Image: @dianaross/Instagram

This iconic Diana Ross hit was inspired by drag queens

 

Not only is Diana Ross a certified-hit maker, she is also an strong ally among the LGBTQ+ community. That's why it may not come as much of a surprise that her biggest track was actually inspired by local drag queens doing a tribute to the singer.

The legendary songstress rose to fame in the 60s while part of the Motown group, The Supremes. Later, Ross made a name for herself as a solo artist, solidifying her name as an icon for many generations to come.

In 1980, Ross released her popular self-titled album ‘Diana,' which included the disco classic “I'm Coming Out.” Since its release, the track has gone on to become a gay anthem heard throughout clubs and pride festivities around the world. 

Written and produced by Nile Rodgers and Bernard Edwards of the disco group Chic, Rodgers shared the story about the song’s history in a 2021 TikTok video.

“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,” Rodgers said. 

 

@nilerodgersandchic #LGBTQhistory ♬ I'm Coming Out - Diana Ross
 

“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,” Rodgers said. 

“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.”

Rodgers spoke on the songwriting experience again in an appearance on Apple Music’s Björn from ABBA & Friends podcast.

“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,” he said.

The Grammy Award-winning songwriter is also credited with hits such as 'We Are Family' by Sister Sledge and even produced Madonna's 'Like a Virgin' album. 

Rodger describes ‘I'm Coming Out' as a "fanfare" for a woman who is "revered by the gay community” and explained how the team wanted to illustrate the LGBTQ+ community’s love for Ross through a song. 

"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 who's revered by the gay community. She's acknowledging that alliance. And it's also going to hopefully make you go to the dance floor."

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