61 brave and brilliant role models who spoke their truths and came out as LGBT+ in 2021

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2021 is, at long, long last, coming to an end.

Nearly two years into a drawn-out pandemic that has left the world exhausted and ready to hibernate, we’re about to say goodbye to a year that, to be honest, felt about a decade long.

But it hasn’t all been doom and gloom – really, it hasn’t – as 2021 saw a kaleidoscopic array of people bravely come out.

In heartfelt social media posts and interviews, actors, athletes, influencers, media personalities, models, lawmakers, drag queens and more have proudly and defiantly shared their truths to the world.

JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa
JoJo Siwa at Nickelodeon’s 2019 Kids’ Choice Awards (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty)

The sugary-sweet, bow-tie wearing JoJo Siwa suggested she was a member of the LGBT+ community in a TikTok video.

Months later, she said she is “technically pansexual” but is “still figuring out” her sexuality.

Roberto Manrique

Actor Roberto Manrique is pictured as 2017 event, the actor and model recently came out as gay on social media
Actor Roberto Manrique attends the ‘Conde Nast Traveler Gastronomic and Wine Guide’ photocall at Florida Retiro on 11 December 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Getty/Eduardo Parra)

Roberto Manrique, best known for his sufficiently steamy roles in popular telenovelas, said he was gay in a moving message to his younger self.

“We are perfect, wonderful and loving beings, just as we are,” he said.

Olivia Ponton

Olivia Ponton bisexual
Olivia Ponton has come out as bisexual. (Instagram)

Model and social media star Olivia Ponton said she is “proud to be a part of the LGBT+ community” as a bisexual woman.

“I want to let young girls know that it’s okay to not even know your sexuality until you’re older,” she told Teen Vogue.

Jack Dylan Grazer

Jack Dylan Grazer. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)
Jack Dylan Grazer. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Jack Dylan Grazer, the wunderkind actor who starred in Luca, It: Chapter Two, Shazam! and much more, came out as bisexual in July.

“I’m bi,” Grazer replied on Instagram to a fan asking if he’s gay before cracking a smile before spinning out his Luca character’s famous catchphrase: “Silenzio, Bruno!”

Chimano

Kenyan singer Chimano smiling with his dog
Kenyan singer Chimano. (Instagram)

Chimano, the heartthrob lead singer of afro-pop Kenyan boy band Sauti Sol, came out as a member of the LGBT+ community in December.

Speaking about the solo single “Friday Feeling”, he said: “It is the first time I am expressing myself in a song.”

Angel Olsen

Angel Olsen. (Lorne Thomson/Redferns)
Angel Olsen. (Lorne Thomson/Redferns)

Angel Olsen, the American singer whose dream-pop music illuminates the struggles of anxiety, came out as gay in April.

“My beau, I’m gay,” she wrote on Instagram.

Colton Underwood

Colton Underwood gay
Colton Underwood. (Jerod Harris/Getty Images for Tubi)

Colton Underwood, the former star of the aggressively heterosexual show The Bachelor, announced he was gay on national TV in April.

Now the star of a documentary detailing his coming out journey, he said at the time: “I’ve hated myself for a long time, and I’m gay, and I came to terms with that earlier this year.”

Abigail Thorn

Abigail Thorn sitting on a leather chair wearing a white shiny and black v-neck jumper
Abigail Thorn. (Screen capture via YouTube)

Abigail Thorn has long known how to put on a show. A YouTuber on Philosophy Tube, she has sought to educate the world about complex philosophical issues by blending them with theatre production.

Her coming out video was no exception in January. “Even when other people make it hard,” she said, “being trans is a gift.”

Lux Pascal

Headshots of Lux Pascal
Lux Pascal. (Instagram/@luxpascal_)

Lux Pascal, the sister of The Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal, re-introduced herself to the world as a trans woman in a raw interview with Chilean magazine Revista Ya.

“Moving through the world as a woman is much more simple for me,” she said.

