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.
On May 31, 2013, the White House released a proclamation from President Obama declaring June 2013 Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. The proclamation notes that this year we celebrate Pride at a "moment of great hope and progress," touts the administration's record in advancing glbtq rights, and confirms the President's support for legislation to end unemployment discrimination and the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. President Obama concludes with the following statement: "I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people."
The first Presidential Proclamation of Pride Month was issued by Bill Clinton on June 11, 1999. His successor, George Bush, pointedly failed to issue any Pride proclamations during his long and frustrating eight years in office. In contrast, President Obama has recognized June as Pride month every year of his presidency.
However, the celebration of June as Pride month did not originate in a presidential proclamation and is not dependent on one. As Linda Rapp observes in her glbtq.com entry on Holidays and Observances, "Pride Month was not a deliberately founded and organized event; rather, it is a cultural expression that has grown and evolved and will undoubtedly continue to do so."
The initial events in the development of Pride Month were commemorations of the first anniversary of the Stonewall Riots of June 28, 1969. In New York, a few hundred gay men and lesbians marched from Washington Square to Central Park for a "Gay-In" demonstration. As they progressed, they attracted more and more participants--the number variously estimated at from 5,000 to 15,000--making it the largest gay power demonstration as of that time.
The first anniversary of Stonewall was also observed with a march in Los Angeles and rallies in San Francisco and Chicago.
Over time, glbtq organizations in cities around the world began to put on pride events in late June. The quest for equal rights remained a theme of the parades and rallies, but festive elements, such as picnics and performances by gay and lesbian choruses and bands, were added to the programs.
In June 2013, tens of millions will celebrate Pride in marches, rallies, parades, and festivals all over the world.
Below is the Proclamation issued by the President of the United States of America.
LESBIAN, GAY, BISEXUAL, AND TRANSGENDER PRIDE MONTH, 2013
For more than two centuries, our Nation has struggled to transform the ideals of liberty and equality from founding promise into lasting reality. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Americans and their allies have been hard at work on the next great chapter of that history--from the patrons of The Stonewall Inn who sparked a movement to service members who can finally be honest about who they love to brave young people who come out and speak out every day.
This year, we celebrate LGBT Pride Month at a moment of great hope and progress, recognizing that more needs to be done. Support for LGBT equality is growing, led by a generation which understands that, in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., "injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." In the past year, for the first time, voters in multiple States affirmed marriage equality for same-sex couples. State and local governments have taken important steps to provide much-needed protections for transgender Americans.
My Administration is a proud partner in the journey toward LGBT equality. We extended hate crimes protections to include attacks based on sexual orientation or gender identity and repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." We lifted the HIV entry ban and ensured hospital visitation rights for LGBT patients. Together, we have investigated and addressed pervasive bullying faced by LGBT students, prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity in Federal housing, and extended benefits for same-sex domestic partners. Earlier this year, I signed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in the implementation of any VAWA-funded program. And because LGBT rights are human rights, my Administration is implementing the first-ever Federal strategy to advance equality for LGBT people around the world.
We have witnessed real and lasting change, but our work is not complete. I continue to support a fully inclusive Employment Non-Discrimination Act, as well as the Respect for Marriage Act. My Administration continues to implement the Affordable Care Act, which beginning in 2014, prohibits insurers from denying coverage to consumers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, which addresses the disparate impact of the HIV epidemic among certain LGBT sub-communities.
We have a long way to go, but if we continue on this path together, I am confident that one day soon, from coast to coast, all of our young people will look to the future with the same sense of promise and possibility. I am confident because I have seen the talent, passion, and commitment of LGBT advocates and their allies, and I know that when voices are joined in common purpose, they cannot be stopped.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2013 as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month. I call upon the people of the United States to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists, and to celebrate the great diversity of the American people.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-seventh.
In his Second Inaugural Address, President Obama embraced equal rights.