Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: January ::
Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.0160  Wednesday, 26 January 2005

[Editor's Note: The responses below constitute what I consider list
moderation. I see no reason to continue this thread any further. I ask
the members to respect my decision and not to e-mail me either pro or
con on the issue. Any such e-mails will be deleted unread. I just don't
have the time to deal with this issue now. -Hardy]

[1]     From:   Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 16:21:07 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[2]     From:   Colin Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 08:27:47 -0800
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[3]     From:   D Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 11:17:11 -0600
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[4]     From:   David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 17:29:48 -0000
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[5]     From:   Tom Bishop <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 13:33:58 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[6]     From:   Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 18:36:36 -0000
        Subj:   SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[7]     From:   Mari Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 14:34:11 -0500
        Subj:   RE: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[8]     From:   Ben Spiller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 21:55:49 -0000
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

[9]     From:   Philip Tomposki <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 20:53:25 -0500
        Subj:   Re: SHK 16.01230 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Gabriel Egan <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 16:21:07 -0000
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

Sometimes I have to read David Basch's postings more than once to be
sure I didn't miss cleverly concealed irony and to convince myself that
he's serious. Usually I don't mind crazy ideas getting an airing here,
but I really object to the following:

 >The conclusion that Shakespeare was gay does not arise from his
 >plays-there he displays highest respect and appreciation for women
 >and often reveals their inner life suffused with nobility and generosity,
 >hardly the attitudes held by homosexuals-but from his Sonnets.

Just to clarify: the "highest respect and appreciation for women", Basch
claims, are not "the attitudes held by homosexuals". That's an
outrageous statement, and indeed it's possibly an illegal one in some
jurisdictions. This is clear homophobic slander and surely cannot be
tolerated on this list.

By Basch's grubby logic, Shakespeare could not have been homosexual
because he liked women, and homosexuals don't.  Would Basch allow that
someone may like men (indeed, hold them in high respect and
appreciation) and be heterosexual? One hears the occasional complaint
that queer activism peddles outdated stereotypes of homosexuality, but
then one comes across this sort of unabashed bigotry-that homosexuals
don't like women-and it acts as a reminder of how nasty and stupid some
people amongst us are.

Because Basch seems to need it spelled out, I'll close by asserting what
he might easily misunderstand: misogyny is widely evident in straight
and gay culture. To assert that homosexuals in general, by virtue of
being homosexuals, don't like women is deeply offensive.

Gabriel Egan

To lighten the tone, I report the following events of this morning. My
neighbour's wall is being rebuilt and the bricklayer was listening to
the radio when a report came on about the police prosecuting a woman for
driving while eating an apple. "That's PC gone mad!", said the builder.
"PC?" I asked. "Yes", he replied, "PC: Police Constables . . . Police
Constables gone mad."

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Colin Cox <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 08:27:47 -0800
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

 >I have two questions about the use of the sonnets as evidence of
 >Shakespeare's sexuality:
 >
 >1) What weight should be given to the speaker's frequent advice to the
 >young to marry and have children?
 >
 >2) Should the dark lady sonnets be regarded as evidence regarding
 >Shakespeare's sexuality?

With regard to question 1:

There are 17 sonnets that refer to the marriage question (from 154).
These are the first seventeen sonnets and it would appear that it is at
sonnet 18, "Shall I compare thee . . ." that the Shakespeare
relationship to the young man changes. I think this actually enhances
the suggestion of a homoerotic relationship (I do not personally think
Shakespeare was gay, as A.L. Rowse (a gay man) noted, William was a
'homosexual of the mind' - I have always liked this viewpoint).

I do think, however, that the question should be examined and when I
have done this with high school students they became far more involved
in the poetry of the sonnets.

With regard to question 2:

As a man who lives and works in 'Hollywood', I can point to many 'stars'
who are 'privately' gay yet in public must present an appearance of
heterosexuality. These people are often married with children and some
even have 'mistresses' of both sexes.

Also, there is a suggestion in the sonnets that the Dark Lady has slept
with both of them - menage a trois, probablement?

As this is not, thankfully, a gossip column, all names, as in the
sonnets, are withheld!! (Call me if you want the real dirt!)

Colin Cox

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           D Bloom <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 11:17:11 -0600
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

What does "gay" mean? What does homosexual mean?

If they refer simply to what is done with the sexual organs, we have no
concrete information except his (presumably) fathering three children.
We cannot know if he had any sexual contacts with other men, or many, or
a few, or none. We don't even have any gossip.

If we are to guess based on the content of the sonnets and the plays,
then we have to determine what constitutes evidence of whatever we
define as homosexuality. That is, if it is, in the larger sense, any
affection between members of the same gender (including brothers, sons,
fathers, and friends), then anyone who didn't qualify as homosexual
would be a very pathetic, and probably psychotic, person indeed. But
such a definition is obviously useless. If the definition is qualified
to say an intense affection, then some effort is going to have to be put
into quantifying intensity, and showing how it is necessarily related to
sexual behavior.

If, however, it means merely having a sexual desire directed towards
another of the same gender, then all that's required is showing that
sexual desire, while, of course, keeping it clear of simple affection.

