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Top 10 People Out of the Closet in 2010

2010 was a great year for people we've always assumed are on the LGBT team finally declaring their true sexual identity, showing us all that it is nothing to be ashamed of. From Sean Hayes to Ricky Martin to Jillian Michaels, here are the top ten people out of the closet in 2010 who joined the team and helped inspire the LGBT youth of the world to embrace who they really are.

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    The biggest surprise of Sean Hayes' coming out in 2010 is that he didn't come out anytime before 2010. The flamboyant character Hayes played on the hit-show Will and Grace seemed to always go hand-in-hand with his real persona, at least in the minds of the media. So when Hayes finally came out to Advocate magazine in a cover story, the headline read "The interview you've waited 12 years to read."

    Hayes is quick to point out though in the March interview that he never had a problem saying who he was, but faced with the jeopardy of not landing straight roles, he avoided questions about his sexuality and started saying things like: "When I play a gay character I want to be as believable as possible. And when I'm playing a straight character I also want to be as believable as possible. So the less that people know about my personal life, the more believable I can be as a character."

    Currently, Hayes has a boyfriend even now with everything out in the open, chooses not to flash his relationship around. "That's it. That's all I need," he says. "I don't need events. I don't do a lot. I live my life like an 85-year-old man. I'm just quiet. It's fantastic."

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    Ricky Martin's announcement on March 29 that he was gay was not really a huge shocker for anybody familiar with him and his booty-shakin' persona. The Puerto Rican pop star's sexual orientation was long under speculation due to his large gay following after the success of Livin' la Vida Loca.

    When asked in a December 2000 interview with The Mirror whether or not he was gay, Martin replied saying, "I don't think I should have to tell anyone if I am gay or not, or who I've slept with or not." However, with more and more people needing the actual support of their own fellow LGBT community, Martin retracted his previous sentiment and officially came out on his web site, stating, "I am proud to say that I am a fortunate homosexual man. I am very blessed to be who I am." He said that "these years in silence and reflection made me stronger and reminded me that acceptance has to come from within, and that this kind of truth gives me the power to conquer emotions I didn't even know existed."

    Martin expressed his support of gay marriage on Larry King Live and shared that "everything about saying [that I am gay] feels right." Martin, who currently has an unidentified boyfriend, is also the father of twin boys, Matteo and Valentino, via surrogate.

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    Chely Wright's coming out did not only create a new milestone in her personal life but also a new milestone for country music. The country singer is one of the first country singers in music history to ever come out of the closet. In the May issue of People magazine, Wright, most famous for her 1999 hit "Single White Female", admitted her fears by saying: "There had never, ever been a country music artist who had acknowledged his or her homosexuality. I wasn't going to be the first."

    However, Wright faced her fears and did the most courageous act in her career by telling the truth. A truth she says she's known for so many years and one she's finally able to share with fans.

    Wright also released a book titled "Like Me: Confessions of a Heartland Country Singer" in 2010 where she goes in further detail about her tough and not-til-recently silent journey. Her latest album titled "Lifted off the Ground" was also released in May of 2010. Her album title could not be any more accurate because Wright says that her coming out "really [does make her] feel lifted off the ground" and that she would "bottle [the feeling of freedom] up and FedEx it anyone on the planet."

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    Jennifer Knapp walked away from her Christian music career seven years ago, leaving much of her fans and critics clueless as to why. Well, in 2010, the Grammy-nominated artist resurrected and stepped back into the music scene with a new album titled "Letting Go" and with it a new voice for her own sexuality. Knapp felt that it was her "obligation" to reveal that she has been in a same-sex relationship for the past eight years to the Christian music scene because "it was really clear that they wouldn't participate in buying a record because it was against their beliefs" and she didn't want to "have someone go out and buy a record and feel like they had been hoodwinked."

    Now, Knapp is no longer on a Christian-based record label, and her new album consists of folksy rock songs that she describes as being about "inner-conflicts, spirituality and life lessons."

