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.
A New York Times Op-Doc Video by Alison Klayman, released on August 6, 2013, focuses powerfully on gaybashing by telling the story of Nick Porto and Kevin Atkins, young gay men who were attacked on May 5, 2013 outside Madison Square Garden during a Knicks game. The aspiring fashion designers tell the story of how they were assaulted in broad daylight and how the attack has affected their lives. Their story is placed in the context of the alarming rise of anti-gay hate crimes in a city perceived as conspicuously gay-friendly.
As Klayman says in an accompanying article in the Times, "New York is regarded as a gay-friendly city in a state that has legalized gay marriage, but this Op-Doc video shows that it can still be dangerous for a same-sex couple to walk down the street holding hands."
She points out that the attack on Porto and Atkins is hardly unique. "According to the New York Police Department, there were already 29 reported antigay hate crimes in New York City by late May, an increase of 70 percent compared with the same period in 2012 (even as hate crimes over all went down nearly 30 percent). The real number may be higher, as many attacks are not reported."
She reports that "During the production of this video, our whole team witnessed the very intolerance that this story comments on. On a sweltering summer afternoon, when we filmed Mr. Porto and Mr. Atkins kissing outside Madison Square Garden, several passers-by gave the couple obvious looks of disgust. One man, sitting on steps behind the couple, called them 'faggots,' adding an expletive, as he took cellphone photos of our shoot. Yet there were also many others who walked by without a second glance, and one who even told us he appreciated what we were doing."
The filmmaker concludes, "This story is a potent reminder not to take for granted New York's reputation as a safe haven of tolerance and acceptance. Despite notable national progress on issues like gay marriage, true equality for many is a long way off."