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Are there any references to homosexuality in Shakespeare?

I was wondering.

by Not a fanreply 8103/23/2016

Many, both comical and serious.

If you don't like Billy S., well, not much more to be said, is there?

Possibly a lazy American whining about the language, but, just a guess.

by Not a fanreply 111/18/2012

Coriolanus, silly!

by Not a fanreply 211/18/2012

Tons. Julius Caesar comes to mind the most.

by Not a fanreply 311/18/2012

A nice percentage of his love sonnets were written for a man (a fair few addressed a "dark lady" as well).

by Not a fanreply 411/18/2012

[quote] If you don't like Billy S., well, not much more to be said, is there?

Are you punning, R1...why speaketh thou in Shakespearean tongues, hast thou forgotten that thou ist now in 2012?

[quote]Many, both comical and serious.

References would be more useful, my thoughtful friend.

by Not a fanreply 511/18/2012

Considering that all the female roles, ncluding the romantic ones, were played by men, I'd say the whole kit and caboodle is pretty fucking gay.

by Not a fanreply 611/18/2012

[quote] Possibly a lazy American whining about the language, but, just a guess.

Not from America but I hate that knee-jerk reaction.

The very fact that boys played the female roles must have made Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Two Gentlemen of Verona, inherently a bit gay, not to mention potentially confusing.

by Not a fanreply 711/18/2012


Better work on the faux-Shakespeherian rag, "speaketh thou" just demonstrates the dullness of wit.

References? This ain't the NYPL reference desk, babe. Cracking a book open might help. How about...opening scene of the Merchant of Venice?


Not from America either, but I find most of the native-speakers who moan about the difficulties of reading WS are usually irritated that they have to work at understanding the English. Pity.

by Not a fanreply 811/18/2012

[quote]Better work on the faux-Shakespeherian rag, "speaketh thou" just demonstrates the dullness of wit.

Worse than that, it demonstrates the dullness of OP's literacy and knowledge of the Bard's work.

It should, of course, be "speakest thou, or even, "speak'st thou" for that extra touch of authenticity

by Not a fanreply 911/18/2012

[quote]just demonstrates the dullness of wit.

Better dull than none at all, dear.

[quote]Not from America but I hate that knee-jerk reaction.

Me too.

by Not a fanreply 1011/18/2012

[quote]Worse than that, it demonstrates the dullness of OP's literacy and knowledge of the Bard's work.

Why don't you just answer the question, instead of trying to appear superior. Probably because you don't know the answer.

Get thee away from me, quickest!

[quote]Not from America either

Don't tell me...CANADA!

by Not a fanreply 1111/18/2012

A woman's face with nature's own hand painted, Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion; A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted With shifting change, as is false women's fashion: An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling, Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth; A man in hue all hues in his controlling, Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth. And for a woman wert thou first created; Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting, And by addition me of thee defeated, By adding one thing to my purpose nothing. But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure, Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

by Not a fanreply 1211/18/2012

I'm in love with R12

by Not a fanreply 1311/18/2012

[quote]Better dull than none at all, dear.

Um, no.

by Not a fanreply 1411/18/2012

Rosalind and Celia in As You Like It.

by Not a fanreply 1511/18/2012

[quote]Um, no.

Um, yes.

by Not a fanreply 1611/18/2012

I am fairly certain Lady Macbeth was encouraging her Scottish terrier to confess his homosexuality when she uttered the famous line, "Out, damned Spot!"

by Not a fanreply 1711/18/2012

OP has clearly proven that she doesn't read nor deserves a straight (pun) answer

by Not a fanreply 1811/18/2012

So far, no one has been able to come up with a reference except that many of the female parts were played by men (which doesn't count). I guess the thing about the sonnets is true, and I'm not taking the time to figure out the homosexuality of R12's reference.

I think you people have no idea and probably barely know anything about Shakespeare.

by Not a fanreply 1911/18/2012

The deposition scene in Richard II is believed to have been censored for referencing the king's homosexuality.

by Not a fanreply 2011/18/2012

Usually any character named Antonio in Shakespeare is gay.

by Not a fanreply 2111/18/2012

Oi, lazy bitches!

Some of us already gave you examples, but if you're too lazy to read for yourselves, so be it.

