I'm Coming Out

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"I'm Coming Out"
Side-A label by Motown
One of side-A labels of US single
Single by Diana Ross
from the album Diana
  • "Give Up"
  • "Friend to Friend"
  • "Never Say I Don't Love You"
  • "My Old Piano"
ReleasedAugust 22, 1980 (1980-08-22)
RecordedDecember 1979
  • 5:24 (album version)
  • 3:59 (radio edit)
  • Nile Rodgers
  • Bernard Edwards
Diana Ross singles chronology
"Upside Down"
"I'm Coming Out"
"My Old Piano"
"I'm Coming Out" on YouTube

"I'm Coming Out" is a song recorded by American singer Diana Ross. It was written and produced by Chic members Bernard Edwards and Nile Rodgers, and released on August 22, 1980, as the second single from Ross' self-titled tenth album Diana (1980).


Diana Ross, 1981

In 1979, Ross commissioned Chic founders Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards to create material for a new album after taking her daughters to see the band in concert, following the success of Ross's final Ashford & Simpson-composed and produced LP, The Boss. In 2021, Nile Rodgers confirmed in a TikTok video that the song was originally intended for the LGBTQ community, and was inspired after seeing drag queens dressed as Diana Ross at a New York club, with him stating:[1]

So the way that the song "I'm Coming Out" came to be was when we went to work for Diana Ross we wanted to write about things that were in her universe, so we went to her apartment and interviewed her for a couple of days. One particular night I went to a club, The Gilded Grape, and I happened to notice that there were at least 6 or 7 Diana Ross impersonators, so I went outside to call Bernard and said "you know, Diana Ross is revered by the gay community. If we wrote a song called "I'm Coming Out" for Diana Ross it would have the same power as James Brown's "Say It Loud – I'm Black and I'm Proud" and next day we met in the studio [...] and then from that we built the song.

The lyrics hold an additional meaning to Ross, as she was leaving Motown Records and "coming out" from under Berry Gordy's thumb.[2] According to the BBC4 documentary How to Make It in the Music Business, Ross loved the record until she put it in front of 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 wanted to do that, but was convinced that was not the case and decided to release the song.[3][4]

"Coming Out" is of course also what debutantes do when they are introduced at court.


The song was another hit from the album, peaking at number 5 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart for three weeks in November 1980.[5] It is also notable for being the first song usually performed at Ross' performances and concerts since 1980. In 2021, it was ranked at No. 385 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".[6]

LGBTQ significance[edit]

"I'm Coming Out" has been regarded as an anthem for the LGBTQ community. The phrase "coming out" to describe one's self-disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity had been present in the LGBTQ subculture since the early 20th century.[7] It has also been understood as "coming out of the closet" or coming out from hiding. The song is thus interpreted as a celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender identity and the encouragement of self-disclosure.

Trombone solo[edit]

Rodgers convinced his neighbor, producer Meco Monardo, to contract the horns for the album in return for a commitment by Rodgers to co-produce Monardo's then-upcoming album of music from The Empire Strikes Back. Monardo, a former first-call session player who had a string of hits in the late 1970s with disco versions of film music, also played trombone on the album and is featured in a solo towards the end of "I'm Coming Out":

Nile recorded all the tracks and vocals and called me and my horn section for a 3-hour date. We had a great time, as the songs were fabulous—especially "Upside Down" and "I'm Coming Out". We sounded great—Nile was pleased and as I was packing up, he asked me to stay and play a jazz trombone solo on one of the tracks. I said, "Nile, there are a lot of hit records with jazz saxophone solos—even some with jazz trumpet solos, but not one with a trombone"!! He said. "That's exactly why I want you to do it"!![8]

Trombone solos have been rare on Top 40 songs in the post-big band era and especially so since the 1960s. Notable exceptions include brief solos by James Pankow on a handful of early Chicago hits and Clifford Adams' brief solo on Kool & the Gang's 1983 hit "Joanna".

