Gay Actors & LGBT Entertainers Making History

6 min read

Hollywood has enchanted us with the most memorable movies and television. Through our screens we become enamored with the faces of our favorite stars. We connect to the characters who share our humor, our heartaches, and our stories. Now, in 2019, openly gay actors and entertainers are glimmering in the spotlight they so deserve.

On stage, they steal our hearts. In real-life, their roles are much greater, they publicly represent a community that hungers for equality. The path to equal representation has been an arduous one, but we've seen incredible progress in recent years – progress that ought to be celebrated.

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The days of inequality both on- and off-screen and the stigma of being gay linger in our recent history. Gay roles in entertainment have only existed in the last century. In 1977, Soap was one of the first shows in TV history to star an openly gay character, Jodie Dallas.

However, bold, "love me as I am!" shows like Will & Grace, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and RuPaul's Drag Race put equality back in the limelight.

Whether they're making us cry tears of sadness or laughter, these entertainers keep us on our toes. Here are some of our favorite LGBT actors and entertainers.

Ellen Degeneres

Comedic genius Ellen Degeneres is a shining example of a winning Hollywood resume. Before her daytime show won more than ten Daytime Emmy Awards, Ellen spent her early career working towards acceptance and inclusion of gay actors in television.

If we've learned anything from her show – or Dory from Disney's Finding Nemo – it's to "just keep swimming." Despite the adversities in her career life, like getting her first sitcom taken off the air after coming out as a lesbian, she never gave up.

Fast forward to 2019 and Ellen's daytime show shares the heartwarming stories of everyday people, their troubles, and triumphs. She touches her guests' lives by giving them a home, a memory, a vacation, or an opportunity to share their truth. Ellen rose to fame by reminding us to be kind everyday and to accept everyone for who they are.

For her kindness, she was awarded with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 2016, by President Obama. This award is the Nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.

Ellen is recognized as a world peace hero by our nation's leaders and by her fans.

With her show's dance segments, funny videos, and being authentic to herself, it's hard to not find inspiration in her success. Is there any other entertainer that will make us ugly cry, cackle, and dance our behinds off while being a trailblazer for feminists, LGBT people, entertainers, all in the same show? I think not.

Andy Cohen

If you find yourself staying up late to catch episodes of The Real Housewives and even later to Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, you're not alone. If the Bravo network was a plant, it would be a Venus flytrap. When it grabs ahold of you, it never lets go.

Andy Cohen made TV history by being the first openly gay late night talk show host. Gushing on nail-biting reunion shows and about Hollywood's hot topics, his job sounds pretty dreamy; yet he also uses his star-studded position to spread awareness about what it's like to be gay in our country and in the entertainment industry.

Cohen is also an author. In his books, he writes about his life and experiences in diary-style. When he isn't hosting his talk show or writing best-selling books, he's executive producing addicting TV shows like Top Chef.

As an openly gay entertainer, he represents gay actors and entertainers on TV from a position of bravery and commitment to self-identity. This year, Andy is being awarded with GLAAD's Vito Russo Award, an award presented to an individual who has made a significant difference in promoting equality for the LGBT community.

A history-maker, LGBT hero, and entertainment powerhouse, Andy Cohen's contributions to progress for LGBT individuals are never-ending.

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster has graced us with her sensational talent in some of the most thought-provoking films, like Elysium and Nell – films that moved us, films that made us question our impact on the earth, and films that are now cult classics.

With 50 years of acting under her belt, it's no surprise that Jodie has conquered the film world. However, most of her career was spent hiding from her true identity.

In 2013, at the age of 50, she came out to the world at the Golden Globe Awards. She didn't actually say the words "I'm gay," but she thanked her wife and her sons for their love and support, and preached the importance of privacy in life.

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She left the audience with a short, but powerful message: "love people and stay beside them."

Her evolution in Hollywood began with her acting when she was only a toddler. Over time, she grew as a young actress and began pursuing more mature and dramatic films. After sweeping the industry by storm with roles like The Accused in 1988 and The Silence of the Lambs in 1991, she decided she wanted to claim the director's chair.

As a director, Jodie has taken on TV shows like House of Cards and other major productions. In 2015, she was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series on the hit Netflix show, Orange Is The New Black.

It's a good thing she never plans on retiring. With one look at her list of awards in acting and directing, we expect many more landmark achievements from Foster.

Jesse Tyler Ferguson

In 2019, the shows that are being created for television and streaming platforms like Netflix strive to be representative of the world that surrounds us. Modern Family was one of the first shows that made equal representation of LGBT couples on-screen a priority.

Since it's first season, the show has won over 100 awards in the entertainment industry, one being the GLAAD Media Awards' Outstanding Comedy Series which is awarded to "outstanding media images of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community that inspire change.

One of the most remarkable gay actors in Hollywood is Jesse Tyler Ferguson. His character on Modern Family is an essential piece to the puzzle that portrays an illustration of a diverse, inclusive family. Not only is he representing gay actors, gay marriage, and equality, but also his rip-roarin' hilarity makes him relatable and lovable.

When he isn't playing Mitch and commentating his and his on-screen husband's everyday events, he's a chef and husband in real-life. His comedy has earned him several Screen Actors Guild Awards, and has made MF the TV hit of the decade.

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These actors embody a diversified Hollywood – and one that is gradually moving in the direction of equality and inclusivity. While these gay actors and actresses have made monumental strides in the entertainment industry, there's plenty room for more.

Who's your favorite gay actor or LGBT entertainer? Let us know in the comments below!