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.
Dan Kloeffler comes out.
In the wee hours of Sunday morning October 16, 2011, ABC World News Now anchor Dan Kloeffler reported on the coming out of actor Zachary Quinto, who had told a New York magazine interviewer that he felt obligated to come out because of the recent spate of gay youth suicides. Kloeffler added, "He's 34, I'm 35. I'm thinking, I can lose my distraction about dating actors." Kloeffler's casual coming out on national television reflects a sea-change in attitudes toward homosexuality in the newsrooms of American television networks.
In his ABC News blog, Kloeffler elaborated on his decision to come out on air: "Kind of a big moment for me while filling in on World News Now, which is by far the most fun you can legally have at 3:00 in the morning! Yunji de Nies and I were talking about celebrity headlines, when I read the story about Zachary Quinto, who played Spock in "Star Trek," coming out as gay in a magazine interview. Because WNN is a show where you can offer some personality, I had a little fun with the story saying that I would drop my rule against dating actors.
"I've never shared that I'm gay on-air, even though I've been out to my family, friends and co-workers for years. In fact, an old boyfriend--now best friend--has always given me a hard time about not doing so. But for the same reason that Zach decided to come out, I too, no longer wanted to hide this part of my life.
"There have been too many tragic endings and too many cases of bullying because of intolerance. As a kid I wanted someone to look up to, someone that could relate to the feelings I was having. Most of all, I wanted to know that it would get better.
"And it did."
Kloeffler added: "As a journalist, I don't want to be the story, but as a gay man I don't want to stand silent if I can offer some inspiration or encouragement to kids that might be struggling with who they are."
Kloeffler thus joins openly gay national television news anchors, commentators, and reporters such as Thomas Roberts (MSNBC), Don Lemon (CNN), Rachel Maddow (MSNBC), Jason Bellini (CBS), Jonathan Capehart (MSNBC), John Yang (NBC), Jeffrey Kofman (ABC), Miguel Marquez (ABC), Steve Kmetko (E!), Richard Rodriguez (PBS), and Jane Velez-Mitchell (CNN), to say nothing of Pete Williams (NBC), who was outed in 1991 by Michelangelo Signorile, when Williams was a Pentagon spokesman charged with defending the ban on gays in the military, or such frequent guests on news shows as John Aravosis, Keith Boykin, Dan Savage, Richard Socarides, and Andrew Sullivan .
The recent proliferation of openly gay or lesbian television journalists is reflective of a new level of acceptance of homosexuality in television news. More and more, television news shows present news about homosexuality straightforwardly and with an understanding that such news is of interest to a increasingly wide and general audience.
Moreover, on some networks--most notably, on forward-leaning MSNBC--news anchors, including but not limited to those who are gay and lesbian--are permitted to make clear their own support for marriage equality and other glbtq causes. Such openness would have been unthinkable even five years ago.
There are still problems in television's reporting on the quest for equal rights, especially the continuing practice of giving a platform to representatives of hate groups like the Family Research Council and allowing anti-gay politicians and religious figures to spout misinformation about gay people. But there is no question that the treatment of gay people now is vastly improved from what it was just a few years ago.
One reason for the improvement in reporting is the fact that television journalists have felt increasingly freer to be open, notwithstanding the fact that the most famous gay journalist of all remains officially closeted, his sexuality an open secret that is resolutely unaddressed either on air or off.
Here is video of Kloeffler's nonchalant coming out on air: