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.
Craig Zadan (left) and Neil Meron (YouTube video stills).
Congratulations to Craig Zadan and Neil Meron: the acclaimed film, television, and theater producers will receive the Vito Russo Award at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York City on March 24, 2012. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation was founded in 1985 as a watchdog group dedicated to promoting accurate media representations of the glbtq community.
The Vito Russo Award, which is named for the author of The Celluloid Closet, who was one of the founders of GLAAD, is given to a glbtq professional who has made a significant difference in promoting equality. It will be presented to Zadan and Meron by Broadway legend Bernadette Peters.
Partners since 1976, the duo has produced some of the most acclaimed and glbtq-inclusive television and film projects of the last 20 years. One of their first great successes was the 1993 television adaptation of Gypsy starring Bette Midler. Other musicals that Zadan and Meron brought to television are Cinderella (1997), which starred Whitney Houston and Brandy Norwood; Annie (1999), which featured Bernadette Peters, Alan Cumming, and Audra McDonald; and The Music Man (2003), with Matthew Broderick in the title role.
In addition to musicals, Zadan and Meron have produced a number of "biopics" for television, such as Serving in Silence: The Margarethe Cammermeyer Story (1995), which starred Glenn Close; and Life with Judy Garland: Me and My Shadows (2001), which featured Judy Davis..
They also produced What Makes a Family (2001), starring Cherry Jones and Brooke Shields, a film for the Lifetime channel that related the story of a lesbian fighting for custody of the biological daughter of her deceased life partner.
Another television project produced by Zadan and Meron was the short-lived but memorable ABC sitcom It's All Relative (2003-04). Centered around an upper-class gay couple whose Harvard-educated daughter is determined to marry her working-class boyfriend, the comedy focused on the conflicts caused by the different values of the future in-laws.
Among their theatrical films are Rob Marshall's Chicago (2002), an adaptation of John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Bob Fosse's stage musical, with a screenplay by William Condon.
Zadan and Meron also produced the screen version of the Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's musical Hairspray (2007), based on John Waters' film of the same title.
They also produced the recent Broadway productions of Promises, Promises and How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying. Their current television projects include Smash and Drop Dead Diva.
The productions of Zadan and Meron have won them a dozen Emmy Awards, at least six Academy Awards, five Golden Globe Awards, two Peabody Awards, and several awards from GLAAD.
Also to be honored on March 24 will be Katy Butler, a Michigan high school student who began an online petition to change the R rating of the documentary Bully. The special recognition award will be presented to Butler by Harvey Weinstein, co-chairman of the Weinstein Company, which will distribute the powerful documentary, which is scheduled for release on March 30.
For more information about the GLAAD media awards and the nominees, see GLAAD.
Below is a video highlighting some of the nominees. Awards in some categories will be presented in New York on March 24, while others will be presented in Los Angeles on April 21 and in San Francisco on June 2.