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To use some classic Washington parlance, when it comes to LGBT celebrities and politicians, we have our known unknowns and we have our unknown unknowns. While there were quite a few prominent coming-out moments in 2012, many of those were from the glass closets of the known unknowns.
Most prominent was CNN reporter and daytime talk-show host Anderson Cooper, who ended the years-long presumption of homosexuality with a rather understated email acknowledgement. (Ironically, his low-key coming out was delivered through the blog of 2012’s biggest Internet drama queen, Andrew ”Obama just threw the election down the toilet!” Sullivan.) His career still on course, Cooper’s main change has been more public hanging out with Kathy Griffin and Bravo’s biggest drama queen, Andy Cohen.
Sally Ride’s longtime same-sex relationship may have been common knowledge among neighbors, friends and family, but the first American woman in space waited until her own death to come out as a simple statement of fact in her obituary. Ride’s posthumous public debut prompted much conversation about what it means to ”out” and how far ”out” prominent — in her case, historic — people have a responsibility to be.
That the Wachowski Brothers who directed the Matrix trilogy had become the Wachowski Siblings was one of the bigger known unknowns of the past decade. After years of shunning spotlights, Lana Wachowski officially came out as transgender in 2012 during the lead-up to their latest film, Cloud Atlas. Receiving an award from the Human Rights Campaign, Lana Wachowski recounted her journey in one of the year’s most disarming, charming, funny and beautiful speeches.
One of the biggest unknown unknowns to come out in 2012 was Frank Ocean, whose solo debut album Channel Orange made him one of the biggest stars in hip-hop and R&B to be openly … gay? Bisexual? Something in between? Ocean’s rejected labels, letting his music do the talking for now — and there’s much it has to say.
Oscar Cruz continued the march against homophobia in sports, becoming the first professional boxer to come out. The Puerto Rican pugilist followed up his announcement by winning his first bout as an openly gay man.
Perhaps the most surprising unknown unknown of the year came from rural Pennsylvania — the part known as Pennsyltucky — when Republican State Rep. Mike Fleck came out of the closet as a Christian, conservative gay man. Trivia bonus: Fleck becomes the first openly gay member of the state Legislature; just-elected Democrat Brian Sims will now be the first out gay person elected to the body.
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