It's the best time to be 'out' and about on television. Reel or real, the closet is close to being smashed to smithereens. It is therefore a matter of pride (pun intended) that the gay community now sees itself well represented on international television.
Openly gay characters as well as actors populate the telly-scape, no more being relegated to a subplot/sidekick status because of their sexual identity. But perhaps, because of that (and a keen-eyed watch group, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation or GLAAD, for short), there's an air of openness that didn't exist, as late as say, five years ago. In fact, the numbers show that there has been a steady increase in inclusiveness. In fact, the community sees better representation in primetime programming in the US this year.
In fact, GLAAD president Herndon Graddick noted that "Americans expect to see their off-screen worlds represented onscreen and today more than ever that includes LGBT people and families. Storylines of families like Mitchell and Cameron on Modern Family and young people like Emily on Pretty Little Liars are not only growing acceptance of our community, but have found praise from viewers and critics alike at a time when visibility and acceptance of LGBT people is at an all-time high."
STRAIGHT ON SCREEN, GAY OFF IT
Wentworth Miller (Came out last August)
Famously played: Michael Scofield (Prison Break)
Partner: As of last year, was rumoured to be dating actor Luke Macfarlane
The story goes: After years and years of denying that he was gay, he finally admitted in an interview to a magazine that he had been "feeding a fantasy" before he came out. He went on to say, "My face was on billboards, and I thought it was my job to act a certain way. But I think audiences knew to a certain degree." Eventually, he admitted a 'nagging voice' over the 'persecution of my brothers and sisters in Russia' inspired him to come out as a gay man through an open letter.
Matt Bomer (Came out in 2012)
Famously played: Neal Caffrey (White Collar)
Partner: Simon Halls, a Hollywood publicist
The story goes: The dishy 34-year-old came out during an acceptance speech at an event where he received a humanitarian award for his work in the fight against HIV/AIDS. He thanked his partner Simon Halls and his three children. "Thank you for teaching me what unconditional love is. You will always be my proudest accomplishment," he said. Matt has reportedly said that as a gay teen, he has had to "cover his tracks" in order to survive high school.
Zachary Quinto (Came out in 2011)
Famously Played: Sylar (Heroes)
Partner: Model Miles McMillan
The story goes: The rumours flew but Heroes and Star Trek star Quinto took his time coming out. He did it as late as October 2011 in a magazine profile where he wrote that "it became clear to me in an instant that living a gay life without publicly acknowledging it -- is simply not enough to make any significant contribution to the immense work that lies ahead on the road to complete equality." His coming out, however, has not in any way diminished his Hollywood career options. "I felt supported at the time in a really profound way, by fans and people that just know me by my work," he said. "I think I'm in a really good place."
Jim Parsons (Came out in 2012)
Famously played: Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)
Partner: Romantically linked with art director Todd Spiewak
The Story Goes: The Big Bang Theory's Sheldon Cooper came out as gay and being in a 10-year-relationship in a low-key way (subtly mentioned in a New York Times profile by Patrick Healy) and is glad the reaction to it was equally low-key. "It didn't think it was still that much hoopla, and that was really kind of rewarding," Parsons told Out magazine. "That's progress — progress I'm really happy to be a part of, making what was extraordinary ordinary without being boring, for God's sake." That said, he has never been secretive about his sexuality.
Jane Lynch (Came out in 2010)
Famously Played: Sue Sylvester (Glee)
Partner: Single after recently divorcing clinical psychologist Lara Embry
The Story Goes: In a recent interview she stated that her career hasn't suffered since coming out. She has said that Ellen Degeneres was a big help when she came out and Jane told her, "You were at the height of your fame and you came out. That just blazed the trail for me. It really did. It made it so much easier for me, what you did."
David Hyde Pierce (Came out in 2007)
Famously played: Dr Niles Crane (Frasier)
Out in: 2007
Partner: Writer-director Brian Hargrove
The Story Goes: Frasier" actor David Hyde Pierce kept a low profile and subtly came out in an article on CNN where he mentioned his longtime partner, TV writer and producer Brian Hargrove. Later, while on TV talk show "The View", Pierce spoke about Hargrove and his sexuality and said, "What you choose to talk about yourself is a personal decision."
Neil Patrick Harris (Came out in 2006)
Famously played: Barney Stinson (How I Met Your Mother)
Partner: Actor and chef David Burtka
The Story Goes: Neil came out on the cover of People magazine in November 2006. He would later remark the indifference that most people expressed was the greatest reaction of all - and a reflection of a nicely evolving culture.
