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.
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.