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.
Astronaut Sally Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, died on July 23, 2012 at her home in San Diego of complications from pancreatic cancer. A physicist who flew on the shuttle Challenger in 1983 and on a second flight in 1984, Ride was fiercely protective of her private life and was not publicly out as a lesbian, but her relationship with her partner of 27 years, Tam O'Shaugnessy, was well known to friends and colleagues. She is survived by O'Shaughnessy, as well as by her mother, Joyce; a sister, Bear; and a niece and a nephew.
As Denise Grady reports in the New York Times, Dr. Ride was not only the first American woman to fly in space, but, at age 32, also the youngest American to do so. She was also the only person to sit on both panels investigating the catastrophic shuttle accidents of the Challenger in 1986 and the Columbia in 2003.
As a young woman Dr. Ride was a nationally ranked amateur tennis player who was advised by Billy Jean King to pursue a career as a professional. She did not accept that advice, choosing instead to pursue her interest in science. She earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Stanford University in 1978.
After retiring from NASA, she became a professor of physics and director of the California Space Institute at the University of California, San Diego.
She also worked tirelessly to interest young people, especially girls, in science, math and technology.
In 2001, she founded a company, Sally Ride Science, to "make science and engineering cool again" by providing science-oriented school programs, materials, and teacher training. Her partner Tam O'Shaughnessy, with whom she co-authored several books, is Professor Emerita of School Psychology at San Diego State University and serves as chief operating officer of Sally Ride Science.
Ride's sister Bear issued a statement regarding her public "outing" via her obituary, "I hope it makes it easier for kids growing up gay that they know that another one of their heroes was like them."
President Obama has issued a statement describing Dr. Ride as "a national hero and a powerful role model. She inspired generations of young girls to reach for the stars and later fought tirelessly to help them get there by advocating for a greater focus on science and math in our schools," he said. "Sally's life showed us that there are no limits to what we can achieve."
The video below profiles Sally Ride.