Queering Shakespeare
March 18, 2019 5:04 PM   Subscribe

the simplest explanation, the one that best obeys the principle of Occam’s razor, is that both Shakespeare and the Fair Youth were gay or bi, against the backdrop of a fluidly sexual society where such distinctions made less difference than they do today.
posted by latkes (6 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not loving the conflation of gay with pedophile. It's otherwise a really fascinating essay, but I don't want to be back in the nineties with the arguments over whether children are safe with gay people or not. (That sucked enough then for my queer parents and me.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 5:53 PM on March 18 [6 favorites]

I love this: "In the absence of a public idea of gayness, it still must have been invented and reinvented privately every day and night: in the secrecy of a curtained bed, in the quiet of an empty home, in lonely meadows, in whispers and confidences. In the lost pillow talk of that era is buried a literature for the experience of being a man who loves men – or a woman who loves women – in a world that doesn’t have a language for that."

That's so beautifully stated and kind of heartbreaking and exhilarating all at the same time. All those experiences, invented and reinvented, making only a shadow of a mark on the whole of recorded history while unfolding alongside it.
posted by treepour at 6:18 PM on March 18 [14 favorites]

Shakespeare was a complex guy...
posted by ovvl at 6:45 PM on March 18

A good discussion of these points between Kyle Kallgren (Brows Held High) and Rantasmo (Needs More Gay): William Shakespeare Needs More Gay.
posted by dannyboybell at 7:24 PM on March 18

This strikes me as the very simplest explanation:

Scholars believe the Shakespearean sonnets tell the story of the poet’s passionate affair with a younger man, who then had an affair with a dark-haired, dark-eyed woman close to the poet’s heart; this dark-haired woman was newly married, perhaps to a man named Will. No one has ever been able to positively identify the younger man or the dark-haired woman in relation to William Shakespeare (nor any of the other candidates).

But Mary’s documented love life has a striking resemblance to these sonnets. After her husband died, Mary (43 years old) conducted an affair with a younger man, Dr. Matthew Lister (33 years old), whom she could not marry because of their differences in social status, although they were together for the rest of her life. There was strife in the relationship, however, when she thought her younger lover was having an affair with her dark-haired, dark-eyed niece, Mary Wroth (19 years old and newly married), whom Mary Sidney had helped raise. In reality, Mary Wroth was not having an affair with Dr. Lister, but with Will Herbert (also newly married), Mary Sidney’s oldest son.

About Mary Sidney
posted by tenderly at 11:44 PM on March 18 [3 favorites]

Well it's certainly an explanation. Not sure I'd call it the simplest .
posted by great_radio at 8:32 AM on March 19

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