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.
On October 28, 2012, in a thoughtful editorial that highlights the President's support for equal rights, The New York Times endorsed Obama's re-election. While the newspaper's endorsement was no surprise, the editorial's emphasis on equal rights underlines the significance of the November 6 election for the glbtq movement. Even though the progress of our movement may depend on the outcome of the election, in general the mainstream media has not previously made that connection so powerfully.
The editorial describes the context of the election as follows: "The economy is slowly recovering from the 2008 meltdown, and the country could suffer another recession if the wrong policies take hold. The United States is embroiled in unstable regions that could easily explode into full-blown disaster. An ideological assault from the right has started to undermine the vital health reform law passed in 2010. Those forces are eroding women's access to health care, and their right to control their lives. Nearly 50 years after passage of the Civil Rights Act, all Americans' rights are cheapened by the right wing's determination to deny marriage benefits to a selected group of us. Astonishingly, even the very right to vote is being challenged."
The editorial frames the choice on November 6 as both stark and clear. It rehearses the President's achievement in rescuing the economy and saving the country from a depression, in reforming health care, in repairing the country's reputation abroad, and in appointing qualified justices to the Supreme Court, while reminding readers that Romney "has tied himself to the ultraconservative forces that control the Republican Party and embraced their policies, including reckless budget cuts and 30-year-old, discredited trickle-down ideas. Voters may still be confused about Mr. Romney's true identity, but they know the Republican Party, and a Romney administration would reflect its agenda."
Observing that "there are still big hurdles to equality to be brought down, including the Defense of Marriage Act," the editorial concludes with a section on Civil Rights in which it emphasizes the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell and marriage equality.
Lauding the President's support for marriage equality and the Justice Department's decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act against constitutional challenges, the editorial points out that Romney "opposes same-sex marriage and supports the federal act, which not only denies federal benefits and recognition to same-sex couples but allows states to ignore marriages made in other states. His campaign declared that Mr. Romney would not object if states also banned adoption by same-sex couples and restricted their rights to hospital visitation and other privileges."
The Times's emphasis on equal rights is especially welcome since gay issues have largely been neglected by the mainstream media this election season.
For example, none of the questions asked during the debates had to do with equal rights, and neither candidate directly addressed gay issues in their answers.
In the last debate, in a non-sequitur response to a question about gun control, Romney may have made a nod to "traditional" marriage when he said, "We need moms and dads raising kids, wherever possible."
Similarly, the President may have dog-whistled to supporters of marriage equality when, during the discussion of whether Romney was any different from George W. Bush, he said that Romney was even more extreme on social policy than Bush was, zinging that the former governor wanted a defense policy from the 1980s, a social policy from the 1950s, and an economic policy from the 1920s.
The President has, however, frequently and forthrightly expressed his support for marriage equality and touted his achievements in advancing equal rights both in stump speeches and in campaign videos.
In contrast, Romney has attempted to avoid addressing social issues except in safe venues where his opposition to equal rights is popular.
Nevertheless, progress toward equality will be greatly affected by the outcome of this election.
This point is made very clearly by two members of the theatrical community who have made Facebook posts that have gone viral. Both are in the form of appeals to friends who are considering voting for Romney.
Playwright Doug Wright, author of I Am My Own Wife, wrote this on his Facebook page:
"I wish my moderate Republican friends would simply be honest. They all say they're voting for Romney because of his economic policies (tenuous and ill-formed as they are), and that they disagree with him on gay rights. Fine. Then look me in the eye, speak with a level clear voice, and say, 'My taxes and take-home pay mean more than your fundamental civil rights, the sanctity of your marriage, your right to visit an ailing spouse in the hospital, your dignity as a citizen of this country, your healthcare, your right to inherit, the mental welfare and emotional well-being of your youth, and your very personhood.' It's like voting for George Wallace during the Civil Rights movements, and apologizing for his racism. You're still complicit. You're still perpetuating anti-gay legislation and cultural homophobia. You don't get to walk away clean, because you say you 'disagree' with your candidate on these issues."
Actor Max Von Essen, who is currently appearing in the Broadway revival of Evita, wrote the letter below in response to a friend who expressed support for Romney:
Listen, I know you didn't mean any harm commenting on this post and I like you, we had some great times growing up. But Romney and Ryan believe that I am less than you. They believe I am a second class citizen and don't deserve the same rights that you had the privilege of being born into simply by being straight. They want to add a constitutional amendment that will ban gay marriage forever. It will set us back decades and ensure that I never legally have the opportunity to have a family or a partner in my lifetime.
They also believe that being at your partner's side when he/she is dying is a benefit, not a civil right. They could keep me from my partner dying in a hospital. Could you even imagine something like that in your own life? Being separated from your wife on her death bed? Could you imagine your marriage never being recognized and being told that your family is not a family and you do not deserve any federal rights that comes with marriage. Over 1100 rights. Did you know that? 1100.
Ryan doesn't believe in the hate crimes act fought unwaveringly for by Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard, murdered for being gay in Wyoming. Murdered for being gay. Could you imagine if I was murdered for being gay? Could you really look my mom in the eye and say 'oh well, we can not prosecute this crime as a hate crime'?
I know there are important issues involved in this campaign. I know people are suffering and the economy has not improved at a rate we all wish it would. Yes, people are suffering but the gay and lesbian community has been suffering for hundreds of years and I am so tired of it. So tired of feeling that I am less than. So tired of knowing I have friends on here who will vote for someone who will keep me a second class citizen for my entire lifetime. I have already spent half a lifetime hiding, half a lifetime conforming. It is exhausting, demeaning and I am worn out. I want to love myself full out. I want a president who can look me in the eye and say 'You are equal!' 'You are equal to everyone else in this country and I will fight for your rights. The time is now and it is long overdue.' Romney and Ryan could not look me in the eye and say that and I feel sorry for every gay and questioning child who might have to listen to a president who believes that he/she is not equal. Children will take their lives. It is the WORST form of trickle down bullying and it absolutely splits my heart in half. When the president says you are less than, it gives permission to every authority figure, every politician, every teacher, every bully on the playground to push you around and bully you and treat you less than. It is dangerous and lives will be lost.
If this is not important to you, please remove me from your friends list. I need people in my life who love me and consider me 100% equal.
Friends who vote for Mitt Romney may not really be friends.