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.
Detail from "Song of Hillary Clinton" by Carl Gopal.
He has mixed his mediums and metaphors to explore sexual relationships (1992) and America's identity in a time of war (2011). In the latter series, "The Assassination of Judy Garland--A Metaphorical Portrait of America," he used the arc of gay icon Judy Garland to explore American politics and characters like Obama, Hillary Clinton, Benyamin Netanyahu, Rahm Emanuel, and Tzipi Livni.
He also uses musicals like South Pacific to comment on the use of drones in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gopal maintains that "the power of the queer lens can influence [more than] culture wars. It can be a way of reshaping the world by applying queer concepts to tough problems."
His website at www.carlgopal.com includes galleries of paintings from 1991 to the present and also his studio blog posts. Some of his more recent work is featured in "A Star is Born: Metaphorical Portraits of America," an extensive Tikkun Daily blog post.