In a time when LGBTQ people are facing , queer visibility is as important as it has ever been.
After years of , 2017 felt in many ways like at the national level. Against that political backdrop, seeing queer actors, artists and other celebrities share their authentic selves was all the more empowering.
The year saw some celebs, like legendary singer-songwriter , express who they truly are in high-profile, impactful interviews. Others, like “13 Reasons Why” star and “True Blood” actress , used social media in creative and powerful ways to open up about their sexualities.
Regardless of the paths they took, however, these famous faces helped influence the global conversation on queer acceptance by sharing their journeys.
Below, check out 21 celeb coming out stories of 2017. Each one was a standout moment, and we congratulate them on taking this important step.
- Aaron Carter Rob Kim via Getty Images The pop singer said he felt like “a weight and a burden” had been lifted as in August.
In an emotional post on Twitter, the 30-year-old star revealed he “started to find boys and girls attractive” as a teen, and had “an experience with a male” who he “worked with and grew up with.”
Carter elaborated with the LGBTQ&A podcast, saying, “I definitely embrace my bisexuality and, you know, it’s still new to me because I just started talking about it, really.”
- Rutina Wesley Jason LaVeris via Getty Images The “True Blood” actress revealed her engagement to her girlfriend, a New Orleans woman who goes by the name of , in posted to Instagram in November.
Wesley, 38, appeared to reference Shonda as “the light of my life” and the “fire of my loins” in the caption accompanying the post. The photo series concluded with a close-up of an engagement ring, though Wesley did not use the terms “gay,” “lesbian” or “bisexual” in her posts.
- Brandon Flynn George Pimentel via Getty Images The “13 Reasons Why” star identified himself as on in September when he made a case for marriage equality in Australia.
“We’ve been scared shitless our whole lives, thanks to all the stigmas that surround us,” the 24-year-old . “Equality takes courage, it worries me that too many people in this world lack the balls to stand up for what is right.”
Since then, he‘s been to singer-songwriter Sam Smith.
- Teddy Quinlivan Christian Vierig via Getty Images The model capped off a busy New York Fashion Week in September by in .
Quinlivan, 23, began her transition at 16, but decided to open up about her gender identity publicly because of “the political climate in the world right now ― particularly in the United States.”
“If being transgender is something that gets attached to my name throughout my career, then it’s for a worthy cause. But I look forward to the day when it doesn’t matter,” . “The transgender community needs more visibility. And with more visibility will come more acceptance.”
- Barry Manilow Mario Anzuoni / Reuters The legendary singer-songwriter in with People magazine, confirming his three-year marriage to husband Garry Kief.
Manilow, 74, said he‘d opted not to come out earlier in his career because he was concerned about how his legions of fans — dubbed “”– would react.
“I thought I would be disappointing them if they knew I was gay. So I never did anything,” .
- Shannon Purser Amanda Edwards via Getty Images The “Stranger Things” and “Riverdale” actress in May.
“I’ve only recently come out as bisexual to my family and friends,” Purser, 20, wrote in a poignant tweet. “It’s something I am still processing and trying to understand and I don’t like talking about it too much. I’m very very new to the LGBT community.”
- Haaz Sleiman Trevor Adeline via Getty Images In August, in an emotional video as part of a personal effort to combat violence against the LGBTQ community.
The “Nurse Jackie” and “Killing Jesus” actor, 41, announced that he was “a gay, Muslim, Arab-American man” in the video, but didn‘t stop there.
“Not only am I gay, but I’m also a bottom,” he added in the clip, which was posted to his social media accounts on Aug. 22. “Not only am I a bottom, but I’m also a total bottom, which means I like it up you know where.”
- Thomas Dekker Michael Tran via Getty Images The “Heroes” actor on Twitter in July, but suggested he was inspired to do so after a “prominent gay man” outed him.
The 32-year-old described himself as a “man who proudly loves other men” in a short essay he included with his tweet. He also revealed that he’d married his husband in April.
- Keiynan Lonsdale Cindy Ord via Getty Images The 25-year-old who plays Wally West (a.k.a. Kid Flash) on the hit CW show “The Flash,” in a powerful Instagram post in May.
“I like to take risks with how I dress, I like girls, & I like guys (yes), I like growing, I like learning, I like who I am and I really like who I’m becoming,” he wrote in the post.
Lonsdale, who grew up in Australia and also starred in the ABC series “Dance Academy” and the blockbuster “Divergent: Allegiant,” was inundated by messages of support on social media.
- Hanne Gaby Odiele Jared Siskin via Getty Images The Belgian model and fashion star in January.
“I have reached a point in my life where I feel ready to share this important part of who I am,” the 29-year-old, who has modeled for the likes of Chanel and Alexander Wang, said. “It is time for intersex people to come out of the shadows, claim our status, let go of shame, and speak out against the unnecessary and harmful surgeries many of us were subjected to as children.”
Intersex children are frequently forced to undergo “corrective” surgery as infants to assign them as either male or female, a controversial practice that many medical professionals have condemned.
