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.
Moisés Kaufman (left) and Paul Rudnick, two of the participating playwrights. Photograph by David Gordon, courtesy standingonceremony.net.
Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays opened on November 13, 2011 at New York's Minetta Lane Theater. Conceived by Brian Shnipper, the collection of monologues and short plays by some of the best known glbtq playwrights explore, mostly through wit and satire but also a great deal of poignance, the complex emotions of gay and lesbian couples on the cusp of equal rights in the United States.
The nine plays currently performed as Standing on Ceremony are The Revision by Jordan Harrison; This Marriage Is Saved by Joe Keenan; This Flight Tonight by Wendy MacLeod; On Facebook by Doug Wright; Strange Fruit by Neil LaBute; The Gay Agenda by Paul Rudnick; London Mosquitoes by Moisés Kaufman; and Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words by José Rivera.
Directed by Stuart Ross, the plays are performed by a rotating cast of actors who currently include Craig Bierko, Mark Consuelos, Polly Draper, Harriet Harris, Beth Leavel, and Richard Thomas.
New York Times reviewer Charles Isherwood describes the "mostly genial, often funny" omnibus as "essentially a staged celebration of the recent advances in winning marital rights for gay and lesbian couples, and how the changing laws are changing lives."
Although Standing on Ceremony has just begun its New York run, the project originated in Los Angeles, where it was originally produced as a series of benefits before evolving into a separate theatrical evening.
As in the Los Angeles production, a portion of each ticket purchased to every performance in New York will be donated to marriage equality organizations.
Following the preview on Monday, November 7, which was live-streamed to more than 40 theaters across America, the producers presented a $5,000 check to Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson.