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.
The John F. Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. announced on May 15, 2012 that Ellen DeGeneres will receive the 15th annual Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The Award, America's foremost recognition for humor, will be presented to DeGeneres on October 22, 2012 in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall. The ceremony, which will feature some of the biggest names in comedy, will be taped for future television broadcast on PBS.
In making the announcement, Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said that "The Kennedy Center is happy to recognize Ellen DeGeneres' unique contributions to the world of comedy. Through her television programs, stand-up appearances, movies, and even commercials, her special brand of humor has allowed us to find hilarity in the mundane and has kept us laughing for years."
Upon learning she will receive the Mark Twain Prize, Ellen DeGeneres remarked, "It's such an honor to receive the Mark Twain Prize. To get the same award that has been given to people like Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, it really makes me wonder . . . why didn't I get this sooner?"
According to the Kennedy Center website, "The Mark Twain Prize recognizes people who have had an impact on American society in ways similar to the distinguished nineteenth-century novelist and essayist best known as Mark Twain. As a social commentator, satirist, and creator of characters, Samuel Clemens was a fearless observer of society, who startled many while delighting and informing many more with his uncompromising perspective of social injustice and personal folly. He revealed the great truth of humor when he said 'against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.'"
The first Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize for American Humor was presented to comedian Richard Pryor on October 20, 1998. The first two years of The Mark Twain Prize were taped and broadcast on Comedy Central. Since then, the award presentations have been taped for broadcast on PBS. The format of the ceremony is a celebration of the recipient's work by her peers and colleagues.
Other recipients of the award are the following: Jonathan Winters (1999), Carl Reiner (2000), Whoopi Goldberg (2001), Bob Newhart (2002), Lily Tomlin (2003), Lorne Michaels (2004), Steve Martin (2005), Neil Simon (2006), Billy Crystal (2007), George Carlin (2008), Bill Cosby (2009), Tina Fey (2010), and Will Ferrell (2011).
DeGeneres began her career in local comedy clubs in her hometown of New Orleans, which led to national recognition in 1982 when her videotaped club performances won Showtime's "Funniest Person In America" honor. In 1986, she became the first female comedian to be summoned by Johnny Carson to sit down with him after her performance on the Tonight Show.
DeGeneres gained national fame by starring in her sitcom Ellen. Running from 1994 to 1998, the show garnered record ratings, with DeGeneres receiving Emmy nominations each season in the Best Actress category. In 1997, DeGeneres was the recipient of the coveted Peabody Award as well as earning an Emmy for writing the critically acclaimed "Puppy Episode" when her character came out as a lesbian to a record 46 million viewers. DeGeneres followed with the CBS sitcom, The Ellen Show, which ran from 2001 to 2002.
In the course of producing and starring in Ellen, DeGeneres received numerous accolades including The People's Choice Award in 1995, two Golden Globe nominations, and two Screen Actors Guild nominations.
Her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show began its ninth season on September 12, 2011, fresh off winning the Daytime Emmy for "Outstanding Talk Show." During its eight seasons, the show has earned a total of 35 Daytime Emmy Awards. Additionally, DeGeneres has won 12 People's Choice Awards and most recently, the Teen Choice Award for "Choice Comedian" for a third consecutive year. Additionally, the show has won two Genesis Awards and a GLAAD Media Award for "Outstanding Talk Show Episode."
DeGeneres has been an outspoken advocate of equal rights for glbtq people, campaigning for marriage equality and speaking out against the bullying of gay youth.
In the video below, DeGeneres speak out about the spate of youth suicides in September 2010.
In the video below, from February 2012, DeGeneres addresses both marriage equality and critics of her selection as a JC Penney spokesperson.