Today marks the 28th anniversary of National Coming Out Day, a day to celebrate coming out as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) person.
For some, coming out to even their nearest and dearest can feel like a scary task; for others, almost an insurmountable challenge. But the last year has been an excellent one for LGBTQ visibility, with a number of high-profile figures speaking honestly and forthrightly about their sexuality and same-sex relationships.
The Independent has rounded up the most galvanising quotes from politicians, actors, musicians, leaders, members of the clergy, athletes and royalty on coming out to commemorate the day.
“[During Pride 2016] Today's a good day to say I'm in a happy same-sex relationship, I campaigned for Stronger In but sometimes you're better off out!"
“When I was dating a guy I was hiding everything that I did because everything personal felt like it was immediately trivialised, so I didn't like it. We were turned into these characters and placed into this ridiculous comic book, and I was like, ‘That’s mine. You’re making my relationship something that it’s not.’ I didn’t like that.
“But then it changed when I started dating a girl. I was like, ‘Actually, to hide this provides the implication that I’m not down with it or I’m ashamed of it, so I had to alter how I approached being in public. It opened my life up and I’m so much happier.”
The most important recent coming outs
The most important recent coming outs
1/17 Kristen Stewart
The actress has finally spoken about her private life, admitting that she is very much in love with her girlfriend and former personal assistant, Alicia Cargile. In the recently released interview with Elle UK, Stewart said: "I think also right now I'm just really in love with my girlfriend. We've broken up a couple of times and gotten back together, and this time I was like, 'Finally, I can feel again.'"
2/17 Cara Delevingne
The supermodel, whose last serious relationship was with bisexual actress Michelle Rodriguez, shared a picture of herself wearing a 'We Are You' T-shirt in honour of National Coming Out Day and added an enigmatic message: "Doesn't matter who you are or what you believe it, we are one! Go get yourself one of these shirts right now!"
3/17 Justine Greening
Justine Greening was the first British female MP to come out, revealing that she is in a same-sex relationship. Greening announced the news on Twitter during the Gay Pride 2016, saying : "Today's a good day to say I'm in a happy same sex relationship, I campaigned for Stronger In but sometimes you're better off out!"
4/17 Kezia Dugdale
The leader of Scotland’s Labour party, Kezia Dugdale, was the fifth key political figure and fourth party leader in Scottish politics to come out as gay. In an interview to a Fabian Review, Dugdale said: “I have a female partner. I don’t talk about it very much because I don’t feel I need to.” Her decision to reveal the information was met with widespread support among Scottish politicians.
5/17 David Mundell
Scottish secretary has come out as gay on his personal website, where he wrote that it was time to "acknowledge in public as well as in private, who I am".
6/17 Miley Cyrus
Miley Cyrus has described herself as pansexual in the interview with the fashion magazine. Cyrus said: “I’m very open about it – I’m pansexual, but I’m not in a relationship. I’m 22, I’m going on dates, but I change my style every two weeks, let alone who I’m with.”
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for The ONE Campaign
7/17 Bella Thorne
Disney's actress has come out as bisexual following her split from English actor Gregg Sulkin. She revealed the news by uploading a picture of her kissing a girl – and then confirmed the speculation in a tweet.
8/17 Ellen Page
The 26-year-old actor came out in an inspirational speech at the Human Rights Campaign’s youth conference, Time to Thrive, on 14 February this year. She spoke about her fear of coming out publicly and the effect that had on her. She said, to the crowd cheering her: 'My spirit suffered, my mental health suffered and my relationships suffered. And I’m standing here today, with all of the other side of all that pain.' Page said she hoped she could make a difference to others.
9/17 Vicky Beeching
Vicky Beeching, a British Christian rock singer popular in America’s Bible Belt, came out in an interview with The Independent, risking her career. In her interview Beeching talked about her anguish as a teenager as her feelings went against church teachings. Beeching now says she wants to be an advocate for gay rights within the church and came to blows with homophobic US Pastor, Scott Lively. She said to him on Channel 4 News: “I’m taking this step today so young people don’t have to listen to the kind of teaching you peddle, because it damages people.”
Jason Alden/The Independent
10/17 Tom Daley
The 20-year-old Olympic diving champion came out in an emotional YouTube video in December 2013, saying he was 'dating a guy' and in April this year said on ITV’s Celebrity Juice 'I am a gay man now.' This week Daley encouraged gay footballers to come out: 'I think people would be surprised how supported they'd be if they were to come out in a football environment,' he said at the Leaders in Sport conference in London.
11/17 Thomas Hitzlsperger
Speaking of footballers, the German, former Aston Villa player, Thomas Hitzsperger, became the highest profile footballer to be openly gay in January this year – he told the German newspaper, Die Zeit: 'It's been a long and difficult process… only in the last few years have I realised that I preferred living with a man.' The 31-year-old retired from the game in 2013 because of injuries. He said that he had thought about coming out earlier while he was still playing for Wolfsburg, but was warned against it. Afterwards he said 'there was not precedent, so people could only speculate on what would happen.'
