Although few gay actors have been permitted the luxury of openness, many of them have challenged and helped reconfigure notions of masculinity and, to a lesser extent, of homosexuality.
Considering the unique set of problems facing lesbians who want to produce erotic art for the enjoyment of other lesbians, it is remarkable that so much lesbian erotica has been produced in so brief a time.
Lesbian actresses have played a significant role in Hollywood, but their contributions have rarely been recognized or spoken of openly; the "lavender marriage" is by no means a relic of the past.
Although American gay film icon Brad Davis has been described as "the first heterosexual actor to die of AIDS," he was widely known as bisexual within the entertainment community.
Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
The greatest dancer of his time, Rudolf Nureyev also gave the world a new and glamorous image of a sexually active gay man.
While nude depictions of women appear in most cultures, on both sides of the equator, and in rich variety, lesbian artists have been particularly resourceful in their use of the female nude.
Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.
On March 16, 2012, the first large-scale exhibit focusing on the early works of Keith Haring opens at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Keith Haring: 1978-1982, which will run through July 8, 2012, traces the development of Haring's visual vocabulary by exploring the period in the artist's career from his arrival in New York City through the years when he began his studio practice and started creating public and political art. By 1982, he had become a fixture on New York City's artistic scene.
The exhibit includes 155 works on paper, numerous experimental videos, and over 150 archival objects, including rarely seen sketchbooks, journals, exhibition flyers, posters, subway drawings, and documentary photographs.
Among the works on view include a number of very early pieces never before seen in public; seven videos, including "Painting Myself into a Corner" (his first video piece) and "Tribute to Gloria Vanderbilt"; and collages created from cut-up fragments of his own writing, history textbooks, and newspapers.
The exhibit, which is curated by Raphaela Platow, also documents Haring's role as a public artist and facilitator of group exhibitions and performances.
The exhibition is co-organized by the Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, and the Kunsthalle Wien. For more information, see the Brooklyn Museum's website.
Although the exhibit does not extend into the artist's final years, when he devoted himself to creating cultural awareness about the AIDS epidemic and other gay rights issues, it explores how Haring emerged to become a cultural force on the New York City art scene.
Haring, who was among the generation of gay men lost in the first wave of the AIDS epidemic, was diagnosed with Kaposi's sarcoma in late 1988, but continued his art until, in his last months, he could no longer hold a pencil or brush.
He was thirty-one years old when he died, on February 16, 1990, in New York City.
Haring's work is featured in the videos below.