Meet Lio Tipton.
The 32-year-old America’s Next Top Model star-turned-model and actor came out publicly as queer and non-binary on Instagram on Wednesday, June 2, just after the start of Pride Month.
“Hi. My name is Lio,” Tipton wrote. “My pronouns are they/she. I am proud to announce I am queer and I identify as non binary. I hope to give as much love and support back to those who continue to show love and support for the Pride community at large.”
Hours after sharing their post, Tipton thanked fans for their love support. “Clearly, it didn’t affect me at all,” she joked in a tearful selfie video on their Instagram Story. “Thank you.”
A former child figure skater, Tipton’s road to Hollywood success was far from smooth. She moved to Los Angeles at age 17 to write and direct films, after which a woman saw the teen at a gym and said she wanted to sign them to a modeling agency, according to The Daily Beast.
Tipton then went out to dinner to meet some men, later discovering that she was set up to be “sold” to a Saudi prince. She didn’t fall for the scam. Tipton told the website, “That was my moment of, ‘OK, I have to grow a spine.'”
Two years later, real modeling recruiters met Tipton at a shopping mall and then contacted them through MySpace to ask them to join ANTM, The Daily Beast reported. Tipton placed third on cycle 11 in 2008.