Long-distance swimmer and respected sports commentator has in more recent years spoken out on issues of glbtq rights.
Indian playwright, screenwriter, dancer, director, and actor Mahesh Dattani is an important figure in South Asian gay culture by virtue of his recurrent depiction of queer characters.
Entertainer Josephine Baker achieved acclaim as the twentieth century's first international black female sex symbol, but kept carefully hidden her many sexual liaisons with women, which continued from adolescence to the end of her life.
American painter Paul Cadmus is best known for the satiric innocence of his frequently censored paintings of burly men in skin-tight clothes, but he also created works that celebrate same-sex domesticity.
San Francisco visual artist Jerome Caja is known for his small, sensuous combinations of found objects, which he painted with nail polish, makeup, and glitter, as well as for his drag performances.
Although sparse in images documenting the gay community, pre-Stonewall gay male photography blurs the boundaries between art, erotica, and social history.
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
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.
Los Angeles-based photographer Jeff Sheng came to prominence for his photographs of gay, lesbian, and bisexual American military servicemembers who served under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," which were exhibited during the DADT debate and collected into a stunning book. He is now bringing to fruition a project he began in 2003 of photographing high school and college athletes who are openly glbtq. He has made a remarkable video (embedded below) to accompany an exhibit of the photographs of "Fearless" at Pride House 2012 at the London Olympics.
Sheng's project of photographing out athletes is highly personal for him. In high school he was a closeted tennis player who thought it would be impossible for him to be both out and a collegiate athlete. Out of fear, he failed to pursue his athletic dreams. Hence, he entitled the project "Fearless" as a reminder "to myself and to others of the true meaning behind the bravery of what these young people are able to do: be themselves in the face of homophobia in competitive sports--something rarely ever seen at the professional level."
He notes that when he began the project in 2003, it was very difficult to find willing athletes for the project, but over the years it became easier.
He hopes to commemorate his tenth year working on the project by publishing a large photography book that details the lives and journey "Fearless" has entailed, including all of the photo shoots from the series. His hope, he says, "is that this book can serve as further inspiration to countless young people who happen to be LGBTQ and suffer from bullying or harassment and live in fear about being who they are."
To learn more about the project and to support it, visit this website.
To learn more about Jeff Sheng and his photography, visit his website.
Enjoy the video slide-show of "Fearless," narrated by Jeff Sheng
A slideshow of some of the photographs of Sheng's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" project may be found here.