American director, best known for his films Johnny Guitar and Rebel Without a Cause. He made a number of movies from 1947 to 1963, which became influential to the French New Wave, but after this period he was never able to finish another project. His last unfinished work was a sprawling, collaborative experimental film called We Can’t Go Home Again. He was married several times and had affairs with both men and women, including something of a spiritual affair with James Dean. His work often deals with characters who are social misfits, and in Rebel Without a Cause, the character of Plato can be seen as film’s first gay teenager.
English novelist and essayist, member of the Bloomsbury Group, known for his novels A Room with a View, Howards End, and A Passage to India. He was aware of his homosexuality at a young age, and was out to his close friends, although he didn’t enjoy a sexual relationship until later in life. His novels were often informed by his experiences as a gay man, dealing with themes of social inequality, repression, and self-realization. In 1913, he wrote the novel Maurice, a beautiful story of a gay protagonist coming into his own, which was inspired by the real life couple Edward Carpenter and George Merrill. He revised the story several times during his life, but it was never published until after his death.
Painter and Mexican cultural icon. She is mostly known for her self portraits, rooted in folk art and surrealism. A terrible traffic accident when she was a teenager left her struggling with lifelong injuries and constant pain. Her personal trials became a frequent subject of her work, in addition to her experiences as a woman and her love of Mexico. At 22, she married fellow artist Diego Rivera. They were both outspoken in Mexican politics, and they both had affairs during their difficult marriage; Kahlo’s lovers included men and women. When she wasn’t wearing elaborate traditional costumes, Kahlo would often cross-dress, and both can be seen in her paintings. It wasn’t until decades after her death that her work received the widespread popularity it has today.
Hollywood actor, best known for his role in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. He started his career being cast as the teen heartthrob and singing pop songs. By 1960, he was starring as the romantic lead opposite actresses such as Sophia Loren and Jane Fonda; but that same year saw him in his most memorable role as Norman Bates. From then on he had trouble being cast as anything but the villain. Perkins was aware of, and unhappy with, his homosexuality from a young age. Though he kept it a closely guarded secret, he had a number of affairs with men before and during his marriage. His insecurity with himself often came through in his acting, whether as the shy and brooding romantic lead, or the nervous and sympathetic psychopath. He was diagnosed with HIV in 1990 and died two years later.
One of the most successful American illustrators of the early 1900s. His covers for The Saturday Evening Post were a great inspiration to Norman Rockwell, and he is credited with popularizing the modern images of Santa Claus and the New Year Baby. But he is most well-known for illustrating The Arrow Collar Man, a dashing, sophisticated mascot for shirt collars, who was so adored he received love letters. What his fans didn’t know was that Charles Beach, the model for the advertising celebrity, was also Leyendecker’s lover who lived with the artist until his death.
American writer and activist, known for novels such as Go Tell It on the Mountain and essays such as Notes of a Native Son. His fiction is admired for its complex views on racial, sexual, and religious identities, informed by his own homosexuality and his childhood in Harlem. He also wrote a number of articles about turmoil in the south, putting him at the forefront of the Civil Rights Movement. But although he often wrote about African American experiences, he refused to be labeled as just a black author. His 1956 novel, Giovanni’s Room, surprised readers with its white protagonists as well as its frank depictions of homosexuality. And his subsequent novels often featured a mix of characters who were black, white, straight, and queer.