The ten best gay American actors have appeared on television as well as the silver screen. In their work, their orientation is merely a side note. However, they still have inspired many of their peers and audiences, each actor deserving his place in the list of the top ten best gay American actors.

  1. Neil Patrick Harris: No longer just “Doogie Howser,” Harris has racked up quite a bit of credits to his name, including Broadway productions, films, and a slew of television appearances (including his role on “How I Met Your Mother”). Harris came out in 2006, and he and partner David Burtka welcomed their fraternal twins born via surrogate in 2010: Gideon Scott and Harper Grace.

  2. Nathan Lane: Lane is undoubtedly best known for his roles in “The Birdcage” and “The Lion King” and his musical theatre roles in “The Producers” and “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.” He came out publicly in 1998, though he had been living openly as gay since he was 21.   

  3. George Takei: Best known as helmsman Hikaru Sulu in “Star Trek,” Takei began his career in Hollywood in the late 1950s. He was cast in “Star Trek” in 1965 and remained a part of the series, as well starring in six of the motion pictures. Takei publicly came out in 2005, though he had been living as openly gay since the 1970s. He and partner Don Norte were married in 2008 and have been together for 23 years.  

  4. David Hyde Pierce: Pierce has many memorable characters under his belt, most notably, his role as Niles Crane in the television show “Frasier.” He joined the cast of the musical “Spamalot” in 2005 and starred in “Curtains” in 2006-2007. Pierce came out in 2007 with the confirmation of his relationship with Brian Hargrove, and they were married in 2008.  

  5. Sean Hayes: Sean Hayes hasn’t had as long of an acting career as some, but his role on the television show “Will and Grace” was definitely an iconic first. As the flamboyantly gay actor Jack McFarland, Hayes hooked audiences for eight seasons. Though he remained mum on his orientation for years, Hayes came out in a 2010 interview with The Advocate magazine.  

  6. Chris Colfer: Chris Colfer has served as an inspiration for multitudes of people because of his role in the television show “glee.” His character, Kurt Hummel, is also gay and an incredible force in the glee club, showcasing his voice talents often. However, his character is also the vehicle for more serious issues, particularly bullying, when he is stalked and harassed by high school football player because of his sexuality.

  7. Denis O’Hare: “True Blood” star O’Hare’s television/film career started relatively recently (1997), but he has certainly made a success of himself. Starring in such films as “Michael Clayton,” “Milk” and “Changeling,” he also accrued a Tony Award nomination, Tony Award and a 2005 Drama Desk Award. O’Hare came out in high school.  

  8. Michael Jeter: Before Jeter passed away from an epileptic seizure at 51, he already boasted an eclectic resume. He appeared on Broadway, television and in films like “The Green Mile” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.” Jeter officially came out in 1997. He was found dead in his home by life partner, Sean Blue, in 2003.   

  9. Rock Hudson: In old Hollywood, Rock Hudson ruled as one of the most popular romantic leading men in the 1950s and 1960s. Though he never publicly came out, he revealed details about his romantic life in his biography “Rock Hudson: His Story.” Hudson shocked fans when he revealed he had AIDS and his eventual death in 1985 provided a face for the disease. He was one of the first Hollywood celebrities to die from an AIDS-related illness.  

  10. Harvey Fierstein: Fierstein has had success as a writer, Broadway, film and television actor. Fierstein is probably best known for his play and film “Torch Song Trilogy” and his book of  “La Cage aux Folles.” Fierstein was one of the first openly gay actors in Hollywood.