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In order to understand the “the closet” in relation to sexual orientation, it is necessary to first define the term. In general use, the closet refers to a space for hiding private objects from public view. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), a closet can be a “room for privacy,” an “inner chamber,” a “private repository of valuables,” or the “den or lair of a wild beast.” A person may also have a “skeleton in the closet”—a “private or concealed trouble in one’s circumstances, ever present, and ever liable to come into view.”

These definitions of the closet make the act of “coming out of the closet” possible. To come out means to make hidden, private, and possibly valuable information public; to reveal one’s “inner ...

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