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.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Tsar Alexander I of Russia

Alexander I (1777-1825), emperor of Russia from 1801 to 1825, was born in St. Petersburg, where he was raised by his grandmother, Catherine the Great. He was the first Russian King of Poland (1815 to 1825) and also the first Russian Grand Duke of Finland and Lithuania. At age 24 Alexander ascended to the Russian throne after the assassination of his father, Tsar Paul I. For Alexander’s indirect involvement in the plot to kill his father, he suffered from guilt the rest of his life.

Rumors of Alexander’s homosexuality began soon after his coronation in 1801. His companion and aide was Prince Peter Volkonsky, who served the Tsar as Chief of Staff and Imperial Minister, going on to become one of the most decorated officers in the Russian army. Prince Volkonsky was, according to K. K. Rotikov, “partial to a fair few of his fellow officers.” Alexander was so smitten that he once tearfully proposed that he and Volkonsky “retire together to a villa on the Black Sea.” It should be mentioned that Prince Volkonsky had also participated in the plot to remove Tsar Paul I from the throne.

Well, there you have it.

The dashing Prince Peter Volkonsky:


During the early part of his rule, Alexander relied on four of his young male companions for political guidance and support. Whatever Alexander reaped from his relationship with those four lads, it was definitely not astute political advice. Alexander spent the first years of his reign fighting Napoleon, who defeated him at the Battle of Austerlitz (it was Prince Volkonsky who commanded the Russian troops). Forced to sign the humiliating Treaty of Tilsit in 1807, which  among other things brought the Holy Roman Empire to an end, Alexander made a comeback in 1812 by defeating the French – cue Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture” while dusting off Tolstoy’s ”War and Peace”. For a brief time Alexander became a hero across the continent.

After the Congress of Vienna in 1815, Alexander’s mental state deteriorated, and he turned to religious mysticism. He had hoped to establish a new Christian order in Europe through a Holy Alliance with Austria and Prussia, but he ended his reign as a recluse.

Napoleon said of Alexander I, "He was the slyest and handsomest of all the Greeks!*"

*At the time of Napoleon’s comment, “Greek” meant “homosexual male.”

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