Weeks went by when I heard through the grapevine that Diana Ross was incredibly unhappy with the album. She thought Nile and Bernard made her sound like Chic. She took the master tapes from Power Station and went to Motown in Detroit to remix the record. When it came out, her early interviews were very unenthusiastic about it and Nile and Bernard, her producers. Well, as we all know, this turned out to be her biggest-selling solo album ever. "Upside Down" was a monster Number-One single and "I'm Coming Out" was a top-ten single. It turned out that when the engineer at Motown saw the track listings of Meco 1–2–3–4, he just assumed that Track 1 was THE track and never listened to the others, and so that's what is on the record. So, I'm extremely proud to say that my solo is the only jazz trombone solo of a top-ten pop hit in the last 50 years! But – it wasn't my best – that, unfortunately lies in the vaults at Motown.[8]

The dispute with Ross led to none of the musicians being credited on the album cover and also may have had a part in Rodgers backing out of his commitment to Monardo's Meco Plays Music from The Empire Strikes Back album. However, Rodgers and Monardo later mended their professional relationship and subsequent digital releases of the album credit Monardo and the other musicians. A 2003 two-disc release of the album included the Rodgers/Edwards mix originally rejected by Ross, as a bonus track.

Music video[edit]

The video consists of Ross performing the song with studio musicians live in concert.[9]

Track listings[edit]

U.S., UK, French, and German 7" and 12" single

  • Side A:
  1. "I'm Coming Out"
  • Side B:
  1. "Give Up"

Dutch 7" and 12" single

  • Side A:
  1. "I'm Coming Out"
  • Side B:
  1. "Never Say I Don't Love You"

Swedish 7" single

  • Side A:
  1. "I'm Coming Out"
  • Side B:
  1. "My Old Piano"

Chart performance[edit]


Region Certification Certified units/sales
Canada (Music Canada)[16] Platinum 150,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[17] Platinum 600,000double-dagger

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.
double-dagger Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

In popular culture[edit]

This song was featured in two trailers of The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement. It was also featured in Borat Subsequent Moviefilm and Poms. And it was featured in a spring 2004 advertisement for Zellers.

Amerie version[edit]

"I'm Coming Out"
Amerie sinhgle imcomingout.jpg
Single by Amerie
from the album Maid in Manhattan: Music from the Motion Picture
B-side"Talkin' to Me"
ReleasedApril 7, 2003 (2003-04-07)
Amerie singles chronology
"Talkin' to Me"
"I'm Coming Out"
Music video
Amerie – I'm Coming Out on YouTube

In 2003, American singer Amerie covered "I'm Coming Out" for the soundtrack to the film Maid in Manhattan. Her version was released as a single in select European countries and Australia. The final single version to be released was the Loren Dawson remix. The original single version (which is similar to the original) can be found on both CD singles and the original motion picture soundtrack to Maid in Manhattan. Ross' version appears on the film's soundtrack album as well.

Music video[edit]

A music video was produced to promote the single.

Track listings[edit]

  • German CD single[18]
  1. "I'm Coming Out" (Loren Dawson Remix) – 3:49
  2. "Talkin' to Me" (album version) – 4:00
  3. "Talkin' to Me" (Trackmasters Remix) (featuring Foxy Brown) – 3:38
  4. "Talkin’ to Me" (Mark Ronson Sunshine Remix) (no loop) – 3:09
  5. "I'm Coming Out" (video)
  • French CD single[19]
  1. "I'm Coming Out" (Loren Dawson Remix) – 3:49
  2. "Talkin' to Me" (album version) – 4:00
  • Australian CD single[20]
  1. "I'm Coming Out" (Loren Dawson Remix) – 3:49
  2. "Talkin' to Me" (album version) – 4:00
  3. "Talkin' to Me" (Trackmasters Remix) (featuring Foxy Brown) – 3:38


Chart (2003) Peak
Australia (ARIA)[21] 66
Australian Urban (ARIA)[22] 23
Netherlands (Dutch Top 40 Tipparade)[23] 17
Netherlands (Single Top 100)[24] 69
Romania (Romanian Top 100)[25] 100

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Label Ref.
Germany April 7, 2003 CD single Columbia [18]
France April 15, 2003 [19]
Australia April 18, 2003 [26]

Other samples and covers[edit]

The distinctive sound of "I'm Coming Out" and its resulting popularity has led to Ross's song often being sampled, most notably by Stevie J, who sampled the song for rapper The Notorious B.I.G.'s 1997 song "Mo Money Mo Problems" with Mase, Sean "Diddy" Combs and Kelly Price. Ross and Combs performed "I'm Coming Out / Mo Money Mo Problems" in 2019 as a mashup at Ross's 75th birthday party at the Hollywood Palladium,[27][28] and a mashup of the two songs was also previously included in the soundtrack of the 2016 movie Trolls performed by Zooey Deschanel, Anna Kendrick, Gwen Stefani, James Corden, Walt Dohrn, Ron Funches, Icona Pop and Kunal Nayyar.

