Hearty congrats are in order for every celebrity who’s ever come out as LGBT. Of course in some cases, it wasn’t quite as surprising as in others. But even when you respond to these happenings with a resounding “Duh,” it’s important to also chirp “Bravo!” Here are the 10 celebs we now know are gay and didn’t exactly plotz on the ground about it. I’m including a couple of stars who didn’t actually come out at all, but are known to have been gay. And we weren’t shocked!
No, it wasn’t exactly startling when Rosie came out in 2002 — there had been copious hints, to put it mildly, for the “Lebanese” comic — but it was still momentous and a good move. Congrats to her for doing it and for being so vocal ever since. Let’s celebrate on one of her butch cruises.
Remember when Sir Elton married a woman? Hopefully he doesn’t. But in any case, the feathered and sequined pop star with the glam goggles and the songs about Marilyn Monroe and the yellow brick road didn’t officially come out for realz until 1988. That it took so long was the only shock. The world went, “Um, yeah,” which is a very good response.
The Czech tennis pro made a big leap by coming out in 1981, back before that was the cool thing to do, and she paid the price while also gaining honesty and wisdom from her move. Yes, the act itself was a bit shocking at that time, but the fact that she’s a lesbian sure wasn’t. In her own ladylike way, she put the balls back in tennis.
Ellen trailblazed by coming out in 1997 — years before Rosie — though insiders already knew she was gay, partly because she was running around town making out like crazy with Anne Heche, LOL. Like Rosie, she’s proven to be a wonderful ally and a great lesbian.
The bejeweled pianist with the glistening grin, Liberace was as straight as a three dollar bill. Somehow he won a 1950s lawsuit against a publication that alluded to his being sort of “that way.” (The writeup verged on being homophobic, so the whole case was a real mixed bag.) After that, the man never actually did come out, but the public found out as personal melodramatics came to the forefront via splashy headlines. Besides, the smart ones in the bunch already knew — even the brain dead ones knew. Even amoebas knew! And I’d have to say that, even more so than everyone else on this list put together, Liberace was the gayest person who ever lived.
At the height of the Culture Club’s success, British lead singer George O’Dowd wore frilly outfits and sang in a fabulous trilly voice, but he was still ambiguous for the masses, preferring to be a mascot for the “different” rather than connote any specific sexuality. Some of his fans must have been in deep denial, but anyone with half a brain cell knew this was a gay guy — and George even copped to being a drag queen at one point. I’m glad he finally became an openly gay idol who no longer inhabits the church of the poison mind.
“The Big Bang Theory” award-winning star came out in a subtle way during a 2012 interview. A New York Times profile of the actor noted that he’s gay and was involved in a 10-year relationship, facts that Parsons had obviously approved for publication. And I wasn’t shocked — not because he’d appeared on Broadway in Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart,” but because he rang my gaydar bells so loudly it hurt my eardrums. I’m extra happy about this because he’s currently playing God on Broadway, which makes the Supreme Being a giant queer.
Runners-up: David Hyde Pierce, Anderson Cooper
In 2011, Olympic figure skater Weir came out after years of buzz about the varying traits that seemed to peg him as an open-and-shut gay. But that’s all stereotypical stuff, mind you. Just because you wear eye makeup and skate around for prizes shouldn‘t mean anything, right? Right? Beyond all that, we just knew Johnny was gay. Glad he finally confirmed it, citing teen suicides and the need for visibility.
Like Liberace, the acidic actor and “Hollywood Squares” center square never came out as gay. Maybe he felt it would have been redundant? With his campy delivery and arm gestures, Lynde was so obviously gay, even when playing the beleaguered dad in “Bye Bye Birdie.” At the wrap party for the movie version, he allegedly cracked, “I guess I’m the only one here who doesn’t want to fuck Ann-Margret.” On “Hollywood Squares,” he’d hint deafeningly at his sexuality. “Paul, why do Hell’s Angels wear leather?” host Peter Marshall asked on one memorable episode. “Because chiffon wrinkles too easily” came the cackly reply. Anyone who thought Lynde was straight at that point probably thought Ava Gardner was black. In any case, any doubting Thomases became well-informed when the world learned that Paul was a gay with undoubtedly so much leather and chiffon in his closet that the door was bursting open.
CHARLES NELSON REILLY
Reilly said that he was quite out in his life and his career, though he never really stated it on the record until an autobiographical stage show he did in 1999. At that point, a show saying that the sky is blue would have been more mind altering. On “The Match Game” in the 1970s, Reilly wore flamboyant outfits and engaged in quippy remarks and dandyish gestures, coming off like a more benign version of Paul Lynde. He also had respected Broadway credits and lamented the fact that once he got pegged as a gameshow persona, it hurt his chances at dramatic credibility. But whatever he did, Charles Nelson Reilly came off like a world-class, big, old gay — and I loved him for it.
Oh, special mention to Caitlyn Jenner. Welcome, lady!!! Now, as for being a Republican …
Happy Pride, everyone.
Michael Musto is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.