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Gay History – January 22: Hunky Lord Byron and Sir Francis Bacon Were Big Ole Gay Sluts

January 22nd.

*1561 – Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626) was born in London. He is best known for his philosophical works concerning the acquisition of knowledge; Novum Organum and The Advancement of Learning. Bacon had a preference for young Welsh serving-men. The roll of attendants for Bacon’s household in 1618 lists a total of 75 attendants, of whom some 25 were gentlemen waiters. There was Francis Edney, who, upon Bacon’s death in 1626, received “£200 and my rich gown”; young Thomas Meautys, who was to become Bacon’s secretary-in-chief; a Mr Bushell, “gent. usher,” who came to the household in 1608 as a lad of fifteen, and who remained until Bacon’s death; Edward Sherburn, groom of the chamber; and, above all, young Tobie Matthew, who was left only a ring to the value of £30, but who had become Sir Tobie through Bacon’s efforts, and who was well able to care for himself..

Bacon’s mother wrote him a letter, which still survives, complaining about the long list of “servants and envoys” who find their way to his bed. She refers to a gay Spanish envoy as “that bloody Perez and bed companion of my son.” We don’t know what she wrote to her other son, Roger, who was also gay.

*1788 – George Gordon, Lord Byron, was born in 1788. His memoir My Life and Adventures was burned being considered too scandalous for publication. But, bits of his private life have been pieced together. A champion of freedom and an enemy of hypocrisy he had a ravenous sexual appetite.

Byron’s attraction to adolescent boys had first become evident at Harrow, where he referred to his entourage of adoring younger pupils as his Theban band. At Cambridge, Byron fell in with a sophisticated group of like-minded friends fascinated by the theory and practice of sodomy. Their hero was William Beckford, author of the libidinous eastern dream novel The Caliph Vathek, who had been forced to flee the country rather than face possible criminal charges related to a homosexual scandal. They called themselves by the codename Methodists. In autumn 1805, when he was 17, Byron met and fell in love with John Edleston, a Trinity College chorister, and wrote some of his most beautiful lyrics of lament to his “musical protégé”, using the deceptive female name of Thyrza, after Edleston died young.

It is clear from Lord Byron’s correspondence of this period that one of his main motives in setting out on extended travels in 1809-10 was his hope of homosexual experiences. In Greece and Turkey, sex with boys was more or less accepted as the norm and he found willing partners. There was Eusthathius Georgiou, the volatile Greek boy with “ambrosial curls” whose parasol, carried to protect his complexion from the sun, made Byron’s valet cringe. There was the Franco-Greek Nicolo Giraud, with his limpid eyes, who taught Byron Italian in Athens, taking a whole day to conjugate the verb “to embrace”. By the end of Byron’s stay in Greece he was boasting to his Methodist friends that he had achieved more than 200 “pl and opt Cs”, their code for unlimited sexual intercourse, taken from Petronius’s Satyricon “coitum plenum et optabilem”.

When Byron arrived back in England in summer 1811, prejudice against homosexuals was on the increase after a police raid on the White Swan tavern in Vere Street, London. Of the men charged with “assault with the intention to commit sodomy”, six were sentenced to be pilloried in the Haymarket, where they were pelted with mud and excrement by a savage crowd. Byron was lectured about the need for caution by Hobhouse, who had already persuaded him to burn his early journal, which presumably included an account of his love for the choirboy Edleston. Byron later said the loss of this manuscript was “irreparable”.

From 1812 to 1815, Byron’s “curl’d darling” years of literary fame, he was swept up in the whirl of London social activity. For its readers in that period of moral and political uncertainty, two decades after the upheavals of the French revolution, the subversive energy of Byron’s Childe Harold had struck an extraordinary chord. Its success was entwined with the mysterious persona of its author, the 24-year-old Lord Byron, the handsome, lame young aristocrat recently returned from the east. 

His sexual conflicts impelled Byron into wild behavior. Due to the hostile climate of homosexuality Lord Byron’s relationships with women needed the extreme, the risqué, to fan them into life. Cross-dressing was a feature of these complicated sex games. The arousing innuendos of his summer with “blue-eyed Caroline”, a prostitute passed off in Brighton as Byron’s brother Gordon, were recreated on a more sophisticated level in his perilously public affair with Lady Caroline Lamb. The gamine, crop-haired Caro was already a page-fancier and needed no encouragement to dress in page’s uniform for Byron’s delectation, their increasingly hysterical liaison being sustained by a creaky assortment of Gothic props.

