Opinions on Coming out

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For other uses, see Coming out (disambiguation).

Coming out of the closet, or simply coming out, is a figure of speech for lesbian, gay, bisexual, pansexual, transgender, and asexual (LGBT+) people's self-disclosure of their sexual orientation (or lack thereof) and/or gender identity.

Framed and debated as a privacy issue, coming out of the closet is described and experienced variously as a psychological process or journey; decision-making or risk-taking; a strategy or plan; a mass or public event; a speech act and a matter of personal identity; a rite of passage; liberation or emancipation from oppression; an ordeal; a means toward feeling gay pride instead of shame and social stigma; or even career suicide. Author Steven Seidman writes that "it is the power of the closet to shape the core of an individual's life that has made homosexuality into a significant personal, social, and political drama in twentieth-century America."

American gender theorist Judith Butler argues that the process of "coming out" does not free gay people from oppression. Although they may feel freer to act as themselves, the opacity involved in entering a non-heterosexual territory insinuates judgment upon their identity, she argues in Imitation and Gender Insubordination (1991.)

Coming out of the closet is the source of other gay slang expressions related to voluntary disclosure or lack thereof. LGBT people who have already revealed or no longer conceal their sexual orientation and/or gender identity are out, i.e. openly LGBT. Oppositely, LGBT people who have yet to come out or have opted not to do so are labelled as closeted or being in the closet. Outing is the deliberate or accidental disclosure of an LGBT person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, without their consent. By extension, outing oneself is self-disclosure. Glass closet means the open secret of when public figures' being LGBT is considered a widely accepted fact even though they have not "officially" come out.


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