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21 Actors Who Publicly Came Out After Portraying A Queer Character In A Beloved TV Show Or Movie

Dominique Provost-Chalkley came out after playing Waverly Earp on Wynonna Earp, and I'm still emotional about it.

1. First, after starring as Alex Danvers on Supergirl, Chyler Leigh publicly opened up about her sexuality in a heartfelt blog post. She talked about how playing Alex and showing her coming-out journey gave her the courage to come out as part of the LGBTQ community. "When I was told that my character was to come out in Season 2, a flurry of thoughts and emotions flew through and around me because of the responsibility I personally felt to authentically represent Alex’s journey," Chyler began.

Alex talking about Maggie and saying she's smart, tough, and so beautiful

"What I didn’t realize was how the scene where she finally confessed her truth would leap off the pages of the script and genuinely become a variation of my own IRL," Chyler continued. "My heart felt like it was going to beat out of my chest each take we filmed, every time presenting another opportunity to get those honest words out of my mouth. Though they don’t exactly match my personal dialogue, the heart behind it surely did. From the director, the press, the media, the cast, and the fans, I’m still told that it was the most realistic coming-out scene they’d ever witnessed. And to steal from Alex’s words, that’s because there’s some truth to what she said about me."

2. In April 2019, Tyler Blackburn shared that he's identified as bisexual since he was a teenager. This came after he started playing Alex Manes on Roswell, New Mexico earlier that year. Tyler talked about his struggles growing up, saying, "I got bullied a lot by other boys, and I just felt like my soul was slowly being taken from me. ... You form a shell around yourself for protection," he began.

Alex telling Michael "We're not kids anymore; what I want doesn't matter," and then they kiss

"I stopped doing so many of the things that I loved doing because it felt safer. That right there is the outcome of oppression. When you literally have to mute who you are in order to feel safe. That’s soul-crushing. I'm queer. I've identified as bisexual since a teenager. I just want to feel powerful in my own skin, and my own mind, and in my own heart."

3. Shortly after The Sex Lives of College Girls premiered in 2021, Renée Rapp, who plays Leighton, publicly said that she's identified as queer from a "pretty young" age. "It’s a queer, evolving story," Renée said while discussing her sexuality. "What I think is beautiful about this younger generation is that we have more grace about finding your identity and how these things change, and loving that part of yourself."

Leighton tells Kimberly that she "doesn't want to be like this" and "it's terrifying," and Kimberly says "coming out seems really scary," but the only way you can be happy is to be yourself, and then they hug

In fact, Renée worked with executive producer Justin Noble to help craft Leighton's story in Season 1. While Renée has always felt comfortable expressing her sexuality, she said it ended up being very "difficult" to portray Leighton's closeted storyline. "It was like vomiting out my deepest, darkest fears about my own internalized homophobia," she explained. "It made for some very emotional days."

4. Following the Grey's Anatomy episode in Season 15 where Levi and Nico share their first kiss, Jake Borelli, who plays Levi, adorably took to Instagram to share with the world that he's gay in real life too. "As a gay guy myself, tonight's episode was so special to me. This is exactly the kind of story I craved as a young gay kid growing up in Ohio, and it blows my mind that I'm able to bring life to Dr. Levi Schmitt as he begins to grapple with his own sexuality this season on Grey’s Anatomy," he began.

Levi telling Nico he's a great teacher, and then they kiss

"His vulnerability and courage inspire me every day, and I hope he can do the same for you. To all of you who feel like little Levis out there, know that I do too, that you are seen, and that we're all in this together. And to everyone who has supported me over the years, I can't thank you enough, and I love you more than all the stars..."

5. After starring as Waverly Earp on Wynonna Earp, Dominique Provost-Chalkley came out as queer, and later nonbinary, in a touching blog post in 2020. Dom detailed how playing a member of the LGBTQ community on TV helped them express their own sexuality. "I was propelled into a job that made me face my greatest fears. Emily Andras took a chance on me and cast me as the beautifully positive bisexual representation that is Miss Waverly Earp," Dom began.