It was actually Lady Caroline who doomed Byron. Early in 1815 Byron had made an unenthusiastic marriage to Caro’s husband’s cousin, Annabella Milbanke. Caro had predicted that he would “never be able to pull with a woman who went to church punctually, understood statistics and had a bad figure”. The claustrophobia of conventional married life in Piccadilly Terrace prompted Byron to behave badly with a thoroughness only he could have achieved, flaunting his relations with Augusta, throwing out dark hints of his homosexual past and  shooting the tops off his soda-water bottles while his wife was in labor in the room upstairs.

On January 15 1816 Annabella and their infant daughter left London, taking refuge at her parents’ country house in Leicestershire. Three weeks later her father, Sir Ralph Milbanke, wrote formally to Byron to request a separation. Rumors of marital violence, adultery with actresses and his incest with his sister began to circulate. In early February the “villainous intriguante” Lady Caroline began spreading her own version of these stories, perpetrating the worst possible revenge of the woman scorned. “Accused B of – poor fellow, the plot thickens against him,” reported Hobhouse. The dash in his diary stands for sodomy. Byron’s sexual predilections, up to then known only to his confidential inner circle, were becoming public property. On February 12, Hobhouse brought Byron the alarming news of what he had been hearing “in the streets” that day.

Shortly after nine in the morning of April 25 1816, the poet George Gordon Lord Byron left England for the continent never to return.

Supreme Court Makes Ruling On DOMA/Prop 8 Later Today: Stay Tuned

Gay-Wedding-Rings

Today could be one of the biggest days in LGBT history with a decision could change our way of lives for the better. Or the Supreme Court could make it that much harder on the progress we’ve made to enforce equality. Or both cases (more particularly DOMA) could be sent back because of rules and statutes surrounding the case resulting in no progress at all leaving us exactly were we are right now.

There is a somewhat pessimistic view on what the possible outcomes could be after the Supreme Court Justices dismantled a key component in the Voting Right Act (VRA) that kept a system in check to help prevent discrimination at the voter polls due to race/ethnic minorities. Who is to say that the underhanded tactics of the religious, sanctimonious right somehow extend their oppression to other minority groups like the LGBT community that had a hand in reelecting President Obama.

Also last night in Texas we witnessed a paltry disintegration of rules and regulations set in place to govern and maintain order as the GOP ruthlessly and shamelessly broke the law so they could take away a woman’s right to choose an abortion. The bravery of State Senator Wendy Davis served as a beacon of hope and reason as she stood there implementing an over ten hour filibuster until she was unfairly silenced by her male, power hungry counterparts. But Texas GOP decided to push and bully until they called for an illegal vote that was later rescinded.

And here we are, the LGBT community at the epicenter pf the possibly the biggest court decision to affect a group of people since Loving vs Virginia. The climax and the precipice of change has been heavy because we know the impact the decisions nine justices will have on us. With the incredible events that have taken place politically over the past two days, to say tensions are at their apex is a great understatement. We are talking about the lives of millions of families that could be impacted on this decision. So the big political news of the past two days makes it harder for us to pinpoint what to expect. Still, some feel they have a pretty good idea of what to expect. ]

For instance, it’s expected that if Prop 8 is upheld then same sex couples from California will still not have the right to marry their significant other. this could also challenge the other twelve states that allow same sex marriage and give states the right to say marriage is only between a man and woman.  If it’s struck down then there’s several possibilities including civil unions, same sex marriage for California only or saying any ban on same sex marriage is unconstitutional. And as I stated earlier the court could decide to not decide the case at all sending it back to a lower court to dispute.

As for DOMA, if the bill is upheld would prevent same sex couples from having the same federal benefits as straight couples. If it is struck down then allow same sex couples to have the same federal benefits as straight couples. It is important to note that the case could be thrown out because the Obama Administration was not the one to bring the case to court.

It is also theorized that today’s decisions could also have long term effects in other areas that affect the LGBT community. For example the progress (or lack thereof) in the case of the Employee Non Discrimination Act (ENDA) in congress that would protect LGBT men and women for being fired solely on the basis of their sexual orientation. A favorable decision for the LGBT community could mean we’d finally see more momentum in protecting our livelihood.

With all the tension and anticipation many have began to speculate what we’ll do after today’s decision. Some have mentioned both jokingly and seriously that they are ready to move up north to Canada in the event of an unfavorable decision for the LGBT community. While the rest of us (myself included) have vowed to make a stand against the tyranny of the GOP who are desperate to strip us of not only the rights we are being denied but also the freedoms we already have in place. We want to show the future generation of LGBT men and women that no matter the outcome, we must stand up for our rights no matter what.

We will keep you up to date on the historic decisions as they happen. Let’s hope the court sees that it is time to move this country forward to equality. Stay tuned