Top 10 Coming Outs of 2012
The courageous people that helped gain visibility for the LGBT community.
1. Puerto Rican boxer Orlando Cruz
Boxer Orlando Cruz knocked off the boxing world when he announced he was a "proud gay man" in October. According to the Associated Press, Cruz is believed to be the first professional boxer to come out as gay while still competing.
"I developed physically and mentally to take such a big step in my life and in my profession, which is boxing, knowing that it would have pros and cons, highs and lows in this sport that is so macho," Cruz told the AP. "I kept this hidden for many, many years."
The Puerto Rican boxer, ranked among the top in the world in the featherweight division, made the announcement in the heels of his fight with Mexican boxer Jorge Pazos for the WBO Latino title. Cruz won the fight unanimously.
"I’ve been fighting for more than 24 years and as I continue my ascendant career, I want to be true to myself," he said. "I have always been and always will be a proud gay man."
2. R&B Singer Frank Ocean
If there were any stereotypes left to be broken, they are gone now. Frank Ocean shook the hip-hop community when he revealed his first love had been a man in a blog post last July. Ocean’s coming out in the often-homophobic business of rap and hip-hop music is living proof that things are getting better for the LGBT community.
While many thought the news would be a turnoff for many fans, people appreciated his bravery. The media attention he received, coupled with his talent, put him at the top of the music charts this year. He was the best-selling artist for U.K. music retailer HMV, was named MTV person of the year, and received six Grammy nominations.
3. Journalist Anderson Cooper
CNN news anchor and war correspondent Anderson Cooper publicly announced he’s gay in a letter to long-time friend writer Andrew Sullivan of The Daily Beast last July.
Sullivan wrote that, knowing that Cooper was gay, he asked him for his outlook on how the visibility of gay people was paramount for the LGBT community to gain full equal rights.
Cooper responded by coming out of the closet and explaining why he didn’t publicly talk about his sexual orientation before.
"The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud," Cooper wrote.
4. Matrix director Lana Wachowski
Larry is now Lana. One of the Wachowski brothers, Larry, known for directing the blockbuster trilogy "The Matrix," became the first major Hollywood director to publicly come out as transgender in late July.
The 47-year-old director revealed her transition while promoting her latest film, "Cloud Atlas," The New York Post reported. A trailer of the movie showed Lana introducing the film with her brother, Andy Wachowski, and director Tom Tykwer. "Hi, I’m Lana," she’s seeing saying, with her hair styled in pink dreadlocks, a reminiscent to that of Milla Jovovich in "The Fifth Element." Before transitioning, Wachowski had actually been married for over 10 years.
Lana Wachowski revealed she had struggled with her sexuality from a young age, and even contemplated suicide before transitioning during a speech she gave while accepting the Visibility Award at the Human Rights Campaign annual gala in October.
5. Former NFL Player Wade Davis
When former NFL player Wade Davis came out to his sister almost eight years ago, she made a comment saying she was going to be their parents’ favorite from now on. When he approached his mother, she told him that being gay is an "abomination" and that "you already have enough being black."
"That process was very hard; me and my mother are still evolving. I’ve been with my partner for six years and she’s never met him. It wasn’t acceptable for her, and we never talk about it when we see each other," Davis, now 34, a former defensive back for the Tennessee Titans, Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins, told SFGN.
"The idea of masculinity is something that people grew up with in the black community. That makes you question, can I grow up strong black gay man? They think you’re weak, effeminate. It’s a black community problem, not a black MSM problem," he said.
Davis came out publicly in an interview with Out Sports last June. He now works providing LGBT youth with support and advice at the Hetrick-Martin Institute in New York.
6. Astronaut Sally Ride
Sally Ride, the first American woman to be in outer space, came out posthumously in a letter after battling and succumbing to pancreatic cancer last July.
According to The Washington Post, she now makes history, not only for being the first U.S. woman to be launched into space, but she was also the first gay person to do so. Ride had been in a relationship with a woman for the last 27 years, before that, she had been married to a man.
It is believed that she never publicly addressed her sexuality prior to her death at the age of 61, after a 17-month battle with cancer. In December, a NASA spacecraft crash landing site on the moon’s north pole was renamed in honor of the lesbian astronaut.
7. Newspaper owner Kevin McClatchy
Kevin McClatchy, the former owner of baseball team the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the current head of the media conglomerate under his name -- which includes The Miami Herald -- came out in September.
"I’m sure people will criticize me because I came out later, and I should have come out while I was in baseball and in the thick of it," McClatchy told the New York Times, adding that his decision to come out was made in part due to the homophobic climate in baseball.
McClatchy, 49, owned the Pirates from 1996 until 2007.
"You’re not going to solve any problem until you start a dialogue," he said. "And there’s no dialogue right now."
8. Actor Matt Bomer
Perhaps one of the most dazzling actors in television today, Bomer’s coming out has been seen by critics as a risky move for an actor who guns for male leading roles along female characters in big screen movies. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old White Collar star came out in February.
Bomer opened up about what it was like for him to spend his high school years closeted and growing up "covering his tracks," while at a Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network awards ceremony.
"When that happens, when you aren’t allowed to speak about who you are, one of the most authentic parts of who you are, which is who you love or who you’re attracted to, feels invisible."
The actor has three children with partner and publicist Simon Halls.
9. Australian footballer Jason Ball
Australian Rules footballer Jason Ball became the first player in the sport to come out in an effort to wipe out homophobia. And it actually worked pretty well.
"It was the one place I never thought I’d be able to come out. Ever. It just felt like a really hostile environment. I worried I’d be bullied, maybe I’d get kicked out of the side, maybe the opposition would treat me differently or I’d get abuse [from supporters] over the fence," he told The Sunday Age referring to his teammates. "I didn’t know any footballers who were gay, so I could only assume the worst, and it scared me."
Ball also started a campaign to show an anti-homophobia ad during a major championship game. The petition garnered over 25,000 signatures in a short period of time.
10. Olympic archer Karen Hultzer
South African archer Karen Hultzer publicly confirmed she is a lesbian while competing at the Olympic Games in London.
"I am an archer, middle aged and a lesbian. I am also cranky before my first cup of coffee. None of these aspects define who I am, they are simply part of me," she told SBNation and Outsports. "I am fortunate that my sexual identity is not an issue, and I don’t suffer the level of discrimination and violence that black lesbians in South Africa do. I look forward to the day when this is a non-issue and as relevant as my eye color or favorite sushi."
According to SBNation, she is the second South African Summer Olympian to come out, following beach volleyball player Leigh-Ann Naidoo in 2004.