11 Queer Women Who Prove Some Take Longer Than Others to Come Out
11 Queer Women Who Were With Men Before Coming Out
Some people take longer than others.
When Orange is the New Black writer Lauren Morelli was penning a scene between Piper and Alex, she was surprised when she connected with the love story. She divorced her husband, then made headlines when she began dating actress Samira Wiley, one of the show’s stars. The country was buzzing. But she wasn't the first and she won't be the last to have been in a serious relationship with a man before realizing love for a woman. Here is a list of 11 celebrity queer women who were with a man before coming out, though there are thousands of you out there whose names we don't know.
Former TV mom Meredith Baxter, who is best known for her role as Elyse Keaton on the '80s sitcom Family Ties, made headlines in 2011 when she came out as a lesbian. Baxter talks of her previous marriage with David Birney as a ‘physically and emotionally abusive’ relationship and how realizing she was a lesbian brought her back to life. "I felt alive in way I had not experienced, and life was rife with possibilities," she said. Baxter and her longtime partner Nancy Locke were married in 2013.
Television star Cynthia Nixon was previously married to Danny Mozes, with whom she has two children, prior to her marriage to her wife Christine Marinoni. Nixon, who at first identified as a lesbian but has since clarified to The Advocate that she's actually bisexual, received backlash when saying she was gay by choice and had to defend herself to the LGBT community. “For me, it is a choice,” Nixon had told the New York Times coming out as bisexual. “I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me.”
Ann (Weldy) Bannon
When author Ann Bannon began writing her pulp novels about lesbian love in the 1950s and 60s, she was married to a man who insisted she use a pen name rather than her real name (Weldy), due to the nature of her books. Not only have these novels earned critical recognition and are currently placed on bookshelves all over the world, but they allowed an outlet for Bannon to live the life she dreamed of. She’s quoted as saying her books are, "love letters to the women I thought I would never get to know." Bannon came out much later in life and retired from teaching and college administration from California State University.
Chely Wright paved the way for LGBT people in country music when she became the first country music star to come out in 2010. Prior to sharing her personal journey about being a lesbian, Wright had been in a relationship with fellow country star Brad Paisley. Wright spent many years in turmoil over her sexuality and the backlash she was sure she would receive from the country music community before she gathered the courage to come out. She is now happily married to Lauren Blitzer with whom she has two sons, and is a prominent advocate for the LGBT community.
In 2014, television writer Lauren Morelli, who is best known for the series Orange Is the New Black, left her husband Steve Basilone after realizing that the scenes she was writing for queer women on the show resonated for her on a deeper level. She is now dating OITNB actress Samira Wiley. “I no longer feel like I am stuck in the middle of two truths,” said Morelli at the time she came out.
Sykes came out as a lesbian in 2008, but she was married to record producer Dave Hall from 1991-1998. In an interview with Piers Morgan in 2011, Sykes was asked about the pros about coming out and responded with saying she now had, “Absolutely nothing to hide. I mean, I am what I am and this is it. So now, you know, you thought I had a big mouth before, now it's just crazy. I'm like over the top, you know. There's nothing that I can't say.” Sykes married partner Alex Sykes in 2008, and the couple are now moms to twins.
Portia de Rossi
Portia de Rossi has not always been the wife of one of the most prominent lesbians in the world. Prior to her marriage to Ellen DeGeneres, de Rossi was married to filmmaker Mel Metcalfe from 1996-1999. In 2000, photos of de Rossi and her then partner, producer Francesca Gregorini, were leaked to the public which sparked controversy over her sexuality. After her relationship with Gregorini ended, de Rossi began dating Ellen DeGeneres and the couple was wed in 2008.
Billie Jean King
Tennis superstar Billie Jean King became the first professional athlete to come out as a lesbian in 1998, but not before she spent years married to a man. King was publicly outed by her mistress Marilyn Barnett when she sued King for palimony in 1981, which not only forced King to come out but also caused her to lose all her endorsements, which resulted in a loss of millions of dollars. Though she has endured set-backs, King founded the Women’s Sports Foundation, which has not only helped women and girls gain access to sports, but also to fight homophobia and discrimination in sports. King lives with her partner Ilana Kloss, also a tennis star, in New York City.
In 2012, Gillian Anderson made headlines when she revealed she had been in a relationship with a woman who had died a year earlier. The relationship was rarely spoken of, however when her former partner passed, Anderson said she felt she owed it to her to speak openly about how important she was in her life. “She was a beautiful person who was very meaningful in my life and I wanted to honor her instead of hiding my experience.” Anderson has been married to men Clyde Klotz, Julian Ozanne and was in a relationship with ex-boyfriend Mark Griffiths, and recently said that she would be open to dating a woman again if she were "the one."
Before actor Kelly McGillis married her partner Melanie Leis in 2010, McGillis had been married twice before to men. When McGillis met her second husband Fred Tillman, with whom she has two children, she said she knew that although she loved him, it wasn’t what she wanted. “I was madly in love with him, but deep inside I always knew it wasn’t the truth,” said McGillis. “I was never dishonest with Fred about my past and history, but it was a big struggle with me — a big struggle.”
Thanksgiving 2013, actress Maria Bello posted a picture of her ‘modern family’ on Twitter, which included her son Jackson, her ex-boyfriend and sons father Dan McDermott and her new girlfriend Clare Munn. The caption read, “Giving thanks for my modern family. Happy Thanksgiving for whatever kind of family you have.” Prior to her relationship with Munn, Bello had been engaged to Bryn Mooser, however she ended that relationship in 2010 after two years together.