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Famous Les/Bi/Gay People throughout History




Homosexuality has existed since the beginning of man. The earliest evidence is from an Ancient Egyptian tomb, from about 2450 BC. This tomb is of two royal officials, Niankhknum and Khnumhotep, positioned in such a way as if they were married. Modern Egyptologists are still trying to figure out if they were twin brothers, close friends, lovers, or all three.

There is also evidence of homosexuality in Ancient Egyptian mythology. Probably the most known being that of Horus (god of the sun) and Seth.

The Ancient Greeks were rather open with homosexuality. Ancient Greeks believed that the relationship between a man and a boy was the most pure form of love that existed. In addition, the word, "lesbian" originated from the island of Eastern Greece, Lesbos. This is also the birthplace of the great poetess Sappho (600 BC). She was priestess of a feminine love cult and celebrated the love between women in poems and other writings (although most of it was later burned by religious leaders).

To the Spartans, homosexuality was like a part of their military training. Every soldier knew it was ideal to have an older lover to train him in the arts of war. The young boy was referred to as the "beloved" while the older man was the "lover." Both the beloved and the lover would fight side-by-side. Since the lover did not want to shame his beloved, he fought harder.

The Olympics also derived from Ancient Greece. At first, only men competed, and they did so nude. The only spectators were men.

Alexander the Great (356-323 BC) and Pindar of Thebes are suggested to be an intimate couple of that time also. Alexander went on to conquer many lands, including Thebes. When he did so, the only house he left standing was that of Pindar. Alexander is also assumed to be intimate with his friend, Hephaiston (died 324 BC).

Many great poets and philosophers of Ancient Greece are also said to be gay. Anacreon (570?-485? BC) was a lyric poet born in Teos, Asia Minor (which is now Sigacik, Turkey). He is known for his satirical work and short poems on love and wine. Only a few fragments of his poetry remain.

Sophocles (496-406 BC) is another great dramatist of Ancient Greece. He was born in Colonus Hippius, which is now part of Athens. Sophocles wrote over one hundred plays. Seven of his plays still exist: Ajax (451?-444?), Antigone (after 441 BC), Maidens of Trachis (after 441 BC), Oedipus the King (430-415 BC), Electra (430-415 BC), Philoctetes (409 BC), and Oedipus at Colonus.

Euripedes (480?-406? BC) was a Greek dramatist born in Salamís. Euripides' plays were famous all throughout Greece. However, they were still criticized fort their natural dialogue and independence from traditional religious and moral values. Only 18 of his many plays remain. These include The Frogs 405 BC), Orestes (408 BC), Medea (431 BC), Alcestis (438 BC), Andromache, Electra, and Iphigenia in Tauris. His work went on to influence not only Ancient Roman drama, but also English, German, and French drama.

Socrates (470?-399? BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens. The greatest known of his students is probably Plato. Socrates believed in an objective understanding of justice, love, and virtue. He believed that wickedness was the result of ignorance. He thought that virtue is knowledge, and anyone who possessed knowledge acted right.

Plato (427?-347? BC) was a Greek philosopher born in Athens. He was a student of Socrates and taught Aristotle.

Even in their mythology, the Ancient Greeks show open acts of homosexuality. In one myth, the handsome young price of Troy, Ganymede, was sent to Mount Olympus. Here, he served as cup-bearer to Zeus. Zeus' wife and sister, Hera, became overcome with jealousy and killed young Ganymede. Zeus mourned his death and then placed him in the sky as Aquarius.

Another story is that of the feud between Apollo (god of the sun and music) and Boreas (the North Wind) over Hyacinthus. In one version, it was the West Wind, Zephyrus, instead of Boreas. Anyway, the two were feuding, and Hyacinthus chose Apollo. Boreas went into a state of rage and, while Apollo was practicing discus, he blew the wind forcing the discus right into the skull of Hyacinthus. He was killed instantly. Apollo did not want Hades to take him so he tuned him into a flower, the hyacinth.

