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.
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta have released videos recognizing June as Pride Month. These senior members of the Obama Administration both celebrate the progress that has been made in securing equal rights and acknowledge that more work remains to be done.
In the video below, Secretary Clinton affirms her belief that gay rights are human rights, pledges that the United States will continue to work on behalf of glbtq rights around the world, and conveys her best wishes for a happy pride celebration.
In the following video, Secretary Panetta thanks gay and lesbian servicemembers for their dedicated service, extols the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and pledges to continue work to achieve equal rights within the United States military.
The historic nature of Secretary Panetta's video is underlined by the fact that a year ago a servicemember could have been discharged for even acknowledging his homosexuality. The Secretary of Defense's celebration of gay pride and pledge to work toward full equality mark a profound change in the culture of American military life.
Josh Seefried of OutServe characterized Secretary Panetta's historic video as "a tribute to our core military values: respect and integrity. If there is any remaining doubt that the military has executed DADT repeal with excellence, and that LGBT people are serving our country with honor, Secretary Panetta has firmly put that to rest. This is leadership directly from the top."
Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign said that the video "sends a powerful message to the brave men and women of the military that they are valued for their dedication to our country and their expertise, and that they are deserving of the exact same respect and equal treatment that their straight counterparts receive. By embracing Pride month, Secretary Panetta also is telling LGBT youth in communities across our nation that they live in a country that values them for exactly who they are. We hope this is a sign that the Department of Defense will continue tackling the obstacles that prevent lesbian, gay, and bisexual service members from receiving full equality."