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National Coming Out Day: 20 people who came out in 2020

From a former GOP congressman to a Tony Award-winning actor, a long list of entertainers and notables came out as LGBTQ this year.
Image: Nicey Nash, Sara Ramirez and Aaron Schock.
Niecy Nash, Sara Ramirez and Aaron Schock.NBC News; AP; Getty Images

National Coming Out Day has been observed annually on Oct. 11 for more than three decades. The first such celebration was held in 1988 on the first anniversary of the 1987 March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights, which was reported to have drawn 200,000 protesters to the nation's capital.

In honor of National Coming Out Day 2020, here are just some of the many notable LGBTQ coming-out stories so far this year.


Niecy Nash

Niecy Nash.TODAY Illustration/Getty Images

Comedian and actor Niecy Nash broke the internet this summer when she not only came out but also introduced her new wife to the world.

Nash, the star of "Claws" and "Reno 911," announced her marriage to musician Jessica Betts in August, sharing a joyful photo of herself and Betts walking down the aisle after having just said, "I do."

But Nash, who had previously been married to men, revealed that while she may have shocked fans with her announcement, she didn't perceive it as coming out per se.

"I don't feel like my marriage is my coming out of anywhere, but rather a going into myself and being honest about who I love," Nash told People shortly after she tied the knot. "And I'm not limiting myself on what that love is supposed to look like."


Aaron Schock

Rep. Aaron Schock speaks to reporters in Peoria, Ill., on Feb. 6, 2015. Seth Perlman / AP

Aaron Schock, a former Republican member of Congress known for supporting anti-LGBTQ legislation, came out as gay in an Instagram post in March.

"The fact that I am gay is just one of those things in life in need of explicit affirmation, to remove any doubt and to finally validate who I am as a person," wrote Schock, who had dodged rumors about his sexuality while he was in Congress. "In many ways, I regret the time wasted in not having done so sooner."


Lili Reinhart

Lili Reinhart attends the Screen Actors Guild Awards in Los Angeles on Jan. 19.Emma McIntyre / Getty Images for Turner file

"Riverdale" star Lili Reinhart came out as bisexual in June, opening up about a part of her life she had never shared before with her fans.

"Although I've never announced it publicly before, I am a proud bisexual woman," she wrote in an Instagram Story paired with a flyer for an LGBTQ+ for Black Lives Matter protest taking place in West Hollywood, California.


Andrew Gillum

Andrew Gillum during a campaign event in 2018.MediaPunch via AP file

Andrew Gillum, the former mayor of Tallahassee, Florida, came out as bisexual in September during an interview with talk show host Tamron Hall.

"You put it out there whether or not I identify as gay, and the answer is I don't identify as gay, but I do identify as bisexual," Gillum said.

It was the first time Gillum, the 2018 Democratic nominee for governor in Florida, had spoken publicly about his sexuality.


Sara Ramirez

Sara Ramirez in West Hollywood, Calif., on March 14, 2018.Valerie Macon / AFP via Getty Images

Best known for playing Dr. Callie Torres on "Grey's Anatomy," the Tony Award-winning actor Sara Ramirez came out in August as gender nonbinary. In a post shared on Instagram, Ramirez said, "In me is the capacity to be" everything from a "girlish boy" to a "boyish girl."

Ramirez added the hashtag #nonbinary to the caption of their post and updated their bio on social media accounts to read "non-binary human." Their bio also says they use both she/her and they/them pronouns.


François Arnaud

Francois Arnaud in Los Angeles in 2017.Maarten de Boer / NBC via Getty Images

French-Canadian actor François Arnaud, best known for his role on Showtime's period drama "The Borgias" and his appearance in the award-winning series "Schitt's Creek," came out as bisexual in an Instagram Story shared just before Bi Visibility Day, which is celebrated on Sept. 23.

Arnaud said he wanted to share his story to help fight "assumptions of straightness" and bisexual erasure.

"Last week, I was chatting with work friends, and as I brought up a trip I'd taken with an ex-girlfriend, I asked myself — for the ten-thousandth time — how to tell such a story without making it seem like that was the whole story of me," he wrote. "I'm sure many bisexual guys feel the same and end up doing as I did: letting other people's assumptions of straightness stand uncorrected."


