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.
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.
Liberace was for many the epitome of flamboyant camp, yet he was also a gay man who steadfastly refused to acknowledge publicly his sexual identity.
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.
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Many gay and lesbian artists who have defied the legal and social prohibitions against explicit or sympathetic depictions of homosexuality have seen their art censored or suppressed.
Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.
In a remarkable example of grassroots political action, an irate North Carolina lesbian confronted her state representative who sponsored Amendment One, which would write into the state constitution a ban on any recognition of couples other than the marriage of one man and one woman. After listening to her heartfelt and eloquent denunciation of the Amendment, Representative Jim Crawford announced that he planned to vote against the discriminatory amendment.
The lesbian constituent has not been identified, but at a candidates forum at which Crawford appeared, she lashed into Amendment One and into Crawford for sponsoring it.
After pointing out that the pledge of allegiance promises liberty and justice for all, she explains how Amendment One would affect her and her partner. Then adds, "(T)hat hateful piece of discriminatory legislation that would be put in our constitution of this state was introduced by Jim Crawford and I'll never forgive you for that, because you slapped me and every gay person in this state when you did that."
In response to the passionate statement by the woman who described herself as both a lesbian and "a damn good citizen of this county," Crawford, who was one of ten House Democrats who voted to put the measure on the ballot, said that it goes too far and that he will vote against it.
North Carolinian Pam Spaulding commented in her blog Pam's House Blend, "It clearly didn't "go too far" before that forum. What it goes to show is that even the people who wanted this on the ballot now, seeing the tide turning with conservatives and people of faith rallying against Amendment One, are running away from their decision to put civil rights of a minority on the ballot. And they are running for cover and in Crawford's case, so desperate they are lying about their original commitment."
The video below captures the constituent's remarkable speech. I hope it goes viral.