National Coming Out Day: 21 people who have come out in 2021
National Coming Out Day was created in 1988 to commemorate the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, which reportedly drew over 200,000 protesters to the nation’s capital that Oct. 11.
Over three decades later, the day has turned into an annual celebration to acknowledge LGBTQ people and to raise awareness for their ongoing fight for equality.
To honor National Coming Out Day 2021, here are 21 notable coming-out stories so far this year.
Jojo Siwa, the 18-year-old reality star turned singer, actor and YouTube sensation, broke the internet in January when she came out as a member of LGBTQ community in a series of posts on social media.
Fans first started to speculate about Siwa’s identity when she posted a video on TikTok dancing to Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way,” largely considered a gay anthem. Several days later, Siwa then confirmed that she was LGBTQ when she posted a picture of herself wearing a shirt that said “Best. Gay. Cousin. Ever.” and saying that it was a gift from her cousin.
In a September interview with TODAY.com, Siwa said she’s still figuring out how she identifies.
“I’m dating a girl; that can make me a lesbian. I’ve never really been in love with anybody or found attraction to anybody except for Kylie, and so therefore it could be demisexual. I’ve never minded who I would be with, if it would be a girl, a boy, (someone) trans,” she said. “But then I also think, so that could be pansexual. … The l-word isn’t my favorite word, but I like the q-word. I like queer; it’s kind of ... I am who I am. But I’m not like, ‘Oh my God. No, I’m not this', you know what I mean?”
The former “Dance Moms” star is currently a history-making contestant on “Dancing With the Stars,” as the first contestant in 30 seasons to dance with a person of the same sex.
Actor and singer Demi Lovato came out as nonbinary in May and said they would be changing their pronouns to they/them.
“Not only has my life been a journey for myself, I was also living for those on the other side of the cameras,” Lovato, who got their start on “Barney & Friends” and has had roles on shows like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Prison Break,” wrote on Twitter.
“Today is a day I’m so happy to share more of my life with you all — I am proud to let you know that I identify as nonbinary & will officially be changing my pronouns to they/them moving forward,” Lovato, 28, told fans.
“I feel that this best represents the fluidity I feel in my gender expression and allows me to feel most authentic and true to the person I both know I am and still am discovering,” Lovato said.
In a February interview with Time magazine, Brothers Osborne singer-guitarist TJ Osborne came out as gay, becoming the first openly gay man signed to a major country music label and one of the first mainstream country artists to come out at the prime of their career.
“I’m very comfortable being gay,” Osborne told Time. “I find myself being guarded for not wanting to talk about something that I personally don’t have a problem with. That feels so strange.”
While fans were largely supportive, a measure in Tennessee to honor Osborne was blocked by the state’s House of Representatives. The state’s House Republicans cited a procedural objection, although many believed that its history of supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation was the likelier reason for blocking the honor.
Former World Wrestling Entertainment superstar Gabbi Tuft announced on social media in February that she is transgender. In a photo posted on Instagram, Tuft posed next to an image of herself prior to her transition.
“This is me,” she wrote in the caption. “Unashamed, unabashedly me. This is the side of me that has hidden in the shadows, afraid and fearful of what the world would think; afraid of what my family, friends, and followers would say or do.”
Tuft wrestled professionally from 2007 to 2014 and appeared in WWE shows “Superstars,” “Raw,” “SmackDown” and “WrestleMania.” Since then, she began a career as a fitness coach and has gotten to spend more time with her wife and daughter, according to a press release announcing Tuft’s coming out.
“I never expected to have an ear-to-ear smile for the last 24 hours, but I can’t get the smile off my face,” she told NBC News shortly after coming out. “It’s from the heart, and it’s from the soul, and I never expected to feel this elated.”
R&B singer-songwriter Kehlani revealed that she identifies as a lesbian in April after formerly coming out as queer in 2018.
“I am gay, gay, gay. … I finally know I’m a lesbian,” she said in the now-deleted video, captured by Pop Crave.
Actor Ronen Rubenstein, who plays gay character T.K. Strand on Fox’s “9-1-1: Lone Star,” told Variety in April that he identifies as bisexual.
The 27-year-old actor, who was born in Israel and raised on New York's Staten Island, told Variety that he struggled to reveal his sexuality because LGBTQ people were “not welcomed” where he came from.
