10 Celesbians Who Came (Out) Late To The Party

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Nobody ever said coming out was easy, and if you’re a woman in Hollywood, the decision to come out as lesbian or bisexual, particularly for seasoned actresses, can run the risk of making or breaking one’s career. Although living out and proud as a lesbian or queer woman in Hollywood is much easier now than it used to be, the brave women who have waited years and finally felt safe enough to acknowledge their sexuality are too often to this day face with shock and judgment. So many powerhouse women have paved the way over the years by coming out later in life, showing all of us that there is no right age or time in your life to come to terms with letting the world know who you love. Here are 10 actresses who made waves and serve as major inspiration for coming out later in life.

10. Robin Roberts

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An influential journalist and veteran sports anchor for 15 years on ESPN, Robin Roberts joined  “Good Morning America”  as the anchor in 2005. At the end 2013 after undergoing a bone marrow transplant as a result of the blood disorder myelodysplastic syndrome, Robin published an open letter thanking her partner of eight years, Amber Laign, for helping her through the difficult journey. Amber, who is a massage therapist. met Robin on a blind date over ten years ago. During an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Robin referred to her partner, who was backstage, by saying, “She doesn’t really like the spotlight. She’s here right now. I can’t get her to come out.” To which Ellen responded that it was too late for that now! Robin Roberts came out as gay at 53 years old.

9. Maria Bello

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2013 was a popular year for coming out using the craft of the written word. On November 29th of that year, Maria Bello, known for her roles in Coyote Ugly and Prisoners, published a piece in The New York Times entitled, “Coming Out as a Modern Family”. In this piece, Maria describes the relationship with her best friend, Clare Munn, and how her son reacted when she explained to him that this friendship had evolved into something more romantic. Jackson, who was then 12-years-old, responded to Maria by saying, “Mom, love is love. Whatever you are”. Jackson’s response inspired the book Maria published two years later that delves more deeply into her personal journey, entitled “Whatever…Love is Love: Labels We Give Ourselves”. Mara Bello came out as bisexual at age 45.

8. Wanda Sykes

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Comedian and actress Wanda Sykes, first recognized by her Emmy win for her writing on The Chris Rock Show, married her partner one month before coming out to a crowd in Las Vegas back in 2008 during a rally for gay rights. Although she has always openly mentioned her wife during her standup comedy routines, Wanda was motivated to publicly announce her sexuality after the passage of Proposition 8. She announced, “I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay.” A consistent controversial claim often made by Wanda centers around being gay as a more difficult discrimination to face than being black. Wanda Sykes came out at 44 years old and has twins with her wife Alex Niedbalski.

7. Sarah Paulson

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 If you’re a fan of Sarah Paulson (who isn’t), you’ve surely noticed her massive awards sweep that began with the Golden Globes and continued last Sunday night at the SAG Awards, where she snagged the green statue for her epic, viscerally moving role as Marcia Clark in “The People v. O.J. Simpson”.  Sarah’s coming out story is a unique one for Hollywood, as it was as public and as accidental as it gets. When her former partner Cherry Jones won a Tony Award back in 2005 for Doubt, Sarah excitedly congratulated her with a kiss, momentarily unaware of the statement that natural display of affection was making. Sarah Paulson came out when she was 31 years old and is currently dating actress Holland Taylor.

6. Holland Taylor

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 The 74-year-old renowned actress, best known for her Emmy-award winning role in The Practice, delivered one of the most poignant and resonating quotes when she discussed her sexuality openly back in 2015 during a radio interview with WNYC. After acknowledging that she was in a committed relationship with a much younger woman and that most of her prior relationships had been with women, she explained that over the years she has felt no need to make a proclamation regarding her sexuality. She explained that if someone asked about the subject she would respond with, “No, I haven’t come out because I am out. I live out.” Although Holland wouldn’t reveal the name of her current partner at the time, she and her girlfriend Sarah Paulson have seen gone public with their love for one another. Holland Taylor came out at age 72.

