Diana Ross’s hit song ‘I’m Coming Out’ was inspired by transvestites.
The disco classic – which has gone on to become a gay anthem since its release in 1980 – was inspired by a bar full of transvestites and Diana Ross impersonators, according to Nile Rodgers who co-wrote the song with fellow Chic star Bernard Edwards.
He said: “‘I’m Coming Out’. I promise you when I came up with that idea, I walked into a bar, there were a lot of transvestites and Diana Ross impersonators, I guess they were having some contest that night. Diana Ross was the very first big star I ever worked with. And all of a sudden I walk in and I see the life of one aspect of Diana Ross’s life – that the gay community really looks up to Diana Ross as a real icon.”
Nile went on to explain that he wanted to “translate” the scene into a song and came up with the title in what he described as a a “life changing moment.”
Speaking on the inaugural episode of ‘Björn from ABBA and Friends’ on Apple Music Hits, he added: “And I was like, “Oh, my God, how do I translate that into a song without saying obviously what I’m feeling?” And it just popped into my head, like ‘I’m coming out’. Yeah, honestly, and I thought that it was a life changing moment.”
The Grammy Award-winning songwriter – who also composed hits such as ‘We Are Family’ by Sister Sledge and produced Madonna’s ‘Like a Virgin’ album – then went on to describe ‘I’m Coming Out’ as a “fanfare” for a woman who is “revered by the gay community.”
He said: “She came to see Chic playing live. And my partner turned around while we were jamming. And he said, ‘Damn, that’s like a queen coming to see us. She’s like our queen.’ And I remembered him saying that. So, when I was doing the arrangement, I wrote a fanfare. So we go, ‘I’m coming out.’ And I go [sings fanfare]. A fanfare for a queen. A person whos revered by the gay community. She’s acknowledging that alliance. And it’s also going to hopefully make you go to the dance floor.”