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.
Belinda Carlisle and James Duke Mason.
It is an axiom that one of the most effective ways of building support for glbtq rights is by gay people coming out to their families and friends. When their families and friends are celebrities, that support is magnified. Hence, the celebrity parents of gay children often become accidental activists as do their children. Among this group are pop singer Belinda Carlisle and her son actor James Duke Mason.
Sally Field's moving speech in support of her gay son Sam Griesman at the Human Rights Campaign's National Dinner in October 2012 brought attention to the importance of straight allies and to the need for family support. Similarly, the unwavering support of celebrities like Barbra Streisand, Warren Beatty and Annette Bening, and Cher for their children Jason Gould, Stephen Ira Beatty, and Chaz Bono have also made eloquent statements about family and acceptance. Brenda Carlisle has joined this group simply by being willing to tell the story of her son's coming out.
Carlisle gained fame in the early 1980s as the lead vocalist of the Go-Go's, one of the most successful all-female bands of all time. The group helped usher New Wave music into popular American radio. It was the first all-female band who wrote their own music and played their own instruments to ever achieve a No. 1 album, Beauty and the Beat. The Go-Go's sold more than seven million albums in just three years.
Carlisle later went on to have a successful solo career with hits such as "Mad About You," "I Get Weak," "Circle in the Sand," "Leave a Light On," and "Heaven Is a Place on Earth," among others.
She became an accidental glbtq activist when her son James Duke Mason came out at the age of 14 in 2006. Carlisle soon began speaking out on behalf of equal rights and has performed for a number of Pride festivals, including Los Angeles and Milwaukee.
James Duke Mason is the son of Carlisle and film producer Morgan Mason, and the grandson of the late British actor James Mason. He is an actor and in 2011 launched a YouTube "Trailblazer Project" to encourage entertainers to come out.
On January 8, 2014, Carlisle appeared with her handsome and articulate son at the First Congregational Church of Bakersfield, California at an event sponsored by PFLAG. At the event Carlisle and Mason recounted his coming out process and the role PFLAG played in it.
Thanks to Box Turtle Bulletin, below are two videos documenting the dialogue between mother and son.
Below is a video Mason made on behalf of his "Trailblazer" campaign.