In 1997, German comedian Hella von Sinnen sampled "I'm Coming Out" for her single "Mein Coming Out", using the term "coming out" in the context of coming out of the closet, or revealing one's homosexuality. There's also been a cover by Marcia Hines. It was featured as a cover for the video game Karaoke Revolution as well.

In more recent times, the song was sampled in Keyshia Cole's remake of "I'm Coming Out" (featuring Iggy Azalea) for the original soundtrack of the 2014 movie The Other Woman, starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Upton, Leslie Mann and Nicki Minaj. The song is sampled in "Break Your Heart Right Back" from Ariana Grande's sophomore album My Everything (2014). This song was also covered for the soundtrack to the 2016 movie Trolls. Samantha Jade covered the song for her disco album Best of My Love (2018)


  1. ^ Rodgers, Nile (February 4, 2021). "#LGBTQhistory is what inspired us to write Diana Ross' 'I'm Coming Out' 🙏". TikTok. Archived from the original on February 4, 2021. Retrieved April 2, 2021.
  2. ^ Zeffer, Andy (2004). "Freak Out with Chic". Express Gay News. Archived from the original on September 6, 2010.
  3. ^ "Episode 2". Nile Rodgers: How to Make It in the Music Business. August 25, 2018. BBC4.
  4. ^ Newcomb, Alyssa (June 28, 2020). "Diana Ross was told 'I'm Coming Out' would ruin her career, says Nile Rodgers". Today. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  5. ^ "Diana Ross - Chart history - Billboard". www.billboard.com.
  6. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 15, 2021. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  7. ^ Chauncey, George (1994). Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940. New York: Basic Books.
  8. ^ a b "Disco Profiles - Meco". Archived from the original on January 5, 2009. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  9. ^ "DIANA ROSS I m Coming Out - vidéo Dailymotion". Dailymotion.
  10. ^ Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992. St Ives, NSW: Australian Chart Book. ISBN 0-646-11917-6.
  11. ^ a b c d e [1] Archived November 9, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "The Irish Charts – Search Results – I'm Coming Out". Irish Singles Chart. Retrieved June 22, 2017.
  13. ^ "Top 100 1980-11-22". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  14. ^ "Top 100 Year End Charts: 1980". Cashbox Magazine. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1980/Top 100 Songs of 1980". Musicoutfitters.com. Retrieved October 16, 2016.
  16. ^ "Canadian single certifications – Diana Ross – I'm Coming Out". Music Canada. Retrieved November 6, 2019.
  17. ^ "British single certifications – Diana Ross – I'm Coming Out". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 26, 2022.
  18. ^ a b "I'm Coming Out" (in German). Amazon.de. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  19. ^ a b "I'm Coming Out" (in French). Amazon.fr. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  20. ^ "I'm Coming Out" (Australian CD single). Amerie. Columbia Records. 2003. 673747 2.{{cite AV media notes}}: CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  21. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing April 28, 2003" ARIA Top 100 Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved September 12, 2008.
  22. ^ "ARIA Top 100 Singles – Week Commencing May 5, 2003" ARIA Top 40 Urban Singles. National Library of Australia. Retrieved September 12, 2008.
  23. ^ "Amerie – I'm Coming Out" (in Dutch). Dutch Top 40. Retrieved May 12, 2022.
  24. ^ "Amerie – I'm Coming Out" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved November 9, 2009.
  25. ^ "Romanian Top 100: Editia 23, saptamina 16.06 – 22.06, 2003" (in Romanian). Romanian Top 100. Archived from the original on October 12, 2004. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  26. ^ "Amerie – I'm Coming Out". Sony BMG Australia. Archived from the original on September 10, 2007. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  27. ^ Runtagh, Jordan (March 27, 2019). "Everything That Went Down at Diana Ross' Star-Studded 75th Birthday Bash". People. Retrieved January 9, 2023.
  28. ^ "Diana Ross - I'm Coming Out & Mo Money Mo Problems (w/Sean "Puffy" Combs) 75th Birthday Celebration". YouTube. Retrieved January 9, 2023.