Kaylee Byrant

Kaylee Bryant Legacies
Kaylee Bryant attends SCAD aTVfest 2020 – “Legacies” on 29 February 2020 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for SCAD aTVfest 2020)

Legacies star Kaylee Byrant kicked off her Pride Month with a pretty simple coming out message.

“Hi, my name is Kaylee and I’m queer,” she wrote. “Happy Pride Month.”

Carl Nassib

Carl Nassib openly gay NFL player flexes while smiling
Carl Nassib, the first openly gay NFL player, flexes while smiling before a game between the Las Vegas Raiders and the Denver Broncos on 15 November 2020. (Getty/Ethan Miller)

Carl Nassib, the six-foot-seven, 20-stone Las Vegas Raiders defensive lineman, came out in a brief video he recorded on his phone this summer.

In just a couple of sentences, he became the first active openly gay NFL player. “I actually hope that like, one day, videos like this and the whole coming-out process are just not necessary,” he said.

Utada Hikaru

Music recording artist Utada. (Chris Weeks/WireImage)
Music recording artist Utada. (Chris Weeks/WireImage)

Utada Hikaru, the dulcet Japanese-American pop superstar at the forefront of J-pop, casually came out as non-binary during an Instagram Live session in June.

“You know it’s the month of June,” they said, “and I’m non-binary. So, happy Pride Month!’

Cara Cunningham

Leave Britney Alone star Cara Cunningham poses to the camera in a red dress
The ‘Leave Britney Alone’ star shared a video of herself in a red dress. (Screen captures via Instagram)

Cara Cunningham, the creator behind the “Leave Britney Alone!” YouTube video, came out as trans earlier this year.

“I am transitioning and I have no more apologies to make for who I am,” she said.

Joshua Bassett

Joshua Bassett LGBT+
Joshua Bassett. (Amy Sussman/WireImage)

The dictionary definition of a twink, Joshua Bassett, best known for his role on High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, revealed he is a member of the LGBT+ community while gushing over Harry Styles.

“Even if there are consequences, I would much rather deal with consequences and live my truth than live in fear, the 21-year-old told GQ.

Aquinas

Aquinas Kang Minsoo bisexual South Korea
Korean rapper Aquinas, Kang Minsoo, came out as bisexual in a powerful post on Instagram. He told reporters he wanted to give “courage” to LGBT+ people in South Korea. (Instagram/@loveyouraquinas)

South Korean rapper AQUINAS, known off-stage as Kang Min-soo, revealed he was bisexual while making a vital point about LGBT+ rights in his homeland.

“In our society, LGBTQ+ people are still discriminated against and criticised,” he wrote on Instagram. “I thought that if I made this confession at a young age, LGBT people would gain courage and be comforted.”

Laganja Estranja

Laganja Estranja
Laganja Estranja performs onstage during the ‘We’re Here’ season two premiere. (Getty for HBO/ Rich Fury/Getty)

Laganja Estranja, the RuPaul’s Drag Race legend, proudly came out as a trans woman in June.

“I’m not going to live my life in fear anymore,” she told Entertainment Weekly.

Gigi Goode

Gigi Goode. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for VH1
Gigi Goode. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for VH1 “RuPaul’s Drag Race”)

RuPaul’s Drag Race icon Gigi Goode candidly told her 1.3 million Instagram followers in August that she is a “trans, non-binary person“.

“I knew that I wanted this to be a journey I was going on by myself, on my own, without any input from the outside world,” she said.

Kehlani

Kehlani
Singer Kehlani has said she identifies as a lesbian. (Getty Images for Coachella/ Rich Fury)

Kehlani, the tattooed singer whose stint on America’s Got Talent launched their career, said they were a lesbian during an Instagram Live.

“You wanna know something new about me?” she said, “I finally know I’m a lesbian!”

Maddie Hasson

Maddie Hasson bisexual
Maddie Hasson came out as bisexual on her Instagram Stories. (Michael Kovac/Getty)

Beginning her year in the best way possible, Impulse icon Maddie Hasson bravely came out as bisexual on Instagram.

“Hi,” she wrote, “I’m bi and proud!”

