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Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Emperor Yuan of China, and his lovers Hong Gong and Shi Xian

r 75 - 33 BCE


(Also spelled Hàn Yúan-dì, or Han Yüan-ti) Son of emperor Xuan, his birth name was Liú Shì, and ruled from 48 to 33 BC. His posthumous name was Xiào Yúan ("filial and original"). Two of the great Chinese inventions, paper and porcelain, date from Han times. His known male lovers were imperial secretary Hong Gong and chief eunuch Shi Xian.
Emperor Yuan was remembered for the promotion of Confucianism as the official creed of Chinese government. He appointed Confucius adherents to important government posts. He was, in many ways, a kind and gentle man who cared for the people.

Boris Godunov, Russian Czar 1598 to 1605.

b. c. 1551
d.  23 April 1605
r,  1598 - 1605

Opera lovers will be familiar with the name and supposed story of Boris Godunov, but this version is a distortion of history by Russian propagandists. What will be of interest to gay men, is a claim by Matt & Andrej Kowalsky that before achieving the throne himself, Godunov used to fellate the young czarevich Dimitri, the younger brother of Czar Fyodor. However, they do not provide  a source for this claim, which I have not been able to corroborate elsewhere, except for a similar one-line claim at the Gay Russian Hall of Fame:
Politician and ruler; regent of Russia from 1584 to 1598, he became Czar in 1598, when he was elected after the death of Fyodor, son of Ivan the Terrible. Godunov's rule was marked by a strenghtenin of the Russian church, but also the beginning of the "Time of Troubles", a period of instability. 
While regent he loved to fellate the child czarevich Dmitri, the younger brother of Fyodor, who died in 1591, by cutting his own throat during an epilectic fit.Boris died during a revolt led by one who professed to be Dmitri, and therefore the rightful czar. The apocryphal legend of Boris Godunov killing the true Dmitri to gain the throne was fostered by Russian historians anxious to discredit Boris, who was not descended from any of the main ruling families, as being outside the true line of Russian czars. This legend forms the basis of Pushkin's play Boris Godunov (1831) and Mussorgsky's opera of the same name (1874).
Politician and ruler; regent of Russia (1584-1598); tsar of Russia (1598-1605); fellated and murdered 8-year-old tsarevich Dmitri.
Gay Russian Hall of Fame 

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 31st

1984 — A Louisiana appellate court upholds the conviction of a man for solicitation of an undercover police officer who was wired for sound and had the solicitation recorded.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Emperor Xuan-di of China, r.74-49 BCE

(Also spelled Hàn Xúan-dì or Han Hsün-ti) Son of Liu Ju, crown prince of Emperor Wu, his personal name was Liú Xún, or Bìngyi. He beame emperor in 74 BC. One of his known lovers was Zhang Pengzu. His posthumous name was Xiào Xúan, literary meaning: "filial and proclaimed".
In the year 74 BC, Emperor Zhao-di died, Huo Guang deposed the original heir to the Han throne, and Liu Bingyi was placed on the throne instead.
Emperor Xuan-di ruled for twenty-eight years, during which he tried to reduce the corruption that crept into the government. However, his attempts were ineffective, and his son and heir, Yuan-di, was the first of many dysfunctional monarchs; the chance of an inept monarch inheriting power again manifesting itself.

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 30th

1969 — California amends its disorderly conduct law to eliminate the same-sex-only discrimination in the 'lewd conduct' provision.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Basil I of Byzantium (867-886)

b. 830's
d. 29 August 886,

The story of Basil I is important as providing some of the evidence for the rite of church blessing of same sex unions in medieval Europe, and also for illustrating once again how marriage and and sexual activities with men are by no means contradictory – the existence of a marriage does not deny the existence of male sexual partners in parallel relationships, particularly in the case of political rulers who were (and are) under an obligation to produce heirs for their kingdoms.
The barest bones of Basil’s story are that he arrived in Constantinople as a penniless wanderer, and finessed friendships with a series of influential men to a point of immense political influence of his own, before assassinating his last and most powerful patron, assuming control of the empire, founded the Macedonian dynasty, and ruled over what is regarded as Byzantium's most glorious and prosperous era.  A less discreet account would say that he slept his way to the top.
When he arrived penniless in Constantinople, Basil was befriended by a man called Nicholas, from the church of St Diomede. Two accounts make clear that Nicholas and Basil were joined in some formal of formal rite of union, one of them using precisely the term “adelphoeisis” (the liturgical rite for church blessing of same sex unions):
On the morning after finding him, Nicholas ‘bathed and dressed Basil and was ceremonially united to him, and kept him as his housemate and companion. 
and, more explicitly
“on the next day he went with him to the baths and changed his clothes and going into the church established a formal union with him and they rejoiced in each other”.
This was just one of two such formal unions, and other less formal unions, Basil contracted with men. What was the appeal? He was a hunk, with notable physical charms, as John Boswell points out  referring to Basil’s service with his next patron, Theophilos, who
‘had a great interest in well-born. good-looking, well-built men who were very masculine and strong’.and when he saw how exceptional Basil was in these respects he appointed him his chief equerry. Basil was ‘loved by him more and more with each passing day.’
(As Basil was not “well born”, he presumably had super-abundant charms in the looks and build departments).
The attachment to Theophilos did not last, however. Basil soon found a more useful patron, in the form of a wealthy widow (Danelis), who “showered him with gifts of gold and dozens of slaves”. Why? She clearly had a keen eye for a coming man, and asked nothing except that he form a ceremonial union with her son John. Basil made a good show of demurring so as not to look cheap – but he could see where his interest lay. He duly entered his second same sex union, this time with John – and accepted the money and salves which came to him as a dowry. A surviving medieval illustration clearly shows the ceremony, with John’s mother looking on.   (Danelis in time received her anticipated reward. After Basil later became emperor, John was an “intimate” of the Emperor in honour of his earlier union, and Danelis came to the Emperor on a litter – and showered on him still more extravagant gifts. It was not wealth she had sought, but prestige).
But first, Basil had other fish to fry, and other beds to occupy, on his climb to the throne. First was the young Emperor Michael III, who was still in his teens.
Michael became so attached to Basil that he named him ‘companion of the bedchamber’, a position usually held by a eunuch….Ultimately he named Basil co-emperor. 
Both contemporary and modern accounts see physical attraction as influential in Micahael’s choice:
Bad as Michael’s character was, seems clear that we must also credit him with homosexualism (sic); and this is confirmed, both by making Basil his bedfellow, and by his choice, when when he grew tired of Basil of a pretty boy to succeed him as favourite.
Basil was not content to share the empire, and in time assassinated Michael, and reigned alone.
(Basil was not exclusively “homosexual”. Even before taking up with Michael, he had been married, but then in a curious, bizarre arrangement the Emperor persuaded him to divorce his wife, and to marry his own mistress – who continued her relationship with Michael, while another mistress was secured for Basil. One embarrassing outcome was that it was not entirely clear who was the real father of Basil’s putative heir by his wife – who was intensely disliked by Basil, and was “probably” sired by Michael.)