- Jordan Gavaris Steve Mack via Getty Images The “Orphan Black” star came out as gay with New York Magazine‘s Vulture blog.
The 27-year-old star, who plays the “” Felix Dawkins, seemed a bit surprised to be questioned about his sexual orientation.
“Nobody ever asks me,” he said. “I’ve never been asked.”
- Natalie Morales Jason LaVeris via Getty Images The “Parks and Rec” actress celebrated LGBTQ Pride Month in June by in a.
The 32-year-old star noted that she is “not attracted specifically to any type of gender,” but instead is “attracted to people.”
“I don’t like labeling myself, or anyone else but if it’s easier for you to understand me, what I’m saying is that I’m queer,” . “What queer means to me is just simply that I’m not straight. That’s all. It’s not scary, even though that word used to be really, really scary to me.”
- Dan Amboyer CJ Rivera via Getty Images The “Younger” actor , Eric Berger, in October, and came out as gay in the process.
Amboyer, 32, had been in a relationship with Berger for 10 years, but had not spoken publicly about his sexuality before. that he‘d been “strongly advised” to “stay quiet” about his personal life as he established himself as an actor.
Moving forward, Amboyer said he wants to live his live “with integrity and pride,” citing openly gay stars Matt Bomer and Zachary Quinto as his inspirations.
- Gia Gunn Gabriel Olsen via Getty Images The “RuPaul‘s Drag Race” star marked Trans Day of Visibility (March 31) by .
“I thought I would dedicate today in the spirit of being visible to share my transition with all of you,” the 27-year-old . “I have been on hormone replacement therapy now for about a year and I identify as female.”
Gunn joined “Drag Race” veterans and in going public about her gender identity after appearing on the show.
- Cody Alan Gustavo Caballero via Getty Images The country singer and CMT host in January, an important step in a musical genre lacking significant representation from the LGBTQ community.
“This is not a choice I made, but something I’ve known about myself my whole life,” Alan, 44, . “Through life’s twists and turns, marriage, divorce, fatherhood, successes, failures — I’ve landed on this day, a day when I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been.”
In September, , Trea Smith, while on vacation in Jamaica.
- Greyson Chance Gabriel Olsen via Getty Images In July, the 20-year-old musician .
Chance, who became an internet sensation after performing Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” at a school talent show went viral, explained that he has known he’s gay since he was 16 but “decided not to publicize my sexuality largely due to a matter of privacy, as I was still trying to find comfort and confidence within my own skin.”
Chance, who released a single, “Seasons,” in June, also had a message for others grappling with their sexuality.
“While this message is most definitely overdue, I encourage anyone who is navigating their sexuality to devote as much time as they need to the process of finding self-confidence, self-acceptance, and self-love,” he wrote.
- Alia Shawkat Roy Rochlin via Getty Images The “Arrested Development” and “Search Party” star that she identifies as bisexual.
“I think balancing my male and female energies has been a big part of me growing as an actor,” the 28-year-old, who is at work on a queer-themed film, said. “As a woman, an Arab-American, and a member of the LGBTQ community, I have to use whatever voice I have.”
- iLoveMakonnen Randy Shropshire via Getty Images The 28-year-old rapper , adding his name to a growing roster of hip-hop artists who are in a musical genre not typically viewed as queer inclusive.
“As a fashion icon, I can‘t tell u about everybody else‘s closet,” he wrote in a Jan. 20 tweet. “I can only tell u about mine, and it‘s time I‘ve come out.”
He added, “And since y‘all love breaking news, here‘s some old news to break, I‘m gay. And now I‘ve told u about my life, maybe u can go life yours.”
- Gavin Russom Johnny Louis via Getty Images The LCD Soundsystem vocalist and synth player in July.
The 43-year-old opened up about her identity for the first time with Grindr‘s publication, INTO.
“This is my fifth decade being alive,” she explained, “and in each of those decades, there’s been a time where I’ve tried to say, ‘Hey, I think I’m transgender!’ This was even before that word existed.”
For now, she’ll continue to go by “Gavin,” but said that may change in the future.
- Gordon Thomson Paul Archuleta via Getty Images The “Dynasty” actor in September, almost 30 years after his iconic show went off the air.
The 72-year-old, who played the homophobic villain Adam Carrington in the ’80s soap opera, came out as gay with the Daily Beast. His secrecy, he said, was tied to the times.
“When I was growing up it [homosexuality] was a crime, and then classified as a mental illness … so you’re dealing with that,” . “And the shame, the breathtaking lack of self-esteem, has only just begun to seep out of my soul.”
- Daniel Newman Leon Bennett via Getty Images In April, the “Walking Dead” actor , coming out to fans as bisexual on his social media platforms.
Newman, 36, said he felt compelled to come out after volunteering at a shelter for homeless LGBTQ youth.
“When you are accomplishing incredible things and you’re hiding who you are, you’re hurting hundreds of millions of people,” . “So, by us staying quiet, we’re partially to blame for kids getting beat up and ridiculed, stereotypes and stigmas.”