Achilles and Patroclus were also an intimate couple. The two grew up together and were close friends. When Hector killed Patroclus posing as Achilles in his armour, Achilles went completely mad. He went around killing people, including Hector. A few days later, Achilles too died. The two friends were buried together and were to spend eternity on the White Isle. Even though Homer's "Iliad" mentions nothing of this relationship, most Greeks still felt this true.

Even Heracles (Hercules in Roman Mythology) and his good friend Hylas are said to have had a relationship. When the nymph, Dryope, kidnapped Hylas, Heracles went mad. He went around pulling up entire trees and killing everything in sight. Jason feared for himself, his Argonaughts, and the Argo itself so he had to persuade Heracles to get away. Heracles never did see Hylas again.

Another is the story of Damon and Phintias (sometimes Pythias). Phintias was to be executed for something or another, so Damon traded in his own life to save his friend. Dionysus (god of wine) saw this act very kind and pardoned both. Dionysus had orgies with Orpheus (the "first man to love boys").

There are also the myths of Orestes and Pylades and Narcissus (who loved himself).

Ancient Romans were also open until Christianity came around. Julius Caesar (100-44 BC) and Mark Anthony for example. Caesar was said to be "every women's husband, every man's wife." Cicero (106-43 BC) was another Roman political leader who is said to have had intimate relationships with other men.

There was also the Roman Emperor, Hadrian (76-138 AD), and Antinous Pius (86-161 AD) who is said to be Hadrian's only true love. Many people still compare the love of these two to be quite similar to that between Zeus and Ganymede. When Antinous died, Hadrian went into an intense grief that altered the Roman World. Some say that after Antinous died, Hadrian believed that he became a god. Hadrian is also thought to have a relationship with Marcus Aurelius.

Some Ancient homosexual (or perhaps bisexual) Roman poets included Horace (65-8 BC). His works can be put into four categories: satires, epodes, odes, and epistles. In his Odes, Horace praises peace, patriotism, love, friendship, wine, simplicity, and country pleasures.

Virgil (70-19 BC) was a Roman poet born in Ande. He is known for his masterpiece, the Aeneid, which is a mythological epic of the wanderings of Aeneas after the Trojan War (somewhat like The Odyssey, which tells of Odysseus' wanderings after the Trojan War). In his poem, Eclogues, Virgil admits his infatuation for Augustus (Ocavaian).

Ovid (43 BC-17? AD) was a Roman poet born in Sulmo. In 8 AD, Ovid was banished to Tomi, which was in the Roman province of Dacia (now Constanta, Romania). One reason for his banishment was the publication of Ars Amartoria, which is a poem on the art of love. Another reason may have been his knowledge of a scandal that involved the emperor's daughter. In his youth, Ovid wrote Amores, which are erotic poems characterized by cleverness and artificiality. In his middle period, Ovid composed Metamorphoses in 15 books. During his exile, Ovid wrote about melancholy and despair.

Seneca (4? BC-65 AD) was a Roman philosopher, dramatist, and statesmen. He was born Lucius Annaeus Seneca in Córdoba, Spain. His writings include The Pumkinification of the Divine Claudius (about 54 AD), which was an amusing (but unkind) satire on the deification of Claudius. He also wrote seven books dealing with meteorology and astronomy, Quaestiones Naturales, and 124 letters to a friend, Epistulae ad Lucilium. In one of his poems, he described how his lover was "passive" in his lovemaking.

Even the Bible contains evidence of homosexuality between David and Jonathon. In Samuel 20:41, it is quoted, "and when the boy was gone, David rose out of his place, which was towards the south, and falling on his face to the ground, adored thrice and KISSING one another, they wept together."

In Samuel 1:25-26 it quotes, "I grieve for thee, my brother Jonathan: exceeding beautiful, and amiable to me above the love of women. As the mother loveth her only son, so did I love thee."

