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Kehlani on American Music Awards red carpet

Singer Kehlani

Dozens of celebrities came out in 2021 and each one added to the list is another step for representation in media that is desperately needed. The singers, athletes, actors, and performers below each took a leap of faith hoping that sharing a piece of their personal side wouldn’t hurt their career and might even help them connect with their community. Hopefully they all feel welcome.

Alexandra Shipp

Alexandra Shipp

Alexandra Shipp

Alexandra Shipp didn’t specify a label with her June 1 coming out post on Instagram, but it was full of pride: “Sure, we get a month. But for the past 3 years and for the rest of my life, I’ll be celebrating every day. Because I choose me.” The actress, 30, is best known for her roles in X-Men and Love, Simon.

 

Candace Parker

Candace Parker

Candace Parker (Photo by EugenePowers)

WNBA superstar Candace Parker, 35, came out in a beautiful December 14 Instagram post revealing that she married Russian basketball player Anna Petrakova two years ago… and that Petrakova is pregnant!

 

Demi Lovato

Demi Lovato singing

Demi Lovato (Photo: kobbydagan)

The singer and actor, 29, came out as pansexual in March and as nonbinary in May. In August, they shared they’re on a lifelong journey of self-discovery: “There might be a time where I identify as trans. I don’t know what this looks like for me. There might be a time where I identify as non-binary and gender-nonconforming my entire life. Or maybe there’s a period of time when I get older that I identify as a woman, I don’t know what that looks like, but for me, in this moment right now, this is how I identify.”

 

DreamDoll

DreamDoll

DreamDoll (Photo via Instagram)

Rapper DreamDoll, 29, who was on Love & Hip Hop: New York, came out as bisexual on June 1 in an Instagram post.

 

Elvira

Elvira

Elvira (Photo: s_bukley)

Seventy-year-old Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira revealed in her September book Yours Cruelly, Elvira that she’s had a female partner, Teresa Wierson, for 19 years.

 

Gigi Goode

Gigi Goode

Gigi Goode (Photo via Instagram)

On August 29, Gigi Goode, 24, of RuPaul’s Drag Race fame announced on Instagram that she is trans and nonbinary, using she/her pronouns, and legally changing her name to Gigi.

 

Halsey

Halsey

Halsey (Photo: s_bukley)

Singer Halsey, 27, already came out as bisexual back in 2015, but on March 13 she updated her pronouns to she/they on her social media accounts. After fans showed support, she wrote a simple “thank you” on her Instagram story.

 

Hikaru Utada

Hikaru Utada

Hikaru Utada (Photo via Instagram)

Hikaru Utada, 38, is one of the most popular, successful, and influential singer-songwriters in Japan, though they were born in New York. They came out on an Instagram Live as nonbinary on June 28.

 

JoJo Siwa

JoJo Siwa drinking coffee

JoJo Siwa (Photo via Instagram)

One of the biggest coming out headlines of the year was dancer and singer JoJo Siwa, 18, who went on to become the first person to compete with a same-sex partner on Dancing with the Stars. Siwa had not settled on a label when she came out in January.

 

Kal Penn

Kal Penn

Kal Penn (Photo: Jean Nelson)

It’s never too late to come out. Kal Penn, 44, has been in the public eye for a long career in film and television including the Harold & Kumar movies and House, but it wasn’t until this year he revealed he has had a partner, Josh, for 11 years and that they are engaged. “I discovered my own sexuality relatively late in life compared to many other people,” he shared with People. “There’s no timeline on this stuff. People figure their s— out at different times in their lives, so I’m glad I did when I did.”

 

Kehlani

Kehlani on American Music Awards red carpet

Kehlani

Singer Kehlani, 26, came out as lesbian in April. While she had been out as queer before, she updated her identity to completely “gay, like gay gay” this year.

 

Kumi Yokoyama

Kumi Yokoyama

Kumi Yokoyama (Photo via el_loko on Wikimedia Commons)

U.S. National Women’s Soccer League Washington Spirit player Kumi Yokoyama, 28, came out on June 19 as a transgender man in a YouTube video. President Biden tweeted his support: “To Carl Nassib and Kumi Yokoyama – two prominent, inspiring athletes who came out this week: I’m so proud of your courage. Because of you, countless kids around the world are seeing themselves in a new light today.”

 

 

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Sarah Prager
Sarah Prager
Sarah Prager is a writer living in Massachusetts with her wife and their two children. She is the author of the award-winning Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World and Rainbow Revolutionaries: 50 LGBTQ+ People Who Made History. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, HuffPost, Bustle, JSTOR Daily, and GO Magazine, among others. www.sarahprager.com.