Olympic Soccer Player
b. July 5, 1985, Redding, California
“Your personal life is less about people having to know about your sexuality than standing up for what’s right and fighting for equality.”
In 2012 professional soccer player Megan Rapinoe came out publicly two weeks before she was to play for the women’s soccer team in the London Olympics. “I feel like sports in general are still homophobic in the sense that not a lot of people are out,” she said. “I feel everyone is really craving [for] people to come out. People want—they need—to see that there are people like me playing soccer for the good ol’ U.S. of A.”
Being closeted made Rapinoe feel inauthentic. It was her desire to do the right thing, to “stand up for what’s right and to fight for equality.” She said that when she came out she became a better player. In the Olympic Games, she scored three goals and logged four assists, helping her team win the gold medal.
“I’d like to help create more tolerance and acceptance across the board,” Rapinoe asserted. That means more people talking about it, more people coming out and, at the end of the day, making less of a massive deal about being gay. I’d like to see homosexuality become something that’s just normal to everyone.”
b. September 6, 1947, Los Angeles, California
d. December 16, 1988, San Francisco, California
"My mother said, “You’re very strange,” and I said, “That’s OK.”
Before he became “Sylvester” and before he was crowned the “Queen of Disco,” Sylvester James Jr. was a member of a group of transvestites known as the Disquotays. While many Disquotays explored their identities as trans women in a cross-dressing party circuit, Sylvester identified as male.
After the dissolution of the Disquotays, Sylvester joined the Cockettes, a San Francisco drag theater troupe. While Sylvester appreciated the open lifestyle of the Cockettes, he maintained a distance from their psychedelic performances.
After the Cockettes, Sylvester—known by his first name only—struck out on a solo career. Songs like “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Dance (Disco Heat)” made it to the top of the pop music charts. Sylvester became renowned for his exquisite falsetto and soulful showmanship.
When Joan Rivers called him a drag queen, a peeved Sylvester corrected her, declaring, “I’m Sylvester!” A critic of conformity, Sylvester decried Castro clones—gay men who idealized masculine attire and scorned flamboyance.
Sylvester was vocal about LGBT issues, especially AIDS awareness and prevention. He wrote songs about AIDS and held AIDS benefit concerts. At age 41, he died from complications of AIDS.
Singer and Songwriter
b. October 28, 1987, Long Beach, California
“There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.”
In 2012 critically acclaimed singer and songwriter Frank Ocean changed the face of hip-hop when he came out two days prior to the release of his second album, “Channel Orange.” The album shot to number two on the Billboard charts.
Born Christopher Breaux in Long Beach, California, Ocean spent most of his childhood in New Orleans. His father left when Ocean was 6 years old. His song “There Will Be Tears” chronicles the pain of that abandonment. Ocean describes his childhood as solitary. He was expelled from every school he attended.
Ocean buckled down just enough to finish high school. He went on to study English at the University of New Orleans. When a friend offered him time in a Los Angeles recording studio, Ocean jumped at the chance.
In Los Angeles, Ocean wrote tracks for Justin Bieber and John Legend and joined the celebrated hip-hop collective, Odd Future. After a deal with recording studio Def Jam fell through, Ocean independently released his first solo album, “Nostalgia.” As the album generated buzz, Def Jam’s new chief executive convinced Ocean to sign with the label.
Commenting on Ocean’s debut studio album, “Channel Orange,” music critic Alexis Petridis wrote: “Perhaps this is R&B’s Ziggy Stardust moment, where the controversy and publicity surrounding an artist’s sexuality and the brilliance of his latest album combine to give his career unstoppable momentum.”
Ocean has collaborated with artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West and Beyonce. By age 26, his awards included GQ’s Rookie of the Year, GLAAD’s Outstanding Music Artist and a Grammy for Best Urban Contemporary Album.