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Diana Ross didn’t understand her 1980 disco classic ‘I’m Coming Out’ was ‘a gay thing’

Josh Milton May 22, 2020
Diana Ross

Diana Ross performing in New Orleans. (Getty)

You know that Diana Ross song, “I’m Coming Out”, you know, the one with the lyrics that literally go “I’m coming out, I want the world to know”?

Well, apparently, singer Ross struggled to understand why the song “was a gay thing”, music producer Nile Rogers told The New York Post.

Nile Rogers discussed his collaborations with Ross and fellow producer Bernard Edwards, reminiscing about how the song that came to have an incredible gay following first came about.

Nile Rogers reveals what inspired the Diana Ross hit ‘I’m Coming Out’.

Ross first approached the Chic star at the dawn of 1980, eager to make her already dazzling career shine even brighter.

Hoping to create new content for Ross, Rogers said he was first inspired to write “I’m Coming Out” after seeing a gaggle of “Diana Ross impersonators” in the bathroom of GG’s Barnum Room, a club in midtown Manhattan, New York, which was a popular watering hole for trans folk.

“All of a sudden a lightbulb goes off in my head,” he said. “I had to go outside and call Bernard from a telephone booth.

“I said: ‘Bernard, please write down the words “I’m coming out”,’ and then I explained the situation to him.”

Ross immediately loved the song, Rogers said, connecting with what she saw as empowering lyrics, before adding: “She didn’t understand that that was a gay thing.

“That that was a person saying, ‘I’m coming out of the closet.’ She didn’t even get that.”

Ross caught on, however, after she played the song for WBLS DJ Frankie Crocker. “He thought that that would be Diana saying that she was gay,” Roger described.

But Rogers did the Lord’s work and convinced Ross to run the song anyway, arguing that it would make for a perfect concert opener.

“I said, ‘Diana, this song is gonna be your coming-out song, we think of you as our Black queen,'” he said.

“And I even wrote a [horn] fanfare. I explained to her that it’s just like when the president comes out and they play ‘Hail to the Chief’.”

The prophecy was, indeed, fulfilled as the fizzy pop song became a hit with an enduring legacy along the LGBT+ community for, well, obvious reasons. Peaking at number five on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart when it dropped August 1980.

More: Chic, diana ross, i'm coming out, Nile Rogers

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