Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Historical and Celebrity Figures

There are several good questions worth asking about a list such as this. Among them are:
1. Are these listings “proven” or accurate? Are the sources reliable?
2. Are these people really gay/lesbian/bisexual?
3. Why so many men and so few women?
4. What is the point of such a list anyway?

There are many reasonable answers to each question, but here are mine:

1. These sources aren’t particularly reliable. None are. Authorities that range from thorough professional biographies to rumours disagree on just who is/was or isn’t/wasn’t, and have about the same track record for accuracy. There is also a substantial cross-pollination between list-makers. An erroneous listing will show up again and again on other sources.

2. Perhaps the acid test is: “Which of them would have self-identified as gay, lesbian or bisexual?” The answer is “few.” Different cultures and different times would have made the admission impossible for some, and ridiculous for others. Often the evidence surrounding a medieval figure is a single remark or a curious juxtaposition of events or persons. Hardly conclusive evidence.

3. The gender balance of the list reflects at least two factors. One is the gender of the compiler and the kinds of sources used. Second is the place of women in most societies and times, where celebrity or positions of historical noteworthness were difficult or impossible to achieve.

4. There is no point to such a list. Famous gays and lesbians do not validate the existence of non-famous gays and lesbians. Centuries of closeted men and women likewise adds no cachet of validity to today’s men and women. The only point can be “curiousity”.

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