Information has been taken primarily from John Boswell, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe ”.

Edward Carpenter, 29th August: Victorian era gay activist,

b  29th August, 1844
d. 28 June 1929

Britain would be a very different place without him, and so would the LGBT world. Carpenter was a very influential poet, philosopher, anthologist, nudist, feminist, pacifist, and early gay activist. He was as leading proponent of socialism, and helped to found Britain’s Labour Party. Reading Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass in the 1860′s was a huge revelation for him, with Whitman’s dreams of “a brotherhood of manly love.” Carpenter’s 1889 book Civilisation, Its Cause and Cure  argued that civilization is a form of disease which no society ever survived more than a thousand years before collapsing. His cure involved a closer relationship with the land and a greater sense of our own development as individuals. He very much practiced what he preached, living among tenant farmers and other working class workers. He was relatively open about his homosexuality, which was a remarkable accomplishment. Unlike Oscar Wilde, who was arrested and imprisoned for his “vice,” Carpenter escaped scandal and arrest, even though he had moved in with the man who would be his partner for the rest of his life, George Merrill, in Millthorpe.  Carpenter befriended Walt Whitman, E.M. Forster, Havelock Ellis, John Addington Symonds, and several other early pioneers in the nascent gay community. Carpenter and Merrill’s relationship would serve as the model for Forster’s homoerotic novel, Maurice and, hetersexualized, for D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. His groundbreaking 1908 book, The Intermediate Sex: A Study of Some Transitional Types of Men and Women, would become a foundational text for future LGBT movements. He wrote that because “intermediate types” (his preferred term for gay people; he hated “homosexual” because of what he called its “bastardization” of the Latin and Greek) were free of gender limitations, they were uniquely qualified for bringing about greater gender equality and equal rights for women. Carpenter’s writings would later inspire Harry Hay to found the Mattachine Society in Los Angeles, and thus spark a new gay rights movement half a world away.

Emperor Zhao: China, Han emperor

r. (95 - 74 BC)


Also called Han Chao-ti, he was the youngest son of Emperor Wu of Han China, and his personal name was Liu Fuling. He ruled from 87 to 74 BC and died without children. His known male lover was Jin Shang. His posthumous name was Xi O Zhao, meaning "filial and shining". 

In the year 91 BC, as Wu-di’s reign was ending, a violent war erupted around the capital over who would succeed him. On one side was the Empress with the heir apparent and on the other side was the family of one of Wu-di’s concubines. The two families came close to destroying each other. Then just before Wu-di’s death, a compromise heir was chosen: the eight-year-old Liu Fuling, who was put on the regency of Huo Guang, a former general.
Huo Guang organized a conference to inquire about the discontent of the Lord’s subjects. Invited to the conference were government officials of the legalist school and worthy representatives of Confucianism. The Legalists argued for maintaining the status quo. They argued that their economic policies helped maintain China’s defences against the continued hostility of the Xiong Nu, and that they were protecting the people against exploitation of traders. They argued in favour of the western expansion because it brought the empire horses, camels, fruits, and various imported luxuries, such as furs, rugs, and precious stones.
The Confucianists, on the other hand, made a moral issue of peasant grievances. They also argued that the Chinese had no business in Central Asia and that China should stay within its borders and live in peace with its neighbours. The Confucianists argued that trade was not a proper activity of government, that government should not compete with private tradesmen, and they complained that the imported goods mentioned by the Legalists found their way only to the houses of the rich.
Under Huo Guang’s regency, taxes were reduced and peace negotiations began with the Xiong Nu chieftains. The young Emperor, Zhao-di, died in 74 Huo Guang died peacefully six years later, but Palace rivalry led to the charges of treason against Huo Guang’s wife, son, and many of Huo Guang’s relatives and family associates, and they were executed.

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 29th

 "1918 — The California Supreme Court upholds the 1915 fellatio and cunnilingus law over the contention that the Latin terms violate the state’s constitutional requirement that laws be written in English."
 1922 — The Washington Supreme Court upholds a sodomy conviction based only on the uncorroborated testimony of an accomplice.
1996 — A Texas appellate court overturns the conviction of a man for masturbating in a closed, locked restroom stall.