The "Doogie Howser, MD" and "How I Met Your Mother Star" came out on the cover of People magazine in November of 2006. Harris told the magazine:
"The public eye has always been kind to me, and until recently I have been able to live a pretty normal life. Now it seems there is speculation and interest in my private life and relationships.
So, rather than ignore those who choose to publish their opinions without actually talking to me, I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love."
NEVER IN, ALWAYS OUT
Sean Hayes (Came out in April, 2010)
Famously played: Sean Harrison (Sean Saves The World), Jack McFarland (Will & Grace)
Partner: Rumoured to be dating interior designer David Phoenix
The Story Goes: As the gay Jack in W&G, he was doggedly beset by rumours, which he finally laid to rest when he came out to a gay magazine. "I am who I am. I was never in, as they say. Never," he said. Of why he took his time, he said, "I was so young... it made me go back in the closet [with the media] because I was so overwhelmed at 26 or 27. I didn't want the responsibility... I always felt like I owed the gay community a huge apology for coming out too late... It was all very scary. We got death threats. It was a really rough time for me, but I was also having the time of my life."
Chris Colfer (Came out in December 2009)
Famously played: Kurt Hummel (Glee)
Partner: Post production coordinator Will Sherrod
The Story Goes: He came out on the Chelsea Lately Show in December 2009. Host Chelsea Handler told the young Glee actor, "Your character on the show's gay. We know that you're gay. That's good for you. Congratulations. Don't be shy about that. Seriously..." When The Advocate magazine asked him if he was out at his former hight school, he tersely replied, "Oh, no. People are killed in my hometown for that." It was only after being cast as the gay Kurt in the show did he come out. Colfer told the mag, "It's extremely important for gay youth out there to see that it's actually OK and that they are being represented in these shows." By the way, Colfer and boyfriend Will have been dating for a few months now and are often spotted together publicly.
Adam Lambert (Came out June 2009)
Famously played: Elliott Gilbert (Glee)
Partner: Currently Single
The Story Goes: He came out soon after the American Idol finale to Rolling Stone magazine. Lambert said, " I don't think it should be a surprise for anyone to hear that I'm gay. I'm proud of my sexuality. I embrace it. It's just another part of me." Why wait to out himself? He said he was "trying to be a singer, not a civil-rights leader."
Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Openly Gay)
Famously played: Mitchell Pritchett (Modern Family)
Partner: Attorney Justin Mikita
The Story Goes: 'Uncle Mitchell' never felt the need to hide, even in real life. "It was never an issue … I never felt 'in' so it didn't feel like it was terribly difficult to be 'out,'" he told the Winnepeg Free Press. "Good actors come from a place of truth and to me it just felt like I needed to have my cards on the table. It wouldn't have felt comfortable for me to be hiding a piece of myself." He says he was prepared for a backlash after Modern Family started but admitted that "Conservatives would come up to us saying, 'You've change my mind about gay marriage,' or, 'I relate to Cameron [Tucker] and Mitchell and I find them very enjoyable." Ferguson and his boyfriend first stepped out publicly at a January 2011 event.
'OUT' AND ABOUT
Ellen DeGeneres, talk show host (Outed in February 1997; married to Portia Rossi )
Anderson Cooper, news anchor (Outed in 2012; dating bar owner Benjamin Maisani)
Rosie O'Donnell, talk show host (Outed in Feb 2002, married to Michelle Rounds )
TR Knight, Grey's Anatomy actor (Outed in October 2006, married to Patrick Leahy)
Cynthia Nixon, Sex & The City actress (Outed in 2004, married to Christine Marinoni)
The L Word
Queer As Folk
Honourable Mentions: Pretty Little Liars, Glee, Orange Is The New Black, Teen Wolf, Grey's Anatomy
POPULAR LGBT TV CHARACTERS
Kurt Hummel (Glee)
Blaine Anderson (Glee)
Santana Lopez (Glee)
Cameron Tucker (Modern Family)
Sophia Burset (Orange Is The New Black)
Cyrus Beene (Scandal)
Capt Ray Holt (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Danny Mahealani (Teen Wolf)
Kalinda Sharma (The Good Wife)
Emily Fields (Pretty Little Liars)
Renly Baratheon (Game Of Thrones)
Nolan Ross (Revenge)
Thomas Barrow (Downton Abbey)