Waverly telling Nicole it's not easy to be brazen when the thing you want most is right in front of you, and she says she doesn't know how to do this, and Nicole says "sure, you do," and then they kiss

"Through this incredible, enlightening journey of playing a queer character and meeting the fans that are drawn to her, I guess I’ve reevaluated how I am to face this part of me. Hanging out with the community over the past few years allowed me to see, time and time again, people achieving mini milestones and stepping into their light. It has made me more certain than ever that I also have to at least try being brave and hopefully contribute to the positive ripple effect that is caused when we step up and live authentically."

6. Also, Katherine Barrell, who played Nicole Haught on Wynonna Earp, publicly addressed her sexuality in 2019. At the time, Kat had been playing Nicole, who dates and ultimately marries Waverly, for three years. "I am attracted to both men and women, and the person I fell in love with is a man," she said.

Nicole: Are you real? Waverly: Are you? Nicole: Get in here and check, and then they kiss

"I wish it could just be about the human I am in love with, not their gender. This is why I am so passionate about advocating for equal acceptance across the spectrum of sexuality. Let’s just love who we love and leave each other alone. The world has bigger problems." Kat has been a strong supporter of advocating for better LGBTQ representation onscreen.

7. 9-1-1: Lone Star actor Ronen Rubinstein came out as bisexual in 2021 and cited his work on the hit series as his inspiration. In the series, Ronen's character, T.K., has been in a relationship with Carlos for a long time, with fans giving them the ship name "Tarlos."

Carlos says welcome home to TK, and then they kiss

"I fully identify as bisexual. I literally just got goosebumps saying that," Ronen said in an interview with Variety. "It feels so good to talk about it, it feels so good to finally be comfortable with it. ... There was definitely a fear of sort of embracing how I felt. I was definitely more aware of it in high school. I was aware of my feelings and how I started looking at men, but I couldn't talk to anybody about it."

Ronen on the red carpet

8. After playing Callie Torres on Grey's Anatomy — still the longest-running LGBTQ character in TV history — Sara Ramirez first came out as bisexual in 2016 and now identifies as nonbinary. Sara came out as nonbinary prior to starring as Che Diaz on And Just Like That... "Che is someone who came out as nonbinary later in life and who speaks their truth unapologetically. I thought, This character will teach me a lot about how to embrace the power that you have, even against systems that would have you shut down," they explained.

Arizona tells Callie that there will be people lining up for her, and when Callie asks for some names, Arizona says she thinks she'll know

Speaking about their coming-out journey, Sara said, "There was so much for me to unlearn, and I faced my own internalized oppression. In this society, we often feel this pressure to live in these rigid boxes. When I stepped out of the box I had put myself in, I discovered my own possibilities for change."

Sara wearing a "No body is illegal" T-shirt

9. During the filming of Love, Simon, where he played Bram, Keiynan Lonsdale came out to the cast and crew of the film before publicly addressing his sexuality in an Instagram post that read, "I like girls, & I like guys (yes)." Keiynan explained that he was out to the cast of The Flash, some family, and a lot of friends, but working on Love, Simon helped give him the confidence to come out to everyone.

Simon says "It's you" to Bram, and when he asks if he's disappointed, they kiss

"Before we got to the afterparty [for Love, Simon], we just went out for drinks," he recalled. "Like, all the cast and I. I don’t even know how I said it, but I just said it to the group, and they were of course really supportive, and I explained to them that I wish I had said something earlier. It was great. It’s an interesting thing to go through that kind of growth and learn those lessons while your character is also learning those lessons. I’m very thankful for it."

Keiynan in a cowboy jacket with tassles

10. In 2022, after starring as Maya Bishop on Station 19 for five seasons, Danielle Savre publicly addressed her sexuality for the first time. First, on a podcast, Danielle revealed that she has been in love with women before.

Maya telling her father that she's "bisexual or queer" and that she's in love with a woman and they're getting married tonight

Then, while attending A Day With... convention in Milan alongside her Station 19 costar Stefania Spampinato, who plays her love interest Carina DeLuca, Danielle talked to fans, saying, "There's a lot of shame that's associated with the LGBTQ community that's put on us. And it's wrong, and it sucks. I felt shame because I had feelings, romantic relationships with people of both sexes. I'm very private about my personal life."

