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.
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.
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.
Olympian Brian Orser, known for both his athleticism and artistry, led a resurgence of Canada as a force to be reckoned with in men's figure skating; after being outed in a palimony suit, he has become an advocate for glbtq rights.
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.
Handsome, athletic, graceful, and charismatic, actor Errol Flynn was widely rumored to enjoy sexual relations with men as well as women.
In nineteenth-century America men who loved other men often suffered from guilt, but artists such as Winslow Homer and Thomas Eakins celebrated male camaraderie and affection, while expatriate John Singer Sargent depicted the dandy, and photographs documented male friendships.
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.
Josh Howard's new film, The Lavender Scare, scheduled for release in 2012, explores the witch hunts of the 1950s and 1960s. It vividly reminds us that for gay men and lesbians the McCarthy-era was a time of police harassment, suspicions of disloyalty, and dismissals from jobs, especially in the public sector. The abuses of gay men and lesbians did not end with the repudiation of Wisconsin senator Joseph McCarthy in 1953, but continued into the 1960s and, with lesser intensity, beyond.
Directed by Academy Award-winner Howard, the film is based on historian David K. Johnson's 2006 book, The Lavender Scare. It is the first feature-length documentary film to tell the story of the U.S. government's ruthless campaign to hunt down and fire every Federal employee it suspected was gay.
Before the lavender scare was over, more than 10,000 federal employees had been fired. The film examines the tactics used by the government to identify homosexuals, and takes audiences inside interrogation rooms where gay men and lesbians were subjected to grueling and demeaning questioning. These stories are told through the first-hand accounts of the people who experienced them.
The Lavender Scare shows how the government's actions ignited a homophobic frenzy that spread throughout the country, affecting the lives of all gay men and lesbians whether they worked for the government or not.
But the harassment of homosexuals throughout the 1950s also led them to believe in the necessity of mutual support. Although fighting back was not always possible and many gay men and lesbians were affected by guilt and internalized the stereotypes of the era, the 1950s was also the beginning of activism in the lesbian and gay communities.
The Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis, which together inaugurated the American homophile movement, were in many ways shaped by McCarthyism.
Instead of destroying American homosexuals, the actions of the government had the opposite effect: they stirred a sense of outrage and activism that helped ignite the gay rights movement.
To learn more about film, visit the website The Lavender Scare.
Here is the trailer: