Coming Out of the Closet


Celeste Bleeker, Staff Writer

Coming out. It’s a phrase widely used by members of the LGBTQ community to describe the way in which they reveal to people about their sexual orientation or gender identity. For many, this is a daunting and sometimes scary thing to do. Many avoid coming out until people notice or get suspicious. A fear has been instilled in many of the LGBTQ community because of adverse reactions to their sharing an important part of their life. Coming out doesn’t free people from the oppression of society and even family and loved ones.

Coming out is not a new idea. In fact, in 1869, a man by the name of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German advocate for homosexuality, was widely known for encouraging people to announce their sexuality. The origin of the terminology of “coming out” is from the early twentieth century, where coming out was likened to a debutante‘s coming out party, a celebration of a young upper-class lady made her debut upon reaching marriageable or adult age. A historian, George Chauncey described it thus: “Gay people in the pre-war years [pre-WWI]… did not speak of coming out of what we call the gay closet but rather of coming out into what they called homosexual society or the gay world, a world neither so small, nor so isolated, nor… so hidden as closet implies…” (Chauncey, George. 1994. Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940. New York: Basic Books.)

“…coming out of the closet” is a mixed metaphor that joins “coming out” with the closet metaphor: an evolution of “skeleton in the closet” specifically referring to living a life of denial and secrecy by concealing one’s sexual orientation. The closet metaphor, in turn, is extended to the forces and pressures of heterosexist society and its institutions.” (“Coming Out.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 26 Nov. 2017,

This might seem confusing, but basically, being part of the LGBT community is nothing new and nothing to be ashamed of. It might seem daunting and you hear stories about parents being upset with their kids for coming out, but the reality is that most of the time they will accept you and even if they don’t agree, you are still their child and they still love you.