Sunday, 28 August 2011

George Villiers: 1st Duke of Buckingham, Lover of King James I and VI

b. Aug 28, 1592

d. Aug 23, 1628

George Villiers

George Villiers was the son of a Leicestershire knight. Introduced in the court in 1614, when he was 22, he caught the eye of James I, and soon became his favourite and was his lover for more than 10 years.James I, after an enquiry about his relationship with Viliers, declared to the Parliament:

"You may be sure that I love the Earl of Buckingham more than anyone else, and more than you who are here assembled. I wish to speak in my own behalf and not to have it thought to be a defect, for Jesus Christ did the same, and therefore I cannot be blamed. Christ had John, and I have George."

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 28th

1857 — England passes a divorce law allowing a wife to divorce her husband, but not vice versa, because he engaged in sodomy.

1888 — The Minnesota Supreme Court rules that the state does not recognize common-law crimes.

1894 — A Portland newspaper reports the arrest of a man for sodomy with a committed partner. The two had been reported to police by a neighbor.

1974 — A federal court in Wisconsin rejects a vagueness challenge to the state’s sodomy law.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Tom Ford, Fashion Designer/Filmmaker

b. August 27, 1961
“All I’ve done my entire life is fulfil my destiny.”

Tom Ford is a prominent creative entrepreneur whose accomplishments—first in the fashion world and later in the film industry—have earned him worldwide acclaim.
Born in Austin, Texas, Ford grew up in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At 17, he moved to New York to study art history at New York University, but was smitten with fashion and design. He graduated with a degree in architecture from what is now Parsons The New School for Design.
His first foray into fashion was in Paris, where he interned for Chloe. He worked for American designer Cathy Hardwick next, before moving on to Perry Ellis.
Ford moved to Milan in 1990, where he served as Gucci’s head women’s designer. Two years later, he was named design director. In 1994, he became creative director of Gucci's Italian label. Ford is credited with turning around the historic fashion house in his short time at the company. In 2000, he was granted new responsibilities at sister label Yves Saint Laurent, where he served as the creative director for YSL Rive Gauche and YSL Beaute.
In 2005, Ford left Gucci and formed his own fashion brand, TOM FORD. Two years later, his flagship store opened in New York. By the summer of 2010, TOM FORD had opened 20 more stores worldwide. In addition to his remarkable financial success, Ford has won many prestigious awards, including five from the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Ford’s lifetime ambition, however, was to make a film. He says, “I guess I’m just one of these people who when I decide I’m going to do something, I just do it.” In 2009, he wrote, produced, financed and directed “A Single Man,” an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel. The movie centers on a gay man’s mourning over his partner’s tragic death. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival and was nominated for numerous awards, including a Best Actor Academy Award nomination for Colin Firth.
Ford lives with his partner of more than 20 years, journalist Richard Buckley, in their London, Santa Fe and Los Angeles homes.
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Wu-di Xiao (156 - 86 BC) China, Han emperor

r. 156 - 86 BCE

Wu-di Xiao

In the year 140 BC, Jing-di was succeeded by his son, Liu Zhe (Emperor Wu/Wu-di), a bright and spirited sixteen-year-old. Emperor Wu's reign prolonged the prosperity of the Dynasty. Wu-di's reign began with a hands-off approach to commerce and economy, which allowed more growth in the economy's private sector.

