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By Adam Hetrick
28 Jun 2013

Ann Hampton Callaway
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Tony Award nominee Ann Hampton Callaway, singer-songwriter and cast member of Swing!

One of the most liberating moments of my life was when I came out on 8/3/9, the same day my CD – dedicated to my partner, Kari Strand – called "At Last," came out. I had been open with family and friends for years about who I was, but never to the public, for a variety of personal reasons. Finding Kari and coming out have been events that have opened both my heart and my art in ways I could never have anticipated. And now, when I try to encourage people to be who they are, which is one of my passions, I am walking the walk not just talking the talk. My deepest gratitude goes to all the gutsy artists and trailblazers who've made it easier for us in this community. On a person level, Harvey Fierstein was a good friend and inspiration through the process and Sir Ian McKellen talked some sense into me one day at the BBC during a radio show we were doing. Now, when I stand in front of an audience, I own who I am and I hope it helps other people, whoever they are, to own themselves, too.