when a person is declared a homosexual, publicly, without their permission, or knowledge.
When someone other than the person in question, is publicly exposed as to being a homosexual.
It can also refer to when a person admits to being a homosexual, but not at a time of their choosing, but from outside pressures, which can include making the announcement to avoid someone else from making it, in even less ideal circumstances.
Back in Ancient Greek and Roman times, Outing was practiced by many of the so called Orators of the time. They would 'out' citizens who had crossed the acceptable lines of homosexual behavior, which was not uncommon in those times. (See Pederasty)
Earliest recorded 20th Century outing was the Harden-Eulenberg Affair of 1907-1909 that was politically motivated. It was by Left Wing opponents of the Kaiser, and used in an effort to undermine his Government.
Following the Stonewall Riots of 1969, many Gay Activists insisted on Gays coming out of the closet, to publicly stand up. It didn't get much of a response, and has led to some prominent people being 'outed' in order to spur Gay Rights.
At the same time, some Conservative Groups used the same practice to OUT their opponents. This was for political gain, to weaken any opposition to their own plans, policies.
Modern day 'outing' is more about revealing the hypocrisy of some, generally involving those who have publicly opposed homosexuality, or laws that would garner civil rights for homosexuals. These outings are where they are used to highlight the hypocrisy, more than it is to create a witch hunt.
It is a fine line, as some claim that by being outed, they become less effective in fighting for Gay Rights. Advocates counter that they are actually working against Gay Rights, hence the reason for them being outed.
Notable Senator Mark Hatfield of Oregon is one, who was outed due to his support of a bill by Jesse Helms.
To publicly name a person as being a Homosexual, without their consent is the general practice. However there are other mannerisms involved.
In some instances, this is where a person is threatened with such a public display, so in defense, or in attempting to keep control over the media hype, they disclose their sexual preference themselves.
Practice (Associated Acts): In the 1980's the AIDS Epidemic brought about a spate of Outings as well, out of fear. Some claimed it was a public service, to avoid the spreading of this 'gay disease' into the more 'normal lifestyle'.
Rock Hudson was perhaps one of the more notable homosexuals outed during this panic time.
Noteworthy: There are some who claim that being Outed is a form of Blackmail, and is a violation of one's privacy. Others will argue that it is important to end the hypocrisy practiced by some homosexuals, who actively support anti Gay legislation while being Gay.
While this generally involves politicians, it should be noted that Actors and other Visible Notables are targets of those who wish to have all Homosexuals visible.
Religious persons have been outed, under the guise of protecting the safety of children under their care. They claim such outing is vital in preventing child abuse.
Recent decrees by Pope Benedict, require other Priests to OUT fellow Priest they know are Gay, in order for the Church to cleanse itself of Homosexuals.
There are publications that's sole purpose is to OUT noted homosexuals. Opponents claim that Outing is the same as the noted McCarthy actions of the 1950's that was an attempt to root out Communists in Government, the Media, etc.
The publication or revelation that a person has a particular religious affiliation, or political affiliation can also be termed as an OUTING.
It is the disclosure of information, that one wishes to keep secret, but that another deems necessary to reveal for others to know.