Wu-di kept his civil administrators under a tight rule, and treated the slightest protest as disloyalty. He ended his father's compromise with the nobility, waged war against China's most defiant Princes, and gave more control to his civil servants on a local level.
Emperor Wu changed the laws on inheritance. Instead of a family's land remaining under the eldest son, he gave all sons the right to an equal part of their father's land. This was done to break the larger estates into smaller pieces.
In 138 BC, Wu-di sent China's first known explorer, Zhang Qian to Parthia, west of Bactria, to establish relations with Kushan.
In the twentieth year of Wu-di's rule, Confucianism became China's official political philosophy. Confucianism began to dominate in the civil service, while legalist rivals continued to hold their positions.
Examinations for China's 130,000 civil service positions were based on the applicant's knowledge of Confucianism, knowledge of ancient writings and rules of social grace, rather than technical expertise.
Theoretically, these examinations were open to all citizens, but in reality, they were only for those with adequate respectability. Artisans, merchants and others of a class lower than gentry were excluded. No doubt, some of these people could have served China well.
On the job, training for civil servants occurred in bureaucracies at the local level, and merit became a consideration before and after a civil servant's apprenticeship.
A young man who proved himself as a clerk may become a manager. After proving himself as a manager, he might move up to a position as an advisor in attendance at the Emperor's palace, or move to a high position at a regional capital.
With the economic prosperity during Wu-di's rule, allowed China to wage war. Wu-di believed he was strong enough to oppose the Xiong Nu, and wanted to end the payments to the tribes that were started by Liu Bang. However, Wu-di was concerned that the Xiong Nu might send an army into Northern China's sparsely populated steppe lands, or that they would ally themselves with the Tibetans. After securing his trade routes to Central Asia, Wu-di launched a series of military campaigns. Though his generals led the troops for him, Wu-di gained recognition as a ruler of vigour and bravery.
Wu-di's attack on the Xiong Nu was costly in manpower, but it pushed most of the Xiong Nu back from China's northern frontier.
Almost two million Chinese citizens migrated into the newly acquired territory, and Wu-di established new colonies of soldiers and civilians. The Xiong Nu who stayed behind became farmers, were drafted for construction labour, or employed as farm labourers. Moreover, even some of them were drafted into the Chinese army, their families forced to remain were they were as hostages against treason.
The war against the Xiong Nu stimulated exploration farther westward. After thirteen years of captivity by the Xiong Nu, Zhang Qian went back to Wu-di's court to give him the first reliable description of Central Asia.
Wu-di ordered Zhang Qian and his assistants back to Central Asia, and they gathered information about India and Persia and explored the fertile farmlands of Bactria.
These explorations and China's success against the Xiong Nu brought an exchange of envoys between China and states to the west. Moreover, more importantly for China, this opened up the 4,000-mile trade route that would be known as the Silk Road. China began breeding a superior breed of horses, and it began growing Alfalfa and grapes.
Wu-di learned more about the origins of the products they were importing. For added revenues, Wu-di demanded that the neighbouring states pay his Empire to sell their goods to the Chinese, and he began military campaigns to force them to do so.
In 108 BC, Wu-di sent his forces northeast and conquered an iron-using Kingdom in northern Korea. This Kingdom was similar to the states of China before Liu Bang united them, and it harboured many Chinese refugees from the previous century.
In the south, Wu-di's armies conquered territory lost during the civil war that brought the Han to power, including the port town of Guangzhou. Chinese immigrants followed the army closely and occupied the new territories.
After a long and tiresome struggle, the Chinese army managed to conquer Northern Vietnam, an area that the Chinese called Annam (Tang Dynasty), which means "Pacified South". Chinese immigrants came here as well, and some would settle near the Annamite Mountains in Central Vietnam.
The Chinese introduced Vietnam to the water buffalo, metal plows, and other tools, and they brought them their written language. They divided Annam into administrative areas; each administration was responsible for collecting taxes and drafting soldiers.
However, Chinese rule in Annam would remain tenuous, its jungles and mountains gave sanctuary to Vietnamese who would conduct continuous raids against the Chinese settlements.
Wu-di's war of expansion and maintenance of large armies were a burden on the economy. They offset the benefits of the increase in trade followed by those conquests. Imports contributed more to the pleasures of the wealthy than they did to China's economic vitality. Legalist officials made it worse by being hostile to private tradesmen, and they led a drive for government control of the economy.
Because of this, the government levied new taxes on carts and boats, and took over China's most profitable industries: salt and iron. Moreover, with the rise in government influences the economy suffered.
With the growth of peasant population and the increase of land owned by the wealthy, a shortage of land appeared. Gentry bureaucrats bought more land out of precaution, and often abused their position to do so, and they were able to make their land tax exempt.
Ordinary peasants were paying a larger share in taxes, resulting in the need to loan money. Farming productivity declined. Many peasants were evicted or were forced to leave farming, making more land available to the gentry. Some peasants resorted to banditry, and some struggling peasants sold their children into slavery.
Conscription into the military and conscription for labour added to the peasantry's discontent. China's most renowned Confucian scholar, Dong Zhongshu, was outraged by the plight of the peasants and led the way in expressing concern about social decay. He claimed that the vast extend of lands was owned by the wealthy, while the poor had no spot to plant their feet on. He complained about the extreme taxes and pointed out that poorer farmers could not afford metal working tools to speed up their productivity.
Dong Zhongshu proposed to Wu-di a remedy for the economic crisis: reduce taxes for peasants, reduce amount of unpaid labour that civilians had to do for the local bureaucracy, abolish the government's monopoly on salt and iron, and improve land distribution.
Wu-di wanted to help the peasants but was deceived by gentry administrators. Confucianists led the drive for reform, but gentry Confucians did not want to go against their own economic interests.
Wu-di's only substantial response was to lower taxes for the poor, and levy higher taxes for the wealthy. He also sent out spies to report on possible tax evaders. He chose to ignore land distribution, not wishing to offend wealthy landowners, believing he needed their cooperation to finance his military campaigns.
In 91 BC as Wu-di's fifty-four year reign neared its end, a violent war erupted around the capital about who was to succeed him. On one side was the Empress with her heir apparent and on the other side was one of Wu-di's concubines. The two families came close to destroying each other. Then, just before Wu-di's death, a compromise heir was chosen: the eight-year-old Liu Fuling, who was to be known as Zhao-di, was put under the regency of Huo Guang, a former general.
Emperor Wu, skilled in archery and warfare, and the founder of China's first universities, had several male lovers - Han Yan, Han Yue and Li Yannian.
Han Yan was an illegitimate grandson of Han Tuidang, the Marquis of Conggao. When Wu was still young, they studied writing together and they became lovers. Yan was skillful at riding and archery and also very good at ingratiating himself with the future emperor. When Wu was enthroned, Yan was soon advanced to the rank of superior lord. But later, having in the empress dowager a grudge against Yan, she forced the emperor Wu to force Yan to commit suicide.
Li Yannian was originally a singer and musician, but, convicted of some crime, was condemned to castration. As an eunuch, he entered the service of the emperor Wu, and as he knew how to compose new tunes, was charged by the emperor to set to music some lyrics. The emperor was pleased of his work, and took him as his favorite. Day and night he was by the emperor's side and his honor and favor equalled that which Han Yan had formerly enjoyed.

