From the 90s forward, it seems like the floodgates have opened, as more and more celebrities have come out as LGBTQ+. People from the sports and entertainment worlds specifically have made big splashes with their public announcements. While this may have surprised some of their fans, the “coming-outs” have not seemed to reduce their popularity and, in fact, their fan bases have grown to include many more LGBTQ members too. The fact that they all remain working and happy is a testament to our far more tolerant society, and we all should be grateful for that.
Everyone is aware of the most publicized coming-outs, such as Ellen DeGeneres. But there are lots of others celebrities who came out as lesbian who you may not be aware of. Let’s look at a few of them and a bit about their lives now.
The most notable role for actress Nixon was playing Miranda Hobbes in HBO’s acclaimed series, “Sex and the City.” But she was an actress long before that, with roles on Broadway and lots of awards for her achievements. From 1988-to 2003, Nixon was in a relationship with Danny Mozes, a school teacher, and they had two children, one of whom she eventually announced was transgender.
After her breakup with Mozes, Nixon began dating an educator and activist, Christine Marinoni. It stuck. They married in 2012 and now live in New York. About her change in sexual identity, Nixon had this to say: “I don’t really feel I’ve changed. I’d been with men all my life, and I’d never fallen in love with a woman. But when I did, it didn’t seem so strange. I’m just a woman in love with another woman.”
Nixon is one of the biggest advocates of LGBTQ+ rights and, in 2018 ran in the primary governor’s race against Cuomo. Her spouse is also an activist.
Has coming out changed Nixon’s life? Other than being happily married, no. She has remained an activist for several causes, and her career is still going strong – her latest role being in the Netflix series, “Ratched.”
Etheridge says she knew she was a lesbian from the age of 17, and since she is now 60, coming out was probably not so easy in those days. But she did so publicly at one of the 1993 inaugural balls held by President Clinton. She made the announcement on stage. Were the masses shocked? No. Many had suspected she was a lesbian for years. But the impact of announcing her gender identity back in the 90s did give lots of other LGBTQs the courage to do the same, especially in the music industry. In fact, she has mentored lots of other young female singers who have come out.
Over her career, Etheridge has won two Grammies, one of which came from her platinum album “Yes I Am,” with the title “Come to My Window.”
Her growth to fame wasn’t without challenges. When she moved to California, the only places she could get work were at lesbian bars. And all major record labels turned her down. She finally landed a contract with Island Records, and was told her lesbianism was okay as long as she didn’t “wave the gay flag.”
Etheridge has four children, one of whom died from a drug overdose. In her grief, in the midst of the pandemic, she and her wife, Linda Wallem, set up a series of “garage concerts,” literally from their garage, to bring some entertainment to those isolated in their homes.
As to her career? Etheridge recently released a single, “One Way Out,” a song that did not make it onto her earlier albums. At the age of 60, she shows no signs of slowing down.
Baxter is probably best known for her role as the wife and mother in the TV series “Family” that ran from 1976 – to 1980. But her career spans movie roles too, such as “All the President’s Men” and “A Woman Scorned.”
Baxter had three failed marriages, though two of them produced 5 children. She says she probably knew she was a lesbian for a long time but was afraid to admit it to anyone. After all, LGBTQs were not tolerated well in those days. Finally, after her mother had died and her kids were all grown, she came out during an interview with Matt Lauer in 2009, admitting as well that she had been in a relationship with another woman since 2003.
Today Baxter is married to this relationship, Nancy Locke, a contractor.
At 72, Baxter is no longer pursuing her acting career. What she does say is that finally being able to come out was the most liberating experience of her life. She and Locke have settled in a loving, senior-living relationship, and she couldn’t be more content.
What a treasure this woman is to the entertainment industry. Her career began in1997 when she opened for Chris Rock in New York. He was so impressed, he hired her as a writer for “The Chris Rock show,” an HBO late-night talk show which ran from 1997-to 2000. She has since been in lots of films and TV shows, probably best known as Barb in the series, “The New Adventures of Old Christine,” and for the HBO recurring show, “Curb Your Enthusiasm.”
Sykes has always been a political liberal but her advocacy for LGBTQ rights did not begin until once she came out, after California passed the infamous Proposition 8, which she says really “pissed me off.” Even though the proposition was later overturned in court, Sykes has continued to advocate for LGBTQ rights and specifically same-sex marriage and uses her dry and sarcastic wit to do so. A typical piece from her comedy shows is this, to show how ridiculous is the argument by conservatives: “We’ve got to protect marriage, that’s what they say…Same-sex couples, I don’t think that’s the biggest threat to marriage. I think the biggest threat to marriage is divorce…what they should do is ban divorce, right. Make marriage like the mafia; one you’re in, you’re in…The murder rate will go up, but you know.”
Being a woman, a black, and a lesbian puts Sykes in a special class. But those who know her say she is even better today, especially after her marriage in 2008 to Alex and the birth of her twins. She shows no signs of slowing down in appearances or in her activism.
The List is Long
Since the 90s, the number of lesbian celebrities who have come out has exploded, and fan loyalty has not diminished a bit. And their status has meant that they are featured all over the place – at events and even in chats and blog posts on popular LGBTQ websites, such as the popular Taimi. What’s more, the fact that famous people do announce their gender identity, normalizes that identity and allows these celebrities to also become politically active as advocates of LGBTQ+ rights. They literally have lots of clout because of their status, their wealth, and their ability to garner large audiences. They have all helped to normalize non-hetero lifestyles and tolerance for all those who identify as such.
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