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.
Ellen Degeneres (GNU Free Documentation License).
In the first week of February an utterly misnamed group called OneMillionMoms made headlines by calling for a boycott of the Dallas-based department store JC Penney for having hired Ellen DeGeneres as its spokesperson. A "project" of the hate group American Family Association, OneMillionMoms was offended that JC Penney had hired an open homosexual spokesperson when most of its customers are "traditional families." DeGeneres, the group declared on its website, "is not a true representation of the type of families who shop at the retailer. The small percentage of customers they are attempting to satisfy will not offset their loss in sales by offending the majority."
In response to the organization's threat of a boycott, JC Penney president Michael Francis issued a press release declaring, "We share the same fundamental values as Ellen. We couldn't think of a better partner to help us put the fun back into the retail experience."
Even conservative commentator Bill O'Reilly was appalled by OneMillionMom's demand that JC Penney fire DeGeneres. He was unable to get anyone from the organization to appear on his Fox News show, O'Reilly Factor, so he had to settle for equally loony Fox News contributor Sandy Rios, president of something called Culture Campaign, who lamented that DeGeneres "acted out her homosexual lifestyle."
In the video clip below, O'Reilly compares OneMillionMom's attack on DeGeneres to the witchhunts of the McCarthy era.
Finally, Ellen DeGeneres herself addressed the issue. On an episode of her show aired on February 8, 2012, she took the opportunity to express both her pleasure with the Ninth Circuit's decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional and her reaction to her "haters."
"They wanted to get me fired and I am proud and happy to say JC Penney stuck by their decision to make me their spokesperson," she told her studio audience. "It's great news for me because I need some new crew socks, and I'm really gonna clean up with this discount."
She said that her values are ""honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, these are traditional values."