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Emperor Wen (202 - 157 BC), China

r. 202 - 157 BCE

Han Wen-ti

Han Wen-ti (also spelled Hàn Wén Dì), after eliminating the powerful Lü clan, was deliberately chosen as the emperor, since his mother, Consort Bo, had no powerful relatives. His reign brought a much needed political stability that laid the groundwork for prosperity under Emperor Wu.
According to historians, Emperor Wen trusted and consulted with Confucian-educated ministers on state affairs; under the influence of his Daoist wife, Empress Dou, the emperor also sought to avoid wasteful expenditures.
Legends noted that the tax rates were at a ratio of "1 out of 30" and "1 out of 60", corresponding to 0.03 and 0.016 percent, respectively. Warehouses were so full of grain, that some of it was left to decay.
In a move of lasting importance in 165 BC, Emperor Wen introduced recruitment to the civil service through examinations. Previously, potential officials never sat for any sort of academic examinations. Their names were sent by local officials to the central government based on reputations and abilities, which were sometimes judged subjectively.
According to a legend, Han Wen-ti was related to the Lantern Festival. The Emperor Han Wen-ti suppressed a riot threatening his throne position on the 15th of the first month of the lunar calendar year, so he went out of his palace to enjoy himself with the people at the night of this day each year, and he named this day the Lantern Festival.

His known lovers were Deng Tong, Zhao Tan, Beigong Bozi.

Once emperor Wen dreamed that he was trying to climb to Heaven but could not seem to make his way up. Just then a yellow-capped boatman boosted him from behind, and was able to reach heaven. When the emperor turned around to look at the man, he noticed that the seam of the boatman's robe was split in the back just below the sash.
After the emperor awoke, he went to the Terrace of Lapping Water, and began to search furtively for the man he saw in his dream. There was Deng Tong, who happened to have a tear in the back of his robe exactly like that of the man in the dream.
The emperor summoned him and asked his name, and when he learned that the man's family name was Dend (= ascend) and his personal name was Tong (= reach), the emperor was overjoyed. From this time on, the emperor bestoved ever-increasing favor and honor upon Deng. ... The emperor from time to time even paid visits to Deng Tong's home to amuse himself there.

Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte (1549 – 1627)

b. 5 July 1549
d. 27 August 1627

Cardinal Francesco Maria Del Monte, full name Francesco Maria Borbone Del Monte Santa Maria was an Italian cardinal, diplomat and connoisseur of the arts, who is best remembered for his patronage of the artist Caravaggio, and other baroque artists. He served as Prefect of the Tridentine Council 1606-1616 and had (unsuccessful) ambitions of being elected Pope at the conclave of 1621. Art historians such as Posener, Frommer and Hibbard have drawn upon extant documents (principally the correspondence of Dirk van Ameyden) that suggest the strong likelihood that he was homosexual and this may have influenced his tastes in the art he commissioned, as well as damaging his prospects of assuming the papacy, Van Ameyden claiming that he displayed more than a paternal care for the boys in his charge.

Quite apart from his personal sexual proclivities, Cardinal Del Monte is just one of a series of popes and Italian Cardinals from around this period who patronized homosexual artists, and contributed to the extensive collection of frankly homoerotic art in the Vatican.
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"Sodomy" in History: Aug 27th

1873 — Arkansas lowers the penalty for sodomy from death to 5-21 years. This is the last death law for sodomy in the nation.

1947 — The Washington Post editorializes in favor of an expanded sodomy law for the District of Columbia, complaining that the city had become 'more or less a haven for sexual perverts and degenerates.'

1987 — An Ohio appellate court upholds the public indecency conviction of two men for sex in a closed stall of a public restroom solely because they had not locked the door.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Emperor Jing of Han, Chinese Emperor

r. 156 BC to 141 BCE

Emperor Jing of Han was emperor from 156 BC to 141 BC. His reign saw the limit and curtailment of power of feudal princes which resulted in the Rebellion of the Seven States in 154 BC. Emperor Jing managed to crush the revolt and princes were thereafter denied rights to appoint ministers for their fief. This move consolidated central power which paved the way for the glorious and long reign of his son Emperor Wu of Han.

The most famous of emperor Jing's favorites was Zhou Ren, whose talents at the "secrete games" played in the imperial bed Jing relished. As a result of sexual favor, Zhou Ren and his family found themselves showered with honors and presents from the emperor, aristocracy, and officialdom. The advantages he gained were passed down to his progeny, enabling them to gain entry to the highest circles of government.

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"Sodomy" in History: Aug 26th

1658 — Nicholas Hillebrantsen is arrested on a sodomy charge in New Netherland Colony, but the disposition of his case is unknown.
1985 — The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals overturns a trial court and appellate panel’s decisions that the Texas 'homosexual conduct' law was unconstitutional.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Ivan IV of Russia ("Ivan the Terrible"), Russian Tsar

b 25 Aug 1530
d. 26 March 1584
r. 1547 - 1584

Ivan IV was Grand Prince of Moscow from 1533 until his death. His long reign saw the conquest of the Khanates of Kazan, Astrakhan, and Siberia, transforming Russia into geographically vast multiethnic and multiconfessional state.Ivan managed countless changes in the progression from a medieval nation state to an empire and emerging regional power, and became the first ruler to be crowned as Tsar of All Russia. 

Ivan was a patron of the arts and himself a poet and composer of considerable talent. His Orthodox liturgical hymn, "Stichiron No. 1 in Honor of St. Peter", and fragments of his letters were put into music by Soviet composer Rodion Shchedrin. 

Although he is better known in English as Ivan the Terrible, this is probably a mistranslation from the Russian: a more accurate term may be "formidable". 

