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 Topic: Five True Tales of Love Gone Wrong

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Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 33
Interests: Queer History and Biography
Physical Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posted: 20 Jan 2004, 10:13 pm    Post subject: Five True Tales of Love Gone Wrong Reply with quote

My February 2004 column for Swerve, Winnipeg's monthly queer newsmagazine:

Rainbow Lives: Five True Tales of Love Gone Wrong

Andrew George Scott ('Captain Moonlite'; 1842 - 1880) famous Australian outlaw who led a double life as a clergyman by day and a bushranger by night; he was jailed for robbing a local bank agent and released in 1879, Scott formed a gang and held up a cattle station, and in the resulting shoot-out with police several of Scott's gang were killed, including James Nesbit, Scott's closest companion, whom he had met while in jail; back in jail and now awaiting his death by hanging, Scott (who wore a ring made of Nesbit's hair) wrote letters to friends in which he expressed his love for Nesbit: "We were one in heart and soul, he died in my arms and I long to join him where there shall be no more parting."; Scott wished to share the same grave as Nesbit, with an inscription declaring their love on their joint tombstone.

Alice Mitchell (1873?-1898), American murderer; Alice was a "tomboy" from one of the more well-to-do families in Memphis, who proposed to marry Freda Ward, and the two were banned from seeing each other; in 1892, Alice cut the throat of her 17-year-old lesbian lover Freda in broad daylight on a Memphis street; the resulting trial, in which the jury declared Mitchell insane and committed her to an asylum, was a Victorian-era sensation similar to the O.J. Simpson trial, covered by national and international newspapers; Alice's story is told in the book Sapphic Slashers: Sex, Violence, and American Modernity, by Lisa Duggan

Joe Orton (John Kingsley, 1933-1967), British playwright and novelist (Loot; Entertaining Mr. Sloane; What the Butler Saw); in order to fan the scandal his work created, he wrote numerous letters to the press under the false name Mrs. Edna Welthorpe, objecting to the immorality of his own plays; he and his partner Kenneth Halliwell each spent six months in jail for defacing library books (writing obscene versions of jacket copy, pasting them into the books, and putting them back on the library shelves); his 16-year relationship with Halliwell seriously deteriorated when Orton became famous, and in the end, an embittered, enraged Halliwell bludgeoned Orton to death with a hammer, and then committed suicide.

Aileen (Lee) Wuornos (1956-2002), American prostitute and murderer, subject of the documentaries The Selling of a Serial Killer (1992) and Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer (2004); her story is also told in the slightly fictionalized 2004 film Monster, with Charlize Theron playing Aileen Wuornos; Wuornos is suspected of having killed at least seven men who picked her up as a prostitute along Florida's highways; her lesbian lover testified that she had admitted to one murder, and she was sentenced to the death penalty in 1992; executed by lethal injection on Oct. 9, 2002: "No matter what I say they're gonna believe I'm just a man hater. If I had wanted to kill just anybody, I had lots of chances."

And finally, a tale of mother/son love gone awry: Antony Baekeland (?-1981), the British plastics heir whose tale of abuse, incest and murder is told in the book Savage Grace by Natalie Robins and Steven Aronson: "The Baekelands were a prominent and extremely well-to-do family. The family patriarch, Leo Baekeland, had been a multi-millionaire industrialist, famous as the inventor of the first fully synthetic plastic, Bakelite, in 1909, and as the founder of the modern plastics industry. Barbara's son, Tony, wanted little to do with the family business; his main preoccupations were art, parties, and handsome men. Barbara loved everything about her son?his wit, his sense of style, his loyalty to her?but she could never reconcile herself to his homosexuality. They fought constantly about it, and their arguments?ferocious, vicious, sometimes violent?were legendary to everyone who knew them. For a long time, Barbara even tried to "cure" her son by hiring willing girls to take him to bed. When these hoped-for seductions failed, she sometimes talked of 1968, Barbara finally decided to seduce the boy herself. In a grotesque attempt to cure Tony of his homosexuality, Barbara coerced him into having sex with her when they were staying alone together in a house on Majorca. Predictably, the incestuous episode did nothing to alter Tony's sexuality, but it added a new twist to an already volatile relationship, and the fury of emotion between mother and son became explosive. Finally, on November 11, 1972, as the two of them argued in the kitchen of Barbara's posh London apartment, Tony angrily grabbed a kitchen knife and plunged it directly into her heart. She died almost instantly...he later confessed and was charged with murder. In June 1973 he was convicted of manslaughter under diminished responsibility and was sent to a psychiatric hospital near London. He later committed suicide." (quote source: Rutledge, L. The Gay Book of Lists. Alyson, 2003 edition, p. 129). Ironically, the heir to the Bakelite plastics fortune smothered himself to death with a plastic bag in 1981.

For more details on these and many other LGBTQ people around the world and throughout history, visit the Rainbow Lives website at
Ryan Schultz, Reference Librarian
University of Manitoba Libraries
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
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