The sexual revolution of post-World War II America changed sexual and gender roles profoundly.
With reports from hundreds of sub-Saharan African locales of male-male sexual relations and from about fifty of female-female sexual relations, it is clear that same-sex sexual relations existed in traditional African societies, though varying in forms and in the degree of public acceptance
In British law, Section 28 of the Local Government Act, enforced from 1988 until 2003, prohibited the promotion of homosexuality and teaching the acceptability of homosexuality as a "pretended family relationship".
The Hijras--men who dress and act like women--have been a presence in India for generations, maintaining a third-gender role that has become institutionalized through tradition.
The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.
Harvey Milk, among the first openly gay man to be elected to public office in the United States, was assassinated in San Francisco's City Hall, making him the American gay liberation movement's most visible martyr.
By the early twentieth-century, YMCAs had become popular havens for men who sought sex with other men.
Compulsory heterosexuality is the assumption that women and men are innately attracted to each other emotionally and sexually and that heterosexuality is universal, a view that leads to an institutional inequality of power that privileges heterosexual males and denigrates women, especially lesbians.
Detail from a painting by Toller Cranston.
On April 20, 2012, Toller Cranston's 63rd birthday, it is fitting to remember that the acclaimed figure skater is also an excellent painter.
At his Inner Bouquet blog, David-Paul Erhart reminisces about the significance of Toller Cranston for him when he was growing up in Sudbury, Ontario, a hockey town where "boys who figure skated were branded and taunted." Even though figure skating was what he loved most, Erhart quit at age 14, only to return later when he was a student at the University of Toronto.
Soon after graduating, Erhart had an opportunity to meet Cranston, who at the time was "performing at a level of innovation and artistry that was revolutionary to men's figure skating." He notes that Cranston's crowning moment at a skater came in the 1976 winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria, where he won the bronze medal.
Erhart observes that the only reason Cranston never won Olympic gold "was the 'school figures' which were such an integral part of competition until they were discarded after 1990. He won the free skating part of three world championships but his marks in the figures wouldn't permit him to climb any higher than third place." But even without winning an Olympic gold medal, Cranston is widely regarded as one of the greatest figure skaters of the twentieth century.
But in addition to being a great skater, Cranston is also an accomplished artist, whose work has been exhibited all over the world. Indeed, when Erhart met Cranston, he was already becoming known as a painter. Then unable to afford an original oil painting, the young Erhart purchased a poster that has been meaningful to him all the years since.
As Linda Rapp explains, "Throughout his life [Cranston] has devoted himself to painting. His artwork shows the same imagination, exuberance, and flair as his skating." Just as his skating is very individualistic, so he "developed a painting style that favors magical subjects, attenuated figures, and vibrant color and energy."
The video below, from ESPN Classic Canada, explains and illustrates Cranston's distinctive qualities as a skater.
The videos below provide a glimpse into Cranston's garden and studio in San Miguel Allende, Mexico, and into the artist's creative process.