Gay HistoryOf Interest

Gay History – May 4: Sir Francis Bacon Was A Total Top and Roaring 20’s Power Bottom Therapy

May 3, 1621 –  Sir Simonds D’Ewes published his political biography of Sir Francis Bacon, in which he accuses the great lawyer, scholar of “his most abominable and daring sin.” D’Ewes continued, “I should rather bury in silence than mention it, were it not a most admirable instance of how men are enslaved by wickedness and held captive by the devil.” D’Ewes accused Frances Bacon of “keeping still one Godrick, a very effeminate-faced youth, to be his catamite and bedfellow… deserting the bed of his Lady.” That same year, Bacon resigned as Lord Chancellor over accusations that he accepted payment from litigants, which, while against the law, was a widespread and accepted practice at the time. He quickly confessed to accepting payments, a confession that may have been prompted by threats to charge him with the capital offense of sodomy.

Wrote D’Ewes:

 . . the favour he had with the beloved Marquis of Buckingham emboldened him, as I learned in discourse from a gentleman of his bedchamber, who told me he was sure his lord should never fall as long as the said Marquis continued in favour. His most abominable and darling sinne I should rather burie in silence, than mencion it, were it not a most admirable instance, how men are enslaved by wickedness, & held captive by the devill. For wheeras presentlie upon his censure at this time his ambition was moderated, his pride humbled, and the meanes of his former injustice and corruption removed; yet would he not relinquish the practice of his most horrible & secret sinne of sodomie, keeping still one Godrick, a verie effeminate faced youth, to bee his catamite and bedfellow, although hee had discharged the most of his other household sevants: which was the moore to bee admired, because men generallie after his fall begann to discourse of that his unnaturall crime, which hee had practiced manie yeares, deserting the bedd of his Ladie, which hee accounted, as the Italians and the Turkes doe, a poore & meane pleasure in respect of the other; & it was thought by some, that hee should have been tried at the barre of justice for it, & have satisfied the law most severe against that horrible villanie with the price of his bloud; which caused some bold and forward man to write these verses following in a whole sheete of paper, & to cast it down in some part of Yorkehouse in the strand, wheere Viscount St. Alban yet lay:

Within this sty a *hogg doth ly,
That must be hang’d for Sodomy.
(*alluding both to his sirname of Bacon, & to that swinish abominable sinne.)

But hee never came to anye publicke triall for this crime; nor did ever, that I could heare, forbeare his old custome of making his servants his bedfellowes, soe to avoid the scandall was raised of him, though hee lived many yeares after his fall in his lodgings in Grayes Inne in Holbourne, in great want & penurie.

At a time when moralists described gay love as “unnatural lust,” and a variety of other degrading terms, Sir Francis Bacon was the first person in the English language to use the non-stigmatizing phrase “masculine love”

May 3, 1921 Dr. Clarence P. Oberndorf, a New York City psychoanalyst, spoke at the Annual Meeting of the Medical Society of the State of New York in Brooklyn about one of his patients, a 74-year-old Civil War veteran who suffered from depression, saying “For sixty years I have been leading a double life.” He became aware of his feelings for other men at a very early age. “He preferred rough, coarse men, like longshoremen, husky and full of vitality. These he sought at intervals, while his acquaintances knew him as a refined gentleman interested in art and literature.” He never married. Oberndorf quoted tim: “In my younger days, I used to grieve because of my affliction, but in later years I have become indifferent.”

Oberndorf’s goal was not to cure homosexuality per se. “Where treatment is undertaken for passive homoerotism in the male,” — active homosexuals, or “tops,” were not considered truly homosexual in the early 20th century — “psychoanalysis may powerfully influence the attitude of the patient toward his malady by removing some of the urgent neurotic fears which accompany the inversion. After analysis such an invert at least feels himself more reconciled to his passive homoeroticism than previously. I have had male passive homoerotics seek treatment with just such stipulations — not to be cured but to be made more content with their lives.”

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Will Kohler

Will Kohler is one of America's best known LGBT historians, He is also a a accredited journalist and the owner of Back2Stonewall.com. A longtime gay activist Will fought on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic with ACT-UP and continues fighting today for LGBT acceptance and full equality. Will’s work has been referenced on such notable media venues as BBC News, CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The Daily Wall Street Journal, Hollywood Reporter, and Raw Story. Back2Stonewall has been recently added to the Library of Congress' LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive. Mr. Kohler is available for comment, interviews and lectures on LGBT History. Contact: Will@Back2Stonewall.com

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