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.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Christian VII

Born in Copenhagen, Christian VII (1749-1808) became King of Denmark and Norway and Duke of Schleswig and Holstein upon his father’s death, just a few weeks shy of Christian’s seventeenth birthday. Soon after his marriage at age seventeen to his 15-year-old cousin Caroline Mathilde (the sister of British King George III), Christian abandoned his conjugal duties and indulged in various debaucheries, notably sex with young men. He publicly declared that he could not love Caroline Mathilde, because it was "unfashionable to love one's wife."

Christian became progressively submissive to his physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, who rose steadily in power in the late 1760s. Christian was a chronic masturbator, and this practice often interfered with his duties, since he prioritized it over his job in many instances. He indulged himself so much that the court physicians, Struensee included, were actually worried that he would eventually render himself infertile.

From 1770 to 1772 Struensee was "de facto" regent of the country and introduced reforms that were signed into law by Christian VII. The neglected and lonely Caroline Mathilde drifted into an affair with Struensee, but in 1772 the 23-year-old king's marriage was dissolved, and Struensee was arrested and executed. Under pressure from his mother, Christian himself signed the arrest warrant.

After the divorce, Caroline Mathilde had to give up her two children, one of which, Princess Louise Auguste, was widely believed to be the daughter of Struensee. Portraits of Princess Louise and Struensee bear a remarkable similarity. Caroline died of scarlet fever at age twenty-three.   

Christian was only nominally king from 1772 onwards, since he was considered mentally unstable. Until 1784, Denmark was ruled by Christian's stepmother Juliana, his physically disabled half-brother and Danish politician Ove Guldberg. From 1784 onwards, his son Frederik served as Regent, until Christian VII's death in 1808.


Craig Kaczorowski for


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