Today, there exists a controversial movement in Russia campaigning in favor of granting sainthood to Ivan IV.The Russian Orthodox Church have stated their opposition to the idea

His last years alternated between debauchery and religious austerity.  He was married no less than seven times. But he was also attracted to young men in female attire. One of the most ruthless chieftains of Ivan's political police, Feodor Basmanov, rose to his high position through performing seductive dances in women's clothes at the tsar's court. The nineteenth-century poet A. K. Tolstoy (1817-1875) wrote a historical novel, Prince Serebriany (1862), set during the reign of Ivan the Terrible, where he described with great frankness the paradoxical character of Feodor: a capable military commander; the scheming initiator of murderous political purges; the tsar's bed partner; and an effeminate homosexual who discussed in public the cosmetics he used to improve his complexion and hair.


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Grand Prince Vasily III of Moscow, 1479 - 1533

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 25th

1983 — The U.S. Trust Territories (now known as the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands) passes a new criminal code that repeals its sodomy law.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 24th

79 — The eruption of Mount Vesuvius destroys Pompeii and Herculaneum. One of the unexpected finds in its excavation is Gay graffiti such as 'On this spot Auctus copulated with Quintius.'

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Pharaoh Neferkare (Pepi II) and his lover, General Sisene

Neferkare’s Affair with General Sisene – Pharaoh Neferkare (Pepi II) and Sisene (or Sasenet), a military commander, lived during the 6th Dynasty (2460-2200 B.C.) in the Old Kingdom. Known from three fragmentary copies, from the 19th–25th Dynasties (1295-656 B.C.), this text also probably originated earlier and had a long reading history. Although the beginning of the text is damaged, there is a reference to Sisene amusing the king “because there was no woman [or wife] there with him”; and the word “love [desire]” is mentioned in the line above.

A little later we read that Teti, a commoner, saw “the divine person of the King of Upper and Lower Egypt, Neferkare, going out during the night to walk on his own… [Remaining hidden,] Teti said to himself, ‘if this is the case, then it is true what is said about him, that he goes forth during the night.’ … [Then Teti followed the king, who] arrived at the house of the general Sasenet. He threw up a stone and stamped his foot, at which a [ladder] was lowered down for him. He climbed up, and Teti son of Henet waited... When his divine person had done what he wanted to with [the general], he returned to the palace, and Teti son of Henet followed him...” Teti then notes that the king went to the general’s house at the fourth hour of the night [10 p.m.] and spent four hours there.”

 Montserrat notes that this tale stresses the “clandestine nature of the affair,” points to “rumors [circulating] of the king’s nocturnal cruising,” and “enhances the secrecy” of the affair by describing the king’s sneaking off to meet at the general’s house. Although the narrative implies a censure of homosexuality, Neferkari is “not criticized per se for having sex with another male but for being a bad ruler.” Some Egyptologists have suggested that this piece (including the affair) conveys an atmosphere of “royal corruption,” yet Greenberg notes that the description itself is fairly “neutral in tone and non-judgmental.” Still, contemporaries might have looked upon such activity on the part of a king, who was an incarnation of deity, as undignified and inappropriate.Yet, the pharaoh evidently had homosexual desires strong enough so that he found a secret lover and a nocturnal way to satisfy them happily, at least until he was discovered.

Emperor Hui (Liu Ying), China

r.  210 - 188 BCE

Emperor Hui (Liu Ying) was the second ruler of Han dynasty. In the year 194 B.C., emperor Gao (Liu Bang) passed away and was succeeded by the new Emperor Hui-di, who at that time was only seventeen years old.
Liu Ying always had a weak body and mind. During his fathers reign he often thought of giving the right of succession to Liu Ruyi (the Prince of Zhao, son of Lady Qi). But the senior officers opposed this idea. With the help of Zhang Liang, Liu Ying stabilized his position.
Hui-di was a puppet Emperor under Empress Lü and died, and this ended his short seven year reign as Han Emperor.
His father, emperor Gao (or Gaozu), started the custom of favoring officials willing to employ their sexual talents. Hui followed suit - his favorite boy was Hong (or Hongru).
Hong din't have any special talent or ability, but won prominence simply by his look and graces... and availability. Day and night he was at the emperor's side, and all the ministers had to apply to Hong when they wished to meet with the emperor. The young man the emperor loved, subsequently rose to lofty official ranks.

Matt & Andrej Komasky

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 23rd

1942 — News of a Gay sex scandal in Albergavenny, England, breaks. Twenty-four men are sent to prison for sodomy.
1990 — A Michigan appellate court upholds the applicability of the gross indecency law to private, consensual activity, in conflict with several other appellate courts in the state.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Pharoah Akhenaten (c.1350 BCE) and his lover, General Smenkhkare

