Coming Out in Print


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Pete Williams
Issue 584, August 27, 1991
Not everyone comes out voluntarily. In one of the most controversial cover stories in The Advocate’s history, Michelangelo Signorile outed Bush Sr.’s closeted assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs. Pentagon spokesman Pete Williams took self-loathing to new heights by insisting he supported the military’s total ban on gays and lesbians in the very same article in which The Advocate outed him. Within a year, Bill Clinton, then a candidate for president, cited a gay “Pentagon official” while promising to overturn the ban. Williams went on to become a correspondent for NBC News who viewers now regularly see speed-reading Supreme Court rulings as we await breaking news.

“So many gay men seem to know Williams and know of his homosexuality that it becomes questionable as to whether he was ever in the closet. While several men tell of friendships and sexual encounters with him, one man says they had a two-month intimate ‘boyfriends’ relationship.”

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k.d. lang
Issue 605, June 16, 1992
She broke new ground by coming out on the cover of The Advocate in 1992, but the Canadian country-pop musician wanted the world to know she wasn’t ready to be called an activist simply for loving other women. The next year lang appeared on the cover of Vanity Fair, seated in a barber chair while supermodel Cindy Crawford stood behind her and appeared to be giving lang a good shave — on her face. She would later become a fierce advocate for LGBT rights.

“I don’t feel political about my preference. I just don’t. I’m sorry to disappoint you hard-cores, but I don’t! I think as a human being we all feel discrimination at some time, we all feel oppression. There should be strong examples in the subculture, and I think there should be people fighting for our rights. But I don’t feel like it’s my passion. I feel like it’s a part of my life, my sexuality, but it’s not—it certainly isn’t my cause. But also I have never denied it. I don’t try to hide it like some people in the industry do.”

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Melissa Etheridge
Issue 660, July 26, 1994
The Grammy Award-winning rocker spoke to The Advocate a year and a half after she came out while celebrating the inauguration of President Clinton and revealed what had been her greatest fear about being open. Two ex-wives and four kids later, Etheridge is still a leading equality activist.

“You think there’s some big black hole you’re going to fall into and that all of a sudden people who have loved you all of your life aren’t going to love you anymore. And I’m here to tell you that that does not happen. If it did change anyone’s mind about me, then that’s their problem — and they weren’t there for me to begin with.”

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