After 12 months rife with tragedy and tumult, the prevailing sentiment expressed by people around the world this New Year’s Eve is, simply, relief that 2020 has finally come to a close.
But as the COVID-19 pandemic and political fissures continue to divide families, both chosen and biological, the power of seeing queer public figures embrace their authentic selves feels as profound as ever.
With their access to the red carpet limited, actors like Elliot Page and Lili Reinhart used Instagram and Twitter to open up about their identities directly with fans. Others, like professional Alpine skier Hig Roberts and “Real Housewives of Orange County” star Braunwyn Windham-Burke, did so in lengthy sit-down interviews with major outlets.
Then there was comedian Niecy Nash, who quipped about a “plot twist” as she announced she’d married singer Jessica Betts with a gorgeous wedding photo on social media that’s believed to be her first public acknowledgement of her sexuality.
Each of their statements come at a pivotal time for the LGBTQ community as a whole. Many have expressed hope in President-elect Joe Biden, who has signaled his intent to reverse course from the Trump administration’s anti-LGBTQ platform. Meanwhile, the Human Rights Campaign has found 2020 to be the deadliest year on record for transgender and gender-nonconforming people, with at least 43 known victims of violent deaths.
Below, check out 20 actors, artists and media personalities who expressed their authentic selves to the world in 2020. The challenges many members of the LGBTQ community face are numerous, but each of these notable names helped drive the global conversation on LGBTQ acceptance by living truthfully.
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In December, the star of "Juno" and "The Umbrella Academy" came out as transgender
in a poignant Instagram post. The 33-year-old actor is using the pronouns “he” and “they.”
“I love that I am trans,” Page wrote. “And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive.”
Read more about Elliot Page here
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In August, the actor and comedian announced that she and Jessica Betts, a singer and songwriter, had gotten married
“Mrs. Carol Denise Betts,” Nash wrote on social media alongside a photo of herself and Betts walking down the aisle. She also added the hashtag #LoveWins.
As Out magazine notes
, Nash “was not publicly known to be queer” prior to her marriage to Betts.
Read about about Niecy Nash here
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The British actor and comedian announced in December
that she will use the pronouns “she” and “her” from now on.
“It feels great because people just assume that they just know me from before ... but I’m gender fluid,” the “Ocean’s Twelve” and “Ocean’s Thirteen” actor said in an interview with Sky Arts. “I just want to be based in girl mode from now on.”
Previously, the LGBTQ rights advocate said she had a “boy mode and girl mode.”
Read more about Eddie Izzard here
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The "Riverdale" star came out as a “proud bisexual woman
” in June while urging fans to attend a Black Lives Matter solidarity event organized by members of the LGBTQ community.
“Although I’ve never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman,” Reinhart wrote on Instagram while providing information about the rally. “And I will be joining this protest today. Come join.”
Read more about Lili Reinhart here
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The Spanish singer-songwriter opened up about his sexuality
for the first time in June, telling fans that he is gay.
“Today I want my voice to be louder and for it have more value and weight,” Alborán said in a subtitled video
posted to his social media platforms. “I am here to tell you I am homosexual, and it is OK. Life goes on, everything will remain the same, but I am going to be a little happier than I already am.”
One of Spain’s most successful pop acts, Alborán is known to audiences for his soaring ballads. In April, he released “Cuando Estés Aquí
,” a track he wrote and recorded in quarantine, as a benefit for COVID-19 relief.
Read more about Pablo Alborán here
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In February, Jamil came out as queer
shortly after she joined HBO Max's "Legendary" as a judge.
"I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid," the "Good Place" actor wrote on Twitter. "I didn’t come from a family with *anyone* openly out. It’s also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you already a brown female in your thirties."
Prior to her statement, Jamil had been hit with criticism after her "Legendary" gig was announced. Some felt her judging a show that focuses on voguing wouldn't be representative of the Black LGBTQ community in which the dance style originated.
Read more about Jameela Jamil here
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In a September appearance on "The Tamron Hall Show
," the former Florida gubernatorial candidate came out as bisexua
Gillum, who ran for Florida governor in 2018, appeared on the show alongside his wife, R. Jai, who said her husband of 11 years has been upfront with her about his sexuality.
“There are men who are in marriages with women who just because they’re married to a woman doesn’t mean they’re not attracted to other women, and at any point can slip up, make a mistake, do something, and that is what it is,” Gillum said. “The same thing in bisexual relationships.”
Read more about Andrew Gillum here
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The 19-year-old star of Disney's "Moana" came out as bisexual
in a video posted to her TikTok account in April.
Lip-syncing along to Eminem's "Those Kinda Nights," Auli'li recited the lyrics, 'Seriously though, jokes aside, how you doin'? You straight?'/She said, 'No, I'm bi,'/ She said, 'Are you drunk?,' I said, 'No, I'm high'/'I'm checkin' out the chick,' she said, 'So am I.'"
Read more about Auli'i Cravalho here
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While attending a June demonstration against racial inequality and police brutality in New Orleans, the "Pokemon: Detective Pikachu"
star came out as queer
The actor posted a video on Instagram showing him at the protest with his boyfriend, "Queen Sugar" actor Nicholas Ashe.
"As a Black queer man myself, I was disappointed to see certain people eager to say 'Black Lives Matter,' but hold their tongue when Trans/Queer was added," he wrote in the accompanying caption. "I want to reiterate this sentiment. If your revolution does not include Black Queer voices, it is anti-Black."
