The 'American Idol' season 8 runner-up came out to 'Rolling Stone' in the summer of 2009: "I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear I'm gay. I've been living in Los Angeles for eight years as a gay man. I've been at clubs drunk making out with somebody in the corner."
R Mickshaw/American Idol 2009
Etheridge came out at the 1993 Triangle Ball, a gay/lesbian celebration of President Bill Clinton's first inauguration. She told 'The Advocate' about it: "[I said], ‘Gee, I’m really excited to be here, and I’m really proud to have been a lesbian all my life.’ And a big cheer went up through the whole hall, and k.d. came out and hugged me. I remember walking back, and my friend said, ‘I think you came out!'"
k.d. lang came out in a 1992 issue of 'The Advocate,' although she has said she realized she was gay when she was 5. In 1997, she appeared in the "coming out" episode of Ellen DeGeneres' TV sitcom. In 2008, she told 'The Guardian,' "Being androgynous changes the sexual playing field. A lot of gay guys flirt with me, a lot of straight women flirt with me."
Michael Ochs Archives
Marc Almond of Soft Cell
In his memoir, 'Tainted Life: The Autobiography,' the openly-gay Almond disputed being categorized as a "gay artist." "It enables people to marginalize your work and reduce its importance, implying that it won't be of any interest to anyone who isn't gay," he wrote.
Tegan and Sara
Both twin sisters of the Canadian indie duo are openly gay. Sara told 'Metro Weekly' she was the first twin to come out: "We just never really talked about it. It didn't seem weird as a teenager to not talk about it. But as soon as I got out of high school, all of a sudden it was important for me to define that and use that language. And so I was the first one to start saying, 'I'm gay. I'm dating a woman.' Tegan didn't come out right away."
Andy Bell of Erasure
The openly-gay synthpop singer revealed he was HIV-positive in 2004, and said he had known since 1998. In a statement, he wrote, "Being HIV-positive does not mean that you have AIDS. My life expectancy should be the same as anyone else's, so there is no need to panic. There is still so much hysteria and ignorance surrounding HIV and AIDS. Let's just get on with life."
Before he turned to reality TV, RuPaul released two dance albums in the 1990s and spawned the hit single "Supermodel (You Better Work)." RuPaul, who describes himself as an introvert when not in makeup, truly is the queen of drag queens. He recently told Access Hollywood about the love of his life: “There’s a man… we were committed for many years. We split up, but we’ve never really quite split up. He is the love of my life. He has a ranch in Wyoming.”
Fred Schneider of the B-52's
Frontman of New Wave pioneers the B-52's told Howard Stern in 2010 about coming out to his mother as a teen. According to Schneider, she replied, "Oh, I know, Freddie," and continued vacuuming.
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Just before the release of his debut studio album, Odd Future member Ocean revealed his first love was a man in an emotional blog post. Whether he's gay, bisexual or just open minded has not been confirmed.
The avant-garde German countertenor combined stage theatrics with opera and New Wave music. He impressed David Bowie so much that the androgynous icon recruited him as a backup singer for an infamous 'Saturday Night Live' performance in 1979. Nomi died of AIDS-related complications in 1983.
DJ Junior Vasquez
Famed house DJ/producer DJ Junior Vasquez told 'A&U' magazine about New York's wild gay underground in the 1970s: “I saw what went on there, but I didn’t get caught up in it. My boyfriend wonders how I escaped AIDS being around in those days. I tell him it’s because I’m a top and I’m not promiscuous.”
Rob Halford of Judas Priest
Metal wailer Halford came out in 1998: "For me, it was a very empowering thing to set myself free," he told the 'Dallas Observer' in 2011. "The biggest thrill was the acceptance of my fans more than anything else. The guys in the band knew. The families knew. The general heavy metal fan did not know. I didn't know how the fans would react."
Beth Ditto of Gossip
Although Ditto is an outspoken, proud lesbian these days, she was very uncomfortable with her sexuality as a teenager. She told 'Starpulse,' "I used to pray to get pregnant when I was 18. I did not want to be gay. I did not want to face that truth and I used to pray to God that I would just get pregnant."
