In the viral, seemingly tongue-in-cheek video, Madonna is seen holding hot-pink underwear which she aims at a trash basket, attempts to throw it in, but misses by miles. The fun part is the caption of the clip which says “If I miss, I’m Gay!”—which she does?! So, were we just blessed with a newly-minted gay icon? The jury’s out on this one.
The ‘Material Girl’s’ apparent coming out wasn’t that much of a surprise for her fans given that she’s been dropping not-so-subtle hints about her sexual orientation for years through her iconic songs and the vehement support she offered the LGBTQ+ community for decades, immortalising her as a gay icon anyway. The singer also actively raised awareness about HIV/AIDS during the ’80s epidemic and fought the stigma surrounding it.
Apart from Madonna’s pop culture-defining lip locks with both Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera during an onstage performance at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, the superstar’s music and performances also made her support for LGBTQ+ issues very obvious. For instance, her 1989 song ‘Express Yourself’ went on to become a gay anthem, serving as somewhat of a forerunner to Lady Gaga’s 2011 track ‘Born This Way’.
Hollywood bigwigs including Billy Porter, Elton John and Ellen DeGeneres paved the way for younger generations of queer stars to openly embrace their sexuality and speak up against homophobia and discrimination even in the face of widespread backlash, alienation, blacklisting in the business and jeering from the media. The pop culture landscape today is much more forgiving towards the LGBTQ+ community and, in fact, even represents the queer narrative in the mainstream space through empowering TV shows and movies like The Bold Type, Sex Education, Tales Of Cities and Call Me By Your Name. Even though our current political and social climate has in no way fully eliminated homophobia, the progress is undeniable. Younger celebrities who are out and proud are doing a great job of voicing queer issues on a global platform and inspiring people to accept their true identity.
Here are some iconic celebrities who have publicly come out as part of the community and encouraged younger generations to never dim their light or hide their truth.
Pitch Perfect actress and beloved funny-girl Rebel Wilson officially came out by debuting her new girlfriend, Ramona Agruma, with an Instagram selfie in June 2022. Talk about a banging ‘hard launch’, right? Wilson wrote in her caption,“I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince, but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess.” The actress also added the hashtag “#loveislove” and a rainbow and heart emojis. And undoubtedly, we ship this gorgeous pair!
YouTube sensation, actor, singer and dancer JoJo Siwa received an outpouring of love, praise and support when she came out back in January 2021 at just 17 years of age. She first alluded to it in a TikTok video of her dancing to ‘Born This Way’, the 2011 smash hit by Lady Gaga popularly crowned as an LGBTQ anthem. Siwa then broke the internet by posting a picture of hers sporting a T-shirt with the text “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever” engraved on it. Apparently the tee was gifted to her by her cousin, finally confirming the rumours.
In December 2020 at the age of 33, Elliott Page. formerly known as Ellen Page, came out as transgender, causing an uproar amongst movie fans. The Juno star wrote on Twitter, “Hi friends, I want to share with you that I am trans, my pronouns are he/they and my name is Elliot. I feel lucky to be writing this. To be here. To have arrived at this place in my life.”
Every day we wake up, we are given another opportunity & chance to be who we want & wish to be. I’ve spent the majority of my life growing in front of all of you… you’ve seen the good, the bad, & everything in between. pic.twitter.com/HSBcfmNruo— Demi Lovato (@ddlovato) May 19, 2021
The Disney sensation and pop star Demi Lovato announced the shift in her sexuality in May 2021, sending shock waves through her fandom. At 28, Lovato came out as non binary “after a lot of healing and self-reflective work” and said in a video “I will be officially changing my pronouns to them/them. I feel this best represents the fluidity in my gender expression.” The musician has previously struggled with acute drug abuse, mental illness and body dysmorphia issues, which she has spoken about extensively on the internet. Lovato recently also confessed that maybe she was too quick to jump on the changing pronouns bandwagon, and requested fans to go back to using the she/her pronouns along with they/them, in spite of her non binary status.
The Big Bang Theory actor aka the famously whimsical Sheldon, revealed that he was gay in 2012. Parsons shared that he didn’t anticipate the courage, empowerment and happiness he experienced after coming out—like a weight lifting off his shoulders. He also expressed that his sexuality helped him evolve into a better actor and that it fortunately never hurt his acting career or his personal life. You go, Jim!
Kristen Stewart’s personal life was always shrouded in controversy given her tumultuous and highly-publicised relationship with Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson. The pair’s breakup caused by her unfaithfulness invited a lot of public shaming from their fandom and the press, and heavily impacted her public persona. However, she let the naysayers have their day and worked her way up in Hollywood, one stellar performance at a time. Notorious for being super private about her relationships, her sexual orientation (read, bisexuality) has served as fodder for trashy tabloids for years until she made it official by posting pictures with her girlfriend and fiancé Dylan Meyer in 2019.
The OG Disney export Miley Cyrus is not known for holding back in the slightest and owns her sexuality with pride. The singer has always been an advocate for the LGBTQ+ community and frequently spilled the beans about her sex life and (very public) relationships. In spite of fans’ assumptions about her being straight and stanning her on-again off-again relationship with co-star and ex-husband Liam Hemsworth, Cyrus began dating a woman after her split with him. The singer has stated on several occasions that she identifies as queer. “Like if I’m going to be with a girl, I’m down to be with a boss bitch who’s as successful, or more successful than me; that’s cool, too,” she revealed.
Lil Nas X
The ‘Industry Baby’ and ‘Old Town Road’ hitmaker and rapper Lil Nas X publicly came out as gay in June 2019. The queer fashionista wrote a sweet letter to his 14-year-old self and posted it on Twitter to let his fans in on this announcement. The rapper claimed that he never planned on coming out because he was raised to believe that homosexuality “is never going to be OK,” but fate had other plans for him. He also spoke about experiencing bouts of anxiety and feared upsetting and losing his supporters after the revelation.
Caitlyn Jenner, formerly known as Bruce Jenner, came out as transgender in 2015 at the age of 65. The entire Jenner-Kardashian clan’s gruelling mental journey towards this realisation and acceptance was documented throughout their reality TV show. “If I was lying on my deathbed and I had kept this secret and never ever did anything about it, I would be lying there saying, ‘You just blew your entire life’,” Jenner said in an interview. “You never dealt with yourself, and I don’t want that to happen.”
The ‘Too Good at Goodbyes’ and ‘Unholy’ singer Sam Smith enthusiastically revealed his sexual identity once his debut album In the Lonely hour was released. The LGBTQ+ advocate and singer came out as gay and shared that he feels as much like a woman as he does like a man. The singer has also discussed the ‘barrier’ that many LGBTQ+ community members feel and encouraged younger generations in his fandom to embrace their truth and live with their heads held high. Smith has dated actor Brandon Flynn of 13 Reasons Why fame in the past.