10 Memorable Celebrity Coming Out Moments

How celebrities chose to reveal their sexuality to the world.

ByABC News
October 30, 2013, 11:03 AM
Neil Patrick Harris, second from left, and partner David Burtka are joined by their children, Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, left, and Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris, as they attend the Los Angeles premiere of the film "The Smurfs 2."
Neil Patrick Harris, second from left, and partner David Burtka are joined by their children, Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, left, and Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris, as they attend the Los Angeles premiere of the film "The Smurfs 2."
Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Oct. 30, 2013— -- intro: While it may seem there's never been a better time for stars to come out of the closet, Neil Patrick Harris cautions that the process remains extremely personal.

"It's a super-individual thing," the "How I Met Your Mother" star told HuffPost Live Monday. "I don't think (coming out) in an exploitative way makes sense. I just feel like that whole world is very personal."

"Here's a good analogy -- if you're going to jump into the pool and you're not sure how to swim, it's probably not so effective to just push someone into the pool," he said.

Harris went public with his sexuality in 2006 in part because of his budding relationship with now-partner David Burtka.

"For me, I fell in love with a dude and started spending all my time with him. And therefore, you don't want to be suppressive of that," Harris said. "I didn't want to disrespect David. I didn't want to make David feel like he didn't exist in my life, and at the same time I didn't want David's identity to be, 'The guy that's dating me.'"

"It's a very individual thing," Harris said.

Harris and Burtka have been together nine years and are now parents to twins Harper and Gideon. They announced their engagement in 2011.

"People seem less concerned about who you're f*****g, and more importantly [about] who you fall in love with," he said.

Click through to read about other celebrities who made the decision to go public and their memorable coming out stories.

quicklist:title: Wentworth Millertext: Former "Prison Break" star Wentworth Miller, 41, came out as gay in August in a letter to the St. Petersburg International Film Festival, in which he declined an invitation to be a "guest of honor" at the Russian event. Miller said he was refusing the invite because he is a "gay man."

"I am deeply troubled by the current attitude toward and treatment of gay men and women by the Russian government," he wrote in the letter. "The situation is in no way acceptable, and I cannot in good conscience participate in a celebratory occasion hosted by a country where people like myself are being systematically denied their basic right to live and love openly."

Later, the "Resident Evil: Afterlife" star spoke publicly about trying to commit suicide at 15 while struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. "Growing up, I was a target," the actor said at an event for the Human Rights Campaign in September. media: 20033116

quicklist:title: Raven-Symonetext: In early August, child star Raven-Symone seemed to put an end to long-term speculation about her sexuality when she tweeted after the Supreme Court struck down California's anti-gay marriage Prop 8, "I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you." The 27-year-old former Cheetah Girl also retweeted a follower who said, "She been out, momma just didn't have time for [nonsense]," in response to someone's else tweet, "You better come out sis."

Last year, Raven-Symone told the world to back off her sex life after she began living with openly gay actress and model AzMarie Livingston, writing in a series of tweets, "I'm living my personal life the way I'm happiest. I'm not one, in my 25 year career, to disclose who I'm dating. And I shall not start now. My sexual orientation is mine, and the person I'm datings to know. I'm not one for a public display of my life.

"However that is my right as a human being whether straight or gay. To tell or not to tell. As long as I'm not harming anyone...And my career is the only thing I would like to put on display, not my personal life," she said.media: 20728537

quicklist:title: Frank Oceantext: Last year, hip hop artist Frank Ocean revealed on his Tumblr that his first love was a man. "4 summers ago, I met somebody," the singer wrote. "I was 19 years old. He was too. We spent that summer, and the summer after, together. Every day almost. And on the days we were together, time would glide. Most of the day I'd see him, and his smile.

"Sleep I would often share with him. By the time I realized I was in love, it was malignant. It was hopeless. There was no escaping, no negotiating to the women I had been with, the ones I cared for and thought I was in love with," he wrote.

Later, Ocean told GQ about his decision to come out as a bisexual, "There's just some magic in truth and honesty and openness."media: 18459161

quicklist:title: Jodie Fostertext: After leading the audience at the Golden Globes in January to expect a big coming out announcement, Jodie Foster said, "I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back, in the Stone Age."

"Now, apparently, I'm told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference … You guys might be surprised, but I'm not Honey Boo Boo Child," she added.

The two-time Academy Award winner also thanked the "deepest love of her life," her "ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life," Cydney Bernard. Co-parents to sons Charles and Kit, Bernard and Foster called it quits after 20 years in 2008. media: 20441547

quicklist: title: Jason Collinstext: In April, Washington Wizards center Jason Collins became the first openly gay athlete in a major American team sport when he revealed his homosexuality in an article published on Sports Illustrated's website. "I'm a 34-year-old NBA center. I'm black. And I'm gay," Collins wrote in the Sports Illustrated article.

After the article was published, Collins received tremendous support for his announcement from the White House, the NBA and current and former teammates. He told ABC News, "It's incredible. You just try to live an honest, genuine life and next thing you know you have the president calling you."media: 20728786

quicklist:title: Chely Wrighttext: With the release of her memoir in May 2010, Chely Wright became the first country music star to publicly come out. "My truth is I'm gay," she told ABC News. "My truth is that I hid my homosexuality for my entire career." Wright said as a young girl she tried to pray it away and later she tried dating men and even contemplated suicide.

Finally she decided being truthful was the only way. "I know the sin for me is to lie and I've been lying my whole life," she told ABC News, adding that she hoped her book would help others. "I feel I have a responsibility to stand up because I can," she said, even at the risk of losing fans. "I know I will be OK." media: 20729077

quicklist:title: Don Lemontext: CNN anchor Don Lemon used his 2011 memoir "Transparent" to come out publicly, telling The New York Times, "I abhor hypocrisy. I think if you're going to be in the business of news, and telling people the truth, of trying to shed light in dark places, then you've got to be honest. You've got to have the same rules for yourself as you do for everyone else."

Though his colleagues at CNN were always aware of his sexuality, Lemon admitted he was uncertain how the public would react. "I'm scared," he told the Times. "I'm talking about something that people might shun me for, ostracize me for.

"It's about the worst thing you can be in black culture. You're taught you have to be a man; you have to be masculine. In the black community they think you can pray the gay away," he added.media: 20728664

quicklist:title: Ricky Martintext: After years of speculation, Latin singer Ricky Martin announced her was gay on his website in March 2010. "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am," Martin wrote, adding that his twin sons inspired him to live openly.

"To keep living as I did up until today would be to indirectly diminish the glow that my kids were born with," Martin wrote. "These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed."media: 20729103

quicklist:title: Ellen DeGenerestext: Talk host Ellen DeGeneres was one of the first stars to come out publicly in 1997 on her then sitcom "Ellen" as well as the cover of TIME with the headline, "Yep, I'm gay." In the magazine, she declared, "Now, I feel completely comfortable with myself, and I don't have to be fearful about something damaging my career if it gets out, because now I'm in control of it -- sort of."

Since then, DeGeneres has seen her career and personal life take off. She married actress Portia de Rossi married in 2008.media: 19851505