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.
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.
Olympian Brian Orser, known for both his athleticism and artistry, led a resurgence of Canada as a force to be reckoned with in men's figure skating; after being outed in a palimony suit, he has become an advocate for glbtq rights.
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.
Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.
In nineteenth-century America men who loved other men often suffered from guilt, but artists such as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins celebrated male camaraderie and affection, while expatriate John Singer Sargent depicted the dandy, and photographs documented male friendships.
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.
In a major ruling released on June 6, 2013, Germany's Federal Constitutional Court ruled that same-sex couples are entitled to the same tax benefits granted to married heterosexual couples. The ruling, which greatly strengthens the country's "Life Partnerships," or civil unions, is seen as a rebuke to Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right government.
The Federal Constitutional Court ruled 6-2 that Life Partnerships, which have been available to same-sex couples in Germany since 2001, must offer the same benefits as marriage. As reported by Juergen Baetz in the Associated Press, the Court ruled that treating the two forms of partnerships differently for tax purposes violates the country's guarantee of equal rights. Treating Life Partnerships differently from marriage constitutes "unequal treatment because of sexual orientation." Failure to be vigilant in guaranteeing equality "leads to discrimination against a minority," it warned.
Currently, married couples in Germany may file income taxes jointly, which can significantly lower their overall tax burden especially when one partner earns more than the other. However, couples in Life Partnerships are unable to avail themselves of this option.
The Merkel government had argued that married couples should enjoy greater protection and tax benefits because they usually have children. The Court, however, struck down that argument, ruling that policies in favor of families and children cannot be promoted by discriminating against couples in Life Partnerships.
In its ruling, the Court ordered the government to amend the relevant laws retroactively to 2001, when the Life Partnership law became effective. The ruling makes many couples in Life Partnerships eligible for substantial refunds for having overpaid their taxes.
In response to the decision, Family Minister Kristina Schroeder said she appreciated the clarity offered by the ruling and said that the law would be changed. On behalf of the government, she vowed that the necessary legislation to implement the decision would be passed by the fall.
Gay rights activists welcomed the decision. "The principle of equal treatment is valid for all citizens, independently of their sexual orientation," said the German Association of Lesbians and Gays.
Openly gay Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, of the Free Democrats (FDP), said the ruling showed the time had come "for German tax law to be as modern as its society."
In 2012 all parties in the Bundestag expressed support for extending equal tax benefits to same-sex couples except for the Chancellor's conservative Christian Democratic Union.
While there have been initiatives to institute marriage equality in Germany, none has yet received majority support in the Bundestag.
Some time ago, openly gay Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit observed that on glbtq issues, "German society has been ahead of the lawmakers for a long time now."
In the videos below, Wowereit, who was first elected Mayor of Berlin in 2001, addressed the Victory Fund's International Gay and Lesbian Leadership Conference in San Francisco in 2009.