Jack Dunne

Jack Dunne, Leinster Rugby player, in 2019
Jack Dunne. (David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty)

Jack Dunner, the Irish rugby pro standing at a towering six-foot-eight, shared how years of playground biphobia discouraged him from coming out.

“When you’re bisexual it’s almost a blessing and a curse because you can hide it way easier,” he told the BBC’s LGBT Sports Podcast, “you can still go out with the lads on Saturday night and do all that stuff, but then at the same time it’s easier to hide it and it’s easier to not be true to yourself.”

Josh Cavallo

Adelaide United star Josh Cavallo poses in a football goal while wearing a red jersey
Josh Cavallo of the Adelaide United A-League Men’s team poses during a portrait session. (Getty/ Sarah Reed)

Holding back tears, Australian footballer Josh Cavallo, who grew up in a sleepy Melbourne suburb, came out as gay in a powerful social media post in October.

He became the openly active gay athlete in professional top-flight football. “The response and support I have received is immense,” he said in a video, “it’s starting to make me think that why have I been holding this burden for so long?”

Mae Whitman

Mae Whitman attends Los Angeles Confidential Magazine gathering
Mae Whitman attends Los Angeles Confidential Magazine gathering celebrating Women of Influence on 9 April 2021. (Amy Sussman/Getty for Los Angeles Confidential Magazine)

Mae Whitman, a 33-year-old actor known for her part in Good Girls, said she was pansexual in August.

“​​I know people might be unfamiliar with what pansexual means; for me, it means I know I can fall in love with people of all genders,” she tweeted.

Lily Cole

Model Lily Cole dances on stage prior to the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images)
Model Lily Cole dances on stage prior to the Vivienne Westwood Red Label show. (Ian Gavan/Getty Images)

Lily Cole, the red-headed British supermodel, “acknowledged she is not straight” in an interview in August.

“I like that word because of its openness,” she said of her queerness, “because I think all those boundaries are quite rigid.”

Julian Morris

Julian Morris. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images)
Julian Morris. (Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

Pretty Little Liars hunk Julian Morris came out as gay in a carousel of swoon-worthy photos celebrating 18 years with his boyfriend Landon Ross.

“And they were the best ones because they were with you,” he wrote on Instagram. “I love you, Landon Ross.”

Kieran Lovegrove

Kieran Lovegrove. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Kieran Lovegrove. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Kieran Lovegrove, a professional baseball player, scored a home run as he came out as bisexual to ESPN’s Joon Lee.

“Baseball is a game of statistics,” he said, “and if you want to tell me that I’m the only queer person in baseball, I’m just not going to agree with you.”

Tommy Dorfman

Tommy Dorfman
Tommy Dorfman. (Getty)

Tommy Dorfman, who starred in dark teen drama 13 Reasons Why, “reintroduced” herself to the world as a proud trans woman in July.

“Coming out is always viewed as a grand reveal,” she told Time, “but I was never not out. Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman. My pronouns are she/her. My name is Tommy.”

Alexandra Shipp

Alexandra Shipp attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox's Dark Phoenix
Alexandra Shipp attends the premiere of 20th Century Fox’s Dark Phoenix. (Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Alexandra Shipp, who played white-haired Storm in the X-Men film franchise, came out as a member of the LGBT+ community in a vulnerable social media post back in June.

“Today, I’m happy in ways I don’t think my kid-self could imagine,” she wrote. “It’s never too late to be you.”

Luke Prokop

Luke Prokop NHL hockey gay
Luke Prokop has come out as gay. (Getty/ Derek Leung)

Pathbreaking hockey player Luke Brokop became the first active NHL player to come out as gay in July.

“I am no longer scared to hide who I am,” he posted to social media.

Ella Hunt

Ella Hunt in Dickinson season three.
Ella Hunt in Dickinson season three. (Apple TV+)

Starring as the famous plucky poet in Dickinson gave star Ella Hunt a long-sought way to explore her own identity.

“I am queer and I am happy to be open about it,” she tweeted in March.

