Although few gay actors have been permitted the luxury of openness, many of them have challenged and helped reconfigure notions of masculinity and, to a lesser extent, of homosexuality.
Considering the unique set of problems facing lesbians who want to produce erotic art for the enjoyment of other lesbians, it is remarkable that so much lesbian erotica has been produced in so brief a time.
Lesbian actresses have played a significant role in Hollywood, but their contributions have rarely been recognized or spoken of openly; the "lavender marriage" is by no means a relic of the past.
Although American gay film icon Brad Davis has been described as "the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS," he was widely known as bisexual within the entertainment community.
Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
The greatest dancer of his time, Rudolf Nureyev also gave the world a new and glamorous image of a sexually active gay man.
While nude depictions of women appear in most cultures, on both sides of the equator, and in rich variety, lesbian artists have been particularly resourceful in their use of the female nude.
Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.
Richard Socarides discusses the Democratic Party platform on Current TV.
The Democratic and Republican Party platforms offer strikingly different visions for glbtq Americans. The Democratic Party platform, scheduled to be adopted at the Democratic National Convention on September 4, 2012, endorses same-sex marriage, the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and the passage of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act (ENDA). In contrast, the Republican Party's platform, adopted last week in Tampa, promises to reinstate "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," to defend DOMA in court, to adopt a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and to end efforts to stop the persecution of gay men and lesbians in Africa and elsewhere.
The Democratic Party platform, entitled "Moving America Forward," straightforwardly endorses marriage equality.
In a plank entitled "Freedom to Marry," the platform says the following: "We support the right of all families to have equal respect, responsibilities, and protections under the law. We support marriage equality and support the movement to secure equal treatment under law for same-sex couples."
It continues, "We oppose discriminatory federal and state constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny equal protection of the laws to committed same-sex couples who seek the same respect and responsibilities as other married couples. We support the full repeal of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and the passage of the Respect for Marriage Act."
In the plank on Civil Rights, the Democratic Party platform pledges fairness for all, including glbtq citizens.
"We believe in an America where everybody gets a fair shot and everybody plays by the same set of rules. At the core of the Democratic Party is the principle that no one should face discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability status," the platform declares.
"Democrats support our civil rights statutes and we have stepped up enforcement of laws that prohibit discrimination in the workplace and other settings. We are committed to protecting all communities from violence. We are committed to ending racial, ethnic, and religious profiling and requiring federal, state, and local enforcement agencies to take steps to eliminate the practice, and we continue to support enforcement of Title VI."
"We are committed to equal opportunity for all Americans and to making sure that every American is treated equally under the law," the platform pledges.
"We are committed to ensuring full equality for women: we reaffirm our support for the Equal Rights Amendment, recommit to enforcing Title IX, support the Paycheck Fairness Act, and will urge ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women."
The platform unambiguously endorses a gender-inclusive ENDA: "We know that putting America back to work is Job One, and we are committed to ensuring that Americans do not face employment discrimination. We support the Employment NonDiscrimination Act because people should not be fired based on their sexual orientation or gender identity."
The platform also lauds the accomplishments of President Obama in ensuring that all Americans are treated fairly.
"This administration hosted the first-ever White House Conference on Bullying Prevention and we must continue our work to prevent vicious bullying of young people and support LGBT youth. The President's record, from ending "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in full cooperation with our military leadership, to passing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, to ensuring same-sex couples can visit each other in the hospital, reflects Democrats' belief that all Americans deserve the same chance to pursue happiness, earn a living, be safe in their communities, serve their country, and take care of the ones they love.
In addition, the plank points out that "The Administration has said that the word 'family' in immigration includes LGBT relationships in order to protect bi-national families threatened with deportation."
The entire Democratic Pary platform may be found here.
In contrast, the Republican Party platform calls for a full-scale retreat from the progress that has been made toward equality. However, as Adam Serwer reports in Mother Jones, even as the Republicans pledge a return to blatantly discriminatory practices, they are "super-polite about it," peppering their reactionary proposals with repeated calls for all Americans to be treated with "respect and dignity."
The 2012 platform, entitled "We Believe in America," pledges a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and affirms the party's support for DOMA. It says "the union of one man and one woman must be upheld as the national standard" through "laws governing marriage."
In a reference to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," the platform sneers at "social experimentation" in the military. It even decries efforts by the Obama administration to oppose laws in African countries that criminalize homosexuality, accusing the Obama administration of "imposing" the "homosexual rights agenda" on "the peoples of Africa."
The Republicans' concern with civil rights is not for equal protection under the law, but for the rights of bigots, who in a familiar meme are portrayed as victims of gay bullies. "We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights," the platform reads.
As Serwer comments sardonically, "In the Republican platform, opponents of same-sex marriage have civil rights that must be defended. Gays and lesbians on the other hand, get 'respect and dignity,' and little else.
The Republican platform may be found here.
The differences between the two parties on issues of equal rights could not be starker.
In the video below, Richard Socarides discusses the Democratic Party platform and the President's record on gay rights.
In the video below, the Reverend Al Sharpton and other pundits discuss how the Romney campaign wants to run away from the extremist Republican platform.