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.
Love, Honor, Cherish has been granted permission to initiate a petition against California's anti-gay Proposition 8.
The following fascinating stories were recently in the news: an account of a transgender twin and her supportive family; a development in a trial challenging the constitutionality of DOMA; the beginning of an effort to repeal California's Prop 8; and a report on glbtq rights by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
On December 11, 2011, The Boston Globe published an excellent story by Bella English entitled "Led by the Child Who Simply Knew" about the Maines family and their experience rearing a pair of identical twins, both born male but one of whom early declared that she was really a girl.
The story recounts the difficulties faced by the family as well as the hope and support that they found. Read this important story here: Led by the child.
On December 15, oral arguments were presented in an important case challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, Golinski v. Office of Personnel Management. The case, which originally began as a simple attempt by Karen Golinski, a federal court employee, to have her wife Amy Cunninghis covered under her federal health insurance plan, has evolved into a full scale assault on DOMA itself.
The real surprise of the hearing on December 15 was that the Department of Justice sent one of its leading attorneys to argue not in defense of DOMA but in opposition to it. Tony West, head of the Department of Justice's Civil Division, personally argued the DOJ's case, thus making a statement about the seriousness with which the Obama Administration regards the question of DOMA's constitutionality.
According to observers of the hearing, Judge Jeffry S. White expressed skepticism both about the constitutionality of DOMA and about whether the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group has the authority to defend the legislation.
Chris Geidner's report on the hearing for MetroWeekly may be found here: Golinski Has Her Day in Court.
On December 15, 2011, the California Secretary of State authorized the Los Angeles-based grassroots group Love, Honor, Cherish to begin gathering signatures on behalf of a ballot initiative to repeal Proposition 8, which bans the recognition of same-sex marriage in the state.
In order to quality for the November 2012 ballot, Love Honor Cherish has until May 14, 2012 to collect 807,615 valid signatures.
The language of the initiative may be found in Karen Ocamb's story about the development at LGBT/POV: Prop 8 Initiative OKd.
One hopes that a ballot battle over the right to marry in California will not be necessary. The Ninth Circuit is expected to rule soon on the appeal of Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional. If the Ninth Circuit upholds Judge Walker's decision and permits same-sex couples to marry, Love Honor Cherish will probably drop efforts to place the initiative on the November ballot.
However, the losing side in the Prop 8 case is expected to appeal to the United States Supreme Court, which may mean that the Ninth Circuit will leave the stay in place until the case is settled.
"If that's the case," Love Honor Cherish board chair Tom Watson said, "that's a pretty strong indication we should be seeking to repeal Prop 8 at the ballot."
On December 15, 2011, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay presented the U.N.'s first formal report on the human rights of glbtq people.
In issuing the report, Pillay called on member states of the United Nations to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
The report documents widespread discrimination against glbtq people and violence directed against them. In addition, homosexual behavior is subject to criminal sanction in 76 countries, including capital punishment in five (Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Yemen).
Enitled "Discriminatory laws and practices and acts of violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity," the report may be found here: OCHR:Discriminatory Laws and Practices.
The report comes on the heels of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's historical speech affirming that gay rights are human rights and President Obama's directing federal agencies to support glbtq rights abroad..