence.
‘I’ve tried my whole life to be straight. … I know this is how God made me, and I am proud of who I am. I know there is nothing I can do to change it.’
While competing in the 14th season of American Idol, Rayvon Owen never let viewers know he was gay. He finished fourth. The 25-year old saved that big reveal for the video for his debut single Can’t Fight It which was released in February.
The video ends with Owen kissing a man who is his real-life boyfriend, Shane Bitney Crone.
Crone’s story of love and loss is featured in the documentary Bridegroom.
Owen told Billboard of his coming out: ‘You’d be surprised at the amount of times I tried to pray the gay away from me or tried to tell God to take this away from me. No kid should have to do what I did and pray to not be who they are. That’s why I think it’s important even in 2016 to say this.’
Alexis G. Zall
YouTube personality Alexis G. Zall made sure she had an 18th birthday she would never forget.
In June, she offered ’18 tips for 18 years’ for her more than 1 million subscribers.
Tip number 8 was the bombshell: ‘It is totally OK to be a girl who likes girl or a boy who likes boys and me personally, I am a girl who likes girls.’
She then perhaps read the minds of her subscribers by adding: ‘Did that bitch just come out?’ She did! ‘I can say I feel the most comfortable with myself as a human being that I have ever felt. This year especially I feel like I learned so much.’
Brian Justin Crum
Brian Justin Crum came out to the world his first time on national television. It was his first appearance on NBC’s America’s Got Talent in June.
Sharing his personal story of being gay, being bullied and battling his weight got the audience in his corner. But it was his soaring vocals that got him all the way to the finals and a fourth place finish.
Crum’s first post-Talent performance was at the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Vanguard Awards gala on 24 September where GSN caught up with him.
‘It was so intense and amazing,’ he says of his television experience. ‘I want to be there for everybody, I want to hold everyone’s hand. So it’s a little overwhelming but I love it and I just want to be there to support my community as much as I can.’ Earlier this month he released the single Show Me Love.
Pro skateboarding legend Brian Anderson came out to the world as a gay man in September. Anderson had his breakthrough year in 1999 when he won the World Cup of Skateboarding title in Dortmund, Germany and was was Thrasher Magazine’s Skater of the Year.
‘People ask why are you doing this now and not earlier. Because I was pretty freaked out,’ he told Vice Sports. ‘I was really scared. And people would have perceived it a lot differently, I think, had I said this 15 years ago.’
By speaking out now, he hopes to be of help to younger, closeted gays.
‘I think of how I felt when I was younger – totally scared. … You become a happier person (after coming out) and to convey that message was really important to me.’