Document Type

Article

Comments

24 Florida State University Law Review 703 (1997)

Abstract

While the closet has become the classic metaphor for homosexual secrecy, it is of surprisingly recent origin, not gaining currency until after World War II. The earliest reference I have found is in John Burns' 1949 Lucifer with a Book, whose characters "come out of the cloister" and into the life. Thus, the idea of coming out of the cloister began as a metaphor for a homosexual's entry into the underground gay subculture, not unlike the "coming out" of a debutante into society. The 1950s invoked the closet as the place where private skeletons and personal secrets are hidden. By the 1960s some gay people were using "coming out" as an expression for the homosexual's sharing her or his own private skeleton in the closet with straight people. Whereas homosexuals confronted the possibility of coming out of the closet, some heterosexuals were obsessed with casting them out. To fight against "homosexual recruiting of youth, Florida's Legislative Investigation Committee wrote in 1964, "the closet door must be thrown open and the light of public understanding cast upon homosexuality.

Date of Authorship for this Version

1997

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