Homosexuality in Film

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Homosexuality in Film
When sultry, womanly JoAnn steps into the five and dime, rarely would a viewer automatically leap to the conclusion that twenty years prior, that gorgeous she had been a he. Ed Graczyk and Robert Altman pushed the envelope when they so blatantly portrayed homosexuality and trans-genderedness in a movie in 1982. They were not, however the first to choose to display homosexuality in movies. "In fact, homosexuality, or the idea of it, has been with [the viewer] since movies were born."

During the hundred years of movie history, there is a startling lack of representation of gay, lesbian, and transgendered persons, and when it does appear it is often feared or laughed at. Hollywood, as a universal influencer, has taught the public its general fear of homosexuality in general, but in one of the oldest remaining movies there was no intention of influencing fear— a test movie made in Thomas Edison's studio is a short clip of two men dancing while a third plays the fiddle.

In the early days of film, homosexuality was a topic that was not discussed in private much less displayed for the public. During this time gays had some portrayal in movies through the "sissy" character. These characters were never revealed to be gay, instead they were hilariously effeminate and just subliminally accepted by the audience to be homosexual. This is currently a controversial representation but to some, such as Harvey Firestein, a modern-day gay screen writer and actor it is okay. "I like the sissy," he says. "Is it used in negative ways? Yeah but… I'd rather have negative than nothing…and I'm a sissy."

Despite the general stereotypes that prevailed during this period, they had a great deal of artistic freedom and in one film even took the American people into a gay bar. But this freedom was fleeting. The Hays laws passed during Harding's presidency were guides to self-censorship that were rarely followed, but the Catholic Church devised a way...
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