We asked members of the BuzzFeed Community to tell us about the celebrities or characters who helped them understand their sexuality or gain some strength in coming out. Here are their touching stories:
1."Stephanie Beatriz as Rosa Diaz in Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Her bisexuality became a major storyline in the last couple of seasons. There was an episode that focused on her coming out to her parents and their reactions, and it was SO similar to what I went through in high school. The episode brought me to tears and helped me talk more about my struggle with acceptance.
"I’ve been more open and honest about who I am because of Stephanie’s portrayal of that character and as she shares her own similar story with the world."
2."Tyler Oakley provided so many closeted LGBTQ+ youth (including myself) with a safe space to willingly tap into a community. Tyler not only showcased that it's okay to be out and proud, but also that it can be tied to uplifting success. Every birthday, he raised money for The Trevor Project, and it flashed the harsh reality facing so many LGBTQ+ youth. He gave me the courage to use the platform and relationships I had to uplift the LGBTQ+ community, especially our youth."
3."I still haven’t come out to my mom for lots of reasons, but it was Lady Gaga who helped me come to terms with being bisexual. It was something I had struggled with since I was in middle school but always repressed out of fear. A few years ago, I started listening more to Lady Gaga’s music and the song 'Born This Way' made me feel so comfortable with myself and my sexuality, which was something I had never felt.
"And, just her as a person in general made me feel more confident in myself. I was able to come out online and talk about being bi for the first time. I love her so much and will always be grateful for her."
4."Maya Hawke's portrayal of Robin Buckley from Stranger Things. Her coming out scene really helped me accept who I am and helped me feel comfortable coming out to others. If I could say one thing to her, it would be thank you."
5."I realized I liked both boys and girls around middle school. My parents are very religious, and I kept this to myself for a very long time. While going to church, I heard about how awful being LGBTQ+ was from the people around me. Then, fast forward to when Schitt’s Creek became my safe space. Seeing the world Dan Levy created where being queer was normal was just so comforting. Specifically, the episode where Patrick comes out to his parents is my favorite thing ever. I cried, and I never really cry at TV shows or movies. This show helped me learn that not everyone feels the way a lot of Christians do. I’ve been out for almost a year now, and it feels amazing to be able to be myself finally. Thanks, Dan Levy!!"
"My mother was confused about how anyone could be just queer. Not straight, not gay, not lesbian, but queer — somewhere in between like bi/pan. She said I needed a label, when, to this day, I still don’t feel like one fits me besides queer. Sexuality is fluid after all. She started watching Schitt’s Creek while I was away at university. She called me and said, 'Honey, there’s a character (David Rose) who is just like you. He has this fantastic analogy about wine and how he likes red, white, and rosé! I get it now, and I want you to know that I’m sorry. I just didn’t understand it before. I love you.' She bought me a shirt with his line, 'I’m into the wine, not the label,' and now calls me to ask me which items I want from various Pride collections. Thank you, David (Dan Levy), for giving me my momma back."
"Dan Levy. I am not pan, but the character of David Rose helped me realIze that there were many different sexualities beyond heterosexual, homosexual, and bisexual. I had always felt different in terms of my sexuality, and David inspired me to start researching other sexualities to see if I identified with any of them. I came across asexuality and finally realized who I was. I immediately came out to my family because I was so happy about it. It wouldn’t have happened without David Rose and Dan Levy."
6."Natasha Lyonne in But I’m a Cheerleader. I was super into her voice, and of course, she’s gorgeous, but I think seeing someone go through their coming out experience as a high femme person with another girl was something I could really relate to."
7."Troye Sivan really helped me come out as bisexual. I knew that I was bi for a long time before I came out, and even had a girlfriend for a couple years, but that was hidden. During lockdown in 2020, I was thinking about coming out to my family (who are very religious) and eventually coming out publicly. I watched the movie Boy Erased and found myself listening to more and more Troye (I was already a huge fan), but kept listening to 'HEAVEN' over and over again.
"One afternoon, after having it on repeat, I asked to talk to my mum and came out to her. Without that song and Troye inspiring me to live my truth, I don't think I would have been able to come out to her. So, with all of my heart, I thank you, Troye Sivan."
8."Hayley Kiyoko! I realized I was bi when watching/listening to 'Girls Like Girls.' 💗"
9."Louis Tomlinson. It's him pointing at pride flags, signing CDs with 'Lesbian Rights' and 'Be proud,' signing a pride flag, and writing a song that the entire fandom interprets as queer, called 'Only the Brave.' I wouldn't have had the courage to come out if it wasn't for him."
10."Brittany (played by Heather Morris) on Glee made me realize that it's okay and normal to be attracted to men AND women and to have relationships with both. I know she’s a fictional character, but she still helped me a lot with my identity."
11."I was really struggling with my sexuality because growing up, I always thought that I was bisexual since I was attracted to both boys and girls. But, Yungblud made me realize and understand that I'm pansexual, as I'm not entirely attracted to someone because of their gender. Ever since coming out, I’ve been so much happier."
12."Seeing Angelina Jolie being openly bi in the late '90s was a revelation for me. It made me see that it could be cool and powerful to be bisexual, and not creepy and immoral (which is what my internalized homophobia was telling me at the time)."
13."Taylor Swift. I saw her at the Reputation Tour in 2018, and at the end of her concert, she put up the last two lines of her poem 'Why She Disappeared,' and it said, 'In the death of her reputation, she felt truly alive.' I got those lines tattooed on me as a constant reminder to be myself and not to let others' opinions dictate how I live my life."
14."Watching The X-Files made me realize I’m bi. I was attracted to both Mulder and Scully. Gillian Anderson can still get it."
