Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
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.
Independent films that aggressively assert homosexual identity and queer culture, the New Queer Cinema can be seen as the culmination of several developments in American cinema.
Renowned photographer, teacher, critic, editor, and curator, Minor White created some of the most interesting photographs of male nudes of the second half of the twentieth century, but did not exhibit them for fear of scandal.
The first international fashion superstar, Halston dressed and befriended some of America's most glamorous women.
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.
Film, stage, and television actor Paul Winfield was openly gay in his private life, but maintained public silence about his homosexuality.
As Americans celebrate Thanksgiving on November 22, 2012, it is appropriate to remember that "It Gets Better." Most of the music videos embedded below are inspired by Dan Savage and Terry Miller's "It Gets Better" project, founded in the fall of 2010 in the midst of an outbreak of gay youth suicide. Because things do get better, we have reason to be grateful.
In the video below, made in October 2010 to benefit the Trevor Project, Broadway stars reassure young people in an original song written by Jay Kuo & Blair Shepard.
In October 2010, members of the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles gathered to sing a song of hope, urging young people to show their "True Colors."
In July 2012, the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles premiered this newly commissioned work based on the film score to Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain.
In October 2010, Dallas's Turtle Creek Chorale made this moving video to reassure young people that "It Gets Better."
Perhaps the most powerful "It Gets Better" musical video is the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus's rendition of Stephen Schwartz's "Testimony." Schwartz's 2012 composition features the voices of individuals in pain, but his work envisions triumph as suffering individuals come to find solace in communion with others. It 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."
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.
In the video below members of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus sing Steve Schalchlin's "My Thanksgiving Prayer."