[Ads-l] Antedating of "Come Out of the Closet" (Homosexuality)
laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 23 19:35:04 UTC 2018
> On Jan 23, 2018, at 2:01 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY RDECOM AMRDEC (US) <william.d.mullins18.civ at MAIL.MIL> wrote:
>> come out of the closet (homosexuality) (OED 1972)
>> 1968 _Berkeley Barb_ 15-21 Mar. 12/1 (Independent Voices) HAY FRUITS! Come out of the closet long enuf to attend the East Bay Gay
>> Discussion Group Fridays.
>> Fred Shapiro
> It would be nigh-on impossible to search for, I suspect, but I wonder when "of the closet" started being dropped, and when "come out" started being applied to characteristics other than homosexuality ("come out as a Republican", etc.).
The OED, s.v. _closet_ 3(d),
'to come out of the closet: to admit (something) openly, to cease to conceal, esp. one's homosexuality’,
with reference to the antonymic ‘in the closet’, provides this cite
1973 Times 4 June 14/1 It will be nice if those of us who have been slightly shamefaced addicts [of horse-racing] for years can at last come out of the closet
—only one year later than their first unambiguous sexual-orientation-related cite (granted, 4 years later than the Berkeley Barb hit above):
1972 Pride of Lions (Columbia Univ.) Apr. 2/1 For those who have come out, tried it and like it, read no more. For those, ‘in the closet’, you need to read on, get right on!
(Cute, that “pride of lions” reference, that being Columbia’s mascot/nickname)
There’s also this but I don’t know the broader context of the excerpt:
1963 S. Plath in London Mag. Jan. 16 Come here, sweetie, out of the closet.
It’s not bracketed, so I assume it’s metaphorical in one sense or another.
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