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Who was Hollywood’s first gay star?

Hollywood is a place of glamour, fame, and secrets. One such secret that the industry kept for a long time was the sexuality of its stars. The idea of a movie icon being anything other than straight was unimaginable, and it wasn’t until the 1990s that actors and actresses began publicly coming out. However, the first openly gay star in Hollywood dates all the way back to the 1920s. His name was William Haines, and he achieved fame as an actor and interior designer. In this blog post, we will explore the life and career of Hollywood’s first gay star.

Early Life and Career

Born in Staunton, Virginia, on January 2, 1900, William Haines was the youngest of three brothers. From an early age, he showed an interest in the arts, and after high school, he moved to New York to pursue a career in entertainment. Haines worked as a model and eventually made his way to Hollywood, where he began working in silent films.

Haines quickly rose to fame, thanks to his good looks and natural acting ability. He appeared in more than 50 films during his career and became one of the most popular leading men of the silent era. Haines’ films were often light-hearted and comedic, and he was known for his sharp wit and comedic timing.

The Romance That Changed Everything

Despite his successful career in Hollywood, Haines was struggling with a secret. He was gay at a time when being anything other than straight was illegal and could end his career if he were outed. However, Haines was in love with his partner, Jimmie Shields, and the two had a relationship that lasted more than 50 years.

In 1927, Haines was arrested in a police raid on a gay party. The incident threatened to ruin his career, but with the help of his friend and mentor, actress Joan Crawford, Haines was able to keep his sexuality a secret from the public. Haines and Shields continued to live together and were the first openly gay couple in Hollywood.

Interior Design Career

In 1933, Haines decided to leave acting and began a second career as an interior designer. Once again, he found success, and his clients included some of Hollywood’s biggest names, including Joan Crawford, Carole Lombard, and Gloria Swanson. Haines’ designs were known for their glamour and sophistication, and he continued to work in the industry until his retirement in the 1970s.


Haines’ decision to live openly with his partner was groundbreaking at a time when being gay was a criminal offense in most places. He paved the way for other LGBTQ+ individuals in the entertainment industry to embrace their identities and be true to themselves. Haines and Shields’ relationship was a testament to the power of true love, and their story has been an inspiration for generations of LGBTQ+ people.

In 1973, William Haines passed away at the age of 73. Although he may not be a household name today, his legacy as Hollywood’s first openly gay star continues to inspire and empower people around the world.


William Haines was a trailblazer in Hollywood, and his legacy continues to this day. He was one of the most successful leading men of the silent era, and his decision to live openly with his partner was a brave and groundbreaking act. Although he faced many obstacles and challenges during his life, Haines’ talent, wit, and charm made him a beloved figure in Hollywood history. He remains an inspiration for LGBTQ+ individuals in the entertainment industry and beyond.


Who were the gay Hollywood actors?

It is important to recognize that sexuality is a deeply personal and private aspect of a person’s life, and one’s sexual orientation should not be the defining factor of their identity. However, Hollywood has not always been an accepting and inclusive industry for LGBTQ+ individuals. For many years, Hollywood and mainstream media perpetuated the idea that being LGBTQ+ was taboo and shamed those who identified as such. As a result, many LGBTQ+ individuals in Hollywood were forced to hide their true identities, leading to a culture of secrecy and fear.

Despite this, there have been many brave and influential gay actors in Hollywood who have come out and made significant contributions to the industry and society. One such example is Sir Ian McKellen, who came out in 1988 and has since become a prominent advocate for LGBTQ+ rights. He has also had a successful career in film and theater, and is best known for his roles in “The Lord of the Rings” and “X-Men” franchises.

Other notable gay actors in Hollywood include Rock Hudson, who was forced to hide his sexuality throughout his career due to the homophobic attitudes of many in the industry at the time. However, he ultimately came out before his death in 1985, and his legacy continues to inspire future generations of gay actors.

Similarly, Tab Hunter was another gay actor who achieved success in Hollywood but kept his sexuality hidden. He ultimately came out in his 2005 autobiography, titled “Tab Hunter Confidential”, and revealed the struggles he faced in the industry due to his sexuality.

