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.
Congratulations to all who are celebrating National Coming Out Day on October 11, 2011. Today is a day of celebration, but it is also a day to assess the continuing stigmatization of gay youth, who are often bullied and intimidated by their peers and by religious and political leaders.
National Coming Out day was first observed in 1988. Inspired by the success of the March on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights on October 11, 1987, Jean O'Leary, then Executive Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Rights Advocates, joined with psychologist Rob Eichberg to create an event that would increase the visibility of glbtq people and encourage those previously silent to make their voices heard.
The symbol of National Coming Out Day is Keith Haring's iconic image of a person joyously bursting from a closet. It underscores the individual nature of this step, fosters solidarity among those who have made it, and offers hope to those who, for whatever reason, have not yet been able to kick open the door.
Over the years, National Coming Out Day has drawn many celebrity spokespersons, including Billy Bean, Amanda Bearse, Chastity Bono, Dan Butler, Ellen DeGeneres, Melissa Etheridge, Candace Gingrich, RuPaul, Muffin Spencer-Devlin, Michael Stipe, and Rufus Wainwright, among others. Allies, including Betty DeGeneres, the mother of Ellen DeGeneres and the project's first heterosexual spokesperson, Cher, and Cyndi Lauper, have also lent their voices to the effort.
On October 6, 2011, the Human Rights Campaign, sponsor of National Coming Out Day since 1993, announced a collaboration with pop star Ke$ha to encourage everyone to celebrate their inner superstar and come out for equality: the theme for 2011 NCOD is "Coming Out for Equality."
Ke$ha was chosen to help promote National Coming Out Day because her "We R Who We R" has become an anthem for equal rights. HRC president Joe Solmonese remarked that Ke$ha's song resonates closely with the ideals of "Coming Out for Equality": "Much like a zebra doesn't change its stripes, we hope people of all walks of life, LGBT and straight allies, celebrate themselves and their unique contribution to the fight for equality."
National Coming Out Day has become a joyous occasion, particularly on college campuses, where young people are able to discover community and support. At the same time, however, the continuing problem of suicide among gay youths, who are often subjected to bullying and spiritual terrorism, means that this holiday is also a time of contemplation and reflection.
Here is a music video of Ke$ha performing "We R Who We R":