Notable Figures Who Came Out in 2017

by Torie Dominguez


Monday January 1, 2018

This past year, more personalities stepped out into the light and professed their sexual orientation. From pop stars to athletes, the rainbow got a little bit larger with them included. Here are some of those faces in the news.

Aaron Carter

Onetime child pop sensation Carter, who ruled the airwaves at age 12 with his hit single "I Want Candy" (2000), came out as bisexual in an emotional Twitter post in August. After living with his sexuality "weighing on my chest for nearly half of my life," he wrote, having spoken openly he is now "really looking forward to the future."

Alia Shawkat

The 28-year-old actress, best known as droll rebel Maeby Funke in cult favorite "Arrested Development," has come a long way since her portrayal of an adolescent in love with her own cousin. Shawkat discussed gender, sexuality and gravitating toward queer roles with Out magazine, saying: "Now I consider myself bisexual, and I think balancing my male and female energies has been a big part of me growing as an actor."

Barry Manilow

Music legend Manilow, whose sexuality has long been the subject of speculation, confirmed in a People magazine interview that he was gay - and had been in a relationship with manager and now-husband Garry Kief since the late 1970s. Despite previous fears that he "would be disappointing them" by coming out, he describes fans' reactions to the news as "so beautiful."

Cody Alan

A popular host on both Country Music Television and CMT Radio, 44-year-old Alan shared on Facebook that he could no longer "live with this layer of misery underneath that happy face on TV." Though his coming out as gay may run counter to the conservative image of his business, the presenter later commented to People magazine that "country music is so diverse and perhaps the most supportive music industry that exists."

Daniel Newman

The emerging star of AMC's "The Walking Dead" discussed his sexuality in a post on YouTube before further addressing the topic in a People interview. Newman, 36, says he wants to take advantage of the "huge platform" he has been given through his role on the cable TV phenomenon. Despite his conservative upbringing, the actor asserts, "I'm proud of who I am."

Natalie Morales

In a lengthy essay published on Amy Poehler's Smart Girls website, the "Parks and Recreation" star related her emotional journey from a Catholic schoolgirl who "thought something was really wrong with [her]" to a popular actress diligent about guarding her privacy - with the exception of the trait of which she was once so ashamed. "I don't like labeling myself, or anyone else," she says, "but if it's easier to understand me, what I'm saying is that I'm queer." Morales writes that she feels an obligation to speak in the face of anti-LGBTQ violence around the world: "Things are still pretty bad out there for people like me."

Ryan O'Callaghan

The former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle got candid with Outsports, describing a youth and young adulthood using football as "a great place to hide" his orientation. O'Callaghan discussed wrestling with his knowledge of himself as a gay man, an ordeal that eventually led him to plan his suicide. But counseling gave him the courage to share his secret, first with a close friend who confronted him about his self-destructive behavior, and eventually with the world. Where the dread of being outed once dominated his life, O'Callaghan says, he now takes his identity for granted: "It rarely crosses my mind."

Shannon Purser

"Stranger Things" doomed BFF Barb and recurring "Riverdale" guest star Purser shared in a series of Twitter posts that she has recently come out as bisexual to those close to her, and that she is "still processing and trying to understand." The 19-year-old spoke of her ongoing struggle to reconcile her sexuality with her Christian faith, revealing that coming to terms with this new aspect of her identity "can be really scary."

Thomas Dekker

"Heroes" star Dekker, who also costarred in 2016 gay romantic drama "Do You Take This Man," took to Instagram to confirm his sexuality after being obliquely outed by writer-producer Bryan Fuller. "While it is an odd situation, I thank him," Dekker writes, "because it presents a prime opportunity for me to publicly say that I am indeed a man who proudly loves other men. In fact, this April I married my husband and I could not be happier."

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