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Outing is the act of disclosing a gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) person's true sexual orientation or gender identity without that person's consent. Outing gives rise to issues of privacy, choice, hypocrisy, and harm in addition to sparking debate on what constitutes common good in efforts to combat homophobia and heterosexism. A publicized outing targets prominent figures in a society, for example well-known politicians, accomplished athletes or popular artists. Opponents to LGBT rights movements as well as activists within LGBT communities have used this type of outing as a controversial political campaign or tactic.



It is hard to pinpoint the first use of outing in the modern sense. In a 1982 issue of Harper's, Taylor Branch predicted that "outage" would become a political tactic in which the closeted would find themselves trapped in a crossfire. The article "Forcing Gays like Mike Howes Out of the Closet" by William A. Henry III in Time (January 29, 1990) introduced the term "outing" to the general public. (Johansson&Percy, p. 4)

While the term is recent, the practice goes back much further. Outing was a common put-down of Greek and Roman orators. Before the Christian era, sodomy was not illegal in Greek or, most believe, in Roman law, between adult citizens, but homosexual acts between citizens were considered acceptable only under certain social circumstances. Both Romans and Greeks sneeringly deemed the "guilty" vulgar.

The Harden-Eulenburg affair of 1907–1909 was the first public outing scandal of the twentieth century. Left-wing journalists opposed to Kaiser Wilhelm II's policies outed a number of prominent members of his cabinet and inner circle — and by implication the Kaiser — beginning with Maximilian Harden's indictment of the aristocratic diplomat Prince Eulenburg. Harden's accusations incited other journalists to follow suit, including Adolf Brand, founder of Der Eigene, a journal that advocated Greek style paederasty.

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