The verb “out somebody” is used in the sense of “accusing someone of something that was up to then secret ” (and which many outed people would like to keep secret). It is often about sexual issues (examples: "outed him as a stranger " or "... as a regular brothel customer "), but not only (examples: "outed him as a member of a secret sect " or "... as a drug addict. " ").
Origin and development of the term
Outing originally described the forced coming-out of public figures by self-confessed and politically active homosexuals . The practice of “outing” arose against the background of the act-up movement and was used as a deliberately provocative action to force them to acknowledge their homosexuality in public by naming homosexual celebrities . Well-known English-speaking outing destinations included a. the actress Jodie Foster or the pop singer Boy George . Outing was expressly not understood as a defamation , but as an offensive liberation blow by the gay liberation community , which was supposed to support homosexual young people in particular to develop their self-confidence and to find prominent figures of identification .
This practice has been controversial in various parts of the European lesbian and gay movement. A weighty counter-argument was that it was not up to anyone to decide on the readiness of others to reveal their sexual orientation . In view of their own demand that the state, i.e. the general public, have to stay out of private life, the private sphere , it is unacceptable that people deliberately do so with the privileged among those who have been discriminated against. The British organization OutRage! The criteria for their approach in the mid-1990s : according to this, celebrities who keep their own same-sex orientation a secret, but express themselves homophobically or behave in public - whether out of envy of others who are (easier) able to live openly, or for Deflection. The argument thus described traitors , so to speak - the most spectacular example in the media were bishops. Most organizations, however, after extensive debate (including within the International Lesbian and Gay Association ) concluded that respect for privacy should be paramount for ethical reasons and that other examples of precedents for the undermining of human rights should not be followed.
Differentiation of external and self-outing
The report of a high-circulation magazine about a selective outing action by four Austrian bishops in 1995 mixed up the terms coming out , going public (see outside coming out ) and outing . Strictly speaking, this incorrect use of the word spread very quickly in the existing conceptual vacuum.
In most German-language media (e.g. Austrian newspapers, ORF , Spiegel), outing was used as a generic term for everything - from voluntarily declaring to being outed or exposed. Since the latter retained its rarity, the term remained - in contradiction to the meaning of the word, which is still quite new in English - now associated with the voluntary step. The move by the ruling Mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit (“... and that's a good thing!”) Was recognized as an outing in the media.
Making the term independent
Not long before that, the term had first established itself in the English-speaking world as a synonym for publicly pillorying other people , but now independent of the subject of exposure, and was used in this sense by the sensational press and the tabloid media . Thus, the fading out of the thematic connection with sexual orientation on the one hand and exposure on the other (this also gradually radiated into the English-speaking world) worked together.
Only if the language is used more precisely, outing continues to be the publication of the private habits of those affected, at least against their will, possibly with the intention of deliberately damaging their reputation.
Regardless of sexual preferences or sexual orientation , the term is used in a similar sense - i.e. to stand by oneself in relation to the public - also frequently in connection with transsexuality or transgender .
The fact that the discovery of a private engagement in the field of BDSM can still lead to considerable professional problems is exemplified by the outing case of the UN weapons inspector Jack McGeorge in 2003.
Outing in Germany
In Germany, this controversial practice was practiced by the filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim . Caused a great sensation of December 10, 1991 , when he moderator Alfred Biolek , the comedian Hape Kerkeling and wrongly the actor Götz George in the RTL-plus telecast explosive - The hot seat as gay designated public.
See also: Personal rights (Germany)
The term outing in the English language
The term outing originally referred to an excursion in the English language , for example a school or company excursion, and is still mostly used with this original meaning. It was not until the end of the 20th century that the new meaning was added, analogous to the German term, and finally also - with a time lag - its dilution.
- Jody Skinner: Terms for homosexuals in German. Volume II - A Dictionary . The Blue Owl, Essen 1999, ISBN 3-89206-903-4 .
- Donald Webster Cory: The Homosexual in America: A Subjective Approach. Greenfield, New York 1951.
- Wayne Dynes (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. Garland, New York / London 1990.
- Larry Gross : Contested Closets: The Politics and Ethics of Outing. University of Minnesota Press, 1993, ISBN 0816621799 .
- Warren Johansson , William Armstrong Percy : Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence. Park Press, Harrington 1994.
- Michelango Signorile : Queer In America: Sex, Media, and the Closets of Power. 1993, ISBN 0299193748 .