Happy Valentine’s Day! – 9 Fascinating Gay Couples Throughout History
Publius Aelius Hadrian and Antinous: Hadrian (76-138 AD), considered one of the greatest Roman emperors while Antinous was his most favorite slave or household page. They met when Hadrian was 39 and Antinous was about 14. Rather than an accident or suicide, it is believed Antinous may have been drowned in Egypt by jealous imperial servants. Hadrian so distraught over Antinous’ death that he declared the former slave or page to be a god, and, on the spot where his body was found, named a city, Antinopolis, after him. Statues of Antinous were carved to honor the new deity, and were erected throughout the Roman Empire.
Alexander and Hephaiston: Alexander, the Great, has been known as one of the mightiest conquerors the world has ever seen. While he conquered this world, he was in turn smitten by Hephaistion — his childhood friend and second in command after him. Alexander’s famous words, “Hephaistion is Alexander” have been seen as unambiguous testimony to his love for Hephaiston. When his lover was killed in a war, Alexander declared him God. Not being able to bear the loss, the mighty Greek general himself died within six months.
Noel Coward and Graham Payne: Noel Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer, known for his wit, and flamboyance, both in his literary works as well as personal life. Coward was homosexual but, following the convention of his times, this was never publicly mentioned. Coward’s most important relationship, which began in the mid-1940s and lasted until his death, was with the South African stage and film actor Graham Payn. Coward featured Payn in several of his London productions. Payn later co-edited with Sheridan Morley the collection of Coward’s diaries, published in 1982.
Leonardo da Vinci and Giacomo Caprotti: Leonardo has long been regarded as the archetypal Renaissance Man, one whose skills ranged from painting, sculpture and architecture to science, physiognomy, research and philosophy. Leonardo maintained long-lasting relationships with two pupils who were apprenticed to him as children. These were Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, who entered his household in 1490 at the age often as well as Count Francesco Melzi, the son of a Milan aristocrat who was apprenticed to Leonardo by his father in 1506, at the age of fourteen, remaining with him until his death. Of these it is speculated that Caprotti, or as he was nicknamed Salai, was probably the greater object of affection on the basis of erotic drawing probably modeled on Salai like John the Baptist and The Incarnate Angel.
Bruhs Mero and Gean Harwood: Bruhs Mero and Gean Harwood met in New York in 1929, and remained together until Bruh’s death in 1995. Bruhs Mero was a dancer, dance teacher and lyricist while Gean Harwood was a music composer, pianist and author. Like partners in life, the two were collaborators in work as well and co-wrote about sixty songs. Gean authored their story in a book titled, “The Oldest Gay Couple in America” which is a moving account of their journey through the “corridor of fear ” as Harwood puts it in a time before gays were legally allowed to live as couples. At the same time though it is a chronicle of love and companionship which shows how before Bruhs was fully incapacitated by Alzheimer’s Disease, he and Gean became the toast of the New York gay scene and how their late emergence served as spokespersons for older gays and as well as role models for the young.
Robert Wright and George Forrest: Less open about their personal relationship were one of the most famous musical teams of Broadway, Robert Wright and George Forrest. For more than 70 years, Robert and George were life partners as well as collaborators writing music and lyrics for film, stage, and club acts. The couple worked together on 60 films, 18 stage productions, and 13 TV specials though today they are best known for the 1953 Broadway musical and 1955 musical film “Kismet”, for which they had adapted musical themes by Alexander Borodin.
Charles Nolte and Terence Kilburn: Charles Nolte was an actor and teacher who had a fifty year long relationship with fellow actor Terence Kilburn. Nolte made his Broadway debut in a production of Antony and Cleopatra, starring such greats as Katharine Cornell and Charlton Heston. In 1951, he got the chance to play the title role in a Billy Budd production which garnered Charles critical attention and acclaim. He also appeared in such films as “War Paint,” “The Steel Cage,” “Ten Seconds to Hell,” and “Under Ten Flags.” Charles earned a doctorate in 1966, and taught at the University of Minnesota from the mid-1960s to late 90s. Kilburn was best known for his portrayal of Tiny Tim in “A Christmas Carol” (1938) and as four generations of the Colley family in “Goodbye, Mr. Chips” (1939). After a few guest appearances in films Terry went on to run the Meadow Brook Theater, Michigan, for many years. Charles and Terry met in the 50s in a stage door alley, when Charles was playing in “The Caine Mutiny Court Martial” and Terry was next door in “The Teahouse of the August Moon.”
Gore Vidal and Howard Austen: Gore Vidal was a famous American writer known for his essays, novels, screenplays, and Broadway plays and for more than fifty years of his life he lived with partner Howard Austen, a former advertising executive. Vidal’s third novel, The City and the Pillar (1948), outraged conservative critics as one of the first major American novels to feature unambiguous homosexuality. Vidal always rejected the terms of “homosexual” and “heterosexual” as inherently false, claiming that the vast majority of individuals had the potential to be pansexual.In 1950, Vidal met his long-term partner Howard Austen, after he had already been in and out of many sexual relationships with both men and women. Eventually though Vidal and Austen remained together till the latter’s death in November 2003 – a relationship whose success Vidal attributed to the fact that it was a purely platonic one1.
Maurice Bernard Sendak and Eugene Glynn: Maurice Sendak was an American writer and illustrator of children’s literature who is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963. For over fifty years Sendak was in a gay relationship with his partner, psychoanalyst Dr. Eugene Glynn till the latter’s death in May 2007. After his partner’s death, Sendak donated $1 million to the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services in memory of Glynn who had treated young people there.