After the discovery in 1922 of the tomb of Tutankhamen (a child of unknown relationship to Akhenaten),54 Percy Newberry noted that objects had been taken from Smenkhkare’s burial chamber to increase the treasure in Tutankhamen’s tomb; and among these was a box inscribed on its knobs with “Ankheprure beloved of Neferkheprure” and “Neferneferuaten beloved of Waenra.” Decoding these titles, the text would read, “Smenkhkare beloved of Akhenaten” and “Akhenaten beloved of Smenkhkare.”55 Even more unusual, “Neferneferuaten” had formerly been a title borne by Queen Nefertiti, suggesting that in some sense Smenkhkare came to fulfill her role.56 Newberry in his article (1928) also drew attention to a small private stele (upright stone slab) in the Berlin Museum, originally made for a military officer, which showed two kings (identified by their crowns, one the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt and the other a war crown), nude and sitting side by side. Although the piece is unfinished, with its cartouches blank (ovals which usually contained names), the figures seemed easily identified as Akhenaten and Smenkhkare, the former caressing the youth’s chin while Smenkhkare rests his arm around the older king’s shoulder.57 Two other pieces then also came to mind, a relief of a similar youth pouring wine into Akhenaten’s cup (Berlin Museum) and a sculptor’s trial piece of Akhenaten kissing a child seated on his lap (Egyptian Museum, Cairo) – and some scholars pondered whether these pairs might also include Smenkhkare.58 (Actually the former conveys no sexual meaning, and the child in the latter seems very young.) Subsequently, Egyptologists battled over Akhenaten’s sexual biology and orientation.59 For example, Donald Redford, a Canadian archaeologist, wrote (1984) that he personally disliked “this effete monarch, who could never hunt or do battle,” while Cyril Aldred, Keeper of Art and Archaeology at the Royal Scottish Museum in Edinburgh, saw (1968) “homosexual relations between the elder and the younger monarch” pictured on the Berlin stele, taking into account also the same-sex “beloved” titles, the disappearance of Nefertiti’s name from all records near the end of Akhenaten’s reign, and the king’s physical deformity (although how this latter might be a cause of homosexuality is unclear). Still he warned, the evidence is “slender” and not conclusive.60

Then in 1973 John Harris, studying the seven blank cartouches on the Berlin stele, argued that the four cartouches flanking the sun disk would have contained the name of Aten, while the other three could only have contained the name of a king and a queen, since the name of a king always required two cartouches, but a queen only one. Therefore he concluded that the figure being petted on the chin was Queen Nefertiti, not Ahkenaten’s boyfriend Smenkhkare.61 Nicholas Reeves (2001) details this and other research which has led Egyptologists, on the whole, to believe that Queen Neferititi did not disappear or die but was elevated to co-regent by Akhenaten. She changed her name to “Smenkhkare” and then even succeeded him on the throne for a few years as an independent ruler, similar to the remarkable Queen Hapshetsut (1478-1458 B.C.), who a century earlier had also presented herself as pharaoh, with male attributes and names. So, Smenkhkare may not have been a youth at all, but the great queen in a new disguise!62 Dominic Montserrat, who has written elsewhere in a perceptive way about sex in ancient Egypt, reviews this subject also (2000), takes the gay community to task for claiming that Akhenaten was “the first historical gay person” and a free spirit in some modern sense, and says that “almost nothing reliable is known about Smenkhkare’, not even his or her sex.” He notes how important it is both for historical writing to include a homosexual presence and also not to do violence to the past by reading in things which are not really documented. At the end of his book, he offers no conclusions on who the real Akhenaten and Smenkhkare were;63 and perhaps that’s where the matter must be left. Still, there remains “fierce resistance” on the part of some Egyptologists to the theory that Nefertiti became Smenkhkare, nd questions remain.

Source:  Homosexuality in Ancient Egypt

Related Posts

Pharaoh Neferkare (Pepi II) and his lover Sisene

Emperor Gao Zu (Liu Bang), China

The first of Han rulers, emperor Gao Zu (Liu Bang), and his heir emperor Hui, started the Han custom of emperors favoring officials willing to employ their sexual talents.

"When the Han arose, emperor Gao-zu, for all his coarseness and blunt manners, was won by the charms of a young boy named Ji [Jiru], and emperor Hui had a boy favourite named Hong [Hongru]. Neither Ji nor Hong had any particular talent or ability; both won prominence simply by their looks and graces. Day and night they were by the ruler's side, and all the high ministers were obliged to apply to them when they whished to speak to the emperor."
(Sima Qian, Records of the Grand Historians of China, trans. Burton Watson, N.Y. 1961, 2:462)


 Matt & Andrej Komasky

"Sodomy" in History: Aug 22nd

1868 — North Carolina reduces the penalty for sodomy from death to 20-60 years.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Philip II of Macedon, General and Conqueror

Philip II was the father of the renowned Alexander the Great, but was also a notable general and conqueror in his own right, who began the military ascendancy of Macedon which was later cemented and expanded by his more famous son.  Philip was known for his love of women and many wives, but like most powerful men of the Hellenistic world, he also had male lovers - one of these assassinated him, possibly as a result of sexual jealousy.  