5. Meredith Baxter

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 Best known for her longstanding role in the ’80s television show Family Ties, Meredith Baxter came out as a lesbian during a 2009 interview on The Today Show, resulting in a media frenzy. Meredith made her rounds with the media confirming her sexuality after a tabloid ran a story claiming she was spotted on a lesbian cruise in the Caribbean, which she was on with her partner Nancy Locke. Peter, her son, who was 25 at the time, told People magazine that he was thrilled she had finally figured it out. The public surprise that resulted in Meredith’s confirmation of her sexuality was apparent by the tasteless headline phrases such as “Lesbian Lover” that still pop up when you conduct a Google search. In 2011, Meredith published a memoir entitled “Untied: A Memoir of Family, Fame, and Floundering”. Meredith Baxter came out when she was 63 years old.

 4. Jodie Foster

Best known for, well, being a powerhouse, Jodie Foster has earned Oscars for The Accused and The Silence of the Lambs, along with the Golden Globes lifetime achievement honor, the Cecil B. DeMille Award. During the heat of protests surrounding speculation of perceived homophobia in The Silence of the Lambs, rumors arose regarding her sexuality, including two feature articles published in “OutWeek” and “The Village Voice”. While this gossip circulated back in 1991, Jodie waited until 2013 to publicly address her sexuality during her acceptance of the Cecil B. DeMille Award, although she did pay tribute to her now ex-partner during a Hollywood breakfast back in 2007. During the speech, she claimed that her sexual identity has always been an aspect of her life that she had been dedicated to keeping private. Jodie Foster came out at as gay at age 50, and she is now married to Alexandra Hedison.

3. Kelly McGillis

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Juilliard graduate and heartthrob co-star with Tom Cruise in the film Top Gun, Kelly McGillis has faced repeated struggles surrounding her comfort level with her own sexuality. During the years between her two marriages to men, Kelly was attacked, raped, and robbed by an intruder while she lived with her girlfriend in 1982. In an interview with SheWired back in 2009, Kelly was asked if she was single and whether she would prefer to date a woman or a man. Kelly responded by saying, “Definitely a woman. I’m done with the man thing”. During the interview, Kelly recalled how many years she had dealt with coming to terms with her sexuality, explaining her belief that God was punishing her for being a lesbian when she was attacked. Kelly McGillis came out at as a lesbian at 51 years old and now teaching acting in Asheville, North Carolina.

2. Lily Tomlin

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 The younger generation might know Lily Tomlin from her starring role in the Netflix original series Grace and Frankie, but her most notable role as Jane Wagner in the show “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe”, which earned her a tony and was written by her now wife Jane Wagner. Lily and Jane tied the knot in 2013, after 42 years of dating. Lily claimed she waited to come out publicly until her mother passed away, but during an interview with NPR when asked what her reply would have been in the ’80s if she were gay she answered, “I probably would have said something like, um … ‘yes, I am.’ I couldn’t have lied — it would have been too diminishing to lie.” Just Sunday Lily received the Lifetime Achievement Award from SAG, presented to her by Dolly Parton. Lily Tomlin came out when she was 74 years old.

1. Ellen DeGeneres

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 The woman. The legend. America’s  favorite lesbian and the namesake of this site and its home for lesbian and bisexual women. Ellen DeGeneres came out as gay publicly on The Oprah Winfrey Show back in 1997, altering the course of the taboo surrounding lesbians in Hollywood, paving the way for this generation of strong, proud, lesbian, bi, and queer women. Shortly after her guest appearance on Oprah’s show, Ellen proceeded to develop and air an entire episode of her television show dedicated to her self-titled character’s coming out, which was the highest-rated episode of the entire series. The comedian and activist’s career took some serious blows following this event, but Ellen persevered and continued to inspire others, now a seasoned host of her own award-winning talk show,  the Emmy’s, the Oscars and using her titular animated character Dory to impact lives and make statements to this day. Just today she made headlines by using the character to criticize the recent immigration ban put into place by Donald Trump. Former President Obama awarded Ellen the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the end of 2016. Ellen came out at age 37, and is currently married to Portia di Rossi.

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