11. Ella Hunt publicly came out as queer after starring as Sue Gilbert, who was in love with Emily Dickinson, on Dickinson. In an interview in 2021, Ella talked about how she thought that "queer" "is a beautiful word," "it's an attitude," and not "specifically about sexuality." She also said that she identifies as queer to her friends in New York City.

Sue says she only feels things when she's with Emily and there's so much she doesn't want to feel — like the fact that she's in love with Emily

In a series of tweets, Ella later clarified her comments and said that she does identify as queer. She tweeted, "[W]hen the interviewer asked me directly if I was queer I got anxious and fumbled my answer. (Having not openly talked about my identity for long). [...] I am queer and I am happy to be open about it. (I just get all kinds of nervous and fumbly in interviews sometimes)."

Ella in a long ballerina tulle gown on the red carpet

12. Following his Emmy Award–winning run as Jack McFarland on Will & Grace, Sean Hayes publicly came out in 2010. Sean said he was "too scared" to come out during the show's original run because of the "death threats" he was getting simply for playing a gay character on TV. "I wasn’t looking to be an activist of any kind. I didn’t have the courage and the strength at such a young age to speak on behalf of the gay community," he recalled.

Jack says most people who meet him don't know he's gay, and Will says "blind and deaf people know you're gay; dead people know you're gay"

In 2018, he reflected on his coming-out experience, saying, "I had to be elusive and mysterious. And it’s so funny, it’s so not me. I’m an open book. We were taught by society in the '70s and '80s that being gay was an awful thing. I was taught to keep it a secret; I was taught to be ashamed of it. And now that we’re older and wiser, we have to be bigger than that and work against it."

Sean smiling at a podium and holding an award

13. Samira Wiley, who portrayed Poussey Washington on Orange Is the New Black, publicly addressed her sexuality after Season 1. "First season, I wasn't out at all," Samira explained while detailing how she was accidentally outed by one of her OITNB castmates.

Poussey saying that love is like "kicking it with somebody" and "not even wanting to go to sleep 'cause then you might be without 'em for a minute"

"Someone from my cast actually, during the interview, they were talking about out gay actors in the cast…and they mentioned my name and I saw it in print, and I cried. I cried a lot," she recalled. Samira said it was "a journey" to feel comfortable being out and proud, and now she loves being an outspoken advocate for the LGBTQ community.

14. After playing Cyrus on Andi Mack, who notably became Disney Channel's first openly gay character, Joshua Rush came out as bisexual in 2019. Joshua's coming-out tweet began with, "It's me, I'm bi."

Cyrus tells Jonah he's gay and Jonah says "Yeah? Okay, cool"

He continued, saying, "I stuffed the existential crisis of talking about my sexual orientation into a box in my mind for years. Today, I release it into the world. Thank you to you for giving me the courage to know who I am and tell you this today. Happy 20biteen!"

15. After the third season of Atypical dropped on Netflix, which featured Casey and Izzie sharing their first kiss, Brigette Lundy-Paine, who plays Casey, came out as nonbinary. In an Instagram post, Brigette said, "I’m non-binary, always felt a lil bit boy, lil bit girl, lil bit neither."

Izzie tells Casey if she knew it would jeopardize their friendship, she never would have been honest with her and told her how she felt, since Casey doesn't feel the same way, and then they kiss

Brigette then went on to explain the pronouns they now prefer, saying in the IG post, "Using they/them as of late n it feels right. Scary AF to come out n been rly putting this off. But I feel I owe it to myself and to all of us who struggle w/ gender.”

Brigette in a pantsuit on the red carpet

16. Following her character Rosa's memorable coming-out story on Brooklyn Nine-Nine in Season 5, Stephanie Beatriz announced in 2018 that she's bisexual. In an op-ed published in GQ, Stephanie wrote, "I'm bi, and I'm getting married this fall. I’m excited, nervous, terrified, and so fucking happy. I’m choosing to get married because this particular person brings out the best in me. This person happens to be a man. I’m still bi."

