Know your history: The iconic queer lovers giving us goals
You don’t have to be a big history buff to soon realise that there’s nothing new about LGBTQ people falling in love with each other.
Let’s take a look at some of the iconic queer couples from the past that can inspire us all.
Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas
The controversial couple that gave us the description of queer desire as “The love that dare not speak its name…” Wilde and Douglas had something of a toxic, interdependent relationship that ultimately led to Wilde’s spectacular downfall. They first met in 1891.
Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West
Although both married at the time that they met in the 1920s, these two powerhouses of early feminism proved an explosive combination.
Michelangelo and Tommaso de Cavalieri
Michelangelo’s passion for men was well-known, but it was a young nobleman called Tommaso de Cavalieri that really caught his attention. The pair met in 1523, and Michelangelo dedicated a lot of his poems to his beloved.
Walt Whitman and Peter Doyle
One of America’s greatest poets had numerous men in his life, but one of the stand-outs was Peter Doyle. Doyle was a streetcar driver, who first met Whitman in 1865. Whitman used to meet Doyle after he’d finished his shift – they’d meet in a hotel room for a bit of quality time together.
Tennessee Williams and Frank Merlo
Playwright Williams first met actor Merlo in 1947. Their relationship lasted 14 years until Merlo died of lung cancer – his death left Williams devastated.
Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok
Eleanor Roosevelt was a surprising and unconventional First Lady of the United States. In 1928, Roosevelt met journalist Lorena Hickok and the two began a very public affair that lasted for thirty years.
Greta Garbo and Mercedes de Acosta
At the time that Garbo and Acosta met in 1931, Garbo was at the height of her fame. However, Acosta was no shrinking violet – a well-known poet, playwright, and screenwriter in her own right. Their relationship was tempestuous, and eventually Garbo cut Acosta from her life completely – refusing to even acknowledge Acosta on her deathbed.
W. Somerset Maugham and Gerald Haxton
Maugham met Haxton in 1914, when both men were serving in the Red Cross ambulance unit during the First World War in France. After the war, the couple spent most of their time travelling around Europe together, eventually making their home on the French Riviera.
W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman
Auden and Kallman met in 1939 at a club in Manhattan. They were together for the next 34 years until Auden’s death.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Vladimir Davydov
One of the slightly unusual things about the relationship between Tchaikovsky and Davydov, was that Davydov was Tchaikovsky’s nephew. Born in 1871, Davydov was 31 years younger than Tchaikovsky. Their relationship is documented by the love letters that Tchaikovsky sent to Davydov, and by the Symphonie Pathétique which Tchaikovsky dedicated to Davydov.
Orestes and Pylades
The mythology of Ancient Greece gives us the story of Orestes and Pylades.
The two men are cousins – Pylades was the son of King Strophius of Phocis and his wife Anaxibia, while Orestes was the son of Agamemnon and his wife Clytemnestra. Agamemnon was king of Mycenae. Anaxibia and Agamemnon were brother and sister.
Agamemnon sent Orestes to Phocis to be raised by Anaxibia and Strophius – this was to protect Orestes from the murderous schemes of his mother, Clytemnestra. Orestes and Pylades were raised as brothers, and were inseparable.
Clytemnestra killed Agamemnon, and Orestes returned to Mycenae to avenge his father’s death. Pylades was by his side.
Supported by Pylades, Orestes killed his mother Clytemnestra and her lover Aegisthus.
Orestes and Pylades had numerous adventures together. Orestes appears to be the more spontaneous and volatile of the two, Pyaldes is described as taking care of Orestes as a lover and a father.
Achilles and Patroclus
The relationship between Achilles and Patroclus is a key element of the stories associated with the Trojan War. In the Iliad, Homer describes a deep and meaningful relationship between Achilles and Patroclus, where Achilles is tender toward Patroclus but callous and arrogant toward others. The two men were explicitly depicted as lovers in the archaic and classical periods of Greek literature.