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.
Scott Heggart in a YouTube video.
In the Ottawa Citizen for March 16, 2012, journalist Shelley Page tells the story of a remarkable young man, Scott Heggart, now a student at the University of Ottawa, who came out via YouTube as a 15-year-old. Page's story, entitled "A Gay Jock Takes Off the Mask," is a model of feature writing, sensitive, sympathetic, and richly detailed. It deserves to be read widely, and Scott Heggart deserves to be better known.
Page frames her story in terms of the coming out of an athlete who is now fighting homophobia in the locker room. But while Heggart is "a big, strapping teenager, who topped out at six foot four" and played football, basketball, softball, and hockey, he is far more than a jock and his story touches on many more issues than homophobia in sports.
Heggart's coming out story is in some ways typical. By the time he was in the seventh grade, he realized that he was attracted to boys rather than girls. He struggled with these feelings and even contemplated suicide. Sinking into a deep depression, he realized that he had to tell someone. He shared his feelings with his sister, then his brother, and finally his parents, all of whom accepted him unequivocally.
What makes Heggart's coming out story unusual, apart from his good fortune in having a wonderfully supportive family, is that the 15-year-old began recording videos and posting them on YouTube. He first recorded himself telling his coming out story. After posting a few more videos, he resolved to post one each day of 2009.
In these videos he interviewed his parents and his siblings; he shared his anxieties about coming out at school and to his teammates; he reacted to myths about homosexuality and rebutted the bigoted views of others.
These videos constitute an extraordinary record of an unusually mature and intelligent and eloquent adolescent finding his place in the world.
After a year's worth of videos, he stopped making them compulsively. Since then he has added new videos to react to news stories or to relate a major event in his life, such as when he decided to come out to his school mates by updating his Facebook page to indicate that he was in a relationship with a boyfriend.
Scott Heggart's videos did not exactly go viral, but cumulatively the 387 videos have been viewed more than 550,000 times. They developed a following and no doubt have proved useful to many other young people struggling with coming out. But although Heggart is aware in these videos of having an audience, their real purpose is not so much to communicate with others as to allow himself to reflect on his own issues and to articulate his own positions.
Deciding to use YouTube videos as a means to process one's feelings, including fears and anxieties, about coming out is, of course, a distinctly twenty-first century phenomenon. But it has precedent in the diary writing and journal keeping of earlier eras when countless numbers of young men and women explored their feelings by writing about them. From that perspective, Heggart's videos are part of a long literary history.
Heggart's introspection and sensitivity are what make the video record of his coming out so moving.
Heggart's coming out story also strikes me as very Canadian. Notwithstanding his fears and even suicidal impulses in the face of his realization that he was gay, the fact that he and his family live in a country in which gay people have achieved equal rights under the law and where religious-based bigotry is less pervasive than in the United States no doubt made the conditions of his coming out somewhat less fraught than it might be elsewhere.
Scott Heggart's videos are posted on his YouTube channel, big93scott.
In his earliest video, Heggart tells his coming out story.
In this video, Heggart interviews his mother, Julie.
In this video, Heggart asks "How Early Do You Know You Are Gay?"
In this video from 2010, Heggart explains how he came out at school and the reaction of his classmates and teammates.
In this video, Heggart talks about his life as a jock after he has come out to his teammates.
In this video, from October 2011, Heggart reacts to the suicide of Jamie Hubley, a young Canadian who took his own life after having been bullied.