15."I grew up as a gay man in rural Indiana and didn't know any other gay people existed until I heard a radio announcer say Melissa Etheridge was gay and dating a woman. I, of course, bought her Yes I Am album right away, and I can't tell you how many times I listened to that cassette. I eventually wore it out and had to buy another! I felt like nobody else in the world understood me the way Melissa did, and I still love her to this day.
"It's on my bucket list to someday tell her face to face how her music and her openness kept me company during all those lonely Indiana nights, and how she likely saved my life."
16."Roma Downey in Touched by an Angel. I was raised in a Christian household, so being a lesbian was taboo. I came out in my late 20s, and when reeling back through my childhood for any lesbian indicators, I remembered Roma Downey being my biggest and very first crush."
17."Macklemore is actually the one who helped me come out the second time. The first time that I came out to my mother as bisexual, she told me I liked boys too much to be bi. I was 14, so it felt less like coming out and more like asking permission to be myself, which she denied me. Fast forward: I got married to my high-school boyfriend at 18 years old. We were driving to the store when Macklemore's song 'Same Love' came on. As the chorus played, I cried and told my husband, 'I'm sorry, I'm bisexual, and I've denied it for too long.' He told me it was okay, he supported me no matter what, he still loved me, and to explore whatever I needed to.
"Later, he realized he was pansexual. We are still happily married, even after taking time to explore ourselves and our sexualities."
18."I’ve been out since I was 18, which was 16 years ago. At that time, we didn’t have many celebrities who were out to look up to, so I ended up suspecting my great admiration toward some women was actually attraction (I realized my feelings for Natalie Portman were actually a huge crush). After that, it felt really validating to see so many women I admired coming out. Women such as Kristen Stewart, Portia de Rossi, Sarah Paulson, Kate McKinnon, Samira Wiley, Jodie Foster, and so many others. I can’t express enough how important it is to feel represented by such amazing women and to feel so proud to tell people like my mom: 'Do you know her? She’s a lesbian!'"
19."As cliché as it may be, Harry Styles. Seeing him be able to say, 'Yeah, this is who I am,' was the confidence boost I needed to come out and be proud. His confidence and how he genuinely doesn’t care what people think of him showed me that it was okay to come out."
"Listening to 'Lights Up' by Harry Styles made me realize I don't want to use labels."
20."Chyna (Joanie Laurer), the wrestler. She was my hero growing up. As a more effeminate cisgender gay man, I always felt uncomfortable in male-dominated environments. There always seemed to be this notion that I didn't belong. Chyna was strong, beautiful, and unafraid to step up to the boys and kick their asses! I even took up weightlifting and embraced that muscle and beauty aren't diametrically opposed.
"She really taught me to own my gender identity as a man without feeling it was sacrificed by my more feminine attributes. She also informed me to make healthier choices about depression in my adult years because of what happened. Joanie Laurer, my hero forever."
21."Kelly Osbourne. The Osbournes was a hit show when I was in middle school, and I loved everything about Kelly — her hair, style, music, humor. I had been severely bullied all my life to the point of a suicide attempt at 9 years old. When I saw Kelly being bullied and people telling her she was weird, fat, ugly, spoiled, etc., I identified strongly. Her attitude at that time was, 'So what if I am? Go fuck yourself.' I took that to heart. So what if I was gay? So what if I wanted a boyfriend to hold me and love me? Got a problem with that? Go fuck yourself. Kelly made it okay for me to be okay with others who weren't okay with me."
22."Naya Rivera's portrayal of Santana on Glee. I was a junior in high school when the Fleetwood Mac episode aired, and when she sang 'Songbird' to Heather Morris's character, seeing the inner conflict around admitting her sexuality resonated with me so hard. I texted a friend and came out to them as soon as the episode finished."
23."Watching Amanda Bynes in She's the Man helped me realize I was trans. After I first saw the movie, I'd sneak into my brother's room, put on his old football jersey, and daydream that I was away from my family and posing as a man."
24."Alan Cumming as The Emcee in Cabaret. The cast was performing 'Willkommen' on a daytime talk show, and I suddenly understood a lot of things about myself."
25."When I read Hannah Gadsby’s book, it was the first time I understood that I was gay. I’d known for a long time that I wasn’t attracted to men, but I always just thought something was wrong with me. After I read her book, I understood myself, and for the first time in my life, I felt glad that I existed. She’s touring the US right now, and I’m working four jobs so I can afford to go see her as much as I can. At every show, it’s like a little part of my soul gets stitched back together again. I am so thankful for her."
26."Billie Joe Armstrong and Joan Jett. I grew up in a rural farming town and only listened to country and '80s pop up until I was in seventh grade. I got into Green Day and Joan Jett around then, and as I began to relate to their songs in a way I didn’t yet have the words to explain, I started exploring their biographies. Something kind of clicked that would eventually allow me to realize, 'Well, would you look at that! I’m bi.'
"Eventually, my new interest in rock got me into guitars, other bands (several of which I only discovered contained queer members after the same pattern of listen, relate, hyper-fixate, and research), and the first group of friends I had that unconditionally accepted me as bi. I’m not completely out today, but it’s become an open secret, and I doubt I’d be as secure in my identity as I am without those bands."
27."For me, it was the character of Nola Darling (played by DeWanda Wise) on the TV show She’s Gotta Have It. She was pansexual and polyamorous, and it didn’t bother her to be attracted to both men and women. I admired her confidence, and it helped me realize that I was pansexual and not limited by gender identity in the people I’m attracted to."
28.Finally: "I saw a video once of Laverne Cox meeting a trans man who had never met another trans person before. It was incredible to me, seeing how one trans individual could have such an overwhelming effect on someone who thought they were alone. I'm open and honest now. Maybe someday I can be someone's Laverne Cox — but, the dude version."
Note: Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.