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.
Activists Cleve Jones (top) and David Mixner.
Veteran activists David Mixner and Cleve Jones have issued a call for demonstrations in Washington and across the country on March 26 and 27, 2013 when the United States Supreme Court hears oral arguments in cases challenging the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8. Noting that after unparalleled progress in the last four years, we are now "on the cusp of equality," the activists declare "Now is the time, once again, to recognize the unique moment before us and to act with the greatest power and intelligence possible."
Mixner and Jones last issued a Call for Action in the summer of 2009, when, frustrated with the loss of referenda on same-sex marriage and the failure of the Obama administration to fulfill the promises made in the 2008 presidential campaign, they called for a March on Washington.
As a result of that Call, the National Equality March on October 11, 2009 was hastily organized without the support of the major gay rights organizations. It became a success because of the young activists who had been stirred into action by the passage of Proposition 8 and the resistance to repealing Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which they attributed to a failure of strategy and vision on the part of the established gay political organizations.
The January 30, 2013 Call for Action is not a call for a march on Washington, nor is it born out of frustration. Rather, it proceeds from an awareness that we are on the verge of victory and that it is imperative that we act deliberately and soberly.
In the Call for Action, which may accessed here, Mixner and Jones recommend peaceful and civil demonstrations in Washington, D.C.
But they also recommend the following:
"For those who cannot travel, there will be local organizing opportunities and plans underway in all 50 states that will mirror the events before the Supreme Court. Stay tuned. Visit your Representative's local district offices. Hold teach-ins, campus rallies and town halls. Involve our allies in women's organizations, the labor movement, racial and ethnic minorities and immigrant communities.
"Like, share, post and retweet images and infographics you will see designed to gain broad support for the cases. Post your support for marriage equality in the week leading up to the court cases. Remember that positive portrayals of LGBT Americans go a lot farther and are more effective than efforts to tear down our opponents.
"Visit the editorial boards of your local newspapers and request editorials in support of equality to run during the last week of March. Submit letters to the editor in support of marriage equality.
"Reach out to our many allies within faith communities and organize inter-faith events on Saturday and Sunday, March 23 and 24.
"Speak to the larger issue of equality, not limited to marriage. We seek equal protection under the law, in all matters governed by civil law, in all fifty states.
"Organize peaceful demonstrations for LGBT equality in every city and town across our country at sunset on Monday, March 25--the anniversary of the Selma march--to put action to the President's words: 'We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths--that all of us are created equal--is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears.'"
Mixner and Jones conclude the call with these stirring words:
"Let the last week of March 2013 be remembered as a time when all of us contributed: LGBT and straight, young and old, Stonewall Democrats and Log Cabin Republicans, socialists and libertarians, people from cities and rural communities, the Human Rights Campaign and GetEqual, equality supporters of all races, faiths and backgrounds. Regardless of our differences, let us come together once again in a united call for equality, community and justice."Let us remember what Dr. King proclaimed in Montgomery, almost half a century ago: 'How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.'"
In the video below, David Mixner addresses the National Equality March in October 2009.
In the video below, Cleve Jones speaks at the National Equality March.