Jameela Jamil

Jameela Jamil at the Grammy Awards on Jan. 26 in Los Angeles.David Crotty / Patrick McMullan via Getty Image

Actor and activist Jameela Jamil came out in February following criticism about her being cast in an HBO Max voguing competition series, which some social media users said "belongs to queer people." Following the backlash, Jamil, the star of "The Good Place," came out as queer in a lengthy statement posted on her Twitter account.

"This is why I never officially came out as queer," she wrote. "I kept it low because I was scared of the pain of being accused of performative bandwagon jumping, over something that caused me a lot of confusion, fear and turmoil when I was a kid."

Jamil, who was born to a Pakistani mother and an Indian father, said she struggled for many years to "officially" come out because of fear she wouldn't be accepted in the South Asian community.

"It's also scary as an actor to openly admit your sexuality, especially when you're already a brown female in your thirties," she wrote. "This is absolutely not how I wanted it to come out."


Nikkie de Jager

Nikkie de Jager at SEPHORiA: House of Beauty in Los Angeles on Sept. 7, 2019.Presley Ann / Getty Images for Sephora file

Popular YouTube creator and makeup artist Nikkie de Jager, who is also known as Nikkie Tutorials, revealed in January that she is a transgender woman to her more than 12 million YouTube followers, saying the move was prompted by attempted blackmail.

While she lamented the lost opportunity to reveal her journey on her own terms, de Jager said she was coming out publicly to "tak[e] back my own power."

"I can't believe I am saying this today to all of you, for the entire world to see, but damn it feels good to finally do it. It's time to let go and be truly free," de Jager said in the video. "When I was younger I was born in the wrong body, which means that I am transgender."


Rosario Dawson

Rosario Dawson at the premiere of "Krystal" in Los Angeles on April 5, 2018.Mario Anzuoni / Reuters file

Rosario Dawson officially came out during a wide-ranging interview in February, in which she clarified that a 2018 Instagram post about Pride, in which she said she was "sending love" to her "fellow LGBTQ+ homies," was misinterpreted.

"People kept saying that I [came out]. ... I didn't do that," she said. "I mean, it's not inaccurate, but I never did come out come out. I mean, I guess I am now."

Dawson didn't specify how she identifies, but she added that she "never had a relationship in that space, so it's never felt like an authentic calling to me."

In 2019, it was confirmed that Dawson was dating Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., and in August it was reported that the two were moving in together.


Taylor Schilling

Taylor Schilling as Piper Chapman in "Orange Is the New Black"JoJo Whilden

During LGBTQ Pride Month in June, "Orange Is the New Black" star Taylor Schilling confirmed to fans that she was in a relationship with a woman.

Schilling re-shared a photo to her Instagram Story that musician and artist Emily Ritz had previously posted of them together with the heart-emoji-filled message "I couldn't be more proud to be by your side @tayjschilling "Happy Pride!"

In a 2017 interview with Evening Standard Magazine, Schilling said: "I've had very serious relationships with lots of people, and I'm a very expansive human. There's no part of me that can be put under a label. I really don't fit into a box — that's too reductive."


Nikki Blonsky

Nikki Blonsky in the 2007 film "Hairspray." New Line Cinema/Courtesy of Everett Collection

Best known for playing Tracy Turnblad in the 2007 cult classic film "Hairspray," actor Nikki Blonsky came out as gay in June, LGBTQ Pride Month, during a festive TikTok video that showed her dancing and lip-syncing to Diana Ross' 1980 hit "I'm Coming Out."

"Hi, it's Nikki Blonsky from the movie I'm Gay! #pride #imcomingout #hairspray," Blonsky, a Golden Globe nominee, captioned the clip.


Justice Smith

In an Instagram post shared in June during nationwide protests against racial injustice, "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" actor Justice Smith came out as queer and revealed that he was dating a man.

"Nicholas Ashe and I protested today in New Orleans," Smith wrote. "We chanted 'Black Trans Lives Matter' 'Black Queer Lives Matter,' 'All Black Lives Matter.' As a Black queer man myself, I was disappointed to see certain people eager to say Black Lives Matter, but hold their tongue when Trans/Queer was added."