Rosa saying that she and Jake aren't dating but she's not straight, she's bisexual

She continued, "People's sexuality is often defined by who we’re partnered with at any given moment, which can be a frustrating limitation for me. I've had countless tiny 'coming out' moments in my life, often simply to explain to someone else that they have misjudged my sexuality based on who they saw me dating. Now I have a small platform of visibility, because I’m on a fun and (if I do say so myself) damn good television show. I've chosen to use that platform to speak openly about my bi-ness, because of other people who may feel invisible and unsure of whether or not to come out as bisexual."

17. Nearly 17 years after starring in But I'm a Cheerleader, Clea DuVall came out as a lesbian. "When we made But I'm a Cheerleader, I was 21 and very closeted," Clea recalled. "I was so happy to be in the movie and loved it so much, but there was also the side of me that was scared."

Two girls sitting together and one touches the other's arm

She continued, "To end up in this place where I am now, a 43-year-old happily married woman who is so comfortable with myself … That journey was one that was not always easy." In recent years, Clea has talked about writing roles for herself that "align with her identity," and creating roles for other LGBTQ actors, like in Happiest Season.

Clea in a bow tie and pantsuit on the red carpet

18. Adamo Ruggiero, who famously played Marco on Degrassi: The Next Generation, said that playing the first openly gay main character in the franchise's history helped him come out in real life too. "Suddenly, I was a character that was playing to all my deepest, darkest secrets, so there was a lot of negotiation of my coming out personally and a negotiation of my personally not being prepared to have those conversations because they were drawing to these pains in me," Adamo recalled.

Marco tells Spin the reason he walked out on a date with one of Degrassi's coolest girls for his mom's pasta sauce is because he's gay

"What Marco gave me is a community. In the promotion of the show, I connected with a queer world. He just busted open this door of a world that probably would have taken a lot longer to find."

19. After portraying Josie Saltzman, who identified as pansexual, on Legacies, Kaylee Bryant came out as queer in 2021. Kaylee played Josie for nearly four seasons before departing the Vampire Diaries spinoff series in the middle of the final season.

Josie tells Hope she had a crush on her

In her coming-out Instagram post, Kaylee wrote, "Hi 👋 My name is Kaylee and I'm queer! 🏳️‍🌈 Happy Pride Month 🏳️‍🌈."

20. Omar Ayuso, who played Omar Shanaa on Elite for five seasons, addressed his sexuality publicly (and with fans) for the first time when he posted a picture with his boyfriend in 2020.

Omar says to Ander that the first two questions two gay guys ask each other is when you found out you liked guys and whether your parents know

After the first season of Elite dropped in 2018, fans began speculating about Omar's sexuality IRL, given his character's storyline with Ander. Since then, Omar has shared more about himself on his Instagram.

21. And finally, after voicing the character of Amity in The Owl House, who made history when she became the first major recurring LGBTQ character in a Disney animated series, Mae Whitman came out as pansexual in 2021.

Amity and Luz kiss, Amity says "I can't believe I just did that," and Luz says "I can't believe just said that" (Oh, crikey)

In a tweet addressing her sexuality, Mae wrote, "Just taking a moment to say I am SO proud to be even a small part of a show like The Owl House. Being pansexual myself, I wish I had such incredible characters like Amity and Luz in my life when I was growing up. Queer representation is sososo important [...] keep it up world!" The tweet was accompanied by a drawing of Amity and Luz from The Owl House.

We can't fit everyone into one post, so which other actors publicly came out after playing an LGBTQ role? Tell us in the comments below!

Looking for more ways to get involved? Check out all of BuzzFeed's posts celebrating Pride 2022.

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My Fake Boyfriend, a new LGBTQ rom-com from BuzzFeed Studios starring Keiynan Lonsdale, Dylan Sprouse, and Sarah Hyland, is out June 17 in the US — just in time for Pride! Sign up for Prime Video now so you're ready to watch.

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