Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
Indian playwright, screenwriter, dancer, director, and actor Mahesh Dattani is an important figure in South Asian gay culture by virtue of his recurrent depiction of queer characters.
Entertainer Josephine Baker achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol, but kept carefully hidden her many sexual liaisons with women, which continued from adolescence to the end of her life.
American painter Paul Cadmus is best known for the satiric innocence of his frequently censored paintings of burly men in skin-tight clothes, but he also created works that celebrate same-sex domesticity.
San Francisco visual artist Jerome Caja is known for his small, sensuous combinations of found objects, which he painted with nail polish, makeup, and glitter, as well as for his drag performances.
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
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.
Still from a video of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus performing "Testimony."
The stories of Easter and Passover are stories of triumphing over adversity, of overcoming hatred and contempt. As such, they speak in powerful ways to glbtq people, whether they are religious or not. In observance of these holidays, we want to call attention to a powerful composition by Stephen Schwartz inspired by the "It Gets Better" project and performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus, under the direction of Dr. Timothy Seelig. It might be seen as an antidote to the BYU It Gets Better video discussed here.
Like the BYU video, Schwartz's composition also features the voices of individuals in pain, but unlike it his work envisions triumph over pain as suffering individuals come to find solace in communion with others. It fully acknowledges the heartbreaking anguish many gay people feel in a homophobic society, but it also joyfully celebrates the rewards of self-acceptance and the happiness that can be found by living life honestly. If you just "hang in" and "hang on" and accept yourself, the song advises, you can experience "the joy of living with authenticity."
Unlike the BYU video, which attempts to highjack the "It Gets Better" project for suspect purposes, Schwartz's beautiful song honestly captures the spirit of Dan Savage's vision.
Schwartz, who has written such hit musicals as Godspell (1971), Pippin (1972), and Wicked (2003), collaborated with Savage as he set to music the heartfelt testimony of contributors to the "It Gets Better" project. The result is an extraordinarily moving work that is beautifully performed by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus.
Videographer Sean Chapin has assembled a brief documentary about the making of the "Testimony" video. He presents the testimonies of members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus about their own journeys and about the experience of performing "Testimony" and how the song speaks to them.
The stories of triumph over adversity in "Testimony" and in the testimonies of the contributors to the "It Gets Better" project and of the members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus remind us that it does get better when one escapes oppression. The message is especially appropriate for Easter and Passover.