Sexual orientation has always been a highly controversial topic. And despite significant improvement of gay status, being openly homosexual still requires a lot of courage even in the most tolerant countries and societies. Nevertheless, more and more gay and lesbian individuals are ‘coming out’. And the same counts for people who enjoy international fame and admiration such as:
Sir Ian McKellen (1939). The celebrated English actor who won multiple awards and was nominated for the Academy Award twice was hiding his sexual orientation from the public (but made it known to his colleagues) until the late 1980s, fearing that it may adversely affect his career. In addition to being openly gay, McKellen is also actively supporting the LGBT rights campaigns both in the UK and abroad.
Sir Elton John (1947). Another internationally acclaimed gay person ‘came out’ only in 1988. He too was concerned about the potential negative consequences of his sexual orientation although he admitted to be bisexual as early as the mid-1970s. Just like McKellen, Elton John is actively supporting the LGBT rights campaigns. When the Civil Partnership entered into force in the UK in 2005, he and his partner David Furnish were among the first gay couples to register. They married after legalisation of gay marriage in the UK nine years later.
Andy Warhol (1928-1987). The foremost figure of Pop Art was openly gay in a time when most of his colleagues chose to keep their sexual orientation a secret. Though this made it much more difficult for him to establish himself in the world of arts and being accepted by the society, he decided he didn’t care or at least pretended not to care what other people think about him.
Gareth Thomas (1974). The former Welsh professional rugby player isn’t only one of the greatest legends of Welsh rugby. He is also the first professional rugby union player to ‘come out’. When he publicly announced that he is gay he said he didn’t ‘came out’ earlier because he didn’t wanted to be treated as gay rugby player. But he also added that he hopes his coming out will help other gay rugby players to be accepted as rugby players who also happen to be gay.
Tim Cook (1960). The American business executive who succeeded Steve Jobs as the CEO of Apple is the first CEO of a company on the list of the Fortune 500 to publicly announce that he is gay in 2014. While his sexual orientation was known to his co-workers, he didn’t want his personal life to overshadow his company’s products and services.