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    U.K. rapper Lady Sovereign is outspoken about a lot of things but one thing that she's remained mum about until recently was her homosexuality. Blame it on her publicists who, according to an interview she gave with lesbian magazine Diva, advised her to keep quiet about her orientation to avoid damaging her career. Now, Lady Sovereign isn't listening to anybody but herself. She told Diva in May that "I don't really give a s--- ... You can't hide away forever. It's just stupid and now I've come out I feel a lot more comfortable with myself. But it was a bit scary back then, because some people do have horrible opinions." Given the culture of hip hop and the underlying homophobia in some of the music, Lady Sovereign's admission is even more honorable than it already is.

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    Amber Heard is a hot young actress who has acted in top box office movies like "Zombieland" and "Pineapple Express" and will soon star as the Johnny Depp's love interest in "The Rum Diaries." But the hottest thing about Heard is not her striking looks but who she says she shares it with, her girlfriend photographer Tasya van Rees. Heard has no inhibitions about her sexuality and proudly came out at the GLAAD 25th anniversary celebration in December.

    She told gay rights-focused entertainment site that coming out was both a personal and moral triumph. She's quoted as saying: "I think when I became aware of my role in the media, I had to ask myself an important question 'Am I part of the problem?' And I think that when millions and millions of hard-working, tax paying Americans are denied their rights and denied their equality you have to ask yourself what are the factors that are an epidemic problem and that's what this is." This 24-year-old young Hollywood actress is proving to be a tour de force both in the movie industry and in LGBT community.

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    There's no doubt that Jillian Michaels can play with the big boys (and often kick their butt and send them off whimpering) but the The Biggest Loser trainer revealed to Ladies Home Journal in January that she's also completely fine playing with the girls.
    In typical spitfire fashion, Michaels response to the interviewer's question regarding her romantic life by saying "Let's just say I believe in healthy love. If I fall in love with a woman, that's awesome. If I fall in love with a man, that's awesome. As long as you fall in's like organic food. I only eat healthy food, and I only want healthy love!
    One thing's for sure, Michaels intends to have her [insert healthier alternative for cake] and eat it too by joining the LGBT community as a Bisexual woman idolized by millions of conservatives Biggest Loser viewers.

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    Talk about breaking down stereotypes, and a bit of controversy. Ken Mehlman, the former chairman of the Republican Party and the manager of George W. Bush's re-election campaign in 2004, rocked the political world when he decided to come out around the time of his 44th birthday. He did it in part because he was planning to serve as one of the co-hosts of a Sept. 22 fundraiser in Manhattan for the American Foundation for Equal Rights. Now, Mehlman is working on Wall Street at the private-equity giant Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, another industry that has never really been hospitable to outsiders.

    Regardless, Mehlman told his family, friends, former colleagues and current colleagues over a period of months in 2010 and says the following of the situation: "The process has been something that's made me a happier and better person. It's something I wish I had done years ago."

    Some do not applaud Mehlman regardless of his current efforts due to the fact that he helped lead a party that's so strongly opposed to gay marriage. Mehlman himself understands this saying, "It's a legitimate question and one I understand. I can't change the fact that I wasn't in this place personally when I was in politics, and I genuinely regret that. It was very hard, personally."

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    Sara Gilbert is most famous for her role as Darlene Conner on the hit 90s sitcom "Roseanne" but she created buzz again in July for coming out of the closet during a press conference for her new show "The Talk." Gilbert has two children with her TV producer girlfriend Allison Adler, who she's been with since 2002, but nobody knew about this until she spoke out. Her newfound "outness" has no effect on her though as Gilbert explains: "I don't ever really think of things as being out or in. I just think I am who I am." Just like her character Darlene, Gilbert does not give two cents what people think about her.

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    Jim Swilley

    Jim Swilley has long been in the Christian conservative spotlight. He served 39 years as a pastor and 25 years as the head of Church of the Now, a megachurch smack in the middle of Georgia. Now, he's in a different sort of spotlight, one Swilley embraces much to the disapproval of his fellow colleagues and believers. In October Swilley came out to his congregation in tears citing the string of suicides among young gay people that took place in October as the reason. He said, "For some reason [Rutgers student Tyler Clementi's] situation was kind of the tipping point with me."

    Since then, Swilley has become some sort of an icon, appearing on Don Lemon's show on CNN, Talk of the Nation on NPR, and Joy Behar's program on Headline News. He's also gotten over 1,000 new fans on Facebook gets tons of messages of support for being the most high-profile pastor to voluntarily tell the truth about his orientation.

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