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These anonymous posters should come out of the closet and reveal their public identities.

I am wondering if it's acceptable to use the expression without making any sexual implications, or if that was a non-standard way of using that phrase.

  • Please link to the source of your quote. – James K Jun 19 at 22:13
  • Gay was fully appropriated in the 1970s and there is no going back to its previous meaning. Come out of the closet has, in my estimation, endured the same fate. Any writer using these today has to expect this no matter that it is not the intention. – Bruce Murray Jun 19 at 22:14
  • It refers to posting (on-line?) so must be contemporary and maybe the author was content to expect readers to accept the original meaning. I'm quite happy to view this as having no sexuality connotation – Bruce Murray Jun 19 at 22:28
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As an American English speaker I've heard this construction many times in situations having nothing to do with sexual orientation.

However, the usage for all situations seems to be shortened to "come out," and used in a humorous or tongue-in-cheek way, as if the issue being discussed is as "shameful" as coming out as LGBTQ was (or still is in some places).

For example, let's say you're a fan of the band Coldplay, which many people consider to be a bad band. You keep this a secret because you are afraid you will be made fun of. One day you confide in a good friend, who says:

You should just come out as a Coldplay fan already.

or

You should just come out already.

Because we know what the "shameful secret" is, we don't have to specify it in the second sentence.

Perhaps this term may be used in less than humorous circumstances sometimes, such as in your example, but this is how I've encountered it in everyday speech.

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