“It’s either you faced insane amounts of profanity — like the F-word was thrown around all the time — or you would get your a-- kicked if you were gay. So there was definitely a fear of sort of embracing how I felt. I was definitely more aware of it in high school. I was aware of my feelings and how I started looking at men, but I couldn’t talk to anybody about it.”
Former “Bachelor” star and NFL player Colton Underwood shocked fans when he revealed that he is gay in a taped interview on ABC's “Good Morning America” in April.
“I’ve ran from myself for a long time, I’ve hated myself for a long time. And I’m gay, and I came to terms with that earlier this year, and I’ve been processing it and the next step in all of this was sort of letting people know,” Underwood, 29, told anchor Robin Roberts.
Underwood added that he knew he was gay in his freshman year of high school, but his Catholic upbringing and affinity for sports made him suppress his sexuality.
Shortly after coming out, Underwood was reported to be filming a Netflix documentary on his coming out experience, which the media behemoth has not publicly commented on.
YouTube star Gigi Gorgeous came out as pansexual in April in a video posted to her YouTube account titled “coming out for the last time … ” In her video, the blonde bombshell opened up about coming out for the fourth time.
“I came out as gay before I transitioned. I came out as transgender and then I came out as gay again,” she said. “Honestly, those are some of, if not my best, favorite memories. Searching deep within myself, finding out something different and putting a label on it.”
Gigi described her interpretation of pansexual as “falling in love with the soul of somebody,” she said. “I think that that’s one of the most beautiful things ever. It’s profound and amazing to me. When I finally clicked with it and felt it ... it was definitely a lightbulb moment.”
WWE’s “Friday Night SmackDown” correspondent and interviewer Kayla Braxton came out as bisexual on her now-deleted Twitter account.
“My whole life, I’ve had to choose. Are you black? Are you white? Which bubble do you fill in on the SATs? I always filled in 'other' because nothing applied to me,” Braxton wrote. “Tonight, I choose to be over having to choose. Hello world. I’m Kayla. Oh. And yeah — I’m Bi.”
“American Idol” runner-up David Archuleta revealed in June that he is part of the LGBTQ community.
“I like to keep to myself but also thought this was important to share because I know so many other people from religious upbringings feel the same way,” Archuleta, 30, said in an Instagram post. “I’ve been open to myself and my close family for some years now that I am not sure about my own sexuality.”
Archuleta, who finished second in the seventh season of “American Idol,” said at the time that he originally came out to his family as gay in 2014, but that he is not sure how he identifies today.
In an August interview with TODAY.com, Archuleta said that a conversation he had with God pushed him to come out publicly.
“When I had that prayer, God just said, ‘David, you know I trust you, right? I want you to post about what you’re going through right now.’ And it was just so clear what I needed to say. I knew exactly what I needed to say, but I feel uncomfortable saying it, because I like to keep to myself — especially with this kind of stuff. But I just knew I had to.”
Michaela Kennedy Cuomo, the youngest daughter of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Kerry Kennedy, came out as queer during Pride Month.
“To those who are contending with the compulsive heterosexuality our society force feeds us and innate attraction beyond cis het folks, please know that you are not alone,” Kennedy Cuomo, 24, wrote on Instagram, accompanied with two photos.
“To those who have yet to claim their sexual identity due to fear of physical, psychological, or financial safety, please know that you are unconditionally worthy of love and support.”
In June, the former three-term governor, who resigned in August after a slew of sexual harassment allegations, told NBC News via email, “I love, support and couldn’t have more pride in Michaela.”
Las Vegas Raiders’ defensive end Carl Nassib came out as gay in June making him the first active NFL player to come out publicly.
“I just wanted to take a quick moment to say that I’m gay,” Nassib, 28, said in a video he posted on Instagram. “I’ve been meaning to do this for a while now, but I finally feel comfortable enough to get it off my chest.”
He added, “I hope that one day videos like this and the whole coming out process are just not necessary.”
In his first official interview since coming out, Nassib revealed last month that he wanted to establish himself in the league prior to coming out and that the decision wasn’t rooted in a desire to make history in the league.
“I didn’t really do it to break barriers,” he said. “I did it because I felt an obligation to the LGBTQ community to bring representation and bring visibility to a very, very popular entertainment business, to a very very popular industry that doesn’t have a lot of representation.”
Queen of Halloween, Elvira, also known as actor Cassandra Peterson, revealed in her September memoir that she's been in a nearly two-decade relationship with a woman.