12/17 Andreja Pejic
Andreja Pejic is known as the striking Australian model who has done shoots for Elle and Vogue, as a man modelling womenswear. In July 2014 she revealed she had undergone gender reassignment surgery and came out as a transgender woman. 'I hope that by being open about this, it becomes less of an issue,' she told People magazine.
13/17 Sam Smith
The singer and rising star of 2014 came out officially in May this year when he said his album was about unrequited love for a man. Speaking to the Fader he said: 'In the Lonely Hour is about a guy that I fell in love with last year and he didn’t love me back. I think I’m over it now, but I was in a very dark place. I kept feeling lonely in the fact that I hadn’t felt love before.'
14/17 Charlie King
The 29-year-old former The Only Way is Essex star Charlie King said he was gay in an interview with This Morning, only this month. In the interview he said he wanted to be honest about his sexuality to help other people in the same situation feel more comfortable about it.
15/17 Michael Sam
The 24-year-old was virtually unknown at the start of 2014 but came out in February and went on to become the first openly gay NFL player in the history of American football, hitting the headlines all over the world. He was picked up and then dropped in August by the St Louis Rams, and then became part of the Dallas Cowboys practice squad. He said in the New York Times: 'I’m Michael Sam, I’m a football player and I’m gay.'
The actor, Kristian Nairn, famed for his portrayal of the gentle giant Hodor on Game of Thrones came out in March this year. He told the Wall Street Journal he didn’t fit the stereotype of what a gay man is supposed to look like: 'You have to be thin, you have to be tanned… that’s never been be me.' He said he 'wanted to show the world that we are varied people, as everyone else, you don’t have to be any way.'
17/17 Ian Thorpe
Australia’s swimming champion Ian Thorpe denied being gay for years and did not feel comfortable coming out until July this year in an interview with Michael Parkinson. Thorpe is a five-time Olympic gold medallist and has recently retired from the sport, in his 2012 autobiography he said he was straight, and in July he said that being gay was something he was only just telling people: 'This is only something that very recently, we're talking the past two weeks, I've been comfortable telling the closest people around me.'
“I used to identify as mostly straight. I’ve embraced the Bi/Queer label lately.
“The LGBTQ community has always felt like home, especially a few years later when I, uh, learned something about myself.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale
“I have a female partner. I don’t talk about it very much because I don’t feel I need to. And there’s something too about how meteoric my career has been. I am generally calm, almost serene. I don’t get easily stressed or battered. But I need a bit of stability to do that, and that means my private life is my private life. That’s the thing I just have to have that nobody gets to touch, and that gives me the strength to be calm elsewhere.”
“I had a wife and kids. I’ve been a builder, doorman, worked in factories – I play rugby. I tick every macho box. How could I be gay? I’m from Batley for goodness sake. No one is gay in Batley.
“The only time I felt free of the torment was when I stepped on the rugby pitch. Now I feel free.”
Lord Ivar Mountbatten, the first member of the royal family to come out as gay
“‘Coming out’ is such a funny phrase but it's what I suppose I did in a rather roundabout way, emerging to a place I'm happy to be. I have struggled with my sexuality and in some ways I still do; it has been a real journey to reach this point.”
“It’s a really, really hard thing to be silenced and it's deeply bruising to fight against your identity and to mould yourself into shapes that you just shouldn't in.
“As someone who identifies as a black, bisexual woman, I've been through it and it hurts and it's awkward and it's uncomfortable...but then I realised because of Solange and Ava DuVernay and Willow [Smith] and all the black girls watching this right now that there's absolutely nothing to change. We cannot be suppressed. We are meant to express our joy and our love and our tears and be big and bold and definitely not easy to swallow.”
Nicholas Chamberlain, Bishop of Grantham
“I hope I’ll be able to be a standard-bearer for all people as a gay man. And I really hope that I’ll be able to help us move on beyond matters of sexuality.”
Passion Pit lead singer Michael Angelakos
“I am saying something that I’ve never said before publicly. I’m gay. And that’s it. It just has to happen.”
“It’s awkward because if I talk about relationships in my life or people that have been in my life … I’d like to be able to just say that, without having to stop and say, ‘so have you come out?’ No, I haven’t come out because I am out. I live out."
“I'm a skateboarder first, gay second.”
“To all the bros who hate social media, who pit it against 'real life'- I never would've had the courage to be me without Twitter's queer queens.”
Michael Sam, the US National Football League's first openly gay player
“I probably may be the first but I won't be the last. And I think only good things will come from this.”
Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg
“I could have hidden it or repressed it and been unhappy my whole life. But I told myself that if you want to be a politician and be honest in politics, you have to be honest with yourself and accept that you are who you are.”
Eva Gutowski, YouTuber
“Just because you haven’t dated someone of the same sex does not mean you can’t be taken seriously as a bisexual. I am ready for myself to fall in love with someone, no matter who they end up being, and have been since I was 12. Boy or girl.”
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