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.
Pastor Sean Harris encouraged parishioners to beat their gay sons.
The increasingly ugly battle over North Carolina's Amendment One reveals a cancer at the core of fundamentalist religion and the desperation of the anti-gay movement, which now seems utterly unrestrained by any sense of decency. The supporters of Amendment One have revealed themselves not only as liars and fanatics, but also as advocates of child abuse and violence. The frightening thing is that they may prevail.
The opponents of equal rights routinely lie about glbtq people. They regularly spout discredited "research" from hate groups and simply manufacture nonsensical "slippery slope" arguments to frighten people. However, the campaign on behalf of North Carolina's Amendment One, which would require that the state recognize no relationship other than the marriage of one man and one woman, vividly demonstrates the increasing desperation of the anti-gay movement and its lack of any moral restraint.
The Vote for Marriage NC organization, which is leading the campaign in favor of Amendment One, no longer makes any pretense of conducting a civil discussion of policy. Its campaign is now frankly a campaign against gay people, who are routinely described as "perverted" and "depraved." In addition, it has blatantly made the campaign an expression of religious belief.
Typical of the campaign's spokespeople is Pastor Patrick Wooden of Raleigh's Upper Room Baptist Church. This pastor has an unhealthy fascination with gay men's sex lives and, more particularly, with anal sex. At every opportunity, he claims that gay men have so much anal sex that they have to wear diapers and that "I know of a case where in a hospital a homosexual male had a cellphone lodged in his anus and as they were operating on him the phone went off, the phone started ringing!"
When challenged by Pam Spaulding as to the veracity of these spurious claims, he admitted that they were false, but justified them because, by definition, "homosexuals as a group are defined by who they sleep with" and by extension, since his religious view is that homosexuality is a sin, this is what drives him to speak out. In other words, he thinks it perfectly acceptable to lie in the name of God.
If Wooden and his lies are vile, the sermoneering of Pastor Sean Harris of the Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina is downright repulsive. As the video clip below documents, in the midst of a sermon in support of Amendment One, Harris literally calls for beating gay children.
Perhaps the scariest thing about this video is the fact that the congregation clearly approves of the child abuse advocated by the pastor, and, even worse, the Berean Baptist Church operates a school.
After an outrage across the blogosphere, Harris issued a lame apology. On his MSNBC show The Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell analyzes the pastor's apology.
Other ugly incidents in the campaign have included a redneck teenager making a video in which he shoots a "No on Amendment One" sign. That video was removed from YouTube after it attracted the attention of gay activists. But another bigot promptly posted his own contribution to political discourse, this one showing him urinating on a "No on Amendment One" sign.
One would think that the ugliness of these tactics would boomerang against the campaign for Amendment One. Apparently, however, that is not happening. The latest polls indicate that Amendment One will pass even though a majority of North Carolinians say that they are in favor of either same-sex marriage or civil unions, both of which are banned by the amendment.
The problem seems to be that the electorate is ill-informed and uneducated about Amendment One and also about gay people.
Protect All North Carolina Families, the group spearheading the attempt to defeat Amendment One, made a strategic decision not to focus on gay people, but rather to describe the harm it will cause all unmarried families and the state generally, as described here. Their ads have featured almost no gay people, focusing instead on issues such as domestic abuse and on the children of unmarried heterosexual couples.
In his Live from Hell's Kitchen blog, David Mixner lauded the organization's approach, contending that "Many voters, if they feel that it is a vote about approval, will not vote for the rights of the LGBT community. The key is have those who might not fully approve of the LGBT community find a way to overcome their discomfort and give them a 'hook' to vote for full equality."
However, by failing to educate the state about gay people, Protect All North Carolina Families has allowed the opposition to define gay people as depraved sexual perverts and to make the campaign about religious belief.