Kurt on Glee
Chris Colfer, 23, doesn't just play a gay role on TV, he is gay. From the beginning, Colfer has been honest about who he is. He's seen no career backlash, and in fact has become a role model and hero for LGBT youth.
Kurt, Colfer's popular Glee character, is a fledgling singer. His musical performances on Glee have been extraordinary, revealing an impressive falsetto. Colfer's repertoire includes songs that are associated with female singers: on his breathtaking cover of Don't Cry For Me Argentina from Evita, he performs the lyrics in the female context in which they were written. But he doesn't "camp it up" and gives the emotionally layered song the respect it deserves.
In interviews, Colfer has said that his parents have supported him for being gay, but that he was bullied at school. He had the last laugh: with his Golden Globe in hand, he dedicated his award to "the kids our show celebrates those who are constantly told no by the people in their environments, by bullies at school, well screw that!"
At age 21 he made the cover of Time Magazine when he was named one of the year's most 100 influential people.
Unique on Glee
Transgender kids finally have a role model they can look up to. Alex Newell's father died of cancer when he was six years old. Growing up he was an effeminate black kid raised by a single mom. Life wasn't easy, but his loving mom gave him as much as she could.
Newell was a teen-aged Glee fan who dreamed of being on his favorite show. In 2011 he submitted an audition tape to The Glee Project, a reality series on Oxygen in which young contestants compete for roles on the mother show.
Newell's powerful pipes made an impression, and he was cast in the role of Wade "Unique" Williams, a male-to-female transgender student who expresses her female identity through song. Unique first appeared on Glee's season three Saturday Night Glee-ver episode, where his rendition of The Bee Gees' Boogie Shoes brought down the house.
Newell was immediately chastised by right wing Fox News pundit Bill O'Reilly, who felt that unsupervised kids watching Glee might be "encouraged to experiment with alternative lifestyles." Newell took great pride in O'Reilly's admonition.
As of the current season, Newell is now a top billed member of Glee's main cast. He embraces not only his celebrity, but his status as a role model for LGBT youth.
"I personally don't identify as trans," he says. "I'm comfortable no matter what I'm wearing." The rising star now donates his time to appear and perform at Pride celebrations, AIDS fundraisers, and to speak out for LGBT youth.
Sometimes in male attire, sometimes not.
Young Wolverine in X Men: Origins
Soon after the release of the hit superhero film X Men: Origins, 18 year old Troye Sivan, who played Hugh Jackman's iconic Wolverine as a child, came out in a self-produced video.
"I want you guys to know that I'm gay," he said. "I know some people will have a problem with this, and I know that this could kind of change everything for me, but it shouldn't have to."
Sivan continues to work, having recently co-starred with Monty Python's John Cleese in the South African coming-of-age film Spud, it's sequel, and its now in production, third chapter. He also enjoys a stage career: his theatrical credits include Australian productions of Waiting For Godot and Oliver.
Sivan's YouTube channel has over one million subscribers. Video's include Coming Out, Watching Porn, Waxing My Legs, and Who Is Your Man Crush?
Leading lady in movies
Amber Heard, 27, has made many straight male hearts swoon. She has appeared alongside superstars Johnny Depp (Rum Diary), Nicholas Cage (Drive Angry), and has been in splatter flicks like Zombieland and Machete.
In 2010, Heard came out at the 25th anniversary GLAAD Media Awards, revealing that she had been dating photographer Tasya Von Ree. (The couple split the following year.)
"I don't label myself one way or another," Heard has said. "I've had successful relationships with men and now with a woman. I love who I love. It's the person that matters."
Her film career, and her star, continues to rise.
Kevin Fisher on The Young and the Restless
Many are surprised to learn that the boyish looking Rikaart is 36 years old. For the past decade, he's played bad boy turned good (but who still gets into trouble) Kevin on the top rated daytime drama The Young and the Restless.
Rikaart's popular character has bedded many women on the show, but offscreen, Rikaart has lived quietly with his partner, writer Robert Sudduth. Though he never publicly discussed his personal life, Rikaart has been a supporter of LGBT causes.
In June 2013, Rikaart came out on Twitter, posting a picture of himself and Sudduth. The couple were celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court's DOMA ruling.
"Not getting married anytime soon, but celebrating equality tonight nonetheless," Rikaart wrote.
His TV character remains popular with viewers.
Sookie Stackhouse on True Blood
Paquin won an Oscar at age 11 for her extraordinary work in the acclaimed Australian/New Zealand film The Piano (1993). She has since played a variety of roles, and has become a cult icon for her starring role as Sookie on HBO's mega-hit True Blood. She's also popular for her role as Rogue in the X Men series.
Married since 2010 to True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, Paquin participated in 2010's Give a Damn campaign. "I'm Anna Paquin, I'm bisexual, and I give a damn," she said in a video.
Paquin has since stated that her bisexuality was hardly a secret, and that her sexual identity isn't a choice. With True Blood ending after the current season, Paquin has several film projects lined up.