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Odd Portrait Has Many Guessing Shakespeare Was Gay
Yahoo! News ^ | 4/23/02 | Mike Collett-White

Posted on 04/23/2002 10:14:28 AM PDT by socal_parrot

By Mike Collett-White

LONDON (Reuters) - A 400-year-old painting previously believed to be that of a woman has been found to portray the male patron and friend of William Shakespeare, its owner said on Tuesday.

The picture of the Earl of Southampton, featuring a figure with long, black curly hair, pursed red lips, an earring and a slender right hand, has prompted speculation in British media that Shakespeare was gay.

"He is wearing perfectly fashionable male attire of the day, but the earring and the hair are effeminate and unusual for the 1590s," the painting's owner Alec Cobbe told Reuters.

He said that his family had assumed for centuries that the picture was of a Lady Norton.

But after discovering links between his own family and the Southamptons and a striking resemblance between the portrait and other representations of the 3rd Earl of Southampton, Cobbe was convinced that it is Shakespeare's friend and frequent host.

Scholars have long argued that Southampton was the handsome young man in his late teens to whom an early sequence of Shakespeare's sonnets was addressed.

The painting is dated to around 1590, when Shakespeare was writing early sonnets including one to the "master-mistress of my passion."

"It certainly illustrates that sonnet (number 20) very vividly. We are looking at the subject of the sonnet, I'm sure," said Cobbe.

Alastair Laing, the National Trust's adviser on art, first suggested to Cobbe that the picture was of a male.

"I was cataloguing this collection and realized that this was a young man with long hair, which one or two dandies of the time affected in this manner," he told Reuters.

He is also convinced that the picture is of Southampton, although he argued that the man was not necessarily affecting a female appearance, as a modern observer may assume.

"This is a man but he is not a cross-dresser," Laing said.

"He is not wearing lipstick -- some pigments just stand the passage of time better than others, giving this appearance. It is dangerous to assume anything about this man's character from this portrait."

British newspapers have played up the significance of the discovery (news - web sites), with the mass circulation tabloid Sun headlining its story "Shakesqueer."

But even if the discovery of the portrait is much ado about nothing, it has proved effective publicity for the painting, which is now on show at Cobbe's stately home at Hatchlands Park in southern England.


TOPICS: Arts/Photography; Humor; Miscellaneous; Society; Weird Stuff
KEYWORDS: gay; shakespeare
Maybe the guy was just a poor painter.
1 posted on 04/23/2002 10:14:28 AM PDT by socal_parrot
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To: socal_parrot
B4 long, the limp wrists will say the world is gay. Sheesh
2 posted on 04/23/2002 10:32:24 AM PDT by poet
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To: poet
I was taught that Shakespeare might have been gay or bi when I was in high school and that was 45 years ago. It is hardly a new or novel idea.

So9

3 posted on 04/23/2002 10:54:50 AM PDT by Servant of the Nine
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To: poet
They do seem to have an agenda.
4 posted on 04/23/2002 11:07:51 AM PDT by socal_parrot
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To: Servant of the Nine
I have to agree with you on this one...I was in high school, 35 years ago, and we also were told about the possibility of Shakespeare being gay

I told my dad of this when I was a teen, and he told me that was nothing at all new...he was in high school in the 1930s, and even at that time, it was hinted at that Shakespeare was gay...

So this idea has been around for most of the decades of this century, and who knows for how much further back in the past...

5 posted on 04/23/2002 11:14:25 AM PDT by andysandmikesmom
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To: socal_parrot
Odd Portrait Has Many Guessing Shakespeare Was Gay

who cares....

6 posted on 04/23/2002 11:20:35 AM PDT by NewHampshireDuo
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To: socal_parrot
Here's the "shocker" that I could see coming when it was revealed that the painting's owner was the one trumpeting the discovery:

"But even if the discovery of the portrait is much ado about nothing, it has proved effective publicity for the painting, which is now on show at Cobbe's stately home at Hatchlands Park in southern England."

7 posted on 04/23/2002 11:31:06 AM PDT by weegee
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To: weegee
"Look for our upcoming offering on E-bay."
8 posted on 04/23/2002 11:35:42 AM PDT by socal_parrot
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To: socal_parrot
Notice how this news has been circulating for days now and yet none of the stories offered a photo of the painting. Little choice but to accept the writers' descriptions of the painting.
9 posted on 04/23/2002 12:18:59 PM PDT by weegee
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To: socal_parrot
I can't imagine a more silly excuse of an article. The portrait shows a man who MIGHT be considered effeminate, who MIGHT be Southampton, who MIGHT be the addressee of Shakespeare's sonnets. Somehow from all that, we are supposed to find a compelling reason to speculate that Shakespeare was gay.
10 posted on 04/23/2002 12:24:15 PM PDT by SpringheelJack
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To: socal_parrot

This guy?

Seems to me the goatee would indicate a MAN, but those were woolier times...

11 posted on 04/23/2002 1:50:02 PM PDT by martin_fierro
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To: martin_fierro
If that is the guy he looks quite normal to me.

Uh, that is, quite normal for that time period.

a.cricket

12 posted on 04/23/2002 1:54:43 PM PDT by another cricket
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To: martin_fierro
A man with a petite waist and freakish large hips, but still obviously a man.
13 posted on 04/23/2002 4:28:15 PM PDT by socal_parrot
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To: socal_parrot
It's difficult to see how some of the sonnets, notably Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day and Weary with Toil I Find Me to My Bed, are not homosexual--the former bright and loving, the latter dark and horrifying. And what about When in Disgrace with Fortune and Men's Eyes?

Somehow this does not bother me. It's life--like war and peace, love and hate, damnation and redemption.

Inside my wedding ring are inscribed the following:

"...even to the edge of doom."
--Savage Beast
14 posted on 04/23/2002 5:17:26 PM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: martin_fierro
Thanks for posting the picture, Martin. Obviously, these people have been reading far too much into it.
15 posted on 04/23/2002 5:19:17 PM PDT by Savage Beast
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To: socal_parrot
Different societies have different ideas.

The accusation that Shakespear was gay is based on his poems to a young male friend that seem very romantic. However, his poems to his female mistress are more erotic.

Back then, male friendship was praised, because there was a strict line between the sexes and their places in life. Your best friend was a male, but sodomy was forbidden. But you had a mistress or wife not to talk politics or drink with, but to sleep with and make a family.

Many of his plays bring up cross dressing women doing men's work successfully, but in the end they marry and are happy in the female role. Sort of like Rosie the Riviter and the WAACS in World War II: Sure they could fly, work on planes, and be soldiers, but they weren't "feminists" who hated men. They could be better wives for doing this, since they did not hate men but could appreciate their men's jobs and problems.

Modern society makes male friendship into a suspicious thing, sexualizing friendship. Look at those worrying about male friendship in Lord of the Rings as being gay. It is not. And look at modern feminism that denies women have any role in life but becoming failed men.

16 posted on 04/25/2002 5:15:28 AM PDT by LadyDoc
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To: socal_parrot
[two years later] The very same point about the Earl of Southhampton has been made before, must have been some time ago, because it appears in this:

William Shakespeare: Life of Drama William Shakespeare: Life of Drama
A&E Biography


17 posted on 08/27/2004 10:01:49 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (Unlike some people, I have a profile. Okay, maybe it's a little large...)
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