Again: opening scene of the Merchant of Venice (OP, that's Act 1, scene 1). There's clearly some man-love goin' on from Antonio to Bassanio. For the language-whiners, there's a decent but overplayed version on film (Jeremy Irons, if I remember rightly.)

'Mericans can't take criticism well. Especially those who get called out on their bad educations.

No, not Canadian, but thanks for trying, eh?

by Not a fanreply 2211/18/2012


Extra bonus round. Sonnet 129.

PS. Dictionary may help.

by Not a fanreply 2311/18/2012

Romeo and Juliet Act 1, scene 1


Sampson and Gregory, two servants of the house of Capulet, stroll through the streets of Verona. With bawdy banter, Sampson vents his hatred of the house of Montague. The two exchange punning remarks about physically conquering Montague men and sexually conquering Montague women. Gregory sees two Montague servants approaching, and discusses with Sampson the best way to provoke them into a fight without breaking the law. Sampson bites his thumb at the Montagues—a highly insulting gesture. A verbal confrontation quickly escalates into a fight. Benvolio, a kinsman to Montague, enters and draws his sword in an attempt to stop the confrontation. Tybalt, a kinsman to Capulet, sees Benvolio’s drawn sword and draws his own. Benvolio explains that he is merely trying to keep the peace, but Tybalt professes a hatred for peace as strong as his hatred for Montagues, and attacks. The brawl spreads. A group of citizens bearing clubs attempts to restore the peace by beating down the combatants. Montague and Capulet enter, and only their wives prevent them from attacking one another. Prince Escalus arrives and commands the fighting stop on penalty of torture. The Capulets and Montagues throw down their weapons. The Prince declares the violence between the two families has gone on for too long, and proclaims a death sentence upon anyone who disturbs the civil peace again. He says that he will speak to Capulet and Montague more directly on this matter; Capulet exits with him, the brawlers disperse, and Benvolio is left alone with his uncle and aunt, Montague and Lady Montague.

by Not a fanreply 2411/18/2012

OP - go find your self a copy of Romeo and Juliet and read the first 5 pages.

I think its Sampson that states he wants to ram his cock up the ass of a Montague servants. Very hot.

by Not a fanreply 2511/18/2012

"The two exchange punning remarks about physically conquering Montague men"

...conquering by butt fucking.

by Not a fanreply 2611/18/2012

The gayest stuff in Shakespeare is the sonnets, many addressed quite passionately to a young man.

In Merchant of Venice, there is a melancholy wealthy patron who dotes on a handsome young man.

Richard Ii is about a slightly effeminate ineffectual king that many have read as coded gay.

And as others have pointed out, many of the cross-dressing comedies feature men falling for women dressed as boys and other arrangements made even more complicated by the fact that the parts of beautiful young women were played by beautiful young boys in Shakespeare's day.

Keep in mind: the fact that there was no concept for sexual orientation and certainly not classes of human beings divisible as gay or straight in Shakespeare's day. It's difficult to talk about a character as "gay" or straight since the understanding of human sexuality was so different.

by Not a fanreply 2711/18/2012

I thought the word/name Shakespeare was euphemism for the admonition to shake the piss off one's spear after pissing.

My memory could be faulty, I was very young during those years.

by Not a fanreply 2811/18/2012

R16=example of dull wit. I'd prefer silence.

by Not a fanreply 2911/18/2012

All poetry is gay!

by Not a fanreply 3011/18/2012

Yes, your silence, R29.


by Not a fanreply 3111/18/2012

As suggested above, Sonnet 129 with its famous line: "The expense of spirit in a waste of shame" seems to be about the disgust the speaker feels after an act of anal sex with the young man. "Seems" is an important word, since the sonnets (typical of their era) constantly play with ambiguity and multiple possible meanings.

Although there is no evidence at all that Shakespeare himself chose the order in which the sonnets were published or had anything to do with their being published (and some sonnets don't 'fit' the story, evidently coming from different times in the poet's career), it is certainly a possibility that the main sonnets do have a highly personal and even autobiographical aspect. To what degree this is true will always be argued, since the particulars of Shakespeare's private life and behavior remain elusive (fairly safe generalizations are that he evidently pursued 'loose' women in London; partially through his documented friend, George Wilkins. Wilkens was a pimp/writer, a frequent Shakespeare collaborator: Pericles Prince of Tyre is one work they collaborated on and ironically, it was the biggest hit of Shakespeare's career, continuing in popularity after his death, Ben Jonson complained of its ongoing success. Shakespeare probably died of syphilis.)

