Nile Rodgers explains how he wrote Diana Ross's "I'm Coming Out" as a gay anthem

In this video, writer/producer/performer Nile Rodgers explains how and why he wrote "I'm Coming Out" (1980) for Diana Ross.

In 1979, he and his partner Bernard Edwards were hired by Diana Ross to produce her next album. While in the process of interviewing Ross to get a sense of the direction of the album he went to a nightclub known as a trans club, and noticed that there were at least seven Diana Ross impersonators there.

He says he called Edwards and said, "Diana Ross is revered by the gay community, and if we wrote a song called 'I'm Coming Out' for Diana Ross, it would have the same power as James Brown's 'I'm Black and I'm Proud.'"

Watch this video even if only for the pleasure of hearing Nile Rodgers play guitar.

This gay power meaning was totally lost on Diana Ross, who thought it was about her leaving Motown Records and declaring independence from Berry Gordy, who had controlled her entire career to that point. The Wikipedia article about the song states:

According to the BBC4 documentary How to Make It in the Music Business, Ross loved the record until she put it in front of [disc jockey] Frankie Crocker, who pointed out that "I'm coming out" is what homosexual people use to announce their homosexuality, that listeners would think Diana herself was announcing she was gay, and that it would ruin her career. She ran back to the studio in tears and demanded to know why Rodgers and Edwards would write the song knowing that it would damage her career, but was later convinced that was not the case and decided to release the song.

By the way, Ross ended up hating the entire album as delivered by Rodgers and Edwards, and in a panic had it remixed in Detroit. Nevertheless, it became her biggest-selling solo album.

Here is "I'm Coming Out," a huge hit that peaked at #5 on the Billboard chart.