9 Queer Role Models All 20-Somethings Should Look Up To

Thanks to a societal shift in attitude, we’re starting to see more and more celebrities and public figures coming out as LGBTQ+. That’s amazing for the queer community and activists everywhere! These nine fabulous openly trans, lesbian and bisexual ladies make excellent queer role models for any 20-something to look up to. 

1. Ellen Page 

The star of Juno and X-Men came out in 2014 at Time to Thrive, a conference to promote the welfare of LGBTQ+ young people.

"I'm here today because I am gay," Ellen said to the conference audience, "and because maybe I can make a difference, to help others have an easier and more hopeful time.” 

It must have been terrifying to come out to a crowd like that, but we think Ellen chose the perfect venue. The young LGBTQ+ audience members likely felt truly touched, and a real sense of solidarity with her in that moment.

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2. Cara Delevingne

In 2015, everyone’s favorite model-turned-actress Cara Delevingne came out as bisexual, and then shortly after, had to defend her sexuality to the media.

"My sexuality is not a phase," Cara said. "I am who I am." 

We love seeing Cara stand up for her bisexuality. All too often, people assume coming out as bisexual is a phase and that everyone has to "choose" eventually between straight and lesbian. As a bonus, Cara's relationship with the talented musician Anne Clark, better known as St. Vincent, is the absolute cutest! 

3. Laverne Cox

Orange is the New Black star Laverne Cox is a transgender woman and activist, and she made history as the first trans person on the cover of TIME. Cox regularly speaks out against sexism and patriarchy, and was awarded the Stephen F. Colzak Award by GLAAD for her transgender activism, which Ellen Page presented her with. Too perfect. She was also the first transgender person to have a wax figure at Madame Tussauds.

"Ultimately, I'm a storyteller—imagining different ways to tell transgender stories,” said Laverne in an interview with NYLON. “I'm really interested in changing the ways in which we talk with and about transgender people, not only in personal conversation but also how we cover those stories in the media.”

It's so important to include diverse representations of transgender people in the media, and we love that Laverne is taking action in her own acting and storytelling. Laverne has said multiple times she doesn't want to be seen as a role model, but we can't help it. She slays as both an actress and an activist. 

4. Raven-Symoné

The titular actress from everyone’s childhood favorite, That’s So Raven, hinted at her sexuality until she finally came out in 2013 because of her excitement over the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision.

Raven's resulting tweet was unforgettable and way too relatable: “I can finally get married! Yay government! So proud of you.” 

That's probably the sweetest way to come out and support the marriage equality decision all in one swing. Raven-Symoné took a risk and bravely opened up about her identity just at a time when the nation was divided on the issue. She strongly supported the LGBTQ+ community for quite some time before coming out. She'd previously posed for the NO H8 Campaign and participated in Pride events.

5. Anna Paquin

The True Blood star came out in 2010 during a PSA for the Give a Damn campaign that fights for LGBTQ+ equality, and she’s never been shy about advocating for the often-erased bisexual community.

"Well, I don't think it's a past tense thing," Anna Paquin said on The Larry King Show,about whether or not she was still bisexual because she married a man. "Are you still straight if you are with somebody? If you were to break up with them or if they were to die, it doesn't prevent your sexuality from existing. It doesn't really work like that."

Just like Cara, Anna stood up for the stereotypes that oppress bisexual people. And she does at every opportunity, speaking out about how she's proudly bisexual and married to former co-star Stephen Moyer, who supports her completely. It's so important for young bisexual women to have someone like Anna to look up to and who isn't afraid to take a stance for the community.

6. Evan Rachel Wood

In honor of Bisexual Awareness Week 2015, bisexual actress Evan Rachel Wood spoke out about how the community faces erasure.

"Remember, bisexuality doesn't mean halfway between gay or straight," Evan Rachel tweeted. "It is its own identity. I think in some cases people don't want to be labeled because they are ashamed to be bisexual. And this needs to stop."

It's great to see so many celebrities starting conversations about bisexuality as its own label, because erasure and oppression for the community still exists. We can add Evan Rachel to the list along with Cara and Anna for publically standing up alongside every bisexual person who's been told their sexuality isn't real.

7. Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen is literally the queen of coming out. She famously came out in a 1997 episode of her sitcom Ellen. Since then, she’s been one of the most prominent LGBTQ+ public figures in the US, and holds a number of awards. She was named to Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women, Entertainment Weekly’s 50 Most Powerful Entertainers, and the Mark Twain Humor Award.

While speaking against homophobic accusations made by US pastor Larry Tomczak, Ellen said, "The only way I'm trying to influence people is to be more kind and compassionate with one another. That is the message I'm sending out. I don't have an agenda. I'm not here to brainwash anyone. Be true to yourself. The most important thing is to be true to yourself."

There are so many homophobic claims about the LGBTQ+ agenda perpetuated by the media, and it's wonderful to see Ellen taking a public stance on the issue. She also spoke out about the use of quotation marks when referring to her as "married," and she made it clear that her marriage to Portia de Rossi is equal to any male/female marriage. Rock on, Ellen! 

8. Kristen Stewart

Actress Kristen Stewart has undeservedly been knocked for her role in Twilight, but she’s coming into her own in the years since the series’ release. The actress was outed by her mom when she was dating her assistant, Alicia Cargile, but Kristen refuses to label herself.

“I think in three or four years, there are going to be a whole lot more people who don’t think it’s necessary to figure out if you’re gay or straight,” said Stewart. “It’s like, just do your thing.”

Well said. She speaks for everyone who isn’t sure of their sexuality, or doesn’t want to choose a label. There’s a reason for the “Q” in LGBTQ+, and many people identify as simply “queer” to avoid putting a label on which gender they date.

9. Jodie Foster

How could we not include Jodie Foster on this list? The acclaimed actress and director came out in 2013 at the Golden Globe Awards, after receiving the Cecil B. DeMille lifetime achievement award.

In 2014, Foster married her girlfriend Alexandra Hedison and declined to comment publicly about it. Foster’s been known over the years for not opening her private life to the world, and we respect that so much.

“I hope that you’re not disappointed that there won’t be a big coming out speech tonight,” Foster said when she came out. “I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago back in the stone age, those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family and co-workers and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met.”

Jodie was basically saying that she'd already come out to her friends and family long ago, but she still wanted the world to know she's proud of who she is. In this social media-obsessed age, where everyone knows one another's business, we can’t help but see exactly what she means. 

This year, even President Barack Obama became a role model for the LGBTQ+ community as the first standing President to be photographed for a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender publication in Out magazine's Out 100 2015. President Obama was selected as the cover model for his strong alliance with the queer community, and his strong stance in support of LGBTQ+ equal rights. The list of admirable queer community members and allies is only growing, and every year it seems we can add another badass supporter to the list.