Whether you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender—or, in Maria Bello’s case, “whatever”—it’s been a great year for coming out.
Through online videos, television interviews, Instagram, and even Twitter, famous and nonfamous people alike have seized the opportunity to show the world who they are. Yes, 2013 supplied us with a heartwarming cascade of moving coming out moments—in some cases, the reaction from friends, family, and the public was perhaps even more touching.
In May, a former Fairview High School student in Colorado, Theodore “Ted” Chalfen, started off his graduation speech with the words, “I’m gay.”
“I’m gay. Many, if not most, of the students here today know this, and most of them don’t really care,” said Chalfen. “The response that I have received, by and large, has been stunning. The amount of people who actually seemed happy to hear that I was gay outnumbered those who didn’t care, and those who didn’t care far outnumbered the small group who reacted negatively. That says an awful lot more about this class at Fairview High School than it does about me.”
There are certainly hurdles left to jump. But acceptance, and not just tolerance, is spreading vastly throughout the country, giving way to a new world where perhaps someday no one will feel the need to go in the closet in the first place.
Filipina superstar Charice—who has made appearances on “Oprah” and “Ellen,” and had a recurring role on “Glee” as Rachel’s vocal nemesis, Sunshine Corazon, came out as a lesbian during an ABC interview in June.
“I hope someday, sexual preference will no longer be a big deal,” said the 21-year-old singer. “Like, when you see people, you won’t need to ask them. You won’t need a confirmation, you know? Whatever you see is what it is, and people are equal, basically. That’s what I want for everyone. I know this will happen. The time will come.”
Many who came out this year made it clear they wouldn’t be subscribing to any one label. Tom Daley simply says he still “fancies girls.” High school senior Jacob Rudolph came out as “an LGBT” in a viral video last January, and in late November Maria Bello referred to herself as a “whatever.”
In a New York Times column titled “Coming Out as a Modern Family,” Bello discussed her decision to begin a long-term relationship with a close female friend.
“She was one of the most beautiful, charming, brilliant and funny people I had ever met,” Bello said of her girlfriend, referred to only as Clare. “But it didn’t occur to me, until that soul-searching moment…that we could perhaps choose to love each other romantically. What had I been waiting for all of these years? She is the person I like being with the most, the one with whom I am most myself. The next time I saw her, in New York, I shared my confusing feelings, and we began the long, painful, wonderful process of trying to figure out what our relationship was supposed to be.”
And it’s been a good year for the transgender community as well. Chelsea Manning, Jennifer Pritzker, and Kristin Beck, each of whom is a military veteran, all came out in 2013.
Beck, a former Navy SEAL and recipient of a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, revealed her gender transition to the world in her memoir “Warrior Princess,” which was published in June. She had begun hormonal therapy after retiring in 2011, and came out to colleagues by posting a photo of herself on her LinkedIn profile. The former Navy SEAL reportedly received resounding support from friends and strangers, and shed light onto the struggles that transgender service members are forced to face.
Perhaps it’s a comfort to see so many casual methods of coming out, whether it’s a LinkedIn photo or a 140-character Tweet. It’s a sign that being LGBT is no longer an earth-shaking confession, but another ordinary way of life.
Check out Towleroad’s list of the 52 most powerful coming out stories of 2013 here.