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.
On November 12, 2012, the UPS Foundation announced that under its new guidelines the Boy Scouts of America is no longer eligible for grants. The UPS gave $167,000 to the Boy Scouts in 2010, but has been under pressure from equal rights groups to end its funding because of the Boy Scouts' discriminatory policy that bars openly gay scouts and scout leaders.
Aaron McQuade, Director of News and Field Media at the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), said that the UPS Foundation had confirmed that under its new guidelines organizations whose practices do not align with the Foundation's non-discrimination policy will no longer be considered eligible for funding.
UPS thus joins the Intel Corporation, which announced in September that it would no longer donate to the Boy Scouts of America, so long as the Scouts stand by their ban on gay members. BSA troops and councils around the country that have stated that they will defy the ban may still receive support from the Intel Foundation.
Intel Corporation, which was the Boy Scouts of America's largest corporate donor, gave $700,000 to the organization in 2010. To receive funding from Intel henceforward, Boy Scout troops must denounce the national policy that bans gay scouts and leaders, which was reaffirmed in July.
Intel and UPS were targeted as the result of an investigation by The American Independent, which revealed that "Corporate foundations have given millions to the Boy Scouts of America and its subdivisions in recent years despite that organization's policy of excluding gays and lesbians. Many of those same foundations have policies against giving to organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation."
Reporter Andy Birkey found that "Twenty-three of the top 50 corporate foundations, ranked by the Foundation Center in terms of total charitable giving, gave at least $10,000 each to the Boy Scouts in 2010, the most recent year for which data was available for most companies. Combined, they gave about $3.6 million."
In response, Zach Wahls, an Eagle Scout who is the son of lesbian parents and the founder of Scouts for Equality, initiated a Change.org petition calling on Intel to end its support of the Boy Scouts. It gathered more than 30,000 signatures in little more than 24 hours.
After Intel capitulated, Wahls launched a petition calling upon UPS to end its support of the Boy Scouts. It gathered more than 80,000 signatures.
GLAAD President Herndon Graddick welcomed the UPS Foundation's decision to enforce its non-discrimination policy. He said, "More and more corporate leaders are enacting strong non-discrimination policies for practices including grant funding and hiring. Equality is not only good for business, but supported by a vast majority of Americans. The time is now for the BSA to end this outdated and unpopular ban before other corporate funders pull dollars and scouting families drop their support."
Despite a recent history of haphazard enforcement of its policy in a manner similar to the way the military enforced the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy in its last couple of years, the organization concluded in July that its ban "is absolutely the best policy for the organization."
However, pressure to change the policy has intensified recently.
Jennifer Tyrrell's April ouster as den leader of her son's Cub Scout troop because she is a lesbian brought new attention to the ban.
Outrage was provoked by an incident in California this summer in which openly gay Eagle Scout Tim Griffin was fired from his seasonal job as counselor at Camp Winton, a job he had held for three years. In solidarity with him, a dozen other counselors resigned their positions.
In October, more outrage was sparked by the news that a California scout, Ryan Andresen, was denied an Eagle Scout pin because of his sexual orientation.
Ryan's mother, Karen Andresen, initiated a Change.org petition, asking that the Boy Scouts of America's discriminatory policy be changed and that her son be given the award that he earned.
The petition has now received more than 420,000 signatures. It may be accessed here.
On the Ellen Show, Ellen DeGeneres not only introduced the nation to the charming Ryan Andresen and his amazing mother, but also highlighted the injustice he experienced.