Vincenzo Spadafora

Vincenzo Spadafora
Vincenzo Spadafora at the 15th Rome Film Festival in 2020. (Andreas Solaro/ AFP/Getty)

Vincenzo Spadafora, one of Italy’s top politicians and a torchbearer for the anti-establishment, came out as gay on primetime television in November.

“I hope to be considered for what I do,” he said, “for what I am, and from tomorrow on maybe I’ll be happier because I feel freer.”

Krys Marshall

Krys Marshall. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)
Krys Marshall. (Emma McIntyre/Getty Images)

For All Mankind icon Krys Marshall came out as pansexual in a powerful social media post celebrating her relationship with Ted Dolan.

“Once upon a time, a Pan-girl and a Straight-boy met and fell in love,” she wrote. “Thet got married and lived happily ever after. The end.”

Hayley Vernon

Hayley Vernon Married at First Sight Instagram
(Instagram/hayleyvernon_)

The Married At First Sight Australia icon Hayley Vernon said that leaving the reality show gave her the confidence to come out as bisexual in March.

“It was only after Mafs I was confident enough to explore my sexuality,” she wrote.

Larry Saperstein

Larry Saperstein. (Emma McIntyre/WireImage)
Larry Saperstein. (Emma McIntyre/WireImage)

Keeping to his brand, High School Musical: The Musical: The Series actor Larry Saperstein came out as bi in a cheeky TikTok video.

“Is it really unexpected tho,” he joked.

TJ Osborne

TJ Osborne gay
TJ Osborne came out as gay in February. (Rodin Eckenroth/WireImage)

TJ Osborne, the slick-haired country singer of band Brothers Osborne, became the first openly gay country artist signed to a major country label in February.

Speaking to Time magazine, he said: “Not only is it a weight off my shoulders to tell the truth […] right now, I feel so incredibly loved.”

Marco Lehmann

Marco Lehmann
Professional 3×3 basketball player Marco Lehmann has come out publicly as gay (Instagram/@marcolehmann_13)

Marco Lehmann, the quick-footed Swiss 3×3 basketball star, came out as gay in January.

“This is for the future generations so they can live a free sporting life without hiding,” he wrote in an article for basketball association FIBA’s blog.

Kal Penn

Kal Penn recently announced he is engaged to his partner of 11 years (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)
Kal Penn recently announced he is engaged to his partner of 11 years (Roy Rochlin/Getty Images)

Kal Penn, the dry-witted 44-year-old actor and onetime White House staffer, opened up about his relationship with his fiancé of 11 years in his new book.

“People figure their s**t out at different times,” he told People magazine, “so I’m glad I did when I did.”

Hugh Sheridan

Hugh Sheridan
Hugh Sheridan recently proposed to their partner Kurt Roberts, during the opening night of their stage show, Hughman. (Don Arnold/WireImage/Getty)

Australian actor Hugh Sheridan, who is 50 per cent abs, came out as non-binary while celebrating their new cover shoot for DNA magazine.

“I AM still a human (non-binary/bi/me/Hughman),” they said.

Becky Kill

Becky Hill queer
Becky Hill came out as queer on Twitter. (Dave J Hogan/Getty)

British singer Becky Hill, who soared to prominence on The Voice UK, said being queer is the most “fitting identity” for who she is.

“I’ve definitely felt uncomfortable branding myself as straight, or anything else for that matter,” she tweeted, “but queer seems to be the most fitting.”

Gigi Gorgeous and Nats Getty

Nats Getty comes out as trans non-binary in selfie with wife Gigi Gorgeous
Nats Getty (R) with wife Gigi Gorgeous. (Instagram/NatsGetty)

The trans internet celebrity Gigi Gorgeous came out for the “fourth time” as pansexual in April, while her spouse Nats Getty came out as trans non-binary at the beginning of the year.

“I feel in love with the person that [Getty] is,” she said, “I just want everybody to know that I am pansexual.”

Corey Walsh

Gay BMX pro Corey Walsh
Corey Walsh is now one of few openly LGBT+ BMX pros. (Instagram/ walshcorey)

Canadian BMX pro Corey Walsh became one of the only LGBT+ riders in the world of bicycle motocross in March.

