LGBTQ+ Celebrities Who Came Out Well Into Their Careers

Though some celebrities prefer to share their sexual orientation with the world as soon as they start to gain some notoriety, there are other famous faces who have waited a little longer to come out to the world. Some familiar faces, like Holland Taylor, George Michael, and Rosie O'Donnell, didn't publicly confirm they're members of the LGBTQ+ community until more than a decade (or even multiple decades!) after they shot to fame. Then there are the likes of Rebel Wilson and Jodie Foster, who opened up about their true selves in their own times while proudly confirming their relationships with their significant others. Or there's Caitlyn Jenner and Elliot Page, who bravely spoke out after years in the spotlight about feeling they'd been living in the wrong bodies.

But no matter when or why a person decides to come out (there's absolutely no right or wrong way to share your own news, of course!), there may be more celebrities than you think who haven't opened up until they were further into the careers. These are just some of the LGBTQ+ celebs who were years into their work when they decided the time was right to open up.

Rebel Wilson confirmed her sexuality and relationship at the same time

Before Rebel Wilson found success in the US with her breakout role in the 2011 movie "Bridesmaids," she was a big name in her native country of Australia after appearing in the likes of "Pizza," which began in 2003, and "The Wedge," which started airing in 2006. The star gained even more notoriety in the likes of 2012's "Pitch Perfect" and 2019's "Isn't It Romantic," though it wasn't until 2021 when she publicly spoke out about her sexuality while confirming her relationship with her girlfriend, Ramona Agruma.

Wilson shared her loved-up news on her Instagram account, telling the world in the caption of a photo showing her and Agruma cozying up together that she was a member of the LGBTQ+ community. "I thought I was searching for a Disney Prince... but maybe what I really needed all this time was a Disney Princess," she wrote, adding the hashtag "#loveislove" alongside hearts and a rainbow emoji. Just short of two years later, Wilson returned to Instagram to share more big news with the world; she and Agruma were engaged! "We said YES!" she captioned the photos, which showed the twosome's proposal outside Sleeping Beauty's castle at Disneyland, California.

Jodie Foster was in a relationship for over a decade before publicly addressing her sexuality

Jodie Foster had been in a relationship with her now former partner, Cydney Bernard, for years before she spoke publicly about her sexuality. In fact, Foster and Bernard had been living together for 14 years when she first publicly acknowledged their relationship in 2007. Speaking at the Power 100 Women in Entertainment ceremony, she referred to her partner as "Beautiful Cydney" as she thanked her for her support.

Foster appeared to address her sexuality more publicly during the 2013 Golden Globes, admitting everyone who knew her personally knew about her sexuality for a long time. "I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago... In those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, coworkers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her," she shared. "But now, apparently I'm told, that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance and a prime time reality show," she said. That move came decades after Foster first gained notoriety in Hollywood, starting out her career as a child actor in the likes of 1974's "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore" and 1976's "Freaky Friday."

Foster and Bernard's romance didn't last, though. They split in 2008 after two decades and two children together. But the "Panic Room" star found love again, marrying actor Alexandra Hedison in 2014.

After initially refusing to speak about his personal life, Anderson Cooper couldn't be prouder to be gay

It was back in 1999 when Anderson Cooper first started to get noticed as the co-anchor of "World News Now," before he landed his most notable gig with CNN hosting "New Year's Eve Live" and "Anderson Cooper 360°" in the 2000s. For much of his career though, Cooper actively avoided speaking about his personal life — including his sexuality — but publicly confirmed he is gay in 2012 after much public speculation. The journalist came out in an email to The Daily Beast, which he gave his permission to share. Cooper wrote in part, "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."

In 2021, he opened up again about his sexuality on CNN, sharing what coming out meant to him. Cooper spoke about how he initially struggled with being gay because of many of the laws and pre-conceptions that were around in the 1980s. But he shared he'd come to terms with who he is as he shared his pride to be a member of the LGBTQ+ community. "I think being gay is one of the blessings of my life. And it made me a better person, it made me a better reporter It's enabled me to love the people that I've loved and have the life that I've had," he explained. "So I'm very blessed."