If this desire can be found (and more or less agreed upon) then it still
remains to be agreed whether homosexuality is an all or nothing
proposition. If it is, then a number of quite explicitly heterosexual
poems would have to be explained (and, of course, couldn't be).
If it isn't, we are left with the possibility that Shakespeare might
have had a homosexual liaison with one man, while he also married,
fathered children (very likely the reason why he married when and to
whom he did), and had one or many adulterous, and intensely sexual,
straight relationships while living apart from his wife.

It doesn't sound "gay" to me, but then, as I said, I'm not sure what is
being meant by the term.

Cheers,
don

[4]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Lindley <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 17:29:48 -0000
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

 >>Al Magary did us all a good service by his posting that
 >revealed a jaundiced British academic establishment

In what, pray, constitutes their 'jaundice' in this context?  And why
single out the 'British' academic establishment - much of the most
interesting discussion of the questions of sexuality raised by the
Sonnets has been conducted by American scholars.

 >wants to bring Shakespeare into "politically correct"
 >discussions about homosexuality

As opposed, presumably, to the political incorrectness that forbids any
open discussion of homosexuality in case it corrupts the kiddies?

David Lindley

[5]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Tom Bishop <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 13:33:58 -0500
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

The all too appropriately named "David Basch" seems to believe that the
"highest respect and appreciation for women" and a belief that "their
inner life [is] suffused with nobility and generosity" are views
inconsistent with male [as I presume he intends] homosexuality. Let us
grant that there are indeed homosexual misogynists scattered throughout
history. But there are also a much greater number of heterosexual men
whose contempt for women is well-documented, and an equally notable list
of gay men who have rejected that contempt as beneath their, or any
human, dignity. The notion that misogyny and homosexuality are
isomorphic is foolish and unscholarly (not to mention offensive), no
matter how one regards the question of Shakespeare's experiences,
preferences, and views. These latter seem to me an absolutely
appropriate topic of discussion for students of all ages.

Tom

[6]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Martin Steward <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 18:36:36 -0000
Subject: Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

David Basch writes, both to icBirmingham and the SHAKSPER list:

"[Shakespeare] displays highest respect and appreciation for women and
often reveals their inner life suffused with nobility and generosity,
hardly the attitudes held by homosexuals."

I can think of absolutely no justification for publishing such an
outrageous statement on a moderated discussion list.

m

[7]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mari Bonomi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 14:34:11 -0500
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        RE: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

David Basch rides in on another hobby horse in this thread; I won't go
into a lengthy diatribe on his interpretation of the Sonnets, other than
noting that Sonnet 20 has some distinctly homoerotic expression in it,
not to mention others of the poems.

I do object, however, most strenuously, to his insulting
characterization of gay men: "The conclusion that Shakespeare was gay
does not arise from his plays-there he displays highest respect and
appreciation for women and often reveals their inner life suffused with
nobility and generosity, hardly the attitudes held by homosexuals-but
from his Sonnets"-

I have known a lot of gay men in my 61 years here on Earth... Been
friends with a number of them.  And every one of them honored and
respected and appreciated me and other women for the values of our inner
lives-it was simply the values of our inner legs, if you will, that they
did not value and appreciate.

The inability to honor and respect and appreciate the beauties of
women's inner lives is not something related to male sexuality whether
homo- or heterosexual.  Most abuse of women, after all, takes place at
the hands (and fists, and weapons) of heterosexual men.

The very concept "homosexuality" is a fairly modern construct; I need
not rehash matters previously discussed in this forum demonstrating that
fact.

Were there men who loved other men and acted on that love in
Shakespeare's time? Absolutely.

Was Shakespeare one of these men? I think he might well have been; I
also think that he was a passionate lover of women.  I do not believe
that he (or other men of his era) thought about it in the terms we
modern types do. Shakespeare loved, I believe since I have read the
Sonnets, with passion and fervor  and delight and pain.  The objects of
that love in my mind were sometimes male, sometimes female.  Knowing
which was when is irrelevant to the power of the poetry.

Mari Bonomi

[8]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ben Spiller <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 21:55:49 -0000
Subject: 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.0141 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Shakespeare Was Gay

David Basch comments:

The conclusion that Shakespeare was gay does not arise from his
plays-there he displays highest respect and appreciation for women and
often reveals their inner life suffused with nobility and generosity,
hardly the attitudes held by homosexuals-but from his Sonnets.

Am I right in thinking that David Basch puts forward the notion that gay
men do not respect and appreciate women?  Or is he suggesting that gay
men do not possess the qualities of nobility and generosity?  I hope I
am wrong on both accounts; but if I am indeed correct on either or both,
may I interpret the comment as homophobic nonsense?

[9]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Philip Tomposki <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Tuesday, 25 Jan 2005 20:53:25 -0500
Subject: 16.01230 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether
Comment:        Re: SHK 16.01230 Campaign Asks Children to Consider Whether

Mr. Basch suggestion that in Sonnet 29 "...that the male addressed is
none other than The Lord God...", considering the 3rd line of the poem:

"And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries"

Admittedly it's been some time since I was last in Church, but I do seem
to recall that the Lord God resided in Heaven.

Philip Tomposki

_______________________________________________________________
S H A K S P E R: The Global Shakespeare Discussion List
Hardy M. Cook, 
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 
The S H A K S P E R Web Site <http://www.shaksper.net>

DISCLAIMER: Although SHAKSPER is a moderated discussion list, the
opinions expressed on it are the sole property of the poster, and the
editor assumes no responsibility for them.
 

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.