In a September interview with People magazine, Peterson, who has long been considered a gay icon and started her career as a drag queen in a Colorado nightclub, said she was worried that her LGBTQ fans would be disappointed with her when she came out.
"I was thinking, ‘Are they going to think I’m a big hypocrite?’ And that I talk about coming out, being who you are, and then I’m hiding this gigantic secret," she said,
But since coming out, the LGBTQ community "without exception, has been so supportive and sweet," she added.
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” breakout star Laganja Estranja came out as a transgender woman in June, during an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
“There are so many other women around me who’ve inspired me to come forward today, and it’s because of their fight and their struggle that I’m able to really do this and say that I’m nervous, but I’m not scared,” the 32-year-old told EW. “I’m not going to live my life in fear anymore.”
Lio Tipton, best known for 2011's “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and for competing in “America’s Next Top Model,” came out as queer and nonbinary in June.
“I am proud to announce I am queer and I identify as non binary,” Tipton shared with their over 140,000 followers on Instagram. “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.”
Canadian figure skater Kaitlyn Weaver announced in a June post on Instagram that she is queer.
“I’m shaking writing this message, but knowing that I’m moving in a loving, authentic, and compassionate way feels right,” the 32-year-old said. “You all know me — I follow my heart, and that always leads me to the right place. I’m ready to move forward living, loving, and being honest with all of my identity.”
Several days later, Weaver explained in an interview with media outlet them.us that her stepmother’s passing in 2020 had a strong influence on her decision to come out.
“It was unexpected, and it reminded me that the world is changing and moving quickly, yet I’m still sitting here afraid of what people are going to say, or how that’s going to change my trajectory, or what people might think of me,” Weaver said. “I’ve dreamed about telling her, but unfortunately, she passed away, and I knew something had to change.”
Tommy Dorfman, who stars in the show “13 Reasons Why,” came out as transgender in an interview with Time in July. Dorfman, 29, told the magazine that she sees the concept of “coming out” as funny, because “I haven’t gone anywhere.”
“I view today as a reintroduction to me as a woman, having made a transition medically. Coming out is always viewed as this grand reveal, but I was never not out. Today is about clarity: I am a trans woman,” she explained.
Dorfman, who plays the male role of Ryan Shaver in the controversial Netflix show, told the magazine that she’s excited to take on female roles in the future.
Nashville Predators’ Luke Prokop announced he is gay in July, making him the first openly gay active NHL player when the season began this month.
“It has been quite the journey to get to this point in my life, but I cannot be happier with my decision to come out,” Prokop, a 19-year-old Canadian, said in a post on Twitter at the time.
“From a young age I have dreamed of being an NHL player, and I believe that living my authentic life will allow me to bring my whole self to the rink and improve my chances of fulfilling my dreams.”
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman thanked Prokop at the time “for sharing his truth and for being so brave.”
“I share his hope that these announcements can become more common in the hockey community,” Bettman said. “LGBTQ players, coaches and staff can only perform at their absolute best if they live their lives as their full and true selves. We do not take the meaning and importance of this announcement lightly.”
Emmy-winning actor Emma Corrin, best known for her role as Princess Diana in Netflix’s “The Crown,” came out as queer in April. In a post on Instagram, Corrin captioned an image of her wearing a Miu Miu wedding gown: “ur fave queer bride.”
Corrin said in an August interview with ITV’s Granada Reports that she’s “still not sure” how she identifies.
“There’s no fixed identity, especially for, like, people in the queer community,” she said. “It’s going to be an ongoing journey, but yeah, I hope that sharing (my truth) helps people.”
Cunningham, best known for her viral “Leave Britney Alone!” video, in which she tearfully defended pop singer Britney Spears in 2007, came out as transgender in August.
“Tomorrow is my appointment for hormone replacement therapy. It’s been 33 years coming and I’m happy to be in a place where I can embrace who I am,” Cunningham said on Instagram. “I have put my identity and personal happiness aside for so long, out of fear of rejection or me not wanting to embarrass my family.”
Professional wrestler Chris Lewis, better known by his wrestling stage name, Mr. Grim, told fans on Twitter in January that he is pansexual.
“For years, I’ve struggled with my identity, too worried about how others would feel or think about me,” Lewis wrote. “I’ve finally gained the courage to openly express that I’m pansexual.”