Wanda Sykes came out as gay years after starting her career and divorcing her husband

Wanda Sykes began her stand up career all the way back in 1987, but really shot to fame in the 1990s when she began writing for and appearing on "The Chris Rock Show." During that time, she was actually married to her now former husband, music producer Dave Hall, which ended in 1998. But Sykes didn't publicly share her sexuality with the world until November 2008, when she publicly came out as a lesbian.

The "Monster In Law" actor confirmed her sexuality on stage during an event for the LGBTQ+ non-profit the Trevor Project, telling the crowd, "Oh, come on, it ain't like you never seen a black lesbian before." But that wasn't the only big news the actor had to share. Not only did Sykes confirm she was gay, but she was also married to a woman. The star had quietly wed her wife, Alex Niedbalski, the month prior.

Speaking on "The Meredith Vieira Show" in 2015, Sykes admitted that she hadn't planned on sharing her sexuality on stage that night, but felt compelled to share her true self with the crowd — and the world. "It just came out, you know. Because I just got married and so instead of speaking as a supporter, I was speaking as one of the, I guess, victims," she explained.

Rosie O'Donnell came out on stage more than 15 years after her career began

It was in the late 1970s and 1980s when Rosie O'Donnell began making a name for herself on the stand-up circuit, with the star making her foray into the world of TV and movies after first appearing in "Gimme a Break!" in 1986. But it wasn't until more than 15 years after that when O'Donnell publicly came out and declared herself a lesbian. The star shared her sexuality with the world in February 2002 while on stage at a comedy club in New York City. "I don't know why people make such a big deal about the gay thing... People are confused," she said at the time. "They're shocked, like this is a big revelation to somebody!"

O'Donnell spoke about her decision to share her sexuality publicly years later in 2020, admitting she thought everyone already knew she is a lesbian. "When I came out on TV after 9/11, it was like a blip," she explained on "Red Table Talk: The Estefans." "[I] was surprised that people thought I was not gay," she continued. "I went to a comedy club and I was doing stand-up and I'm like, 'I'm gay. Listen, 9/11 happened, I'm gay. I'm telling you all, I'm gay. In case the buildings blow up again, I'm so, so gay.'"

NSYNC's Lance Bass didn't feel he could come out while in the band

As one fifth of one of the biggest boybands in the world, NSYNC, Lance Bass' relationship status was very much talked about. And that included his romances with women, such as when he dated "Boy Meets World" star Danielle Fishel. But despite dating women, Bass went on to endure years of speculation about his sexuality before he officially came out in 2006. Amid the tabloid reports, the singer decided to take control of his own story, appearing on the cover of People alongside the words, "I'm gay." The cover hit shelves over a decade after NSYNC were formed and nine years after the band released their debut album.

In his People interview, Bass explained that he didn't feel able to come out while the band was in its heyday. "I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys' careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said [that I was gay], it would overpower everything," he explained. "I didn't know: Could that be the end of NSYNC? So I had that weight on me of like, 'Wow, if I ever let anyone know, it's bad.' So I just never did," he added. The band took a break in 2002, which gave Bass some time to think about how he wanted to tell the world.

Queen Latifah kept her sexuality quiet years before identifying as a member of the LGBTQ+ community

One of the stars who's opted to keep their sexuality a little more underwraps is Queen Latifah, though she came out as a member of the LGBTQ+ community in 2012 — 13 years after "The Queen Latifah Show" debuted. Some outlets reported that Latifah first acknowledged her sexuality publicly during a set at Long Beach's Lesbian and Gay Pride event, though she firmly denied at the time that was her way of letting the world know her sexuality. "That definitely wasn't the case. I've never dealt with the question of my personal life in public. It's just not gonna happen," she told Entertainment Weekly. She added of performing at Pride events, "To me, doing a gay pride show is one of the most fun things."

