Openly gay actor Cheyenne Jackson has started on two hit shows, "Glee" and "30 Rock" and was named Out's magazines Entertainer of the year in 2008. Jackson is an ambassador for amfAR and spokesperson for the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
During "American Idol"'s 8th season, pictures emerged of front runner Adam Lambert kissing another man which led many to speculate if Lambert could be the first gay "Idol" victor. The photos were even discussed on "The O'Reilly Factor" about whether the singer's sexual orientation would have an impact on the competition. While Lambert confirmed the photos were of him he never answered the question of if he was gay until after losing the "American Idol" crown to Kris Allen. Adam Lambert finally came out on the cover of Rolling Stone in which he confirmed that he was gay and laughed when he said that his sexual orientation "probably" impacted the final vote.
Sean Hayes is best known for his portrayal of Jack McFarland on "Will & Grace", one of the most successful television shows with principal gay characters. Hayes made news while on Broadway when his co-star Kristin Chenoweth wrote to Newsweek defending Hayes against what she felt were homophobic comments directed toward him in the magazine.
Clay Aiken, was "American Idol"'s runner-up in the show's 2nd season and went on to have an extremely successful music career. There was speculation regarding his sexuality for years and after he announced the birth of his son, Aiken followed in the footsteps of Lance Bass and Neil Patrick Harris with revealing that he was gay to People magazine in September 2008. The singer now has been a more vocal advocate and traveled to Washington, D.C. to discuss anti-gay bullying in 2010.
George Michael himself admitted to hiding his sexuality for some time for fear as to how it would affect his mother, but now is very outspoken when it comes to gay rights. Michael performed in 2000 with other artists at a concert benefit the Human Rights Campaign and has been outspoken about how his personal public struggles and scandals have shadowed more important gay rights issues.
Actress Sara Gilbert is most famously known for her role as Darlene on "Roseanne" and now is a co-host and executive producer of "The Talk". Gilbert has been with her partner Allison Adler since 2002 and they have two children together. Gilbert and "The Talk" were honored this year by GLSEN - Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
Nathan Lane has long been a supporter of gay rights and a long-time board member of the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS organization. Lane has been honored by the Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project and many other organizations for his dedication. Lane and his partner, producer Devlin Elliott reside in New York City.
Chaz Bono made major headlines when undergoing gender transformation surgery, transitioning from Chastity to Chaz. Bono had come out in 1995 as a lesbian and has been vocal about his decision to undergo surgery, allowing cameras there for the whole process for OWN's "Becoming Chaz." Bono has long been an activist for gay rights and has even served as Entertainment Media Director for GLAAD.
Jane Lynch, who plays one of the standout characters on "Glee" has been openly gay and in fact met her wife at a gala for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Lynch married Dr. Lara Embry, a clinical psychologist in Massachusetts in 2010. The couple continues to be active in the LGBT community.
Lance Bass had spent years performing all over the world with girls crazily screaming for him as a member of the popular boy band *NSYNC. While rumors had been circulating for awhile revolving around Bass' sexuality, he finally came out on the cover of People magazine in 2006. In the revealing article, the musician stated, "The thing is, I'm not ashamed - that's the one thing I want to say. I don't think it's wrong, I'm not devastated going through this. I'm more liberated and happy than I've been my whole life. I'm just happy."
Cynthia Nixon, who played uptight lawyer Miranda Hobbes on "Sex and the City", shocked the world when it was revealed she had split with her longtime companion and later began dating education activist Christine Marinoni. The couple in 2011 welcomed their first child together, a son named Max Ellington Nixon-Marinoni. Nixon explained in a New York Magazine interview that she never struggled with her sexuality. "I met this woman, I fell in love with her, and I'm a public figure." In 2009, Nixon announced that she was engaged to Marinoni during the Love, Peace and Marriage Equality rally in New York. Nixon was even thanked by Alec Baldwin over the weekend for all her help in getting the marriage law passed in New York
Ricky Martin shot to success with his hit "Livin' la Vida Loca" and it also put him right in the line of many questions about his personal life due to his large gay following. In 2008, the singer became the father of twin boys, Matteo and Valentino via a surrogate which led to his 2010 confession that he was gay. "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am." When speaking about what took him so long to speak out, Martin told Larry King, "Everything about saying [that I am gay] feels right...if I'd known how good it was going to feel, I would have done it ten years ago."
Singer Melissa Etheridge has long been a face of gay activism since coming out in 1993. Etheridge has twins with her ex Tammy Lynn Michaels, who she planned on marrying five months after California overturned the states ban on same-sex marriage. Proposition 8 passed in 2008 however, which Etheridge strongly opposed and in an act of civil disobedience, announced she would not be paying her taxes.
Singer, Elton John has been a vocal member of the gay community and has been in a long term relationship with David Furnish since 1993. The couple entered a civil partnership in 2005 and had a low-key ceremony with their parents, many of their celebrity friends and their dog Arthur. John and Furnish became parents late last year via a surrogate and their son, Zachary Jackson Levon Furnish-John was born on Christmas Day. Lady Gaga was named as one of the child's godparents. Elton is the founder of the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which raises large amounts of money to raise awareness about the disease and to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against HIV/AIDS-affected individuals.
Actress and comedian Rosie O'Donnell is undeniably one of the most famous LGBT rights activists. O'Donnell came out in 2002 during the last year of her talk show and has been very outspoken about supporting gay adoption rights and founded the LGBT family vacation company R Family Vacations. In 2004, O'Donnell famously married Kelli Carpenter in San Francisco, just two weeks after marriage licenses to same-sex couples were granted there. O'Donnell and Carpenter have since split but co-parent four children.
Chris Colfer, who plays the openly gay character Kurt Hummel on "Glee", has been a strong role model to gay youth. The actor, who is also gay, has said that his parents were accepting of him but was frequently bullied at school, much like his character on the hit television show. At the 2011 Golden Globes, Colfer got emotional when winning the award for best supporting actor and fought back tears while saying, "Most importantly, to all the amazing kids that watch our show and the kids that our show celebrates that are constantly told no by bullies in their school and they can't be who they are ... Well, screw that, kids!"
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
Ellen DeGeneres famously outed herself to Oprah Winfrey in 1997 on her sitcom "Ellen", in which Winfrey played her therapist. In 2008, DeGeneres announced that she and longtime girlfriend Portia de Rossi were engaged and would be tying the knot later that year. After the passing of Proposition 8, the couple worried that their marriage would no longer be legal but a ruling from the Supreme Court validated their union. Recently, de Rossi legally changed her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres.
Neil Patrick Harris
This past Friday, New York became the largest state to pass the Marriage Equality Act. Neil Patrick Harris, who revealed in 2006 that he was gay to People magazine, took to twitter to celebrate the good news. Harris revealed that he had been engaged to his longtime boyfriend David Burtka for five years but they had been waiting to make their union official until same-sex marriage was legalized. In October, the couple became the father of twins via surrogate, Gideon Scott and Harper Grace.