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.
Video still from Darling! The Piet-Dirk Uys Story.
In honor of World AIDS Day, it is appropriate to spotlight two documentaries that explore responses to AIDS in South Africa and in San Francisco, respectively.
Julian Shaw's Darling! The Piet-Dirk Uys Story (2007) chronicles the history of the struggle against AIDS in South Africa and the leadership provided to that struggle by the remarkable South African entertainer, satirist, and drag queen Piet-Dirk Uys.
Uys is best known for his character Evita Bezuidenhout, a white Afrikaner socialite, who was inspired by Australian comedian Barry Humphries's character Dame Edna Everage and named in honor of Evita Peron. Under Apartheid, Uys used stand-up comedy to criticize and expose the absurdity of the South African government's racial policies. With the advent of AIDS, he turned his attention to exposing the absurdities of South African AIDS policies and of educating South African youth about AIDS.
Uys's work in combatting AIDS is recounted in the documentary made by New Zealand wunderkind Julian Shaw. The documentary, which was made when Shaw was in high school, may be viewed in its entirety here:
In addition to making documentaries, Julian Shaw has created a stir as an actor, most recently by his appearance in the viral video entitled "It's Time," made to promote marriage equality by Australia's community activist organization, GetUp.
A recently released documentary chronicles the history of AIDS in the United States. David Weissman's We Were Here, which was recently short-listed for an Academy Award as Best Documentary, recounts the arrival and impact of AIDS in San Francisco. It explores how the city's inhabitants were affected by and responded to the calamity.
Stephen Holden of the New York Times has written, "Of all the cinematic explorations of the AIDS crisis, not one is more heartbreaking and inspiring than WE WERE HERE. . . . The humility, wisdom and cumulative sorrow expressed lend the film a glow of spirituality and infuse it with grace.
Here is the trailer for We Were Here: