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.
December 22, 2011 is the first anniversary of President Obama's signing into law the legislation that authorized repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell. During this year, none of the dire consequences that opponents of glbtq rights predicted would happen has actually occurred.
The legislation that authorized repeal was passed during the lame duck session following the Democrat's "shellacking" in the Congressional elections of 2010. It was clear that if the legislation were not passed in the lame duck session, it would certainly fail in the new Congress taking office in January 2011. It was difficult enough passing the legislation when the Democrats controlled both Houses of Congress.
On December 9, 2010, an attempt to invoke cloture in order to debate the Defense Authorization bill, which contained the DADT repeal as an amendment, failed for the second time, on a 57-40 vote, with Senator Susan Collins the sole Republican voting in favor of cloture and Senator Joe Manchin the sole Democrat voting against cloture.
After the defeat, Senators Lieberman, Mark Udall, and Collins announced that they would introduce a stand-alone bill to repeal DADT. Subsequently, Representatives Patrick Murphy and Steny Hoyer introduced a companion bill in the House.
On December 15, 2010, the House of Representatives passed the bill authorizing repeal of DADT by a vote of 250 to 175.
On December 18, 2010, the Senate finally invoked cloture to cut off debate on the bill and end a filibuster led by former Republican Presidential nominee Senator McCain, who predicted all sorts of dire results if the bill passed and who basically behaved like a spoiled baby who did not get his way. The vote was 63 to 33, with 57 Democrats (including two independents who caucus with the Democrats) joined by 6 Republicans to invoke cloture.
The final Senate vote on the bill authorizing repeal took place later on December 18. It passed on a vote of 65 to 31, with 57 Democrats and 8 Republicans voting in favor and 31 Republicans voting against repeal. The bill was then sent to the President for his signature.
Soon after the vote to invoke cloture, President Obama issued the following statement: "By ending 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell,' no longer will our nation be denied the service of thousands of patriotic Americans forced to leave the military, despite years of exemplary performance, because they happen to be gay. And no longer will many thousands more be asked to live a lie in order to serve the country they love."
On December 22, 2010, at an elaborate ceremony to which many gay activists and servicemembers who had been discharged under DADT were invited, President Obama signed into law the bill authorizing repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Here is a video of the signing of the legislation:
Actual repeal did not take place until September 20, 2011. But the discharges and investigations effectively ended with the passage of the legislation authorizing repeal and with the policy having been held unconstitutional by a federal district judge.
Since repeal, none of the dire predictions made by the opponents of gay and lesbian servicemembers being allowed to serve openly actually occurred. Indeed, there have been no untoward incidents since repeal. Gay and lesbian soldier came out and the military did not collapse.
As David Williams reported on NBC Nightly News on December 21, 2011, the repeal of DADT has worked well:
A measure of the growing ease of the military with openly gay and lesbian servicemembers is illustrated in this video about a lesbian couple who shared the "first kiss" when Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta won a raffle to be the first to kiss a loved one on her ship's return to Virginia Beach: