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Coming Out, Disclosure, and Passing

Coming out is a commonly used trope in LGBTQ life, literature, media, and research. Coming out is behind the scenes, often assumed by scholars as a process occurring but seldom defined. Colloquially, coming out refers to the disclosure of sexual identity, but the metaphor has grown to encompass the disclosure of any LGBTQ identity to others, or even the claiming of nonqueer identities to further a social movement, such as “coming out as fat.” Coming out can refer to the internal claim to an identity—“coming out to myself”—as well as the disclosure of that identity to others. Conversely, people are passing when others assume them to be heterosexual or straight in a given situation. Because of the history of the concept, coming out is often ...

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