Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Coming out in Print: Award-Winning Actors, Iconic Rock Stars, Champion Athletes, and Controversial Political Figures-All Have Shared Their Coming-Out Stories with the Advocate

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Coming out in Print: Award-Winning Actors, Iconic Rock Stars, Champion Athletes, and Controversial Political Figures-All Have Shared Their Coming-Out Stories with the Advocate

Article excerpt

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Howard J. Brown

Issue 125 November 21, 1973

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New York City's former chief health officer created a sensation when he came out as gay in front of 600 colleagues at a symposium on sexuality. At the time The Advocate described it as the biggest boost for gay liberation in three years. Brown penned an article for the magazine about his decision.

"It is one measure of how society has really oppressed me, that though I had been active in the fight for the poor and for civil rights, it never occurred to me that I could fight for the rights of the homosexuals. The gay freedom fighters redefined my previous feelings of shame at being a homosexual into a sense of rage that society could do this to me and so many of the people I loved."

Michael Kearns

Issue 150 November 6, 1974

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The actor, who'd recently appeared on The Waltons as a friend of John-Boy's, surprised fans of the wholesome TV drama when he allowed his photo to be used on the cover of a faux-autobiographical 1975 book called The Happy Hustler and went on a book tour posing as the hustler, actually a fictional creation. Kearns, who appeared on the cover of The Advocate three times, went on to establish himself as a force in Los Angeles theater, and he made history in 1991 by coming out on national television as the first openly HIV-positive actor. In a 1989 Advocate feature on notable comings-out, he reflected on the impact of The Happy Hustler.

"I had come out on a personal level. That book brought me out on a professional level. If my instincts were ever right in any area, it was that that would happen. It did, and saved my life, my career, everything."

Barry Sandler

Issue 337/March 4, 1982

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The screenwriter of the landmark first gay-themed film from a major studio, Making Love, spoke about feeling as liberated as the characters he created.

"[Doing Making Love] has had a profound and recognizable effect on my personal life. Once you acknowledge to the world, once there are no more secrets, you're no longer concerned about going to a party with another guy. I don't give a shit anymore. This is who I am."

Sip Ian McKellen

Issue 500 June 7, 1988

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The esteemed British actor spoke to The Advocate to protest England's discriminatory Clause 28. After coming out, McKellen, who had already headlined the gay-themed play Bent, continued to star in classic works by Chekhov and Shakespeare and became the first openly gay man to be knighted. After receiving an Academy Award nomination as Best Actor for portraying tortured gay filmmaker James Whale in the 1998 biopic Gods and Monsters, McKellen would host Saturday Night Live, appear as himself on an episode of The Simpsons, and eventually become one of the world's most recognizable movie stars with roles in franchises such as the Lord of the Rings and X-Men films.

"My self-esteem has never been higher than the day when I first told the media I was gay."

Sheila James Kuehl

Issue 553 June 19, 1990

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This child actress turned politician spent her youth on TV, starring as the irrepressible Zelda Gilroy on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis and turning up on other shows, such as The Beverly Hillbillies and The Ed Sullivan Show. She recalled for us that hearing that her Dobie Gillis spin-off wouldn't be picked up coincided with her realization that she was a lesbian. No matter, Harvard eventually came calling, and she earned a law degree there. She later served in the California Assembly and Senate from 1994 to 2008, and her accomplishments there include strengthening hate-crimes and antidiscrimination laws, especially as they deal with gender identity and sexual orientation.

"I was told by the director that the president of CBS turned the pilot down because Zelda was too butch. …

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