However there are works that seem to refer to a younger Shakespeare such as Willobie his Avisa, a novel in verse, written in 1592. It appears to tell in detail the same story as the sonnets -- poor man from low background becomes the closest friend (improbably at the time) of a great, rich Lord who is younger and beautiful, thought so beautiful as to sometimes be confused with a girl. Avisa is the less attractive but sexy 'wench' who comes between them. Willobie is the author's name and there's reason to believe he knew a lot about Shakespeare. The relationship between older and younger man has a very erotic tinge and there is certainly an air of sexual ambiguity about their relationship as described.

There are also, even earlier, the Parnassus plays that seem to be about Shakespeare and his sometime roommate and probable early collaborator, Thomas Kyd, and (in the nasty plays) their plot to ensnare a beautiful, affected and immature Lord with a great fortune (this is obviously Shakespeare's patron and perhaps close friend The Third Earl of Southampton, Henry Wriothesley). A spy reported Wriothesley committing sodomy with a lessor officer in war, and he seems to have been known to be bisexual (he got in trouble over loving the wrong woman, however, and later, fathered a great many children).

That he and Shakespeare may have enjoyed an intimate relationship with a sexual aspect is not impossible.

by Not a fanreply 3211/18/2012

This thread is useless without quotes.

by Not a fanreply 3311/18/2012

If I were directing Romeo and Juliet, I'd have Romeo and his friends engaged in a circle jerk.

by Not a fanreply 3411/18/2012

All conjecture and asides so far.

by Not a fanreply 3511/18/2012

Read the sonnets, r35. It's hardly "conjecture" that they reference homosexuality.

What a maroon.

by Not a fanreply 3611/18/2012

Just so --

by Not a fanreply 3708/23/2014

Ostrich in Hamlet?

by Not a fanreply 3808/23/2014

"Though she be but little, she is fierce!" is actually about a drag queen.

by Not a fanreply 3908/23/2014

There is a male romantic couple in Shakespeare. Achilles and Patroclus in Troilus and Cressida.

by Not a fanreply 4008/23/2014

Romeo and Juliet? That's the one about parental neglect and teen suicide, right?

by Not a fanreply 4108/23/2014

Why would any serious Shakespeare reader or scholar respond to a lazy cunt insipid enough to sign "not a fan"?


by Not a fanreply 4208/23/2014

Richard III - the King who wanted to be Queen.

A Midsummer Night's Dream - Oberon was far more interested in Puck than Titania. Shakespeare's gayest play, full of fairies.

by Not a fanreply 4308/23/2014

why is everyone on here so obsessed with homosexuality? Don't you people know its wrong?

by Not a fanreply 4408/23/2014

Titus Andronicus just plain sounds gay.

by Not a fanreply 4508/23/2014

Horetio's final lines in Act 5 of Hamlet, "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night sweet prince, And flights of angles sing thee to thy rest." The affectionate words might imply a relationship that went beyond mere friendship, but that is mere speculation. You also have Hamlet's general anger/dislike of women (regarding all women as whores) in the play from his total rejection of Ophilia telling her to get thee to a nunary (which in Shakespeare's time meant whorehouse) to his hatred of his mother the Queen for her infidelity to his dead father). Hamlet's unhealthy obsession with his mother's sex life (perhaps was his way of trying to cope with his own homosexuality). Was Hamlet jealous that his mother got to have sex with king while he got none? You can get into all kinds of Freudian analysis if you want to go down that rabbit hole.

The servants Rosencrantz and Guildenstern who were interchangeable in the eyes of the aristocracy might have been gay lovers who were so inseparable that Hamlet and company could never tell them apart. You can concoct a gay angle around any character in Shakespeare's plays and make them gay by modern interpretation if you want, but you will never hear such discussions in anything other than a queer literature class.

by Not a fanreply 4608/23/2014

Osric, not Ostrich! Geez....

by Not a fanreply 4708/23/2014

Oh, God. Let me google it for you. Click on link below.

