Role models of greatness.
Here you will discover the back stories of kings, titans of industry, stellar athletes, giants of the entertainment field, scientists, politicians, artists and heroes – all of them gay or bisexual men. If their lives can serve as role models to young men who have been bullied or taught to think less of themselves for their sexual orientation, all the better. The sexual orientation of those featured here did not stand in the way of their achievements.
Monday, July 25, 2011
King James of England, Scotland & Ireland
When he was fourteen (see portrait at right), James fell in love with a Catholic Frenchman, Esmé Stewart, who was nearly three times his age. The besotted James made Esmé the only duke in Scotland, the 1st Duke of Lennox. According to eyewitness accounts, he was “in such love with him as in the open sight of the people oftentimes he will clasp him about the neck with his arms and kiss him." The disapproving Scottish nobles first made Lennox choose between James and his Catholicism (he chose James), then eventually forced Lennox to flee back to France. James comforted himself by writing Scottish poetry (see second portrait of an older and wiser Scottish King).
When Elizabeth I died and James became King of England in 1603, his exploits with men were well known. Londoners sneered, “Elizabeth was King, now James is Queen.”
The contemporary playwright and poet Théophile de Viau wrote:
“Apollo with his songs
debauched young Hyacinthus,
And it is well known that the king of England
fucks the Duke of Buckingham.”
Oh, and the King James Bible is named after him. In 1604 James charged 47 scholars within the Church of England to undertake a new translation of the Bible into English, which was published in 1611 and still in use today. This year marks the 400th anniversary of its publication. This illustration is of the title page of the first edition.