However, Latifah appeared to change her mind when it came to addressing her sexuality nine years later in 2021 when she acknowledged her partner, Eboni Nichols, and their son, Rebel, while accepting her BET Lifetime Achievement Award during the BET Awards. "Eboni, my love. Rebel, my love. Peace. Happy Pride!" she said. Latifah and Nichols began their relationship in 2009.

It was decades into her career when Holland Taylor spoke publicly about her sexuality

Another celebrity who chose not to speak publicly about their relationship until decades into their career is Holland Taylor. Taylor has a seriously long and impressive acting career, which began with her 1971 appearance in the TV series "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing." She then went on to appear in numerous big productions, including the 1980s sitcom "Bossom Buddies," 1984's "Romancing The Stone" and a role in the 2000s sitcom "Two & A Half Men."

It wasn't until 2015 though — over four decades after her career began! — that Taylor shared she was part of the LGBTQ+ community and had multiple relationships with women in her life. Holland, who was 72 at the time, explained to WNYC Studios that she never actually felt the need to publicly come out. "I haven't come out because I am out. I live out," she said. The star also shared that she was in a serious relationship with a woman, who she didn't name at the time. "It's the most wonderful extraordinary thing that could have ever possibly happened in my life," Holland said of the relationship. It was later confirmed the woman in Holland's life was none other than her fellow actor Sarah Paulson — who also publicly came out later in her career.

Sarah Paulson accidentally outed herself while congratulating Cherry Jones

Just like her partner Holland Taylor, Sarah Paulson is another star who didn't publicly speak about her sexuality until a few years after making it big. Before coming out, Paulson enjoyed roles in the likes of the 1990s series "American Gothic" and "Jack & Jill," as well as popping up in big movies "including What Women Want" in 2000 and "Down With Love" in 2003.

In 2004, after previously having relationships with men, Paulson began dating actor Cherry Jones. It was during their relationship (which ended in 2009) when Paulson came out, as she explained she accidentally told the world about her sexuality in 2005. "[Jones] won a Tony Award, I kissed her, and all of a sudden I was outed," Paulson told NoFu during a 2016 interview. "I didn't really think about it in that way at the time — I was just doing what one would do when a person they love has just won a big fat acting prize."

Of course, Paulson went on to date Holland — and it sounds like they couldn't be happier. "For a person who might find themselves in a situation that they fear will be misperceived or judged, maybe they could see me living my life in a way that is authentic to me — just trying to be as real as possible. If that inspires anybody else, that can't be a bad thing," Paulson told Elle of their relationship in 2018.

Cynthia Nixon began dating her now wife the year after splitting with her husband

From 1998 onwards, Cynthia Nixon was one of the most famous women on TV as part of the "Sex & The City" cast ensemble. During that time, she was in a relationship with her now former husband, Danny Mozes, and they welcomed two children together. However, the two split in 2003 after 15 years together and, the following year, Nixon began her romance with her now wife, Christine Marinoni.

Nixon opened up about her sexual orientation in 2007, three years after she and Marinoni began dating, explaining that although it was her first relationship with a woman she didn't consider herself to have changed. "I'd been with men all my life, and I'd never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn't seem so strange," she said during an interview with The Telegraph. "I'm just a woman in love with another woman." Nixon and Marinoni wed in 2012, the year after they welcomed a son.

Wentworth Miller denied he was gay years before he officially came out

Probably best known for his role as Michael Schofield in "Prison Break" from 2005 until 2009 (before popping up in the 2017 revival), Wentworth Miller was one of the biggest stars on TV before he came out. The star's career had actually began years earlier, though, when he appeared in a 1998 episode of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," as well as three episodes of "Time of Your Life" between 1999 and 2000.

