The phrase “coming out” (short for “coming out of the closet“), seeks to encapsulate the process by which lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) people make their sexuality known to other people. Over the past few decades, the phrase has become a battle cry for individuals who champion equal rights for gay people. And for many, it has become synonymous with feelings of empowerment, courage and truth.
The phrase comes directly from “skeletons in the closet,” meaning secrets that are kept away from public knowledge due to shame, fear or embarrassment. Bringing those secrets out into the open, or “out of the closet” can then been seen as a way in which to overcome adversity or shame. Related is the phrase “outing,” which refers to the involuntary act of having your sexuality made public.
There are many more gay people out today than ever before, and a current trend is emerging, where being “in the closet” (or, not concealing your sexuality), is understood to be very unhealthy or destructive to the individual. Most LGBT advocacy groups encourage living an “out” lifestyle and advocate for programs that assist people in the “coming out” process.
The epic dance disco track, “I’m Coming Out” by Diana Ross has been heralded as a gay “anthem,” if not THE gay anthem. It was said to have been inspired after the song’s writer witnessed drag queens dressing up and impersonating The Disco Queen in California discos.
1. the process by which a gay person makes their sexuality public.
2. a voluntary submission of one’s sexuality, usually with an association with LGBTQ
[Related: outed, outing]