June 16, 1992: Today in LGBTQ+ history…
Against their label’s wishes, k.d. lang (who reduced her name, Kathy Dawn, to its initials, prefers the lowercase spelling and recently started using she/they pronouns on social media) publicly came out as a lesbian on June 16, 1992, in a cover story with The Advocate magazine that ended earlier speculation about their sexuality.
lang was one of the first to openly celebrate their sexuality – at a time when doing so was almost unthinkable. In fact, the bold move predated Ellen DeGeneres’ famous “Yep, I’m gay!” Time magazine cover by six years, and turned the Canadian icon into the world’s most visible lesbian.
The article “A Quiet Life,” by Brendan Lemon, came out three months after the release of lang’s exquisite 1992 album Ingénue, their second album, which featured the smash hit “Constant Craving.” The album became a monstrous, multi-platinum hit for lang and would go on to be nominated for a slew of Grammy Awards, but it was also a important milestone in the ’90s LGBTQ+ rights movement. Ingénue pushed LGBTQ+ issues into the mainstream conversation: the entire album captures lang’s unrequited love for a married woman – a trope now, but groundbreaking back then.
When asked in a 2019 interview if they recognized that their coming out had opened the doors for other celebrities to come out, lang said they did, “although I try not to take huge credit for that because it’s not a competition.
“It’s something bigger than all of us. I am certainly proud, but at the same time, I’m just one of many. Gay culture isn’t just one sliver of humanity – it’s a huge cross-section of people.”