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11 Gay Celebrities Who Came Out in the 1980s

Updated October 13, 2018 485.6k views11 items

Gay, bisexual, lesbian, and transexual individuals started to gain more public support in the 1980s. Although gay actors, writers, and musicians were winning popularity, many celebrities kept their sexuality hidden. This list of gay celebrities who came out during the 1980s has been loosely ranked by fame and popularity and includes notable gay actors, athletes, rock stars, singers, and politicians.

Who is the most famous celebrity who came out in the 1980s? Elton John tops our list. Elton John is arguably the most popular gay musician in the world. He first came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone but it wasn't until 1988 that he announced that he was comfortable being gay. John has been in a relationship with David Furnish since 1993, and the couple have two children together.

The Lord of the Rings actor Ian McKellen came out to the public in 1988 in an interview with BBC Radio 3. He is a co-founder of the LGBT rights group Stonewall. Tennis star Martina Navratilova came out publicly as gay in 1981. She is also an outspoken advocate of LGBT rights.

Do you think it would have been difficult for people to be openly gay in the eighties? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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  • Elton John is arguably the most popular gay musician in the world. He first came out as bisexual in a 1976 interview with Rolling Stone but it wasn't until 1988 that he announced he was comfortable being gay. John has been in a relationship with David Furnish since 1993 and the couple have two children together.
    • Age: 73
    • Birthplace: Pinner, London, United Kingdom

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  • The Lord of the Rings actor Ian McKellen came out to the public in 1988 in an interview with BBC Radio 3. He is a co-founder of the LGBT rights group Stonewall.
    • Age: 81
    • Birthplace: Burnley, United Kingdom

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  • Rock Hudson
    Photo: flickr / CC0
    Although he was suspected of being gay for many years, Rock Hudson wasn't publicly outed until 1985 when it was revealed that he was suffering from HIV. He died later that year.
    • Age: Dec. at 60 (1925-1985)
    • Birthplace: Winnetka, Illinois, United States of America

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  • Boy George
    Photo: Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY
    Boy George was openly gay in the 1980s. He criticized fellow musician George Michael for pretending to be a "ladies man" during that time.
    • Age: 59
    • Birthplace: Bexley, London, United Kingdom

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