In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past half century, “coming out” is the expression used to describe a homosexual becoming open about his or her sexuality. Actually, the full expression is “to come out of the closet,” the closet of secrecy, self-uncertainty and shame.
Just as there is no recipe of transits for any life event, and given that progressions represent everything about an individual’s “readiness” for development, and also realizing that coming out is more of a process than a happening; nevertheless, astrological experience reveals the presence of one or another planetary life cycle that most typically marks the actual time of coming out, or at least setting the stage to begin that process. These cycles are the initial Uranus-square-Uranus and the first Saturn Return.
The keywords for these cycles obviously coincide with the keywords for coming out, albeit each of these two cycles represents a very different kind of coming out experience.
Uranus-square-Uranus takes place on the brink of one’s 20’s, and it describes coming out with enthusiasm and confidence. True to Uranus’ fashion, it usually comes with impulsivity and immediacy, not to mention a phase of promiscuity, as it was called in the pre-AIDS-PC days. Logically, this gay individual is usually too young to have that many commitments, i.e., marriage or professional reputation, so the repercussions of coming out are more likely to occur with a sudden change in family dynamics and friendships. And like all other Uranus transits, there is a healthy dose of “I gotta be me….and I gotta be me NOW!”
By comparison, when the process of coming out is described by the Saturn Return, it is more often deliberated and pain-staking. Of course, this has ten more years of establishment, i.e., family obligations and social standing, to take into consideration. Furthermore, since this gay individual’s sexuality is probably natally linked to Saturn’s themes, such as guilt, fear, shame and repression, there is more natural reserve too. Overall, the Saturn Return kind of coming out still results in liberation, honesty and self-acceptance, but with patience, merit and adjustment.
If one of these cycles only “sets the stage” for coming out, instead of the full fledged experience, then it at least makes for a fateful sexual or romantic connection, which serves as the initial step to sexual acceptance, perhaps only coming out to one’s self, so to speak. The coming out, then, usually occurs in a soon-to-follow transit of Uranus or Saturn, respectively, to the sexual planets, when the gay individual is more likely to be open with friends, family, co-workers, etc.
Here are some examples and variations on these themes.
David Kopay (born 6/28/42) was the first professional athlete to make a public announcement of his homosexuality. This came in a press conference on December 9, 1975. In his autobiography, Kopay describes the psychological struggles with his sexuality coming to a head in his late 20’s, and by his early 30’s he felt he could no longer live a lie. His announcement, however, came after age 33, on the opening sextile after the Saturn Return, and transiting Saturn stationed just a degree off his natal Pluto. Of course, there were also more personal progressions and other transits, but the Saturn cycle was clearly operative as a measure of maturity.
Ten years later, Rock Hudson (born 11/17/25, 2:15 AM CST, Winnetka, IL) came out publicly on July 30, 1985, after a year’s rapid onset of AIDS. (His actual diagnosis came on 6/5/84 and his death took place on 10/2/85). Although his homosexuality was one of Hollywood’s worst kept secrets, his announcement was a major turning point in the public awareness of AIDS.
Here we see a variation in our Saturn Return theme, this being Hudson’s second Saturn Return; and take note it was in the sign of Scorpio. Perhaps we can even consider this to be more than his personal coming out; that is, the coming out of AIDS. Remember Ronald Reagan, in presidential office for five years by this time, never even uttered the name of the disease until this time!
Ironically, Hudson’s first Saturn Return began with the film, All That Heaven Allows, telling the story a marriage where the husband’s homosexuality, in typical mid-50’s style, was written between the lines. Film buffs will recognize this movie as the original version of last year’s more overt Far From Heaven. By the end of his first Saturn Return, was the release of the film, Giant, co-starring Elizabeth Taylor. This was the only time Hudson was nominated for an Academy Award; but more noteworthy was the galvanizing of the lifelong friendship between Hudson and Taylor, who, in turn, became a champion in the fight against AIDS, largely due to his experience later in the 80’s.
Another variation is our theme is that of Ellen DeGeneres (born 6/26/58). With the rise of her career in comedy, came the rise in media pressure for her to come out publicly. Through much of 1996, she hinted at it on her TV sitcom, but on April 30, 1997, in what has become known as “The Puppy Episode,” she made the announcement of her homosexuality via her character on the show.
Here we see transiting Uranus, just about to station at 8 Aquarius, in opposition to Ellen’s natal Uranus, and conjunct her Sun and Venus.
