Today when Empire star Jussie Smollett confimed that he is gay on The Ellen Show, he joined a long list of gay Black celebrities who are out of the closet and loving it. “There’s never been a closet that I’ve been in,” said Smollett. “I don’t own a closet, I got a dresser, but I don’t have a closet…I have a home and that is my responsibility to protect that home.”
CNN anchor Don Lemon used his memoir Transparent as a venue to come out to his fans. In the book he bravely discussed colorism, his sexuality and the sexual abuse he suffered as a child.
Singer and songwriter Frank Ocean published an open letter on Tumblr revealing that his first love was with another man. “I don’t have any secrets I need kept anymore,” he wrote. “I feel like a free man.”
Everyone knows famous drag queen, actor, author and TV personality RuPaul. The arc of RuPaul’s successful entertainment career has traced the movement of gay culture from the shadows to mainstream pop culture. “Once you can accept yourself on every level, that’s when you really open up and that’s when the party really begins,” RuPaul once said in a New York Times interview.
EMPIRE creator Lee Daniels has been open about his own sexuality from a young age. He once told Out magazine about the adversity he faced from his father and his peers for being “aware of his femininity” and uses his own past experiences with homophobia to shape many of the story lines in his work.
R&B songstress Monifah revealed her sexuality on national television when she allowed the R&B Divas: Atlanta reality TV cameras to follow her road to the altar with her longtime girlfriend Terez. ESSENCE shared an exclusive look at the couple’s wedding bliss.
Michael Sam made history as the first openly gay football player in college and later in the NFL. He kissed his boyfriend on live television after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams.
Always outspoken civil rights activist Angela Davis came out as a lesbian in 1977 during an interview with Out magazine.
In 2013, EJ Johnson, son to NBA legend Magic Johnson and his wife Cookie Johnson, proudly walked hand-in-hand down the streets of Los Angeles with his boyfriend. Just a few months later, the Johnson sat down with Oprah to discuss what it was like realizing that EJ was gay at young age and how important it was to them that EJ always be comfortable in his own skin.
Retired NBA baller Jason Collins publicly came out to fans as gay at the end of the 2012-2013 season. When he signed with the Nets, Collins became the first publicly gay athlete to play in any of the four major North American sports leagues.