Yes, you are welcome.

by Not a fanreply 4808/23/2014

The most recent Richard II (Royal Shakespeare Company, with David Tennant), explicitly plays Richard as gay (or at least bi).

by Not a fanreply 4908/23/2014

Every single Antonio is gay.

by Not a fanreply 5008/23/2014

R43 Shakespeare is what? I can't quite make out what you wrote. Gad? Gud?

R46 That suggested analysis is ridiculous. Was that your point? The possibly most stupid argument is that Hamlet is jealous of the Queen's sex life, when the whole fucking play is about Hamlet being pissed because he suspects his mother and uncle of conspiring to kill his father.

by Not a fanreply 5108/23/2014

How can anyone forget "The Merchant of Venice". I confess, I haven't read the play or the written work, but had the good sense to go see the movie starring Al pacino. Homophobia-laced mouth Jeremy Irons played Antonio, his character had a lover (a kept-boy) played by joseph Fiennes, they even had a nice kiss, all the while Fiennes is romacing a young debutante. Now I don't know if it's imply in the written play, but it's pretty blatant in the movie.

by Not a fanreply 5208/23/2014

FYI Richard II probably was gay. Sure, he had two arranged marriages, but his relationships with his male "favorites" made him a lot of powerful enemies, and contributed to his eventual loss of the throne.

by Not a fanreply 5308/23/2014

In 12th Night, Antonio and Sebastion clearly had something going on. Antonio was also clearly in love with Sebastion, although the feeling may not have been mutual.

by Not a fanreply 5408/23/2014

W & W for r17.

by Not a fanreply 5508/24/2014

Forsooth, dost thou not intend 'the dullness of thy wit'?

by Not a fanreply 5608/24/2014

Julius Caesar has a line:

"If you know That I do fawn on men and hug them hard And after scandal them,...then hold me dangerous."

by Not a fanreply 5708/24/2014

Oberon not only doted upon Puck (and made more so in many productions where Oberon and Puck wear very little) but he and Titania were fighting over a young boy, a "changeling."

by Not a fanreply 5808/24/2014

Let's not forget Orlando falling for Rosalind in boy-drag in "As You Like It."

by Not a fanreply 5908/24/2014

Is it scary or depressing that an adult would start a thread with such a title? Are there gay people who are really that fucking ill-educated? That someone has never heard or read the lines "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day"? Or "So is the time that keeps you as my chest, Or as the wardrobe which the robe doth hide, To make some special instant special blest, By new unfolding his imprisoned pride." i.e. cock

But I guess the aggressive heteresexual suppression of the fucking obvious homosexuality in the sonnets is also to blame. eg school notes and interpretative websites which avoid frank readings of wildly gay sonnets like 52.

by Not a fanreply 6008/24/2014

Antonio and Bassanio in Merchant of Venice.

by Not a fanreply 6108/24/2014

R60, not that unusual. In high school, if we are taught Shakespeare, it's safe plays. Julius Caesar - which is as dry as the desert- and any combo of Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, the Scottish play, etc. They wouldn't dare teach "Measure for Measure" or the sonnets.

My textbook in high school tended to censor some of the bawdier lines. It omitted the entire Porter's speech from the Scottish Play. Our teacher- a nun!- didn't believe in omissions and read it to us herself.

by Not a fanreply 6208/24/2014

[quote]But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure, Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

It shits me to tears when doltish het scholars read that line so literally. Oh phew, Will is straight! Yet what he expresss in the poem is the oldest pickup line in the book -- "It's YOU I want, not your body."

by Not a fanreply 6308/24/2014

Antonio in Twelfth Night is clearly Sebastian's sugar daddy and Sebastian puts up with it until he meets Olivia.

by Not a fanreply 6408/24/2014

EVERY Antonio in Shakespeare's plays is gay.

by Not a fanreply 6503/23/2016

Yes it was originally Julius

by Not a fanreply 6603/23/2016

They sonnets of course.

"A woman's face with nature's own hand painted, Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion; A woman's gentle heart, but not acquainted With shifting change, as is false women's fashion: An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling, Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth; A man in hue, all hues in his controlling, Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth. And for a woman wert thou first created; Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting, And by addition me of thee defeated, By adding one thing to my purpose nothing. But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure, Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure."

