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.
Lou Reed in 2008. Photo by Marcelo Costa (CC BY 2.0).
Bisexual singer, songwriter, and guitarist Lou Reed, whose music exerted enormous influence on rock musicians, died on October 27, 2013 at his home in Amangassett, New York. The cause of death was complications from liver disease.
As Ben Ratliff observes in the New York Times, "Reed brought dark themes and a mercurial, sometimes aggressive disposition to rock music."
Tina Gianoulis reports in her glbtq.com entry on Reed that, at his parents' insistence, he underwent electroshock treatments for his homosexuality as a teenager. However, he emerged from the mental hospital "with his antisocial impulses (and bisexuality) more or less intact."
In 1965, Reed, as part of Andy Warhol's studio, The Factory, joined fellow musicians John Cale, Sterling Morrison, and Maureen Tucker to form the Velvet Underground. Warhol managed the band, which sold few albums and disbanded after only five years, but had an impact that lasted for decades.
Reed's songs for the Velvet Underground were about drugs and junkies, hustlers and drag queens, all performed with a bare-bones intensity that made them appealingly taboo.
After the breakup of Velvet Underground, Reed continued to violate taboos as a solo artist. In 1972, Reed issued his first solo album, Transformer, which was produced by David Bowie.
As Gianoulis observes "On Transformer, Reed changed his look from urban tough to glam-rock flash. He also introduced his most famous signature song, "Walk on the Wild Side," the story of a transgendered hooker's odyssey from Los Angeles to the hard streets of New York, told with an understated, ironic affection and a catchy backbeat.
Reed continued his solo career, producing well-reviewed albums every few years and frequently touring Europe and the United States.
Reed had a long very public affair with a transgender woman known only as Rachel, who is thought to have inspired many of his songs, including "Walk on the Wild Side," Reed's only top-40 hit. In addition, he was married three times.
Reed is survived by his wife, composer and singer Laurie Anderson, as well as his mother and sister.
The clip below highlights Reed's "Walk on the Wide Side"