Read more about Justice Smith here
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In an October interview with the U.K.-based publication Pink News
, the “Tiger King” star revealed that she has “always considered myself to be bisexual
“Even though I’ve never had a wife, I could just as easily have a wife as a husband,” she said. “I just don’t see us as being different genders or different colors or different anything.”
Describing herself as a “tomboy” growing up, the 59-year-old said she began to explore her sexuality in the 1980s, when she was engaged to a psychologist who worked with members of the LGBTQ community impacted by the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Read more about Carole Baskin here
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The Connecticut-born singer-songwriter, who competed on Season 3 of "The Voice," celebrated his 25th birthday in July by going public about his sexuality
"I’m bisexual," he wrote on Twitter. "Ok bye."
Days later, he opened up further in a lengthy post on Instagram. “To finally answer the question....YES, I’m a bisexual man who’s in love with LOVE,” he wrote. "I AM WHO I AM and I LOVE WHO I LOVE. Always have and always will!”
Read more about Avery Wilson here
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In April, the "Friday" singer came out as queer
"Every day is different, it's something that over the past few years I've obviously been having a lot of conversations with myself about," she said in an appearance on the "Dating Straight
" podcast. "To me, the word 'queer' feels really nice. I have dated a lot of different types of people, and I just don't really know what the future holds. Some days, I feel a little more on the 'gay' side than others."
Read more about Rebecca Black here
In a December interview with The New York Times, Roberts became the first male World Cup alpine skier to come out publicly as gay
“I just woke up one morning and I said, ‘Enough is enough,’” the two-time U.S. national champion said. “I love this sport more than anything — I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing this — but I can’t go on another day not trying to achieve the person that I am meant to be. Which I think for each and every one of us, one of those main goals needs to be happiness and authenticity.”
Read more about Hig Roberts here
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The "Hairspray" actor came out as a "proud gay woman
" in June.
"For me, it was a long time coming," she told the Hollywood Reporter
. "I was wanting to date women and it just was a moment in my life where I was finally just really ready to be myself."
In October, she opened up further about her journey in a HuffPost Personal essay
. "If I could share one thing with someone who’s scared of coming out, I would tell them to do it on their own time," she wrote. "Know that there is a community of people who will support you and love you even if your own family and friends aren’t capable of doing so."
Read more about Nikki Blonsky here
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The Zimbabwean-Australian actor, whose credits include “The Flash” and “The Vampire Diaries,” revealed to fans in February
that he is gay.
“Sometimes that is a really hard thing to do when you have all these subconscious things you don’t really know about from childhood and society,” Cosnett explained in a clip posted to his social media platforms. After pointing out an inflamed sty on his right eye, which he said “really adds to the drama of the whole thing,” he concluded: “I’m sure most of you probably knew anyway.”
Read more about Rick Cosnett here
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The "Real Housewives of Orange County" star came out as a lesbian
and revealed she is currently dating a woman in a GLAAD interview in December.
"I'm just now starting to feel like I'm becoming the woman I'm supposed to be," she said. "I've always known it, but it took me, personally, 42 years to be comfortable in my own skin to say that."
Windham-Burke went on to note that she and husband Sean Burke have had "many" conversations about her sexuality, and have no plans to divorce.
"Sean and I are still married, I plan on staying married." she said. "We are raising our kids together. He's my best friend. He knows the girl I'm dating."
Read more about Braunwyn Windham-Burke here
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The actor, known for roles in "Road Trip" and "The Core," announced on Twitter in January that he is gay
“Been gay this whole time,” he wrote. “Tired of worrying about what people would think of me. Tired of worrying about what it would do to my career.”
Read more about DJ Qualls here
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The "Supergirl" and "Grey's Anatomy" actor came out as a member of the LGBTQ community
in June, steering clear of traditional labels like "lesbian" or "bisexual."
Leigh said she was inspired to come out upon learning her "Supergirl" character, Alex Danvers, was a lesbian.
"When I was told that my character was to come out in season 2, a flurry of thoughts and emotions flew through and around me because of the responsibility I personally felt to authentically represent Alex’s journey," she wrote in a post on the "Create Change" website
. "What I didn’t realize was how the scene where she finally confessed her truth would leap off the pages of the script and genuinely become a variation of my own. IRL."
Read more about Chyler Leigh here
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The "Outer Banks" star came out as pansexual
in a series of TikTok videos this spring. In June, she revealed she was in a relationship with University of North Carolina basketball player Mariah Linney.
"If you’re gay, tell everybody that you’re gay. It’s worth it,” she said. “I was saying this the other day I was like, to be honest, I don’t believe in straight people. They’re as real as unicorns to me.”
Read more about Madison Bailey here
Nikkie de Jager
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The popular YouTuber and makeup artist came out as transgender
In a 17-minute video titled “I’m Coming Out,” de Jager laid out her lifelong journey as a trans woman, and said she'd been “blackmailed” in the days leading up to the clip's release.
“Today I am here to share with you something that I always wanted to share with you one day, but under my own circumstances. It looks like that chance has been taken away from me so today I am taking back my own power,” she explained. “When I was younger, I was born in the wrong body, which means I am transgender.”
Read more about Nikkie de Jager here