It was just revealed that Diana Ross’ hit “I’m Coming Out” was inspired by transgender women, something she didn’t realize until after it’s release. Her producer Nile Rodgers, wrote the lyrics after seeing drag artists at GG’s Barnum Room, a transgender club in midtown Manhattan.
Now her hit has taken on a new meaning for everyone With the end of COVID 19 lockdown. Indeed, cisgender, transgender, gay, and straight liberal and conservative, we are all one and we are coming out!
Source New York Post Nile Rodgers: Diana Ross didn’t know ‘I’m Coming Out’ was ‘a gay thing’
When Diana Ross wanted to turn her legendary music career “Upside Down” at the dawn of the ’80s, she enlisted the Chic production team of Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards.
“That was our very first time ever producing a star,” says Rodgers. “Not only was it a star, it was, like, the star.”
But Rodgers and Edwards helped make that superstar shine brighter than ever: Ross’ classic “Diana” album — released 40 years ago on May 22, 1980 — went on to become the best-selling LP of her career with hits such as “Upside Down” and the queer anthem “I’m Coming Out.” And perhaps more significantly, it set the twirling template for all of the diva dance-pop that would come after that, from Madonna and Janet Jackson to Beyoncé.
It was a tricky, transitional time for Ross at the beginning of the post-disco era. “The disco era ended in the summer of ’79, and she came out the next year,” says Rodgers. “So we had to make a record that wasn’t disco.”
Rodgers and his late partner, Edwards, had proven themselves to be disco dynamos, producing hits such as “Le Freak” and “Good Times” for their own group Chic, as well as Sister Sledge’s smash “We Are Family.” But now they had to show that they were more than just disco, with Ross wanting to court a younger audience. “She didn’t say, ‘Well I’m trying to make an album for the kids,’ ” says Rodgers. “But she knew that’s what we were doing.”
“I’m Coming Out,” the second single, was inspired after Rodgers saw some “Diana Ross impersonators” at GG’s Barnum Room, a predominantly transgender club in midtown Manhattan. “All of a sudden a lightbulb goes off in my head,” he says. “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 loved it because the song made sense in that she was coming out into a new world of music. She had no idea it was inspired by transgender women until influential WBLS DJ Frankie Crocker heard it and said that. “He thought that that would be Diana saying that she was gay,” says Rodgers.
But Rodgers convinced the singer to stick with the song anyway, selling it as the perfect concert opener to make a regal entrance for the rest of her life. “I said, ‘Diana, this song is gonna be your coming-out song. We think of you as our black queen,’ ” he said.