The irony in this example is Ellen’s then-lover, Anne Heche (born 5/25/69), whose Saturn Return occurred with the break-up of their much-publicized relationship.
Another Saturn Return coming out, of sorts, is the example of Sean Hayes a/k/a Jack of TV’s Will & Grace Although he personally came out to his friends and family on his Uranus-square-Uranus, he (or perhaps the world of sitcom) came out, so to speak, as the first openly gay man to play a gay character on network television. The first episode aired in 1998, just prior to his Saturn Return, and a few months later, on the actual Return, he won an Emmy for the role, signifying public acceptance on Saturn’s conventional terms.
Greg Louganis (born 1/29/60), Olympic diving champion, had a more traumatic Saturn Return experience of coming out. His homosexuality was a great consternation for him during his 20’s, probably even the cause of his bouts of drinking and drug abuse. (Yes, even while training for and participating in the Olympics). He knew of his HIV diagnosis prior to his Saturn Return too. However, it was that dramatic accident, slamming his head on his diving board, and nevertheless, going on to win a gold medal in September, 1988, at the summer Olympics in Korea, that led to his scandalous and pressured coming out to the public. This took place just prior to his Saturn Return, but in the months to follow, Louganis cleaned up his act and became a spokesperson for AIDS as well as sports education.
Finally, let’s not omit Oscar Wilde (born 10/15/1856), who was essentially the first gay man to come out, as much of the 1890’s would allow, of course. The details of his actual coming out are sketchy, but if we use his initial trial on the charge of gross indecency as his public announcement, since it was the first formal admission of his homosexual relationship Lord Alfred Douglas, then we see the approach to his Uranus-opposite-Uranus at age 39. In an interesting twist on the idea of Uranus’ liberation, the rest of this transit was spent in his two-year prison sentence, a legal appeal and yet another trial on similar charges.
By hindsight, these examples of coming out were juicy, scandalous and ground-breaking, but by today’s standards, they hardly seem to make for eye-opening headlines. Good! Awareness does create change on the collective level as well as for the individual. Maybe one day, coming out will be a non-event. Or, as a way of social evolution, we are more likely to eventually see coming out at a younger age, in younger versions of these astrological cycles, such as Saturn opposite Saturn at age 14, instead of the Saturn Return.
On the counseling side of our work, there are two important points to bear in mind. First, we should be prepared and well-informed to address the issue of coming out if, in fact, it surfaces as an issue in a reading, be it for the gay client or their loved ones.
From an astrological point of view, knowledge of these planetary cycles and their follow-up transits can be helpful for such situations, but some reading material on the topic is also recommended. (See the end of this article). Furthermore, talk to your gay friends about their experiences of coming out, the differences in their lives before and after coming out, and what their struggles were, and what was the astrology of their personal coming out processes.
Secondly, for some clients, even apparently the most “out” of them, often carry unresolved issues of their sexuality, and knowledge of these cycles can be surprisingly useful. One particular client (whose birth data is not provided for matters of confidentiality) has natal Uranus in the 8th house and Saturn in the first. In a reading a few years ago, while describing his Uranus-opposite-Uranus cycle, I mentioned that, despite the fact that he was a grown man, in a well-established lifestyle, and undoubtedly “around the block a few times,” and comfortable with himself (as I had always perceived him to be), that he would be coming out, so to speak, all over again. I made my point with all the buzzwords for Uranus transits and coming out as well as the key descriptions of the natural Saturn reservations. With great seriousness, his response was, “Everyone knows I’m gay. I’ve been in a wonderful relationship for ten years (note the Saturn Return connection). I have a great home and a successful career. I’ve even won an Academy Award! But I can’t tell my mother I’m gay and that embarrasses me so much.”
Suffice it to say, the end of this story is a happy one, but the point of it rests in the dynamics of the Uranus cycle. And by the way, his first sexual experience with another man took place on the initial Uranus-square-Uranus.
In the larger context, these planetary cycles are not limited to the interpretation of a homosexual’s coming out. We all have our closets of secrecy, self-uncertainty and shame, and Uranus and Saturn in their own ways, and in their own good time, are sure to do their jobs in bringing each of us out.
The Mayor of Castro Street: The Life and Times of Harvey Milk by Randy Shilts
Uncharted Lives: Understanding the Life Passages of Gay Men by Stanley Siegel and Ed Lowe, Jr.
Jung, Jungians & Homosexuality by Robert Hopcke