April 29, 2013 at 3:16 PM ET
The sports world was abuzz Monday after NBA center Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay professional athlete in a major sport. He may be alone in the NBA, but Collins has plenty of company in the celebrity world. Some stars have taken the route Collins did -- a major magazine cover -- but others have approached the announcement in different ways. Here's a look back.
Collins may be the first member of a major pro team to come out, but he's not the first gay athlete to speak about his or her sexuality -- not by a long shot. One of the most famous is tennis star Martina Navratilova. The star told The Tennis Channel that her sport kept her in the closet in 1980, fearing scandal. "Here I leave Czechoslovakia so I can be free, and I can't come out because of sponsors, I can't come out because my girlfriend is in the closet ... it was a mess," Navratilova said. So instead Navratilova said she was bisexual, scandal enough in those days.
It was Ellen DeGeneres who started the whole magazine-cover coming out with her 1997 Time magazine cover and its famous headline, "Yep, I'm Gay." It was a brave move, and one that hurt DeGeneres' career for years after the announcement, the Human Rights Campaign reports. At the time, DeGeneres was also starring on her own sitcom, "Ellen," and the character she played also came out as gay that week. Oprah Winfrey played the therapist that the TV Ellen came out to, and later told The Hollywood Reporter that merely for playing that role, she received hate mail and threatening phone calls that included racial slurs.
Thoughtful and serious
As the son of Gloria Vanderbilt, privacy was almost always impossible for Anderson Cooper. The journalist said he tried to keep his private life private, especially since he often traveled to war zones where he wanted to "blend in" for safety. But in July 2012, Cooper came out in an email he allowed The Daily Beast to publish. "The fact is, I'm gay, always have been, always will be," Cooper wrote. "And I couldn't be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud."
The non-coming out coming out
So what exactly did Jodie Foster say in her famed 2013 Golden Globes speech? "I hope you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming-out speech tonight, because I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago," the actress and former child star told an audience of millions. She did? Most fans didn't recall a public coming out from Foster but she obviously wasn't ready to call this one either. She did, however, thank her former partner Cydney Bernard, calling her "one of the deepest loves of my life, my heroic co-parent, my ex-partner in love but righteous soul sister in life." So ... she's out then?
Bury it in the New York Times
Jim Parsons is best known as nerdy Sheldon Cooper on "The Big Bang Theory," but it was a Broadway show that spurred his announcement. Parsons was profiled in the New York Times in May of 2012, and deep within the story was one line: "Mr. Parsons is gay and in a 10-year relationship." The line made sense in context -- Parsons was playing a gay character in the play "The Normal Heart" -- but the information about the play was all but lost in the media buzz over Parsons' personal revelation.
Did I mention I'm married?
Goll--ee! Jim Nabors, beloved as Gomer Pyle on the 1960s sitcom, let his wedding do the talking for him. In January 2013, Nabors married his longtime partner Stan Cadwallader at a fancy Seattle hotel. "We've been together for 38 years, and I'm not ashamed of people knowing, it's just that it was such a personal thing, I didn't tell anybody," Nabors told a Hawaii newspaper. The actor was 82 when he wed and has been with Cadwallader for 38 years.
Meet my baby
Nabors' news was delivered due to a wedding, but "American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken came out due to another happy life event -- he became a father. In 2008, Aiken had a son via in vitro fertilization, and the boy's birth inspired him. "It was the first decision I made as a father," Aiken told People magazine.