Some Christians will try to use Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 against homosexuality. It says that man cannot "lie with a man as with a women." It also states that people cannot wear clothing made of two different kinds of material such as cotton and polyester. It also states in Ezekiel 18:5-18 that people who loan money with interest should be punished with death. Many things that we would think wrong now, were condoned in the Old Testament: animal sacrifice, polygamy, women as property, and slavery.

Many people also debate the destruction of Sodom and Gomorra. However, it states in Ezekiel 16:49-50 that they were destroyed because of in-hospitality, pride, wealth, and indifference to the needy.

Some people now believe that even Jesus Christ was homosexual (though I am neither saying he was, nor am I trying to convince anyone he was).

Early British kings are also thought to have had homosexual relationships: King Richard I the Lion-hearted (1157-1199) and Phillip II (1165-1223) during their adventures on the Third Crusade (1190-1192). King Edward II (1284-1327) and Piers Gaveston were the best of friends to the point of intimacy.

Poetess Katherine Fowler (1631-1664)

Poetess Aphra Behn (1640?-1689)

Poetess Anna Seward (1747-1809)

Poetess Charlotte Mew (1869-1929)

Poetess Elsa Gidlow (1898-1986)

Francis Bacon (1561-1625) was an English philosopher, statesman, essayist, and jurist. He was born in London and is considered one of the pioneers of modern scientific thought. His works include The Advancement of Learning (1605) and Novum Organum (or Indications Respecting the Interpretation of Nature) (1620).

William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English playwright and poet, is probably the greatest and most famous of all the writers that have ever lived. Although he married Anne Hathaway in 1582, he is still thought to have had relationships with men. William and Anne had a daughter in 1583 and a boy and a girl (twins) in 1585. The boy did not survive. On top of his many sonnets, Shakespeare wrote many plays including Romeo and Juliet (1595?), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1595?), The Merchant of Venice (1596?), Ceasar (1599?), Much Ado About Nothing (1599?), Hamlet (1601?), Othello (1604?), King Lear (1605?), Macbeth (1606?), Antony and Cleopatra (1606?).

Florence Nightingale (1820-1910) was a British nurse who served in the Crimean War. Nightingale was born in Florence, England, and raised primarily in Derbyshire, England. She wrote, "I have lived and slept in the same bed with English countesses and Prussian farm women… No woman has excited passions among women more than I have." Nightingale lived by her strong Victorian views and was probably extremely homophobic and closeted.

Alan Mathison Turing (1912-1954), a British mathematician, broke the secrets of the German code machine Enigma during WWII. History classes most often overlook him up because he was homosexual.

Many of the Italian Renaissance artists were homosexual as well. This list includes Donatello (1386-1466), Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), Raphael (1483-1520), and Michelangelo (1475-1564). People now are even saying that Leonardo's "Mona Lisa" was intended to be a self-portrait. This is also why Leonardo only did works on males and never actually finished a work on a female.

Many people debate whether Joan of Arc (1412-1431) was a lesbian or not. She vowed to remain a virgin early in life. She then went of crusades to help Charles VII obtain his rightful claim to the French throne. While Joan was not on campaign, she would sleep with women to guard her purity. However, she only slept with young women, for she did not like to lie next to older ones. While imprisoned, Joan also had insecurities of what sex she belonged to and her inability to have friendships. She jumped off a tower and attempted suicide as a result of this. Joan of Arc was burned as a witch and heretic in 1431 and was later named a saint. Almost every aspect of Joan of Arc's story remains quite controversial to this day (which was very evident in the lengthy book I read).

Poetess Renêe Vivien (1877-1909)

Christina Queen of Sweden (1632-1654) was the sole heir of Gustav II Adolph. She succeeded her father at the age of six and assumed complete royal power in 1644. She was raised as a boy and loved Ebba Saprre. Christina never married. In 1654, she abdicated the throne and had her cousin Charles recognized as her successor. She was also in love with Angelica Georgini, an opera diva.

Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827) was a German composer born in Bonn. In 1792, he went to Vienna to study under Austrian composer Joseph Haydn. As Beethoven got older, he began to lose his hearing (which is like the absolute worst thing that could ever happen to a musician). To compose music, he would press his ear against his piano and feel the vibrations (every note has a different frequency). He composed nine symphonies, seven concertos, seventeen string quartets, thirty-two piano sonatas, ten violin and piano sonatas, five cello and piano sonatas, and one opera.

Hans Christian Anderson (1805-1875) was a Danish author. Anderson is most famous for his fairy tales such as "The Ugly Duckling" (1843), "The Emperor's New Clothes" (1837), "The Snow Queen" (1844), "The Red Shoes" (1845), and "The Little Mermaid" (1837).

Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky (1840-1893) was a Russian composer. He was born in Votkinsk, Russia. Tchaikovsky is most famous for The Nutcracker (1891-1892). He also wrote Swan Lake (1876), a ballet.

Poetess Juana Inés de la Cruz (1648-1695)

Poetess Wu Tsao (early 1800's)

President George Washington (1732-1799) and Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) are also thought to have had a relationship going on. On March 3, 1777, Washington hired Hamilton to be his personal secretary. Hamilton then left to do some military service. In 1789, Washington appointed Hamilton as the first ever Secretary of Treasury of the United States.

Alexander Hamilton is also said to have a relationship with John Laurens (1754-1782). They compared each other to Damon and Phintias.

Even President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) is said to have a homosexual relationship. This is suggested to be between he and Joshua Speed. People now (and may have then) think this because the two men were bed partners for a number of years.

Lucy Stone (1818-1893) was an American feminist and abolitionist. She was born in West Brookfield, Massachusetts and attended Oberlin College. She married abolitionist Henry Blackwell, but kept her maiden name as a symbol of a woman's right to individuality. This created much controversy. A woman named Antoinette Brown fell in love with her at Oberlin. Antoinette Brown wrote letters to Lucy proclaiming her love and calling Lucy her "dearest little cowboy."

Susan B. Anthony (1820-1906) was an equal right activist born is Adams, Massachusetts. She was opposed to drinking and slavery. From 1848 to 1853, she took part in the temperance movement. From 1856 to 1861, she worked for the American Anti-Slavery Society. When she met Elizabeth Cady Stanton is 1851, she began to work for women's rights. They organized the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869. She was also arrested after refusing to pay a one hundred dollar fine after casting a vote in the presidential election of 1872 (women didn't have the right to vote until 1920).

Jane Addams (1860-1935) was born in Cedarville, Illinois. She organized Hull House in 1889, Chicago. She also helped find both the National Progressive Party (1912) the Woman's Peace Party. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She was with her lover, Mary Rozet Smith, for over forty years.

Emma Goldman (1869-1940) was a Russian anarchist born in Kovno. She immigrated to the US in 1885 and became a leader of the anarchist movement. She and Polish anarchist Alexander Berkman were convicted with conspiracy to violate the US conscription laws in 1917. They were imprisoned for two years and then deported to USSR.

Amelia Earhart (1898-1937?) was an American aviator born in Atchison, Kansas. She became the first woman to fly across the Atlantic, establishing a new record of thirteen hours and thirty minutes in 1932. She also became the first woman to fly across the Pacific in 1935. Her plane disappeared on July 2, 1937, while attempting to fly around the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt was also a lesbian.

Rita Mae Brown was an author and activist. On August 28, 1982, she said, "This is a celebration of individual freedom, not of homosexuality. No government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody," at the opening of the Gay Olympics in San Francisco.

