The examples and perspective in this article deal primarily with the United States and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (May 2021)
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Framed and debated as a privacy issue, coming out of the closet is experienced variously as a hard process where the person is often scared with; decision-making or risk-taking; a strategy or plan; a mass or public event; a speech act and a matter of personal identity; a rite of passage; liberation or emancipation from oppression; an ordeal; a means toward feeling gay pride instead of shame and social stigma; or even career suicide. Author Steven Seidman writes that "it is the power of the closet to shape the core of an individual's life that has made homosexuality into a significant personal, social, and political drama in twentieth-century America".
Coming out of the closet is the source of other gay slang expressions related to voluntary disclosure or lack thereof. LGBT people who have already revealed or no longer conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity are out, i.e. openly LGBT. Oppositely, LGBT people who have yet to come out or have opted not to do so are labelled as closeted or being in the closet. Outing is the deliberate or accidental disclosure of an LGBT person's sexual orientation or gender identity, without their consent. By extension, outing oneself is self-disclosure. Glass closet means the open secret of when public figures' being LGBT is considered a widely accepted fact even though they have not officially come out.