By The Way, We're Gay

That may seem like micromanagement, but most celebrities on the precipice of self-revelation are keenly aware that every nuance of tone counts. When country singer Chely Wright came out in 2010, it was preceded by a leak that a major celebrity was about to reveal her lesbianism, leading to speculation about much more famous names. When the subject of the overhype (and subsequent interview blitz) was revealed to be Wright, it risked seeming like nothing more than a way for a not-especially-well-known performer to raise her profile. And when Will & Grace's Sean Hayes came out on the cover of the gay magazine The Advocate two years ago — a story for which the magazine was asked not to use the words ''comes out'' on its cover — he seemed grudging about his own decision, complaining, ''If you don't know somebody, then why would you explain to them how you live your life?'' Coming-out stories are supposed to be good news: You can't seek your publicity and hate it, too.

For the most part, though, the latest crop of out celebrities seem remarkably savvy about doing it their way. (For the record, their way included politely declining to be interviewed for a magazine cover story, but indicating that they had no objections to being discussed in it.) They don't aim to turn themselves into instant spokespeople for LGBT causes.

At the same time, the longer they're out, the more willing they seem to put themselves on the line at moments when their voices count. In 2008, Harris told Out magazine that he saw himself as ''jester, not advocate.'' But four years later, he's a lot more comfortable being both — hosting an Obama fund-raiser of Broadway stars at which he praised the president's position on gay marriage, and then, six days later, segueing effortlessly to the Tonys. Wanda Sykes was moved to reveal her marriage to a woman at an anti--Proposition 8 rally in 2008. And when Quinto came out, he made it clear that when he spoke about issues like bullying, he wanted people to know where he was coming from. Collectively, they're creating a new way of dealing publicly with one's sexual orientation: speaking in a manner that's subdued but up-front; leading by example, but not necessarily from atop a pride-parade float; setting boundaries so that some aspects of their lives remain private.

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