(The Root) — Oprah Winfrey recently admitted that she received some of the most vitriolic and racist criticism of her career for supporting Ellen DeGeneres when she came out as a lesbian in 1997. Winfrey had guest-starred on the well-known episode of DeGeneres' sitcom in which the comedian let the world in on her sexual orientation.
Though just 15 years ago, the reaction might as well have been a lifetime ago, considering how much societal attitudes about gays and lesbians have changed. This year President Barack Obama became the highest profile African American to express his support for same-sex marriage. Some have speculated that the move could hurt him with black voters, who have traditionally lagged behind other communities in supporting same-sex marriage. However, recent polls indicate that this issue has not driven black voters into the arms of the Romney campaign. In addition, other black celebrities have since followed Winfrey and President Obama in displaying support for gay rights. Below we recall 11 other notables who are also gay-rights advocates.
Union was recently photographed attending the same-sex wedding of her friends Jason Bolden and Adair Curtis.
The R&B singer, who has shown his support for a number of political causes over the years, applauded President Obama's evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage.
The Broadway star, who has won a record five Tony Awards, has been so committed to support for LGBT rights and same-sex marriage that her Twitter handle is actually @AudraEqualityMc.
The reality star joined friend Gabrielle Union and other celebs in attending the same-sex wedding of stylist Jason Curtis.
Simmons was one of the highest-profile black celebrities to express support for President Obama's position on same-sex marriage, as well as for singer Frank Ocean after his public admission that he is gay.
The rapper and actress recently performed at the Long Beach Gay Pride Festival in 2012.
The rap mogul equated opposing gay rights to discriminating against black Americans, saying, "It's discrimination, plain and simple."
The rap icon recently headlined the 2012 L.A. Gay Pride Parade.
The soul singer tweeted her support for President Obama's position on same-sex marriage.
Though he stopped just short of embracing same-sex marriage, rapper T.I. did express bafflement at those who oppose it, saying, "If it's not something that directly affects you, if it doesn't affect you, what difference does it make to you what other people are doing with their lives?"
The Rev. Al Sharpton
Sharpton has long been a vocal supporter of the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Keli Goff is The Root's political correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.
Keli Goff is The Root’s special correspondent. Follow her on Twitter.