It’s that time of year again, when we look back and think about all the lesbian, bisexual, queer, transgender and otherwise-identified ladies who we didn’t even know were of the LGBT persuasion last year! It was actually a little harder to find a long list this year than it was in 2013 and 2012 — perhaps because everybody already came out last year!
The biggest shift this year was how many women have come out by not coming out at all. They never made a big pronouncement, they just suddenly had a girlfriend and the world was pretty cool with it. It’s a brand new day, y’all.
1. Robin Roberts, Television Personality
Technically, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts came out in December, but it was after last year’s “22 women who came out this year” post, so let’s run with it anyhow. On December 29th, 2013, Robin Roberts came out via facebook, thanking her longtime girlfriend Amber Laign for her support while Roberts battled breast cancer and myelodysplastic syndrome. In 2014, she released her fourth book, Everybody’s Got Something.
2. Casey Stoney, Soccer Player
2012 British women’s soccer captain and Arsenal Ladies defensive player Casey Stoney came out to BBC Sport, making her UK’s most famous gay soccer player. “For the last 10 years… I was frightened of the stereotypes, frightened of being judged, frightened of what other people might say, especially the abuse you can get through social media,” she told the BBC. “I think I’m in a place where I feel so comfortable in my own skin, I feel so loved by the person I’m with, that I feel I can face anything.”
3. Ellen Page, Actress
This was the year’s biggest coming out story. All around the world, lesbians stopped scissoring with their Valentines to scream wildly on the internet regarding this development, which occurred in a speech Page delivered at an HRC benefit.
“I’m here today because I am gay. And because maybe I can make a difference. To help others have an easier and more hopeful time. Regardless, for me, I feel a personal obligation and a social responsibility… It’s weird because here I am, an actress, representing — at least in some sense — an industry that places crushing standards on all of us. Not just young people, but everyone. Standards of beauty. Of a good life. Of success. Standards that, I hate to admit, have affected me. You have ideas planted in your head, thoughts you never had before, that tell you how you have to act, how you have to dress and who you have to be. I have been trying to push back, to be authentic, to follow my heart, but it can be hard.”
Our lives changed forever that day. Nothing was ever the same. Even if straight people didn’t get it.
4. Cara Delevingne, Model
Cara Delevingne is one of a few people on this list who didn’t actually “come out” in a formal way — but she has been increasingly public about her relationships with women. In this case, it was her whirlwind romance with Michelle Rodriguez, which we covered exhaustively on the website much to everybody’s acclaim/despair, that catapulted her sapphic tendencies into the public eye.
5. Monica Raymund, Actress
Chicago Fire and The Good Wife actress Monica Raymund came out on twitter in February, declaring that she is “so proud to be Bi.” When asked if she’d “just come out,” she said that “nope, I didn’t just come out — you just late to the party. But I have drinks for all y’all. #BiandProud#10YearsOut&Proud.”
6. Kristen Merlin, Singer
Merlin, a butch lesbian who had always been out in her private life, entered the public stage this past February when she showed up on The Voice. She made it to the Top Five and recently released an album, entitled “Boomerang.”
7. M.K. Nobilette, Singer
Another reality television queer came to us in the form of M.K Nobilette, American Idol‘s first openly gay top ten contestant. She also chose to come out on air rather than afterwards, making her the first Idol homo to do so.
8. Djuan Keila Trent, Speaker & Writer
Trent, who competed in the 2011 Miss America pageant, describes herself as “Georgia Peach by Birth. Unbridled Kentuckian by Choice. Modern Day Griot. Speaker. Writer. Lover. Enthusiast turned Activist. Miss KY 2010,” and, on her blog this past March, as queer:
For months, I have been contemplating how I would write this post, how I would position it, when would be the right time to post it. Should I make it funny? Should I make it mysterious? Should I make it serious? Should I pick a special date to do it? Should I build some kind of anticipation around it? Hmmm…ain’t nobody got time for that. I have written and re-written and deleted and restarted this post more times than I care to share, and after all of that I have finally realized: “There ain’t nothin’ to it, but to do it.” So, here we go folks…
I am queer.
9. Shailene Woodley, Actress
This year, Secret Life of the American Teenager and Divergent star Shailene Woodley went public about a lot of things: like that she’s a weirdo hippie who likes organic leggings, Vibram FiveFinger shoes, used clothing, “the earth” (which she considers a religion), hugging, Mugwort Tea, cramp-curing tree bark, drinking out of Mason Jars, harvesting her own drinking water, foraging for fruit and meditation. Oh, and she also told The Hollywood Reporter that “I fall in love with human beings based on who they are, not based on what they do or what sex they are.”
10. Zoie Palmer, Actress
Palmer, best known to the queers as Doctor Lauren from Lost Girl, thanked her “incredible partner” Alex LaLonde in her Fan’s Choice Award acceptance speech at the 2014 Canadian Screen Awards. She also thanked her son, Lucas, who is Lalonde’s son from a previous relationship. Lalonde is a TV Producer who has worked on many of the same projects as Palmer, and had been spotted with the British-born actress as early as 2011.
11. Kristen Kish, Chef
The winner of Top Chef Season Ten came out quietly by declaring on Instagram that she was dating Jacqueline Westbrook, who is Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief of FOOD & WINE magazine. “She was the contestant you want to be best friends with because she’s smart and an excellent chef but she’s also hilarious,” wrote Hansen in our coming out post for Kristen.