“I feel like the world is shifting into a more understanding place and now is the time to open up the conversation within our communities every chance we get,” the cyclist wrote on Instagram. “So here we are.”

Yetide Badaki

Yetide Badaki. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)
Yetide Badaki. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

Playing ancient goddess of love Bilquis on the show American Gods helped Yetide Badaki come out as bisexual.

“I would say it’s very much thanks to this show and the discussions they’re having,” she told Digital Spy.

Gabbi Tuft

gabbi tuft wwe trans wrestling
(Instagram/Gabbi Tuft)

Former WWE wrestler Gabbi Tuft revealed she was trans in a powerful Instagram post that came after months of inner turmoil, she said.

“This is me,” she wrote. “Unashamed, unabashedly me.”

Emma Corrin

Emma Corrin as PRincess Diana in a red strappy dress, bouffant hair and tiara
Emma Corrin played Princess Diana in The Crown. (Netflix)

Emma Corrin, who played Princess Diana in The Crown, said they were a “queer bride” before quietly announcing that her pronouns are “she/they”.

“It’s all a journey, right,” they wrote, “lots of twists and turns and change and that’s OK! Embrace it.”

David Archuleta

Singer David Archuleta. (Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
Singer David Archuleta. (Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)

David Archuleta, an American Idol singer who made the world swoon with his milk-fed looks, said he was gay in June – a fact that he tried to deny for “almost 20 years” because of his faith.

“You can be part of the LGBTIA+ community and still believe in God and His gospel plan,” he said on Instagram.

Raymond Gutierrez

Raymond Gutierrez
America-born Filipino actor Raymond Gutierrez. (Getty)

Raymond Gutierrez, a multi-hyphenate actor and editor from a prestigious celebrity family, opened up about his sexuality to Mega magazine.

“As I grew older and as I matured, I realised that the best thing that you can really offer your family is to be yourself,” he said. “So drop the cloak, drop the act; just be yourself.”

Ezra Furman

Ezra Furman
Ezra Furman performs in concert during the Festival Internacional de Benicassim on July 21, 2019 in Benicassim, Spain. (Xavi Torrent/Redferns/Getty Images)

Ezra Furman, the raggedy indie rock singer, proudly shared that she is trans and has been a mother for the last two years in April.

“I am very proud to be a trans woman and to have come to know it and be able to say it,” they said. “This has not been an easy journey.”

Irma Testa

Bronze medallist Italy's Irma Testa poses on the podium with her medal
Bronze medallist Italy’s Irma Testa poses on the podium with her medal. (AFP via Getty/ Pool/ LUIS ROBAYO)

Irma Testa, the Italian boxer who took home bronze in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, came out as queer earlier this month.

“There are still too many people discriminated against and this is not good,” she told Vanity Fair Italia. “I can’t do much, but I can by telling the truth about myself.”

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato performs onstage
Demi Lovato performs onstage during Global Citizen Live, September, 2021. (Getty for Global Citizen/ Rich Fury)

Demi Lovato, the alien-obsessed singer known for their confessional music, came out as non-binary and pansexual this year.

“Every day we wake up, we are given another opportunity and chance to be who we want and wish to be,” they tweeted.

Ronen Rubinstein

Ronen Rubenstein
Ronen Rubenstein plays TK Strand on “9-1-1: Lone Star” (Presley Ann /Getty/Entertainment Weekly)

Playing a gay man in 9-1-1: Lone Star helped actor Ronen Rubenstein to come out as bisexual this year.

“I fully identify as bisexual,” he told Variety. “I literally get goosebumps saying that.”

Chris Stuckmann

Chris Stuckmann came out as pansexual in his video: How I Left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to Pursue Filmmaking
Chris Stuckmann came out as pansexual in his video: How I Left the Jehovah’s Witnesses to Pursue Filmmaking. (Chris Stuckmann/YouTube)

Chris Stuckman, one of the most recognisable film critics on YouTube with nearly two million subscribers, said leaving the Jehovah’s Witnesses finally emboldened him to come out as pansexual.