With such a prominent role on the small screen, there was plenty of speculation about Miller's sexuality. So much so that in 2007 he actually shut down rumors claiming he was gay. "I'm not gay, but that rumor can't be killed. I'd like to have a girlfriend and a family. But I haven't met the right one yet," he told InStyle Germany.

Fast-forward six years though, and Miller was ready to come out and did so in a letter published by GLAAD. In it, he explained his decision not to attend the St. Petersburg International Film Festival in Russia due to the country's laws regarding LGBTQ+ people. "As a gay man, I must decline," he wrote.

Elliot Page came out as transgender and queer in a touching letter to fans

In 1997, Elliot Page began gaining recognition in Hollywood while appearing on the TV show "Pit Pony." He then went on to star in 2002's "Trailer Park Boys" and 2004's "ReGenesis," with his big break coming when he took on the lead role in the 2007 movie "Juno." Then, 12 years later, Page landed yet another huge role in the Netflix series "The Umbrella Academy."

But it was in 2020 when Page came out to the world as queer and trans. In a touching and lengthy post on X, formerly known as Twitter, the actor explained that he had adopted a new name and preferred to be referred to using he/him pronouns. "I love that I am trans. And I love that I am queer. And the more I hold myself close and fully embrace who I am, the more I dream, the more my heart grows and the more I thrive," he wrote.

Three years after coming out, Page shared in his 2023 memoir "Pageboy" that he had previously a relationship with his co-star Olivia Thirlby while filming "Juno" and had also dated Kate Mara pre-transition. In 2018, Page married Emma Porter, though the two split in 2021.

Ellen DeGeneres lost her career after coming out a few years into her sitcom

One of the most famous stars who came out later in their career has to be Ellen DeGeneres. The former talk show host got her start in TV in the late 1980s when she appeared in "Duet" and "Open House," before landing her own sitcom, "Ellen," in 1994. And it was on her own show where DeGeneres confirmed her sexuality in one of TV's arguably most famous episodes. 1997's "The Puppy Episode," sees DeGeneres's character confirm she is a lesbian. The star, who had already worked in TV for close to a decade, then confirmed she is gay on the April 14, 1997, cover of Time magazine, appearing alongside the words, "Yep, I'm gay."

DeGeneres opened up about what coming out meant to her 25 years after the episode aired, telling her fans on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that she struggled to find work for three years afterward. "When I came out, people warned me that it was going to ruin my career, and they were right for a while. Actually, for exactly three years, I lost my career. But look at me now." She continued, "It really goes to show you how important it is to be your authentic self, and how important it is to accept others as their authentic selves." DeGeneres started a relationship with her now wife, Portia DeRossi in 2004, with the two tying the knot in 2008.

Ricky Martin came out a decade after being publicly asked if he is gay

It's safe to say Ricky Martin endured years of speculation about his sexuality before he came out as gay. In 2000, Martin was asked directly about his sexuality during a shocking interview with Barbara Walters. "You could stop these rumors. You could say, 'Yes I am gay or no I'm not,'" she told. Martin replied, "I just don't feel like it." The singer later opened up about the moment while speaking to People in 2021, sharing, "I felt violated because I was just not ready to come out. I was very afraid." Martin also admitted he probably would have come out if he could re-live the interview again. "It would've been great because when I came out, it just felt amazing. When it comes to my sexuality, when it comes to who I am, I want to talk about what I'm made of, about everything that I am," he said.

But while Martin wasn't ready to share his sexuality in 2000, he was a decade later. The singer officially came out in a candid post on his website in 2010. "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man," he wrote in the message, which was posted in English and Spanish. Opening up about why he waited so long to speak out, Martin explained, "These years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within."

George Michael wished he'd come out much sooner

Though some people who knew George Michael were aware of his sexuality from a young age (he told GQ he opened up to his Wham! bandmate Andrew Ridgeley about identifying as bisexual when he was 19 years old), it wasn't until 1998 when the world learned of his sexuality. That was 15 years after Wham! released their debut album.

