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.
In addition to Christina Santiago, whose death has been widely reported in the gay press because she was an official with Chicago's Howard Brown Health Center, another lesbian, Tammy VanDam, was killed in the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair on August 13, 2011.
VanDam and her partner, Beth Urschel, had first-row seats for the Sugarland concert that was about to begin when the stage collapsed on them, killing VanDam and seriously injuring Urschel.
The couple, who had been together more than a decade, are not recognized as partners in Indiana, which prohibits the recognition of same-sex relationships. This failure of recognition is likely to be a factor in the wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of Urschel and VanDam's daughter by Valparaiso, Indiana attorney Kenneth Allen. Allen has indicated that he intends to challenge the Indiana policy that renders same-sex couples strangers before the law.
In 2001, another tragedy led to a change in law in California similar to the change Beth Urschel is seeking in Indiana. When soccer coach Diane Whipple was mauled by dogs, her surviving partner Sharon Smith, supported by the National Center for Lesbian Rights, sued to establish the right of same-sex couples in California to sue for wrongful death.
In the Whipple case, a California judge ruled that "reading the wrongful death statute to exclude plaintiff would unduly punish her for her sexual orientation. Such a reading has no place in our system of government, which has as one of its basic tenets equal protection for all."
One hopes that out of the Indiana tragedy comes at the very least a recognition of the right of a surviving partner to sue for wrongful death.
We extend condolences to Beth Urschel and to the daughter of Tammy VanDam.