As we all know, coming out carries with it certain complications, which are often exacerbated by our environment. Celebrities are unique, however, because of their constant position in the public eye, and their ability to influence society and culture. For the celebrities below, listed in no particular order, their chosen career and passion is yet another complication they must face.
Many sports are traditionally hyper-masculine displays of machismo, but perhaps none more so than boxing. Featherweight boxer Cruz, who was ranked second by the World Boxing Organization in November, is the first boxer to come out while still active in the sport. The 31-year-old Puerto Rican native came out in early October after several years of struggling with his sexuality. Cruz said in an interview with Der Spiegel that the act of hiding his sexuality consumed an incredible amount of energy — energy that he would rather put into his training. Before his official coming out, Cruz was taunted by spectators at the 2008 World Championship title bout in Puerto Rico where they called him a faggot and encouraged his opponent to “pluck his feathers,” (a slur in the area is to call a gay man a duck). Backed by a close support system of friends and family, his manager and other boxers, Cruz’s coming out has largely been positive.
Actor Matt Bomer, best known for his role as sly and handsome con artist Neal Caffrey in USA Network’s White Collar, took a different approach to coming out. Bomer avoided questions about his sexuality from the press, neither confirming nor denying rumors. In a 2010 interview with Details, when asked if all the speculation about his sexuality bothered him, he simply replied, “I don’t care about that at all. I’m completely happy and fulfilled in my personal life.” Bomer is also known for his charity work, and, while accepting an activism award for his work against HIV and AIDS at the Steve Chase Humanitarian Awards in February, chose that moment to affirm his sexuality. The actor closed his acceptance speech by thanking his partner and their three children, and went on to say, “Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment.”
Megan Rapinoe, while busy turning heads with her trademark bleach-blonde hair and exuberant personality and play style, felt obligated to come out as a lesbian. In an interview with OUT, she said, “I feel like sports in general are still homophobic, in the sense that not a lot of people are out. I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want — they need — to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.” The 27-year-old midfielder currently plays for the Seattle Sounders Women, but also helped the U.S. team take the Gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics Women where she and the team redeemed their loss to Japan at 2011’s World Cup. In November, the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center awarded Rapinoe the Board of Directors Award for being a LGBT role model in sports. In speaking of the barriers the LGBT community faces, Rapinoe said, “I think more people in general need to come out. Until that happens, we can’t expect all these barriers to be broken down.”
Anderson Cooper is a busy man. The Emmy award-winning journalist hosts Anderson Cooper 360o, works as a correspondent for 60 Minutes, and until recently even hosted his own talk show, Anderson Live. Cooper had said in the past that discussing his personal life would undermine his work as a journalist, and considering the places his work has taken him, potentially endanger his life. The announcement came in an email with writer/blogger Andrew Sullivan. “The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud. Like others on this list, Cooper felt that visibility is key, saying, “I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible.”
Hip-hop star Frank Ocean’s career is still in its early days, yet the 25-year-old has gained notoriety for writing songs for Justin Bieber, John Legend, and Beyoncé, as well as his debut album, Channel Orange, which garnered rave reviews from Spin, Rolling Stone, and The Guardian. Ocean also gained national attention for a letter he posted on his blog, in which he discussed his previous love with another man. Ocean has since avoided labeling his sexuality definitively, saying in a GQ interview, “You can’t feel a box. You can’t feel a label. Don’t get caught up in that shit…” Genre mainstays Russell Simons, Jay-Z, Beyoncé, and Tyler, The Creator, whom Ocean collaborates with in the collective Odd Future, have all shown him support. Much like with boxer Orlando Cruz, Ocean may be the start of a much larger movement to come.