LGBT writers, directors, actors and artists have been part of the creative fabric of Hollywood since the earliest days of silent movies. But the full spectrum of LGBT contributions to the industry has become visible only recently.
The Hollywood Museum is now honoring those artists, characters and images in the exhibit "Reel to Real: Portrayals and Perceptions of Gays in Hollywood" — a retrospective of LGBT images in film and television.
The exhibit was initially launched in June in honor of LGBT Heritage Month, but due to popular demand, it has been extended to Sept. 28. "Reel to Real" is curated by Hollywood Museum founder and president Donelle Dadigan, with help from curator Steve Nycklemoe and decorator Bob Pranga.
"Our objective was to highlight the contributions of the LGBT community to film and television," Dadigan said. "We reached out to the community and the response was an outpouring of support and their desire to participate."
The exhibition features photos, costumes, props and iconic imagery, providing a unique perspective on how gays have been portrayed in Hollywood — from early stereotypes to modern representations.
The more than 1,000 items on display include Dustin Lance Black's Best Screenplay Oscar for "Milk." Costumes include Michael Douglas' suit from "Behind the Candelabra," Nathan Lane's costume from "The Birdcage," costumes from the gay wedding on "Days of Our Lives" and a cocktail dress worn by pioneering HIV/AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor.
"Once upon a time, there were almost no depictions of gay characters in film and television," Dadigan said. "But now, nearly every TV show has LGBT characters or story lines. There's such a wide range of characters that there's nothing stereotypical any more."
As a tribute to that wide range of characters, the exhibit includes a photo wall with images of renowned actors who have tackled LGBT roles, including Annette Bening ("The Kids Are All Right"), Glenn Close ("Albert Nobbs"), Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Eric Stonestreet ("Modern Family"), Colin Firth ("A Single Man"), Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger ("Brokeback Mountain"), Sean Hayes and Eric McCormack ("Will & Grace"), Felicity Huffman ("Transamerica"), Sean Penn and James Franco ("Milk"), and Hilary Swank ("Boys Don't Cry").
The exhibit is sponsored by Wells Fargo Bank and the Hollywood Reporter. The Hollywood Museum is housed in the historic Max Factor building at 1660 N. Highland Ave. in Hollywood and is open Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information on this and other exhibits, go to www.thehollywoodmuseum.com.
—Adam Sandel, Brand Publishing Writer