Gay celebrities no longer have to hide their sexuality, with Hollywood stars like Neil Patrick Harris, Paris Jackson, Kristen Stewart and Jim Parsons coming out as gay or bisexual early in their careers. Then there are stars like Queen Latifah who simply won’t comment on their private lives. And while some celebrities will never come out of the closet, there are other gay icons who still have to admit to once hiding their secret lives..
WHITNEY HOUSTON made headlines with her troubled marriage to singer Bobby Brown, but even her ex admits that the doomed druggie diva would’ve been happier living life as a lesbian. Specifically, with her longtime companion Robyn Crawford — as Bobby said: “I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney’s life, Whitney would still be alive today.”
JODIE FOSTER is one of Hollywood’s biggest stars, but the out-and-proud gal still spent decades dodging her sexuality. She brought along actor Julian Sands as her “date” to the 1989 Academy Awards, and they “broke up” shortly afterwards. And when her brother Buddy later wrote a book saying that he “always assumed Jodie was gay, or at least bisexual,” Jodie responded that her sibling’s claims were a “cheap cry for attention and money.”
KELLY McGILLIS was Jodie Foster’s costar in “The Accused,” and she also spent years dodging rumors that she was secretly sleeping with ladies. It was no secret that her fumbled love scenes in “Top Gun” were a problem for the production. And while the mother of two later came out as a lesbian, “The Accused” director Jonathan Kaplan said that rumors of a tryst between his stars were “so untrue that it’s insulting!”
ELTON JOHN addressed his sexuality in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone, saying: “There’s nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex.” That same year saw his album “Blue Moves” bombing on the charts, and it took years for his career to recover. Elton’s comeback included a 1984 marriage to ex-wife Renate Blauel, with the singer later recalling: “I denied who I really was.”
BARRY MANILOW officially came out of the closet in 2017, crediting The National ENQUIRER for getting the scoop on his 2014 marriage to husband Garry Keif. “The ENQUIRER caught us getting married,” said Barry, “and so we were stuck!” The pop star had still worked to keep his sexuality secret for decades, even staying away from his mother Edna’s own shows in NYC because she drew a gay crowd. Insiders patiently smiled during her cabaret act when she assured the crowd that Barry wasn’t gay, saying: “I’d also love for him to get married again!”
GEORGE MICHAEL was serenading the ladies as a pop star with Wham! before going solo — but he finally had to address gay rumors after being busted for soliciting sex from an undercover officer in a Beverly Hills bathroom. He insisted in 1998 that he “spent the first half of my career being accused of being gay when I hadn’t had anything like a gay relationship,” but later admitted that he’d “been out to a lot of people since 19.”
TAB HUNTER was one of Hollywood’s hottest stars when his career was derailed after his gay life became an open secret. The screen hunk later said the big studios had sacrificed him to the tabloids to save Rock Hudson’s career — and remembered “dates” with co-star Natalie Wood where he’d go home to Anthony Perkins as she “ran off to go see Dennis Hopper!” Tab later became a gay icon for cracking open Hollywood’s celluloid closet, but the devout Catholic still never married his longtime love Allan Glaser.
RICHARD CHAMBERLAIN was another pioneering star whose sexuality became an open secret — but he still refused to admit for years that he was in a romantic relationship during his decades in Hawaii with ex-love Martin Rabbet. “I’ve obviously become the prime target for people who’ve branded me gay just because I’m a confirmed bachelor, live with a man and have always been extremely private about my personal life,” he once complained. Even now, says Richard, “I wouldn’t advise a gay leading man-type actor to come out.”
KEVIN SPACEY outraged the gay community when he only outed himself after being caught in an underage sex scandal — saying: “I now choose to live my life as a gay man.” Before that, however, Kevin would frequently deny reports of same-sex relationships. At one point, Kevin specifically said any gay rumors were “not true,” and insisted that he’d been living with the same woman for nine years.
ELLEN DeGENERES is a lesbian icon for famously announcing, “Yep, I’m Gay” on the cover of TIME. But when her sitcom “Ellen” premiered in 1994, angry longtime fans noticed that her stand-up act suddenly had her making references to having a boyfriend. She even went on David Letterman’s show to declare, “I really do want to have a baby” — while her publicist denied an ENQUIRER report that she frequented “girl-only bars.”
GORDON THOMSON found fame on the ABC soap “Dynasty,” which featured one of television’s first gay regular characters. Gordon, however, was in the closet while playing scheming businessman Adam Carrington on the hit show. He came out as gay while blasting the recent “Dynasty” reboot. While the show was on the air, however, he briefly carried on a very public romance with actress Kate Vernon.
SARAH PAULSON outed herself after kissing her older lover Cherry Jones at the 2005 Tony Awards — with the “American Horror Story” star now making headlines with her May-December romance with “Two and a Half Men” star Holland Taylor. Sarah still insists that she’s bisexual, which could explain the 2003 interview where she complained about a blind date who was so nervous that, “When he kissed me goodnight, his lips quivered.”
CLAY AIKEN didn’t get applause from some gay advocates when he came out of the closet in 2008. Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh recalled how Clay’s face had “turned into a mask of scorn” when he once asked the “American Idol” star about his sexuality earlier. Others complained about Clay’s denials after The National ENQUIRER caught him chatting up men on a gay dating site. Clay, however, insisted: “I’ve never intended to lie to anybody at all.”