Sonnet 20

by Not a fanreply 6703/23/2016

I'm with R42, actually. (Homo)sexuality in Shakespeare's works has been a topic of scholarly research for hundreds of years. Google is your friend.

by Not a fanreply 6803/23/2016

r1 "Thy tongue outvenoms all the worms of the Nile." Cymbeline

And you're a foreign asshole to boot!

by Not a fanreply 6903/23/2016

Sonnet 126

"O thou, my lovely boy, who in thy power Dost hold Time's fickle glass, his sickle, hour; Who hast by waning grown, and therein show'st Thy lovers withering as thy sweet self grow'st; If Nature, sovereign mistress over wrack, As thou goest onwards, still will pluck thee back, She keeps thee to this purpose, that her skill May time disgrace and wretched minutes kill. Yet fear her, O thou minion of her pleasure; She may detain, but not still keep, her treasure: Her audit, though delay'd, answer'd must be, And her quietus is to render thee. "

Sonnet 18 "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Thou art more lovely and more temperate: Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May, And summer's lease hath all too short a date: Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines, And often is his gold complexion dimm'd; And every fair from fair sometime declines, By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimm'd; But thy eternal summer shall not fade Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st; Nor shall Death brag thou wander'st in his shade, When in eternal lines to time thou grow'st; So long as men can breathe or eyes can see, So long lives this, and this gives life to thee. "

Sonnet 99The forward violet thus did I chide: "Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells, If not from my love's breath? The purple pride Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed. The lily I condemned for thy hand, And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair: The roses fearfully on thorns did stand, One blushing shame, another white despair; A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath; But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth A vengeful canker eat him up to death. More flowers I noted, yet I none could see But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee. "

by Not a fanreply 7003/23/2016

Antonio in The Merchant of Venice describes himself as "a tainted wether of the flock".

by Not a fanreply 7103/23/2016

OP= Marjorie Garber

by Not a fanreply 7203/23/2016

The Duke in "Merchant of Venice" is based on James I, who was gay.

The Duke in our college production did a very subtle gay interpretation.

Then all the obvious gender-bending - boys playing girls playing boys.

by Not a fanreply 7303/23/2016


So now it's venomous to call some lazy-ass out for his sniffy inability to crack open a book (or even pull a Google)?

Burning, scalding, stench, consumption; fie, fie, fie!

by Not a fanreply 7403/23/2016

[quote] crack open a book

Since when do people 'crack open' a book?

Is this Shakespearean English?

by Not a fanreply 7503/23/2016

It's obvious that the posts attempting to belittle the OP are defensive in nature. They're a ploy to claim superior intellect while covering the fact that the poster just doesn't fucking know.

by Not a fanreply 7603/23/2016

"Unclasp a secret book" occurs in one of the plays (a reference easily understood by anyone who ever once had a diary which could be locked).

Not Shakespeare, but a slightly later play called The Devil's Charter features a homosexual Pope (no kidding).

by Not a fanreply 7703/23/2016

r76 Oh, pardon me while I play the grand piano.

by Not a fanreply 7803/23/2016

"Crack the books" was once common high school and college slang, meaning to "cram" or study intensely. (We also used "bone up" to describe the same process, as in "I have to bone up on my Shakespeare before the exam," and it would be interesting to know the derivation of that phrase.)

by Not a fanreply 7903/23/2016

A lot of the characters would seem gay if spoken with an English accent, but in particular I have thought that Mercutio had gay sensibilities.

by Not a fanreply 8003/23/2016

SONNET 144 Two loves I have of comfort and despair, Which like two spirits do suggest me still; The better angel is a man right fair, The worser spirit a woman colour'd ill. To win me soon to hell, my female evil Tempteth my better angel from my side, And would corrupt my saint to be a devil, Wooing his purity with her foul pride. And whether that my angel be turn'd fiend Suspect I may, but not directly tell; But being both from me, both to each friend, I guess one angel in another's hell: Yet this shall I ne'er know, but live in doubt, Till my bad angel fire my good one out.

Some evil bitch is stealing his man

by Not a fanreply 8103/23/2016
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