Nile Rodgers knew ‘I’m Coming Out’ was destined to be a gay anthem

Music legend Nile Rodgers has said he knew writing the track “I’m Coming Out” for Diana Ross would turn have an immediate impact on the gay community.

The 71-year-old producer, writer and guitarist took to his YouTube channel to share the origins of the hit song, which was released as a single in 1980. 

Rodgers said he was at GG’s Barnum Room, a mostly trans club in New York, which he describes as “underground” and “super cool and hip”, because it played “the best music in town”. 

While in the toilets, Rodgers was inspired after seeing six or seven Diana Ross impersonators. But, at the time, he hadn’t yet worked with any major stars and was mostly known for co-founding Chic, who released the dance anthem “Le Freak” in 1978, and for his work on Sister Sledge’s “He’s the Greatest Dancer”, which came out the following year. 

However, he knew Diana Ross was revered by the gay community “and [that] if we wrote a song called ‘I’m Coming Out’ for [her], it would have the same power as James Brown’s ‘Say it Loud – I’m Black and I’m Proud’.” 

The following day, Rodgers met record producer and bass player Bernard Edwards in the studio, and played him the now-legendary hook.

The hook went on to “build a song that wound up becoming an anthem”, he added.

Rodgers has worked with an array of stars, including most recently Pharrell Williams, Avicii, Sam Smith, Lady Gaga, Kylie Minogue and Christina Aguilera.

In 2017, he shared a social media post about George Michael – who was officially inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in November – with whom he had been working the day before the former Wham! star’s death.