Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Given the historic stigma around making, circulating, and possessing overtly homoerotic images, the visual arts have been especially important for providing a socially sanctioned arena for depicting the naked male body and suggesting homoerotic desire.
Independent films that aggressively assert homosexual identity and queer culture, the New Queer Cinema can be seen as the culmination of several developments in American cinema.
Renowned photographer, teacher, critic, editor, and curator, Minor White created some of the most interesting photographs of male nudes of the second half of the twentieth century, but did not exhibit them for fear of scandal.
The first international fashion superstar, Halston dressed and befriended some of America's most glamorous women.
An artistic movement that grew out of Dadaism and flourished in Europe shortly after World War I, Surrealism embraced the idea that art was an expression of the subconscious.
Film, stage, and television actor Paul Winfield was openly gay in his private life, but maintained public silence about his homosexuality.
Film still from one of five film trailers featured in this post.
The British Film Institute's 26th annual Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, which opens March 23, 2012 and runs through April 1, features a number of eagerly anticipated films from around the world. Among them are documentaries about Bishop Eugene Robinson, the ex-gay movement, and writer W. Somerset Maugham, as well as a coming of age story about a lesbian living in Brooklyn and a comedy drama featuring Academy Award-winning actresses Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker.
Macky Alston's Love Free or Die offers an intimate portrait of Bishop Eugene Robinson, whose ordination as the Episcopal Bishop of New Hampshire in 2003 roiled the Anglican Communion. The film explores his problematic relationship to the Church with an account of his life as husband, father, priest, and activist for full acceptance of glbtq people in the Church.
Memphis filmmaker Morgan Jon Fox's This Is What Love In Action Looks Like documents the plight of a Memphis teenager forced into the church-based "gay de-programming" institution known as Love in Action and the surprising evolution of the institution's director.
Revealing Mr. Maugham, directed by Michael House, explores the life and work of the British author.
Dee Rees' acclaimed debut film, Pariah, focuses on a Brooklyn teenager whose identity and life choices reach crisis point during her final year of high school.
Thom Fitzgerald's Cloudburst, featuring Dukakis and Fricker as septuagenarian lovers is a road movie in which the elderly lesbians are accompanied by an unlikely ally as they leave their hometown in Maine for refuge in Nova Scotia.
Here is a video clip about Love Free or Die.
Here is a trailer for This Is What Love In Action Looks Like.
Here is a trailer for Revealing Mr. Maugham.
Here is a trailer for Pariah.
Here is a clip from Cloudburst.
To learn more about the British Film Institute and the London Lesbian & Gay Film Festival, visit the BFI website.