12. Debbie Harry, Musician
“Today in news that shattered everything we once knew about life, love and the world at large,” Stef wrote for Autostraddle, “Blondie frontwoman and professional cheekbones-haver Debbie Harry announced that she identifies as bisexual, and that she has enjoyed relationships with both men and women.” The legendary singer of seminal new wave rock band Blondie confirmed longstanding rumors in an interview with a German magazine promoting their tenth studio album. Although she had enjoyed more longstanding relationships with men, she told the magazine, “let’s just say women are more sensual.”
13. Lauren Neidigh, Swimmer
In a column on OutSports, the University of Arizona athlete talked about the difficulties of being a closeted athlete and told the story of how she came out to her swim team near the end of her first year at Arizona, telling them, “”This is really hard for me but at this point I have to stop pretending that I can hide this forever. I don’t know what I’m doing anymore and I keep putting myself in really hard situations. I just want to live my life. There’s no easy way to tell you that I’m gay and I just hope it doesn’t change anything. You’re all beautiful, but you can’t have me.”
14. Lauren Morelli, TV Writer
In May, Autostraddle favorite Lauren Morelli came out in an essay on Mic Magazine entitled While Writing For Orange is the New Black, I Realized I Am Gay. “The sound stage for Orange, where we proudly employ what has to be at least 64% of lesbians in the New York City metro area, is not a place where you can shy away from women or sexuality,” Morelli noted after recalling her realization that she as “higher on the Kinsey scale than she thought” after long conversations about Piper’s sexuality in the writer’s room. Her story was detailed and oh-so-relateable to all of us who, despite living in liberal areas surrounded by accepting queers, didn’t realize until much later that we were one of those queers. She divorced her husband and eventually fell in love with an OITNB actress. We’ll get to that one in a second.
15. Emily Rios, Actress
Rios, who plays lesbian reporter Adriana Mendez in FX series The Bridge and played Tami Taylor’s troubled student Epic in Friday Night Lights, came out during TCA’s FX Day. Rios told AfterEllen, “I’m gay, personally, so being Mexican and a lesbian — this is why I love the character because I deal with the same type of things with my own family.”
16. Andreja Pejic, Supermodel
The model who made a name for herself for her androgynous look and ability to model either menswear or womenswear came out publicly this summer as a trans woman and announced her intention to only model womenswear going forward. Pejic has already appeared on the covers of magazines like Elle and French Vogue, appeared on the Out 100 list and won a NewNowNext Award. She gave this statement via GLAAD:
“To all trans youth out there, I would like to say respect yourself and be proud of who you are. All human beings deserve equal treatment no matter their gender identity or sexuality. To be perceived as what you say you are is a basic human right.”
17. Julia Nunes, Musician
25-year old Julia Nunes is another person on this list who didn’t ever have a “coming out,” but this year she moved to Los Angeles and before long, she and Everyone is Gay‘s Dannielle Owens-Reid became one of the cutest couples instagram ever did see. Nunes rose to YouTube fame many moons ago with her mega-popular ukelele covers and has since put out four albums of original work. She also plays the guitar, melodica and piano, and has performed at Bonnaroo, toured with Ben Folds, appeared on television and played shows in her fans’ living rooms. You can keep up with her on YouTube, Twitter, Tumblr and Insta, and toss some cash into her kickstarter for her next sure-to-be-fantastic album.
18. Vicky Beeching, Christian Rock Singer
This British Christian rock singer, theologian and commentator came out as a lesbian in an interview published in The Independent.
I increasingly began to feel like I was living behind an invisible wall. The inner secrecy of holding that inside was divorcing me from reality — I was living in my own head. Anybody I was in a friendship with, or anything I was doing in the church, was accompanied by an internal mantra: “What if they knew?” It felt like all of my relationships were built on this ice that would break if I stepped out on to it.
19. Samira Wiley, Actress
It was a monumentally important day for us all, because all of us are in love with Samira Wiley: the day we may or may not have received permission to break the story already broken by The Daily Mail about Samira and aforementioned Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli hitting up the Emmys bash hand-in-hand. This followed months of suggestive instagram photos.
Wiley later appeared in the OUT 100 as the “Ingenue of the Year,” with a photo shoot memorializing Josephine Baker‘s appearance in 1934’s “Zouzoou,” the first time a black woman starred in a major motion picture. “I grew up in the church,” she told OUT Magazine. “I have seen my parents inspire people and give them hope and faith most of my life. I feel like I’ve always wanted to have my work be some sort of ministry, because that’s what my parents do and that’s the only word I have for it.”
Wiley is a Julliard graduate who has also appeared in TV commercials, The Sitter, and Person of Interest.
20. Patricia Yurena, Miss Spain 2013
24-year-old Patricia Yurena became the first openly gay national beauty queen when she posted a picture of herself and her girlfriend, DJ Vanesa Cortes, on Instagram, captioning it “Romeo and Juliet.” The positive reaction to the photo encouraged Yurena to make a more direct statement, saying, “I published quite naturally and impulsively. I appreciate the outpouring of support and even more to rejoice in my happiness. Thank you!!”
21. Melissa King, Chef
Melissa King is another woman who was already out, but was unknown to the world-at-large until she showed up on Top Chef this past fall. She graduated at the top of her class at the Culinary Institute of America and currently works in San Francisco. The show’s not over yet, but she’s still in the Top Five!