Some other famous gay actors in Hollywood include Neil Patrick Harris, who has achieved great success in film, television, and theater, as well as Sir Elton John, who is a renowned musician and composer. Many other gay actors, past and present, have had to fight against homophobia and discrimination in Hollywood, but their bravery and determination have paved the way for a more inclusive and accepting industry for future generations.

Who was the gay actor in the 1930s?

In the early 20th century, same-sex relationships were considered taboo and often kept hidden from the public eye. However, some individuals chose to challenge societal norms and live their lives authentically. One such individual was William Haines, an actor who refused to conceal his relationship with his partner during the 1930s.

William Haines was born in 1900 in Virginia, and he moved to Hollywood in the 1920s to pursue an acting career. He quickly found success and became one of the most significant stars of the silent era. He appeared in more than 50 films, including popular movies like “Brown of Harvard,” “The Smart Set,” and “Show People.”

Haines was contracted with MGM studios in the 1920s and 1930s, where he became a major box office draw for the studio. However, his personal life was just as notable as his professional career. Haines was openly gay and lived with his partner, a former sailor named Jimmy Shields, during a time when homosexuality was considered a crime.

Despite Hollywood’s notorious closet culture, Haines was not ashamed of his sexuality and refused to hide it from the public. He and Shields frequently entertained guests in their home, which became a gathering place for several prominent gay and lesbian performers.

Haines’s decision to live openly as a gay man did not come without consequences. In 1933, MGM demanded that he end his relationship with Shields to avoid damaging his public image and his career. However, Haines refused and was subsequently fired from the studio. His acting career never recovered as he found himself blacklisted from the industry.

After his departure from the film industry, Haines built a career in interior design, where his talents allowed him to become a successful and acclaimed designer to Hollywood’s elite. William Haines’s story serves as a testament to the bravery of the LGBTQ community throughout history and the need to fight for visibility and representation.

Who is a famous gay actor?

The entertainment industry is home to numerous talented actors who have won our hearts over the years. Some among them have also made a significant impact in the LGBTQ+ community, inspiring others to embrace their true selves. Of course, being a gay actor still comes with its fair share of challenges, but many have shown that it is possible to shine in a world that isn’t always understanding.

One of the most famous and successful gay actors of our time is Neil Patrick Harris. Best known for his role as Barney Stinson in the popular TV sitcom ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ Harris has won countless awards for his acting skills over the years. Even more remarkable is the fact that he only publicly came out as gay in 2006, although he had been in a committed relationship with partner David Burtka since 2004.

Another legendary actor who is also proudly gay is Sir Ian McKellen. The British actor is widely regarded as one of the greatest actors of his generation due to his incredible range and the depth of his performances. He has starred in numerous films and plays, including as Gandalf in ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and Magneto in ‘X-Men.’ He bravely came out as gay in 1988, when being openly gay was still considered taboo.

Luke Evans is another name that should be added to the list of famous gay actors. Known for his roles in movies like the ‘Fast and Furious’ franchise and ‘The Hobbit,’ Evans was relatively private about his sexual orientation in the early days of his career. However, in an interview with The Advocate in 2002, he courageously revealed that he was gay.

Stephen Fry is another well-known gay actor, who is also famous for his work in television and film. The British comedian and author has been openly gay since he was 16 and has never shied away from using his platform to fight against homophobia. He is a prominent figure in the LGBTQ+ community, having served as the President of the mental health charity Mind, which helps people to understand and deal with mental health issues.

Matt Bomer is another gay actor who has made headlines due to his extraordinary acting skills. He was best known for his roles in TV shows like ‘White Collar’ and ‘American Horror Story.’ Bomer famously came out as gay during his 2012 acceptance speech for the Steve Chase Humanitarian Award and has since been a vocal advocate for the community.

Jim Parsons of ‘The Big Bang Theory’ fame is another actor who is openly gay. He has won several awards for his portrayal of Sheldon Cooper, a role that has made him a household name. Parsons has been in a committed relationship with his partner, Todd Spiewak, for many years, and the couple got married in 2017.

Other famous gay actors that deserve a mention include Wentworth Miller, who played Michael in the TV show ‘Prison Break,’ and Victor Garber, the Canadian actor who has starred in hit productions like ‘Alias’ and ‘The Flash.’ Their bravery and willingness to be themselves serve as a reminder that the LGBTQ+ community is an indispensable part of society and deserves equal rights and opportunities.