Cabarets and Revues
Although not publicly out as a gay man, Australian singer and songwriter Peter Allen signaled his homosexuality through his flamboyant persona and the subtexts of many of his songs.
Outed as a transsexual in 1961, the indomitable April Ashley rose from poverty to become a glamorous entertainer and top model who married into the British aristocracy and later became a transgender activist.
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.
Actor and designer Bryan Batt achieved fame playing a closeted advertising executive on television, but in his own life he has been active in affirming the naturalness of homosexuality.
Expressionist exotic dancer and actress in German silent movies, Anita Berber epitomized for many the decadence of Weimar-era Berlin.
As the first open transgender person in New Zealand to be elected to the offices of mayor and Member of Parliament, Georgina Beyer has evinced courage, humor, and personal honesty.
Legendary drag performer and recording artist Ray Bourbon appeared in silent movies, vaudeville acts, Broadway plays, and, from the 1940s through the 1960s, performed across the United States in a gay nightclub circuit.
Historically, cabarets and revues have been much more likely to mention or imply same-sex desire than the "legitimate" theater; and same-sex desire has been less frequently condemned in cabarets and revues than in mainstream plays.
In the early 1960s, the Camp Record label issued records of gay parody songs; although the music is without much artistic merit, the records are significant for what they reveal about pre-Stonewall gay culture.
A dynamic performer on stage, television, film, and record, Nell Carter built a successful and versatile show business career; only after her death was her longtime relationship with a woman revealed to the public.
Beginning in the 1980s, a new generation of gay stand-up comics began to appear, telling jokes from the perspective of the gay insider.
Lesbian stand-up comedy provides an excellent example of how comedy can foster social and political awareness in both minority and mainstream communities.
Accomplished playwright, actor, composer, and lyricist, Sir Noël Coward was also a singer and cabaret performer; he dominated the British stage between the world wars, then reoriented his career in the direction of America.
Funnyman Frank DeCaro has found success both in serious journalism as a fashion writer and editor and in comedy as a writer, performer, and radio talk show host.
A proudly out lesbian from the very beginning of her career, the versatile Lea DeLaria has earned accolades for her talents as an actor, a singer, and a stand-up comic.
Actress and cabaret performer Marlene Dietrich scandalized society almost as much by wearing trousers in public as by her numerous love affairs with both men and women.
A versatile character actor, nightclub singer, and international cult star who generally performed his stage show and movie roles in drag, Divine became famous through his appearances in John Waters' films.
A recent arrival in the drag arena, drag kings are part of an international drag movement that emerged in London and San Francisco in the mid 1980s.
Female impersonation need say nothing about sexual identity, but it has for a long time been almost an institutionalized aspect of gay male culture.
Gifted composer and arranger who gave a new look to movie musicals, Roger Edens was the heart and soul of the unit at MGM studios known as "Freed's Fairies."
Talented actor and writer John Epperson has had an extremely successful career performing as the glamorous and hilarious drag diva Lypsinka, among other characters.
Gravel-voiced vocalist and pianist Frances Faye warmly embraced her gay and lesbian audience and was openly bisexual at a time when few other performers dared to do the same.
American pianist and singer Michael Feinstein has had a lifelong fascination with the popular music of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.
From the 1960s until his death in the 1988, puppeteer Wayland Flowers presented to mainstream television audiences a campy gay point of view mediated through his puppet "Madame," who eventually eclipsed him in fame.
The fragile persona and emotion-packed voice of actress and singer Judy Garland are powerfully linked to gay culture and identity; she appealed especially to gay men, but also to lesbians.