Michael's sexuality became public knowledge after he was arrested for public lewdness. Speaking in 2007 on the BBC Radio 4 show "Desert Island Discs," the late star explained that he felt pressured to keep his sexuality a secret, but felt like he wasn't being his true self by keeping it a secret. "I'd been out to a lot of people since 19. I wish to God [I'd come out] then. I don't think I would have the same career, my ego might not have been satisfied in some areas, but I think I would have been a happier man," he shared. Michael also said that he considered the way his sexuality became public knowledge was subconsciously deliberate because he no longer wanted to keep it a secret.

Sir Ian McKellen felt a weight had been lifted when he came out in the 1980s

The impressive career of Sir Ian McKellen began all the way back in the 1960s, but it wasn't until 1988 when the legendary actor confirmed his sexuality to the world. The star actually came out during a British radio broadcast when he spoke openly about his support for his fellow members of LGBTQ+ community during a debate.

McKellen later shared the relief he felt after sharing his truth with the world, so many years into his life and career. "When I came out five years ago, some of my closest friends thought I was brave, even foolhardy," he wrote in 1993 in a post on his website in 1993. "To be honest, that's not how it felt to me, after 49 years of half lying. Rather, it was a relief: an unnecessary millstone was lifted." Later writing in his 2019 book, "Ian McKellen: A Biography," about why he didn't speak out until later in life, McKellen explained he felt confused about his sexuality for a long time. "I didn't really know who I was — a closeted gay," he shared.

For Chrishell Stause, opening up about her sexuality came after she met G-Flip

Shooting to fame as a soap opera star on the likes of "All My Children" in 2005, "The Young and the Restless" in 2016 and "Days of Our Lives" in 2013, Chrishell Stause had quite the impressive TV career behind her before she came out. And that meant there was plenty of attention on her private life. The star was famously engaged to "Glee" star Matthew Morrison from 2006 until 2007, and later went on to marry "This Is Us" actor Justin Hartley in 2017. Two years later, they divorced, and the aftermath was a big storyline on Stause's reality show, "Selling Sunset." The show also documented her romance with her boss, Jason Oppenheim, but, in 2022, Stause made it clear she'd moved on from Oppenheimer and was dating non-binary singer G-Flip.

In the 2022 Instagram video, Stause opened up about her relationship and addressed her sexuality. "For me, it is about the person. It is about their heart... I am attracted to masculine energy and I don't really care what the physical form is," she explained. "Everyone is different, but for [G-Flip], they really feel like they are a mix, and they identify on both sides of male, female. And so that's one of those things I personally find such a beautiful mix, and I think it's probably why we did connect on such a deep level so quickly."

Caitlyn Jenner came out as transgender almost 40 years after winning gold at the Olympics

Caitlyn Jenner had enjoyed quite the successful and varied career before she shared with the world that she was transgender. Jenner was an Olympic gold medal-winning athlete back in the 1970s and then went on to enjoy a successful career as a public speaker and TV personality. Then, as the world knows, she returned to the public eye in a big way in 2007 as part of the Kardashian-Jenner family, who invited the cameras into their home to film the long-running E! reality series "Keeping Up with the Kardashians."

"Keeping Up with the Kardashians" made Jenner a household name once again, which meant there was much speculation about her sexuality after tabloid rumors began to swirl in the mid 2010s suggesting the reality star and athlete, who was born male, was looking to transition. In 2015, Jenner confirmed she is transgender and felt she'd been in the wrong body for decades. "For all intents and purposes, I'm a woman," Jenner said during an episode of "20/20." "I look at it this way — Bruce [was] always telling a lie. He's lived a lie his whole life about who he is. And I can't do that any longer," she explained. Jenner also opened up about her story during an in-depth interview with Vanity Fair two months later, debuted her new look on the cover of the magazine.