Chuck Panozzo of Styx
Styx's bassist and co-founder came out in 2001 at a Chicago Human Rights Campaign Dinner. He told 'HIVPlusmag' in 2009 about being HIV positive: "I was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and developed full-blown AIDS in 1998. I wasn’t all that surprised by it. I was of that generation of gay guys who for a long time didn’t realize what was going on. We had a lot of unprotected sex because that’s what everyone was doing, and no one knew that there was any downside to it."
Boy George of Culture Club
"My family knew I was gay when I was 15, long before I got famous. But it’s a very different thing coming out to your family and coming out to the universe. That’s a big step. Maybe without me, there wouldn’t be Adam Lambert. Without Bowie, there wouldn’t be me" - Boy George told 'The Hollywood Reporter' in 2011.
Sylvester James, who performed in drag as Sylvester, was one of the key figures in disco music, best known for the anthemic "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)." Sylvester died of AIDS-related complications in 1988.
Members of Village People
No, not all of the Village People were gay. In the classic lineup, here's who was out: Alex Briley (G.I./sailor), Randy Jones, (Cowboy), Felipe Rose (Native American).
Michael Ochs Archives
Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner
Openly-gay electroclash musician Spooner told 'Butt' magazine about his first boyfriend, Michael Stipe, in 2002: "He was a good lay. He could f**k the chrome off a bumper. He definitely f**ked the sh*t out of me."
Freddie Mercury of Queen
The flamboyant, bisexual lead singer of theatrical rock outfit Queen, Mercury once told 'NME' he was "As gay as a daffodil." Mercury released the following statement in 1991: "I wish to confirm that I have been tested HIV positive and have AIDS. I felt it correct to keep this information private to date to protect the privacy of those around me. However, the time has come now for my friends and fans around the world to know the truth and I hope that everyone will join with me, my doctors, and all those worldwide in the fight against this terrible disease. My privacy has always been very special to me and I am famous for my lack of interviews. Please understand this policy will continue." Not long after, Mercury died of AIDS-related complications.
Michael Ochs Archives
Kele Okereke of Bloc Party
Lead singer of British indie rock outfit Bloc Party told 'Butt' magazine about coming out to his parents in 2010: "My parents are super-Catholic and they come from a culture in Nigeria where there weren’t any visible gay people who were out and were happy.... If I’d have had someone saying it’s okay to be you when I was a teenager, I’d probably be a very different person. That is why I’m doing this now, after years of not doing it. It’s good to show that gays come in all shapes and size."
Indie singer-songwriter Owen Pallett told 'OutSmart' how being gay influences his work only incidentally: "I tend not to think about what [effect] gay language is going to have on the ears of the listeners. But it is interesting when the song is written and recorded and you come back to it, and you’re like, 'Whoa! This is a pretty gay thing!'"
The prolific pop maestro came out as bisexual to 'Rolling Stone' in 1976, and later in 1988 he told the magazine he was gay. He has been in a relationship with his current partner, David Furnish, since 1993.
Rufus Wainwright, son of folk singer-songwriters Loudon Wainwright III and Kate McGarrigle, told 'Metro Weekly' his coming out was "pretty traumatic" in a 1999 interview. "I was 14 at the time, and it was right smack in the middle of the early AIDS thing. I thought I was going to die for about five years, because I'd had sex when I was very young. And in those days I thought you got AIDS if you kissed somebody. So I was constantly surrounded by fear of dying.... My mother wasn't happy when she found out. She'd found a magazine or something and so I told her. She basically told me, "Don't tell me something I don't want to hear." And I went, "Okay." And then I basically told her I was straight. She just wanted to live in denial for a while which I think a lot of parents want to do. I came out again much later, when I was 18. I made the announcement and then it was more accepted."
Wendy & Lisa
Wendy Melvoin (guitar) and Lisa Coleman (keyboard & piano) were part of Prince's backing band the Revolution in the 1980s, best known for being part of the 'Purple Rain' album and film. Although they were never in the closet, they only officially came out in a 2009 interview with 'Out Magazine.' "I didn’t want to be a lesbian musician," Melvoin said. "I felt really uncomfortable with that role. I was already fighting, being a guitar player in a man’s world and to have that on top of it. Lisa and I were so very married at the time, it just didn’t seem like something I could handle."
