They Came Out in ’12
Although Anderson Cooper’s July coming out occurred smack dab in the middle of 2012, his simple admission in an email to Andrew Sullivan (“The fact is, I’m gay”) set the tone for what turned out to be the Annum Mirabilis (great year) for LGBT rights.
There were many newsmakers whose coming out stories made headlines this year; these 15 had memorable—and, we think, enduring—personal “outings.”
Gillian Anderson: “X” Marks the Spot
The 1990s cultural icon that was “The X-Files” established Fox as a solid fourth network, and launched the career of prim but powerful ginger actress Gillian Anderson, who as Agent Dana Scully became a favorite among gay audiences, male and female. In March, Anderson admitted a gay relationship in high school, one which persisted “for a long time.”
Her acknowledgement of an early same-sex relationship came after the death of her high school love, of which Anderson said, “I felt like I was honoring her memory in some way simply by admitting its existence.”
Sheriff Paul Babeu: Just the Facts
A poster child for the Modern West (and the Modern Right), Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu coming out was more like the crashing open of a jell cell than a closet door. The right-wing foe of undocumented workers was pushed out in February, when his ex-boyfriend—who was himself an undocumented Mexican immigrant—accused Babeu of threatening to deport him.
Admitting his sexual orientation but denying the accusations, Babeu was reelected Sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona last month.
Anderson Cooper: “Other People’s Stories”
When he gave permission for Andrew Sullivan to write in his—Anderson Cooper’s—words, “The fact is, I’m gay,” the CNN anchor and son of the storied Gloria Vanderbilt was acknowledging one of America’s worst-kept secrets. Cooper explained that as a journalist, “[I] prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own.”
But he recognized that a greater good would be accomplished by taking matters out in the open. “I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle,” the 45 year old Emmy-winner said, adding, “I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.”
Drake Jensen: Country Boy Can Survive
“As a child, I always knew there was something different about me above and beyond the gay thing,” Canadian country singer Drake Jensen told fans in February. Jensen fired from both barrels this spring when he came out and introduced his husband to fans by way of his video for Jensen’s single, “On My Way to Finding You.”
The video was dedicated to Jamie Hubley, a gay Ottawa teen who was bullied and committed suicide.
“I’m a homosexual musician telling my story through songs and spreading the message of love,” said Jensen. “In a perfect world, what could be wrong with that?”
Frank Ocean: Making Waves
Singer-songwriter Frank Ocean declared his independence on July 4, in an open letter on Tumblr in which he told of his first true love, which was for another man when he was 19 years old. Ocean thanked his family and friends, writing, “I don’t know what happens now, and that’s alrite [sic]. I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore…I feel like a free man.”
In response, hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons applauded the 25 year old musician. “Today is a big day for hip-hop. It is a day that will define who we really are,” he wrote. “How compassionate will we be? How loving can we be? How inclusive are we?” To Ocean, he added, “Your decision to go public about your sexual orientation gives hope and light to so many young people still living in fear.”
Shaun T: Controlled “Insanity”
Fitness guru Shaun T. (for “Thompson”) came out in October, announcing his marriage to partner Scott Blokker. The chiseled 34 year old trainer has an impressive physique, and an impressive testimonial list, including former Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan, who credits Shaun’s “Insanity” workout DVDs with whipping his own body into better shape than his campaign.
Lee “Uncle Poodle” Thompson: A Gay Heart and a “Redneck”
TLC network’s “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo” made stars out of 7 year old beauty contestant Alana Thompson and her family, including the 7 year old’s uncle, named Lee but better known as “Uncle Poodle.” Unapologetically out, Uncle Poodle is even less apologetic about his rural Georgia roots.
“I’m gay, but I’m as redneck as I can get,” Poodle howled. “If you want people to accept you, you have to show you don’t have a problem with yourself and just be up front about who you are. If you do, you earn people’s respect.”
Lana Wachowski: Leaving Larry Behind
For more than a decade, rumors had persisted that Lana, the older of the Wachowski filmmaking siblings—who was still identifying as “Larry”—was transitioning gender from male to female. Reports indicated that Lana completed her transition after the filming of 2008’s “Speed Racer.”
Lana made her first public appearance after transitioning in July, appearing in a special features video for the film “Cloud Atlas.” When she received the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Visibility Award in October, she acknowledged a contemplating suicide when she was young.
After accepting the honor, she said, “I wasn’t talking so much about myself. I was thinking about someone who was like me when I was young, feeling that I was fulfilling the example that I was looking for when I was young.”
Follow Northstar to Freedom
Although Marvel Comics introduced superhero Northstar in 1979, a few years later, comic creator John Byrne decided it was time for the character to come out of the caped closet. But Marvel’s editorial policies against openly-out characters meant another 20 years would pass before Northstar would announce in 1992, “I am gay.”
In place in the June 27 issue of Astonishing X-Men #51, Northstar (whose secret identity is Canadian Jean-Paul Beaubier) tied the knot with his long-time boyfriend, Kyle Jinadu.
Green Lantern Comes Out—with a Vengeance
When DC Comics rebooted its fictional universe, publishing executives hinted that a same-sex superhero would soon be gracing the streets of Gotham. Little did fanboys realize that the “New 52” would include a re-imagined Green Lantern who spoke the love that now couldn’t be stopped speaking its name, even in print comics.
Alan Scott—a formerly married father of two, who first appeared in print in 1940—was re-launched this year as a gay man with a same-sex partner. During a trip to China with his boyfriend, Sam, the train they are on crashes, killing Sam within minutes of a marriage proposal. After the tragedy, the newly-created Green Lantern (whose powers emanate from the charged-up engagement ring) vows vengeance against the perpetrator—a militant champion for a newly-empowered age.