This year, a number of actors, athletes, and musicians came out of the closet, reminding fans to be true to who they are. Their statements came with messages of honesty, courage, and pride. But it was their actions in the wake of these public declarations that had the most impact. None of them suddenly were out of a job, or shunned from Hollywood. These entertainers were not denied adoration or encouragement from fans and the industry alike.
Instead, they continued to push forward, owning their truth, and breaking down barriers all at the same time.
“I am tired of hiding and I am tired of lying by omission.” — Human Rights Campaign
What Happened Next: In the months after coming out, the actress reprised her role as Kitty Pryde in X-Men: Days of Future Past and started filming Freeheld with Julianne Moore. The two portray a lesbian couple, Laurel Hester and Stacie Andree, who battle Ocean County, New Jersey Board of Chosen Freeholders to ensure pension benefits are passed on to Andree following Hester’s battle with terminal cancer. Page also landed on the cover of Out magazine’s annual Out 100.
“I'm a country singer and I'm gay.” — ET
What Happened Next: Less than a month after coming out exclusively to ET, the country star stepped out with Matt Collum, his boyfriend of five years, at a TrevorLIVE event. The two were spotted hand-in-hand and very much out and proud.
“I am a gay man now.” — ITV2’s Celebrity Juice
What Happened Next: Even though the 20-year-old Olympic diver first came out as bisexual in 2013, he came out again as gay the following year. After coming out, Daley has continued competing, placing third at the FINA Diving World Series and second at the European Championships for solo dives. He and his diving partner, James Denny, won the silver medal for synchronized diving at the Commonwealth Games and finished fourth at the European Championships. Outside of sport, Daley has mentored celebrities on the reality competition, Splash!, and hosted his own travel series, Tom Daley Goes Global. He also continued to date his boyfriend, Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black.
"I’ve been an advocate for so many things in my life that I thought, why not now be an advocate for me?” — YouTube
What Happened Next: After Herndon came out, Gilman followed suit making him the second country star to come out in 2014. Both were supported by fans and championed by the likes of LeAnn Rimes and Lucy Hale among others. “My fans have been amazing,” he told the GA Voice. “So far, the comments and support has been amazing and I’m so grateful for that.”
“I’m proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.” — Businessweek
What Happened Next: After coming out and becoming the first openly gay CEO of a Fortune 500 company, it was back to business for the man tasked with running Apple following Steve Jobs’ death. Cook had the challenge of bringing the company back after a bumpy start to the year. By the end of the year, its stock was back up and Cook himself was dubbed CNN’s CEO of the Year, Financial Times’ Person of the Year, and one of Time’s Person of the Year runner ups.
“I was completely green, fresh out of college, and honestly, I was scared.” — The Fight Mag
What Happened Next: After acknowledging he was gay, the 33-year-old actor — who is a triple Emmy nominee for his work on As the World Turns — continued working on the upcoming second season of EastSiders, a hit web series now on Logo TV that explores of the aftermath following a gay couple’s infidelity.
“Let’s say women are more sensual.” — The Daily Mail
What Happened Next: In April, the Blondie front woman shocked fans when she came out as bisexual, revealing that she had sexual affairs with women. Yet, it was just another story for the singer, who was celebrating the 40th anniversary of her band with the release of their tenth studio album, Ghosts of Download.
“I was just taught that love is the most powerful thing.” — Out
What Happened Next: For the Orange Is the New Black star, coming out happened when her girlfriend and writer for the hit Netflix show, Lauren Morelli, filed for divorce from her husband. Since then, the actress has taken to Instagram to let fans peek inside their adorable relationship. Wiley was also honored by Out magazine and featured on the cover of the Out 100.
"I want to share my story with the world because I think I have a social responsibility.” — People
What Happened Next: After coming out as a trans woman, the 23-year-old fashion model became a voice for the transgender community by raising money on Kickstarter to fund a documentary about her own reassignment surgery and launched the #EverybodyComeOut campaign to encourage LGBT youth to live authentic lives.
“I want to make it a normality because this is a non-issue.” — Fader
What Happened Next: For Smith, coming out early in his career was important for him. The 22-year-old “Stay With Me” singer didn’t want to feel like he had lied to his fans or distract from the music he was producing. Of course, his debut album, In the Lonely Hour, topped the charts and shattered records. And when the GRAMMY nominees were announced, he scored five, tying Beyonce as the most-nominated artist of the year.
“I want to own my truth.” — The New York Times
What Happened Next: After becoming the first openly gay football player drafted by the NFL — he was subsequently cut from both the St. Louis Rams and Dallas Cowboys — Sam was honored for breaking down barriers in U.S. sport. The 24-year-old former Missouri defensive end won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2014 ESPYs, was named one of GQ’s Men of the Year, was a finalist for Sport’s Illustrated Sportsman of the Year, and appeared on the cover of Out magazine. He ended the year with a televised sit-down with Oprah Winfrey, during which he revealed that he hasn’t given up on his NFL dream.
“I've thought about this for a long time. I'm not straight.” — The Parkinson Interview
What Happened Next: After many years of denying his homosexuality, the 32-year-old Australian swimmer came out as gay in an interview with Michael Parkinson. While illness forced him to step back from swimming following the 2006 Athens Olympics, he attempted a comeback in 2014 only to be stalled by a shoulder injury. He was named one of British GQ Australia’s Men of the Year. And while rumors flew that he was dating Ricky Martin, Thorpe went on the record to deny that it was true. “We’re mates, he is a really good guy,” he told The Daily Telegraph.