Philip's military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He first had to re-establish a situation which had been greatly worsened by the defeat against the Illyrians in which King Perdiccas himself had died. The Paionians and the Thracians had sacked and invaded the eastern regions of the country, while the Athenians had landed, at Methoni on the coast, a contingent under a Macedonian pretender called Argeus. Using diplomacy, Philip pushed back Paionians and Thracians promising tributes, and crushed the 3,000 Athenian hoplites (359). Momentarily free from his opponents, he concentrated on strengthening his internal position and, above all, his army. His most important innovation was doubtless the introduction of the phalanx infantry corps, armed with the famous sarissa, an exceedingly long spear, at the time the most important army corps in Macedonia.
Philip's military skills and expansionist vision of Macedonian greatness brought him early success. He first had to re-establish a situation which had been greatly worsened by the defeat against the Illyrians in which King Perdiccas himself had died. The Paionians and the Thracians had sacked and invaded the eastern regions of the country, while the Athenians had landed, at Methoni on the coast, a contingent under a Macedonian pretender called Argeus. Using diplomacy, Philip pushed back Paionians and Thracians promising tributes, and crushed the 3,000 Athenian hoplites (359). Momentarily free from his opponents, he concentrated on strengthening his internal position and, above all, his army. His most important innovation was doubtless the introduction of the phalanx infantry corps, armed with the famous sarissa, an exceedingly long spear, at the time the most important army corps in Macedonia.The murder occurred during October of 336 BC, at Aegae, the ancient capital of the kingdom of Macedon. The court had gathered there for the celebration of the marriage between Alexander I of Epirus and Philip's daughter, by his fourth wife Olympias, Cleopatra. While the king was entering unprotected into the town's theater (highlighting his approachability to the Greek diplomats present), he was killed by Pausanias of Orestis, one of his seven bodyguards. The assassin immediately tried to escape and reach his associates who were waiting for him with horses at the entrance of Aegae. He was pursued by three of Philip's bodyguards and died by their hands.the historian Cleitarchus expanded and embellished the story. Centuries later, this version was to be narrated by Diodorus Siculus and all the historians who used Cleitarchus. In the sixteenth book of Diodorus' history, Pausanias had been a lover of Philip, but became jealous when Philip turned his attention to a younger man, also called Pausanias. His taunting of the new lover caused the youth to throw away his life, which turned his friend, Attalus, against Pausanias. Attalus took his revenge by inviting Pausanias to dinner, getting him drunk, then subjecting him to sexual assault. 
When Pausanias complained to Philip the king felt unable to chastise Attalus, as he was about to send him to Asia with Parmenion, to establish a bridgehead for his planned invasion. He also married Attalus's niece, or daughter, Eurydice. Rather than offend Attalus, Philip attempted to mollify Pausanius by elevating him within the bodyguard. Pausanias' desire for revenge seems to have turned towards the man who had failed to avenge his damaged honour; so he planned to kill Philip, and some time after the alleged rape, while Attalus was already in Asia fighting the Persians, put his plan in action.
Later historians are not convinced about the motive for the assassination - but there is no reason to dispute the existence of a sexual relationship
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James “John” Gruber: Co-founder, Mattachine Society

b. Aug 21, 1928.

James “John” Gruber: 1928. James Gruber was born on Des Moines, Iowa, but his father, a former vaudeville performer turned music teacher, moved the family to Los Angeles in 1936, and it was in L.A. that Gruber came of age. In 1946, Gruber turned eighteen and enlisted in the Marines. He later remarked that being in such close proximity to men, he “went bananas in the sex department.” Despite the, ah, camaraderie, he continued to have affairs with women, and throughout his life he considered himself bisexual. After he was honorable discharged in 1949, he studied English Literature at Occidental College and met Christopher Isherwood, who would become a close friend and mentor.

In April 1951, Gruber and his boyfriend, photographer Konrad Stevens, became the last new members of a group of gay men who had begun gathering under the name of “Society of Fools.” which proved to be a turning point. “All of us had known a whole lifetime of not talking, or repression. Just the freedom to open up … really, that’s what it was all about. We had found a sense of belonging, of camaraderie, of openness in an atmosphere of tension and distrust. … Such a great deal of it was a social climate. A family feeling came out of it, a nonsexual emphasis. … It was a brand-new idea.” Gruber suggested the group rename itself the Mattachine Society, referring to the medieval masque troops known as “mattachines.” 

-full report at  Box Turtle Bulletin

'via Blog this'

Afonso VI, Portuguese king

b. Aug 21, 1643
d. Sep 12, 1683
r. 1656 - 1683

Afonso VI (English Alphonzo or Alphonse, or Affonso in Old Portuguese), was the twenty-second (or twenty-third according to some historians) king of Portugal and the Algarves, the second of the House of Braganza, known as o Vitorioso (the Victorious).
At the age of three, Afonso suffered an illness that left him paralyzed on the left side of his body, as well as leaving him mentally unstable. His father created him 11th Duke of Braganza. After the 1653 death of his eldest brother Teodósio, Prince of Brazil, Afonso became the heir-apparent to the throne of the kingdom. He received also the crown-princely title 2nd Prince of Brazil.

He succeeded his father (João IV) in 1656 at the age of thirteen. His mother, (Luisa of Medina-Sidonia) was named regent in his father's will. His mental instability and paralysis, plus his disinterest in government, left his mother as regent for six years, until 1662. Luisa oversaw military victories over the Spanish at Ameixial (June 8, 1663) and Montes Claros (June 17, 1665), culminating in the final Spanish recognition of Portugal's independence on February 13, 1668 in the Treaty of Lisbon.
Colonial affairs saw the Dutch conquest of Jaffnapatam, Portugal's last colony in Sri Lanka (1658) and the cession of Bombay and Tangier to England (June 23, 1661) as dowry for Afonso's sister, Catherine of Braganza who had married King Charles II of England. English mediation in 1661 saw the Netherlands acknowledge Portuguese rule of Brazil in return for uncontested control of Sri Lanka.
In 1662, the Count of Castelo Melhor saw an opportunity to gain power at court by befriending the king. He managed to convince the king that his mother was out to steal his throne and exile him from Portugal. As a result, Afonso took control of the throne and his mother was sent to a convent.
He was married to Marie Françoise of Nemours, the daughter of the Duke of Nemours, in 1666, but this marriage would not last long. Marie Françoise, or Maria Francisca in Portuguese, filled for an annulment in 1667 based on the "impotence" of the king. The Church granted her the annulment, and she married Afonso's brother, Pedro, Duke of Beja, (future Peter II). That same year, Pedro managed to gain enough support to force the king to relinquish control of the government and he became Prince Regent. Afonso was exiled to the island of Terceira in the Azores for seven years, returning to mainland Portugal shortly before he died at Sintra.

(Source: Wikipedia)

Afonso is included by the reliable Paul Halsall among his "Queer People in History" list, but I have not yet been able to track down any specific reference to his sexual connections