After his initial post, Smith addressed the reaction from his fans and followers, tweeting, "yo tf i didn't come out, y'all came in."


Nicholas Ashe

A few weeks after boyfriend Justice Smith came out publicly on Instagram, "Queen Sugar" actor Nicholas Ashe penned his own heartfelt note to Smith on Instagram.

"justice— you have been the author of all my recent smiles. you make me feel safe. seen. heard. inspired. admired. returning the favor has been my favorite adventure," Ashe wrote in August. "it's difficult to fully encapsulate my gratitude, but here's an Instagram post to help me try. happy birthday, beautiful man. i love you most of all. thank you for all this good."


Quinn

Soccer star Quinn, who represented Canada at the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, publicly came out as transgender with a post on Instagram in September. In it, Quinn — who uses they/them pronouns and now goes by just their last name — discussed the difficulty of coming out publicly, adding important tips for the cisgender community on how to be a better ally to the transgender community.

"Coming out is HARD (and kinda bs)," wrote Quinn, who plays for Washington state's OL Reign team in the National Women's Soccer League. "I know for me it's something I'll be doing over again for the rest of my life. As I've lived as an openly trans person with the people I love most for many years, I did always wonder when I'd come out publicly."


Da Brat

Rapper Da Brat came out publicly in March, confirming her relationship with Kaleidoscope Hair Products CEO Jesseca Dupart in a tearful Instagram post celebrating an early birthday gift.

"I've always been a kind of private person until I met my heart's match who handles some things differently than I do," she wrote. "I have never experienced this feeling. It's so overwhelming that often I find myself in a daze hoping to never get pinched to see if it's real so I can live in this dream forever."


J. August Richards

Actor J. August Richards, best known for his role on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.," publicly came out as gay in April when discussing his role on the NBC series "Council of Dads," on which he portrayed Dr. Oliver Post, a married gay Black man and father.

"If I think about why I even got involved in this industry, it was really to combat oppression," he told his castmate Sarah Wayne Callies during an Instagram Live interview. "I knew how I was affected by the people of color I saw on television or that I didn't see on television."

"Honestly, it required me to show up fully in a way that I don't always when I'm working," he said of his role on "Council of Dads." "I knew that I could not portray this gay man honestly without letting you all know that I was a gay man myself. ... I've never done that with the people that I've worked with."


Rebecca Black

Viral sensation Rebecca Black came out as queer and revealed that she had previously dated a woman during an interview on the "Dating Straight" podcast in April.

"To me, the word 'queer' feels really nice," said Black, the singer of "Friday." "I have dated a lot of different types of people, and I just don't really know what the future holds. Some days, I feel a little more on the 'gay' side than others."


Avery Wilson

Avery Wilson, an alum of NBC's "The Voice," took to social media in July to share a personal message with his fans and followers: "I'm bisexual. Ok bye," he wrote on Twitter, adding in a subsequent tweet, "From the mouth of the horse is the ultimate understanding."

On Instagram, Wilson — who competed on season 3 of the singing competition show — elaborated on his sexuality in a since-deleted post.

"In my eyes, life isn't about being perfect. It's about growth, evolving, setting & smashing goals and most importantly happiness and LOVE," he wrote. "I'm all about perfecting my love of self while not being afraid to love whoever I want, however I want."


Auli'i Cravalho

Auli'i Cravalho, star of Disney's "Moana" and "The Little Mermaid Live," came out as bisexual in a since-deleted video posted to her TikTok account in April.

While lip-syncing along to Eminem's song "Those Kinda Nights," Cravalho recited the lyrics, "No, I'm bi." And when a Twitter user asked her, "Do u like girls?" she was reported to have responded, "If I may escort you to my TikTok..."


Madison Bailey

"Outer Banks" star Madison Bailey came out as pansexual in a TikTok video shared in May, later revealing that she is dating Mariah Linney, a women's basketball star at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

In an interview with Entertainment Tonight during LGBTQ Pride Month, Bailey said being pansexual is "basically just loving people for people, regardless of gender or any type of sexuality or any type of anything."

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Cynthia Silva contributed.