It’s not easy coming out. We're still living in an age where the LGBTQIA community are discriminated against, assaulted and murdered in SA and around the world. So much so, that many still don’t feel safe, comfortable enough or even ready to take the next step.
It’s definitely not our place to decide when, where or how people come out, but what certainly helps is finding some inspiration in those that have helped the movement by speaking up because they understand all too well that there’s power in visibility.
In speaking up, celebrities who come out are not only using their social platforms in a show of support and solidarity, but they’re speaking up and telling everyone that:
a) it’s okay to be who are you are without making any apologies for it,
b) it’s okay to be scared and that for everyone who still is scared, there’ll be someone who will represent you until you feel ready to tell your own story and
c) the problem never lies with you, but with the people who don’t accept and love you for who you are.
READ MORE: How do you treat a trans co-worker? Hint: just like any other co-worker
We share some amazing stories of celebrities whose coming out (and non-coming out, coming out stories) stories are nothing short of poignant, incredible and inspiring.
Thulasizwe "Lasizwe" Dambuza credits Somizi as being a big pioneer of support for the gay South African community and shares how hard his own coming out was.
You know him as the YouTube sensation whose comedy skits constantly have people in stitches, but behind the happy and boisterous exterior, did you know that his own coming out story was, according to TimesLive, “the hardest thing he had ever done?”
In an interview he revealed that his mom took it really hard because he was the only son from her side.
He adds that he first came out when he was about 14 or 15 years and said that his mother found out about it because of a fight which took place at school. He revealed that during a confrontation with a guy captured on video, he blurted out that he was gay.
It was in that moment that he knew he had to talk to his mother.
Fast forward to now and Lasizwe is living his best life. He adds that people like Somizi have helped to pave a way for the LGBTQIA community.
Janelle Monáe who made waves with her bisexual anthem and came out as queer proved to inspire an epic moment for people who identify as bi and pansexual.
In an interview with Rolling Stone back in April this year, she came out as queer.
Speaking up for a generation of people – particularly young black women – she said "Being a queer black woman in America," and as "someone who has been in relationships with both men and women – I consider myself to be a free-ass motherf***er."
She also mentions that she first thought she was bi, but when she read up on being pan sexual, she realised that there was a lot of what she recognised in herself.
But it’s clear to us that Janelle is open to learning more about her identity – and more importantly, is willing to share that with so many young folk who are confused, don’t want to be placed in a singular category and just want to be celebrated for who they are.
Ellen DeGeneres – “Yes, I’m gay”
It could be argued that the beloved comedian and talkshow host set a strong foundation in giving fellow members of the LGBTQIA community the courage to truly be who they are.
According to USmagazine.com, Ellen’s big reveal was via Time magazine – back in 1997.
More than 20 years later and she’s a strong advocate for the marginalised community and is happily married to Portia de Rossi. Not only that, but she’s one of the kindest, funniest and most generous celebrities out there and consistently helps out those in need.
Andreja Pejic, the groundbreaking transgender model
It’s no secret that while the fashion industry still has a long way to go, we’re slowly but surely beginning to see more diversity on the runway and in fashion and beauty campaigns.
In 2014, the stunning model, Andreja Pejic, who appeared in magazines like Elle and Vogue, has according to eonline.com, publicly come out as a transgender woman and revealed that she would be solely modelling women’s fashion.
She also posted an inspiring message to the transgender community, encouraging them to be proud of who they are because they deserve equal treatment regardless of what gender they identify with or what their sexual orientation is.
We couldn’t agree more!
For loved up couple Thishiwe Ziqubu and Mandisa Nduna, it wasn’t so much about coming out, than simply celebrating their love.
According to TimesLive, the couple never wanted to make a statement by coming out.
In fact, in an interview with Tumi Morake, Mandisa called out the different expectations society has when it comes to heterosexual couples and gay and lesbian couples and said that for them, it wasn’t about deliberately coming out since het couples have never had to explain themselves to the public.
She adds that she does find the concept of coming out rather problematic because it implies that it’s all about making heteronormative folk feeling comfortable.
Definitely a valid point, although many LGBTQIA folk have often said that others coming out have helped them, so perhaps it’s more about taking ownership of the coming out narrative and not making it a focus for heterosexual people to be “eased into it”. It can be seen as more about a community coming and standing together to fight against discrimination and violation of their human rights.
Sign up to W24’s newsletters so you don't miss out on any of our hot stories and giveaways.