Lance Bass of *NSYNC
The *NSYNC singer came out to 'People' magazine in 2006. He explained why he didn't come out during the boy band's heyday: "I knew that I was in this popular band and I had four other guys' careers in my hand, and I knew that if I ever acted on it or even said [I was gay], it would overpower everything."
Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields
The genius behind '69 Love Songs' talked about gay marriage with 'The Quietus' in 2010: "At least in America, people on Death Row can get married. Serial killers can get married. I don’t understand why I can’t. I like the old feminist slogan, 'Keep your laws off my body.' I totally believe that. I don’t understand why other people feel they have the right to prohibit me from doing things that they themselves can do."
Grant Hart and Bob Mould of Hüsker Dü
Hüsker Dü's frontman and guitarist (Mould) and drummer (Hart) are both openly gay. "When 'Zen Arcade' came out and people heard songs like 'The Biggest Lie,' other gay musicians knew immediately what was going on," Mould told 'GQ' in 2011. In 2009, Hart told 'Minnesota Daily,' "I’m so a-typically homosexual that I don’t really think I’m societized gay. I guess I grew up with the ability to not have to wear any of the labels that could apply to me. Or let’s say that I rejected all of them, pretty much, except for punk rocker."
After being arrested for soliciting sex in a public restroom in 1998, the pop star came out in a CNN interview. In 2007, he told 'The Independent' why he hadn't come out earlier: "Understand how much I love my family and that AIDS was the predominant feature of being gay in the 1980s and early '90s as far as any parent was concerned... My mother was still alive and every single day would have been a nightmare for her thinking what I might have been subjected to."
Latin pop sensation Ricky Martin came out as gay on his website in 2010, writing, "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am."
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Neil Tennant of Pet Shop Boys
Synthpop singer-songwriter Neil Tennant officially came out to 'Attitude' magazine in 1994. "I could spend several pages discussing 'gay culture,' but for the sake of argument [Pet Shop Boys] have contributed a lot. And the simple reason for this is that I have written songs from that point of view. What I'm saying is that I'm gay, and I have written songs from that point of view. So, I mean, I'm being completely honest with you here, but those are the facts of the matter."
The lead singer of Antony and the Johnsons described being transgender to 'Out' earlier this year. "I’m an artist, I’m an animist. I’m transgendered. I’m very non-Christian.... Queer expression is where I found all my fulfillment since childhood. Trans men give us so much. We have to dream for the future of men, because men need so much help. Trans people offer a new interpretation of how to perform as male with the knowledge of experience of the feminine in the back pocket."
Laura Jane Grace of Against Me!
Against Me! lead singer (formerly Tom Gabel) came out as transgender to 'Rolling Stone' earlier this year and is in the process of hormone replacement therapy. She described coping with her gender identity to 'RS': "The cliché is that you're a woman trapped in a man's body, but it's not that simple. It's a feeling of detachment from your body and from yourself. And it's sh*tty, man."
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One of the major figures in American classical music in the 20th century, 'Appalachian Spring' composer Copland guarded his privacy but wasn't closeted. Fellow composer David Del Tredici talked about his experience with the music giant: "In private he was very open about being a gay man. He'd joke about it. It was perfectly natural."
Both Amy Ray and Emily Saliers are longtime lesbian icons. Ray once told About.com, "I would consider myself butch, but that word that is part of my gay generation." In an ArtistDirect chat, Saliers told a fan, "My father is a minister and a theology professor. He's really open, and I consider him a leader, because he believes, and other leaders believe, that those members of the church who are constantly voting to ostracize gay people are wrong. I believe that eventually things will change."
Linda Perry of 4 Non Blondes
The lead singer of 4 Non Blondes (and hit producer for P!nk and Christina Aguilera and Gwen Stefani) has been an out lesbian as long as she's been famous. In 1996, she participated in a "Lesbian Dial-A-Date" on Howard Stern's radio show.
The runner-up on season two of 'American Idol' came out in a 'People' magazine cover story in 2008 right after becoming a father.