“One of my new year’s resolutions was to be as honest about myself as possible and I have definitely kept that resolution,” he said in an hour-long video. “I don’t want anything to change. I’m still me.”

Matilda Freeman

Coronation Street star Matilda Freeman proudly comes out as bisexual
Matilda Freeman attends the British Soap Awards 2018 at Hackney Empire on 2 June 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Tristan Fewings/Getty Images)

Former Coronation Street star Matilda Freeman declared that she is bisexual during a question and answer session with fans on Instagram in June.

“Can I just say, thank you for all the love and support I’ve received after making my sexuality aware on my socials,” she wrote.

Lio Tipton

Lio Tipton
Lio Tipton has come out as queer and non-binary. (Getty/ Amanda Edwards)

America’s Next Top Model star and Crazy, Stupid Love actor Lio Tipton came out as queer and non-binary in June.

“I hope to give as much love and support back to those who continue to show love and support for the Pride community at large,” they wrote.

Nikki Hiltz

Nikki Hiltz runner trans non-binary
(Instagram/NikkiHiltz)

American elite runner Nikki Hiltz opened up about being trans and non-binary on social media to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility.

“Sometimes I wake up feeling like a powerful queen and other days I wake up feeling as if I’m just a guy being a dude, and other times I identify outside of the gender binary entirely,” she said.

Kayla Braxton

Natalie Graziano, Kayla Braxton and Ashley Sebera pose during the Bare Knuckle Fighting Championships at Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center
Kayla Braxton (C) has worked with WWE since 2016. (Alex Menendez/Getty Images)

Kayla Braxton, known out of the WWE ring as Kayla Becker, shared a bisexual flag on Twitter as she opened up about being forced into boxes as a bisexual woman.

“Tonight, I choose to be over having to choose,” she tweeted. “Hello, world. I’m Kayla. Oh. And yeah – I’m bi.”

Elvira

Actress Cassandra Peterson. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)
Actress Cassandra Peterson. (VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images)

Cassandra Peterson, known best for her punk-sultry witch persona Elvira, came out as queer in her memoir Yours Cruelly, Elvira: Memoirs of the Mistress of the Dark.

Writing about her relationship with Teresa ‘T’ Wierson, she said: “Falling in love with this beautiful, androgynous creature whold appeared on my doorstep, like an angel, just when I needed someone most.”

Shawn Bennett

WWE referee Shawn Bennett side by side images one with him in a referee's uniform and the an LGBT+ themed shirt
WWE referee Shawn Bennett came out publicly as gay in a heartwarming post on social media. (Instagram/@refbennett)

WWE referee Shawn Bennett celebrated National Coming Out Day by publicly opening up about his sexuality for the first time.

“I was convinced that I would never be successful if people knew I was gay,” he said. “Those fears that I made up in my head.”

Vesta Lugg

Vesta Lugg. (Screen capture via Twitter)
Vesta Lugg. (Screen capture via Twitter)

Vesta Lugg, a Chilean vlogger and musician followed and loved by millions, stated that she was bisexual in January.

“I think sexuality is fluid,” she said on Instagram, “and perhaps more as a child, from the information I had, I assumed that as I was always with men, therefore I was straight.”

Courtney Stodden

Courtney Stodden poses to the camera on the red carpet in a light pink shirt
TV personality Courtney Stodden. (Tommaso Boddi/WireImage)

Describing themself as a “kaleidoscope of colour“, model and television personality Courtney Stodden came out as non-binary in April.

“I’ve lived too long hiding who I really am,” they told Variety. “I’m so excited for everyone to see my true self creatively and spiritually.”

Mr Grimn

Mr Grim. (Screen capture via AEW)
Mr Grim. (Screen capture via AEW)

Wrestling’s “Hitman for Hire” Mr Grim, known out the ring as Chris Lewis, told the world in January that he is pansexual.

“For years I’ve struggled with my identity,” he tweeted. “I’ve finally gained the courage to openly express that I am pansexual.”

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