Diana Ross was told her hit song “I’m Coming Out” would ruin her career. ⠀
Ross, 76, is respectfully one of the most iconic performers of our time. One of the hit songs that added to her stardom was “I’m Coming Out.” However, the track was reportedly one that some claimed would end the singer’s career. During an interview with Yahoo! Music, Nile Rodgers revealed that he was nervous about how the gay community might take Ross singing the song. He said his visit to a nightclub, where he saw several LGBTQ clubbers impersonating Ross, inspired him to write the song.
“I thought, “Wait a minute. If I write a song for Diana Ross and talk about a disenfranchised part of her fan base and sort of make it for them, this would be an important record. No one thinks of Diana Ross necessarily on the frontlines of this, but [the gay] community and her [gay] fans love her and idolize her,” said Rodgers.
Rodgers said Ross loved the song when she first heard it. “We never delved into the meaning or why we wrote it — until she played it for Frankie Crocker, who had now become the No. 1 radio personality in the world. She left our studio floating on air, she just loved her album, but when she played it for Frankie, it was not a good experience. He told her it would ruin her career,” said Rodgers. He said Ross came back into the studio “crestfallen and “heartbroken,” and she then questioned, “Why are you guys trying to ruin my career?”
The songwriter said that’s when he tried to calm her down and level with her. “Diana, come on now. If we really ruin your career, we’re ruining our career! You’re already Diana Ross. We’re just starting out. Why would we want to go down in history as the guys who ruined Diana Ross’s career?'” He added that Ross may have misunderstood what Frankie Crocker was trying to say. “She may have misconstrued the idea when Frankie Crocker told her what “I’m coming out” meant — that she thought we were trying to imply that she was gay. Nothing of the sort,” he said.
The song finally dropped in 1980, and it was history from there. “We didn’t expect it to last this long. But when Bernard and I finished writing it, I said, ‘This song may go gold, just via the gay community alone,” said Rodgers.