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.
A fascinating story in the Fashion & Style section of the November 17, 2013 New York Times reports on how Washington, D.C. transitioned from a deeply closeted city to the "gayest place in America."
In his first-person story, supplemented by interviews with numerous other D.C. residents and citing demographic information from the Census Bureau, Jeremy W. Peters recounts how the nation's capital has undergone a profound change over the last decade. When he first arrived in Washington as a summer intern ten years ago, he noticed that there were a lot of gay people in the city, including in high government positions, but "instead of being widely accepted, they were usually whispered about derisively, suspect characters to be mocked and maligned."
Now, however, Peters says, "I . . . live in the gayest place in America."
Robert Raben, an assistant attorney general during the Clinton administration, tells Peters, "There's an openly gay presence that makes you think you're in the Castro or West Hollywood," but adds, "it wasn't always the case. The federal government was a nightmare for homosexuals for decades, and then it wasn't."
A crucial factor in the change that took place is that under President Clinton the federal government ended the practice of denying security clearance to people known to be gay or lesbian. Finally, government employees were freed from the necessity of inventing a web of lies about their personal lives. They could come out.
Political lobbyists such as Hilary Rosen, Fred Saenz, and Richard Socarides recall their experiences having to worry about how honest they could be. But the necessity to hide extended beyond government officials. Sean Bugg, executive director of the Next Generation Leadership Foundation and editor emeritus of Metro Weekly, recounts how reporters were equally frightened of exposure, particular at a time when "the military was still doing surveillance in gay bars."
Peters considers the question of whether gay men and lesbians are drawn to Washington because they are attracted to politics in disproportionately high numbers.
This video accompanies the story: