LGBT depiction in pop culture has come a long way since its first rumblings in the early ’70s. From the first recurring gay character on television (Vincent Schiavelli in The Corner Bar) to the Glee phenomenon, LGBT-inclusive media is more prominent than ever before.
There are so many moments in entertainment that shaped LGBT Hollywood forever. We offer several of those watershed events here. If your favorites didn’t make the list, let us know what you think are the greatest highlights in the comments below.
1971: Sunday Bloody Sunday shows first shame-free gay kiss
The British film about a bisexual man who is dating both a woman and man showed the first same-sex smooch without guilt.
1971: All in the Family bridges gay topics
In a benchmark episode, Archie Bunker (Carroll O’Connor) has to deal with his prejudices when he believes an old friend could be gay. The Huffington Post labeled this the “frankest portrait of homosexuality on TV to date” in 2013.
1972-73: Vincent Schiavelli, the first recurring gay character on primetime television (The Corner Bar)
While the series was short-lived, it will remain an LGBT staple for featuring openly gay Peter Panama to television audiences nationwide.
1972: Divine blazes the trail for drag queens
The disco-age icon, perhaps best known for the film Pink Flamingos (1972) where she plays the “filthiest person alive,” had an outrageous style that paved the way for queens of all shapes and sizes. She also played Edna Turnblad in the 1988 film Hairspray, and People magazine dubbed her “The Drag Queen of the Century.”
1976: Elton John comes out as bisexual
The confession was one of the first celebrity coming out moments. The iconic singer told Rolling Stone, “There’s nothing wrong with going to bed with somebody of your own sex.” In 1985, Hollywood legend Marlon Brando also came out as bisexual.
1982: Making Love
EW says many moviegoers’ first exposure to gay affection were the lip-locks between lead actors Michael Ontkean and Harry Hamlin.
1986: Rock Hudson passes away from AIDS
Hudson, a ’50s and ’60s leading man, was one of the first celebrities to die from the disease; it brought the AIDS topic (and its association with the gay community) to the forefront. This was only heightened when Queen rocker Freddie Mercury passed away from AIDS in 1991.
1990: Paris is Burning brings ball culture to the mainstream
The documentary showcased ball culture, characterized by dances like “vogueing” and glamorous presentation, specifically among African American and Latino LGBT communities.