William aka Billy Haines (1900-1973) bolted from Virginia in 1919 to live in NYC's Greenwich Village, where he lived with a male couple who'd been together for 40 years. He also befriended a same-sex couple who were living together, both of whom moved to Hollywood — becoming known as fashion designer Orry-Kelly (1897-1964) and movie star Cary Grant (1904-1986).
Throughout the '20s, Haines gained a reputation as a popular leading man, one with a certain degree of sarcasm that today might be diagnosed as snark. His hits included the 1926 smashes Brown of Harvard and Tell It to the Marines (indeed).
He was also a carouser, notching up affairs with men and women, including an alleged one-off with Clark Gable (1901-1960), a more serious affair with superstar Ramon Novarro (1899-1968), and relationships with Norma Shearer (1902-1983) and Barbara La Marr (1896-1926).
In spite of Haines's success, his casual approach to being gay was a liability; in an era when coming out was unheard of, he was never really in, though he did tell reporters he was in love with actress Polly Moran (1883-1952), a pal. In reality, from 1926, he was in love with former sailor Jimmie Shields (1905-1974), with whom he lived.