[Ads-l] Antedating of "Come Out of the Closet" (Homosexuality)
bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Tue Jan 23 20:22:35 UTC 2018
Just to further complicate the chronology, the metaphorical gay "closet"
does extend further back in the compound form "closet queen/fag." HDAS has
this as the earliest cite for "closet queen":
1959 ISR Graffiti: You closet queens are full of shit.
(Jon, what's "ISR"?)
And Green's Dictionary of Slang has:
1961 A. Reiss in Cressey & Ward _Delinquency, Crime, and Social Process_
(1969) 994: In the organized ‘gay world,’ they are known as ‘closet fags’.
On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 2:39 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
> One issue is how to fold in the metaphorical “closet”, which isn’t part of
> these earlier cites below. Is it possible that there was a reanalysis
> involved, so that “come out” is now seen as parasitic on/truncated from
> “come out of the closet”, even though the historical trajectory was
> > On Jan 23, 2018, at 2:34 PM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
> > On Tue, Jan 23, 2018 at 2:01 PM, MULLINS, WILLIAM D (Bill) CIV USARMY
> > RDECOM AMRDEC (US) 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.
> >> It would be nigh-on impossible to search for, I suspect, but I wonder
> >> "of the closet" started being dropped, and when "come out" started being
> >> applied to characteristics other than homosexuality ("come out as a
> >> Republican", etc.).
> > See OED3 senses 12 and 13 of "come out" (s.v. "come" -- June 2017
> > ----
> > 12. intr. With complement. To make a public declaration in support of or
> > against something specified; to declare oneself a supporter of, or act as
> > an advocate for, a particular cause.
> > See also _to come out in one's true colours_ at _colour_ n.1 Phrases 5a.
> > 1836 New-Yorker 26 Mar. 9/2 James B. Gardiner..was then a supporter
> > Mr. Van Buren's claims for the Presidency.—Since that time, he has come
> > as a partisan of Gen. Harrison.
> > [...]
> > 13. intr.
> > a. slang. Among homosexual men and women: to become socially or sexually
> > active within homosexual circles; to realize that one is homosexual. Now
> > rare except as passing into sense 13b.
> > Perhaps influenced by the idea of social debut in sense 8c.
> > 1941 G. Legman in G. W. Henry Sex Variants II. 1161 Come out, to
> > progressively more and more exclusively homosexual with experience.
> > 1949 ‘Swasarnt Nerf’ in H. Hagius Gay Guides for 1949 (2010) 48 Come
> > out, to be initiated into the mysteries of homosexuality.
> > [...]
> > b. To acknowledge or declare openly that one is homosexual. Also in
> > extended use with reference to other sexual or gender identities. Cf. _to
> > come out of the closet_ at _closet_ n. and adj. Phrases 2a.
> > 1971 Observer 17 Jan. 3/1 ‘I enjoy my double life,’ said a delicate
> > youth wearing a gold chain belt in a Chelsea pub, ‘I don't want to come
> > out.’
> > 1974 Win 3 Oct. 10/2 The conference..was a very special occasion for
> > me. It was the time when I came out as a bisexual.
> > [...]
> > ----
> > So "come out as a Republican (etc.)" long predates the coming-out-as-gay
> > usage, though latter may inflect the interpretation of the former these
> > days.
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