Jim Parsons, who plays Sheldon on the hit sitcom "The Big Bang Theory," recently surprised some fans when he revealed that he was gay. The actor came out in a piece for The New York Times that profiled his performance in the play "The Normal Heart," in which he plays a gay activist. The statement about his sexual orientation was said almost in passing, and people might have missed had it not blown up on the Internet. Parsons is just the latest TV star to come out of the closet. A number of TV personalities past and present have come out since 2011. Here is a look at five notable ones.
McNichol was a talented actress best known for her role on the sitcom "Empty Nest." Long after she retired from the small screen, she came out of the closet in January of 2012. The actress revealed that she had been living with her partner for 20 years and decided that it was the right time for her to start living in the open. She also hoped to encourage victims of bullying with her announcement. "She hopes that coming out can help kids who need support," said her publicist. "She would like to help others who feel different."
The actor rose to fame for his role on the NBC drama "Heroes," but he didn't come out of the closet until 2011. His announcement came right around the same time that he appeared as a gay ghost on "American Horror Story." He said that the suicide of a 14-year-old teenager inspired him to open up about his sexuality. "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," said the actor while coming out.
Bomer was a soap opera star before appearing on the USA drama "White Collar." After avoiding rumors about his sexuality, he finally came out in 2012 and revealed that he is in a serious relationship. The actor has already been honored for his work in the fight against AIDS. He used the awards show as an avenue to make his announcement.
Jewell was already a TV pioneer because she starred on "The Facts of Life" in the 1980s despite battling cerebral palsy. In 2011, she added another cause to her list. The actress revealed that she was a lesbian in her autobiography. Though the book mostly talked about her battle with the disease, it also shed some light on her experience as a lesbian in Hollywood.
Maher had appeared on shows such as "Firefly" and "The Playboy Club" before he revealed that he was gay in 2011. In making the announcement, he revealed that he was in a serious relationship, and was the proud parent of two children. "This is my coming out ball," he said. "I've been dying to do this."
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