Poetess Angelina Weld Grimké (1805-1879)

Poetess Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Poetess Katherine Bradley (1848-1914) and Edith Cooper (1862-1913)

Poetess Katharine Bates (1859-1929)

Poetess Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

Poetess Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)

Poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1950)

In the 1800s, American Dark Romantic writers Herman Melville (1819-1891) and Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) were intimate. Melville is famous for writing Moby Dick, and Hawthorne is famous for his novel The Scarlet Letter. In a letter to Hawthorne, Melville wrote, "your heart beat in my ribs and mine in yours, and both in God's."

Walt Whitman (1819-1892) was an American poet. He is considered the greatest of his time. He was born near Huntington, New York. He later moved to New York City, where he wrote poems and stories for magazines along with making political speeches. He also worked as an editor for the Brooklyn Eagle, but lost the position because he was in support of the Free-Soil Party (an anti-slavery party).

Tennessee Williams (originally Thomas Lanier Williams) (1911-1883) was an American playwright. His works include The Glass Menagerie (1944), A Steetcar Named Desire (1947), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). His works are usually the topic of family tensions and sexual anxiety.

Rock Hudson (1925-1985), Charles Laughton (1889-1962), and Rudolph Valentino (1895-1926).

James Byron Dean (1931-1955) was an American actor. He died in an auto accident.

Lizzie Bordon (1860-1927) was the woman accused of "taking an axe and giving her mother forty whacks. And when she saw what she had done, she gave her father forty-one." It is still unknown whether or not she was guilty, though she was acquitted. She was involved with actress Nance O'Neill in 1904, and she never married.

Gertrude "Ma" Rainey (1886-1939) is considered the first great blues vocalist. Although she married, she said that she preferred women as lovers and wearing men's clothes. She wrote and performed "Prove It on Me Blues" in which she states, "Went out last night with a crowd of my friends. They must've been women, 'cause I don't like no men."

Bessie Smith (1894?-1937) was also an American blues singer. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennesse. Her career was helped by Ma Rainey. She died in Clarksdale, Mississippi, in an auto accident.

Anaïs Nin (1903-1977) was an American writer born in France. (Jewel makes reference to her in "Morning Song" off her Pieces of You album.)

Lily Tomlin (1939- ) was an American actor and comedian. She was born in Detroit and attended Wayne State University. She won Emmy Awards in 1973, 1975, and 1981. Her first solo Broadway show was Appearing Nitely (1977), which won a Tony Award. Her second Broadway show, The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (1985), also won a Tony Award. Lily spoke for feminist causes and gay rights.

Joan Baez (1941- ) is an American folksinger. She was born in Staten Island, New York, and attended Boston University. However, she left school to sing at coffeehouses. She is also known for her political involvement. Baez has also written two autobiographies: Daybreak (1968) and And a Voice to Sing With (1987).

Janis Joplin (1943-1970) was also a lesbian singer.

Tracy Chapman and Joan Jett are also lesbian singers.

Ani Difranco is an out bisexual folk-punk singer. She has released twelve albums and several of her songs are about her sexuality.

Ellen DeGeneres' character, Ellen Morgan, was the first main character to come out as a lesbian on prime-time television. She is involved with actress Anne Heche.

Melissa Etheridge is an awesome lesbian singer. She came out in January of 1993 at Clinton's inaugural party. She then came out with her album Yes I Am, which is her most open album (and best in my opinion). She is involved with Julie Cypher (they met on August 23, 1988). Together, they have a daughter, Bailey Jean, who was born on February 10, 1997, and a son, Beckett, who was born on November 18, 1998.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls are openly lesbian. In 1998, they were scheduled to play a concert (for free) at a high school in South Carolina (I believe). However, they were forced to cancel the show after parents of students began to complain and make a big deal about Amy and Emily's sexuality. It's like the parents thought that Amy and Emily were going to "make" their children gay or something.

Singers k.d. lang and Elton John are also gay. Chastity Bono (daughter of Sonny and Cher) is also a lesbian. She even made an appearance on Ellen. Actress Jodie Foster (she is so hot!) is a lesbian. Designer Calvin Klein is also gay.

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Copyright © 1999 D.E. Wojo