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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Public Scandals
 
  The stories of public scandals involving glbtq people often illuminate the cultural and historical milieus in which they occurred as much as the biographies of the subjects of the scandals.  
 
 
  Maud AllanMaud Allan (1873-1956) was an English dancer famous for her stunning performances in the title role of The Vision of Salome. During World War I, a Member of Parliament published an article entitled "The Cult of the Clitoris" that attacked her as a pervert whose corruption of English morals abetted the German war effort. Allan fought back with a sensational, but ultimately unsuccessful libel suit.  
 
 
  The Execution of John AthertonJohn Atherton (1598-1640), Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, was hanged for sodomy in Ireland under a law he helped institute. In Stuart England, Atherton's case became the subject of sermons and moral tracts that warned listeners and readers about the dangers of buggery.  
 
 
  William BeckfordWilliam Beckford (1760-1844), one of England's wealthiest men, was ostracized by English society after his uncle published allegations of homosexual improprieties in morning newspapers in 1784.  
 
 
  Anthony Blunt (1907-1983) enjoyed close connections with England's royal family and a prestigious career as an art historian  until his participation in a communist spy ring during the 1950s was revealed by Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.  
 
 
  Lord George Gordon ByronGeorge Gordon, Lord Byron (1728-1824) was such a popular English poet and personality that his contemporaries coined "Byronomania" to describe the public's fascination with him. Byron's celebrity, however, was not enough to protect him when rumors of his homosexual inclinations became widespread. The scandal compelled him to leave England and never return.  
 
 
  Julius CaesarJulius Caesar (100-44 B.C.E), Emperor of Rome, never denied his youthful sexual relationship with Nicomedes, King of Bythinia. His detractors frequently referred to him as the "queen" of Rome or a woman to undermine his authority.  
 
 
  Roger Casement (left) escorted by a policemanRoger Casement (1864-1916) was an Irish patriot who earned a knighthood before he joined the rebel movement fighting for the independence of Ireland. He was stripped of his knighthood and executed for treason by the British in 1916. The British used evidence of his homosexuality discovered in his diaries to further discredit him.  
 
 
  Benvenuto CelliniBenvenuto Cellini (1500-1571), one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance, was convicted of homosexual sodomy in Florence in 1557. He escaped a prison sentence, but spent four years under house arrest.  
 
 
  Whittaker ChambersWhittaker Chambers (1901-1961), a one-time communist, accused former U.S. State Department official Alger Hiss of being a communist before the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1948. The aura of homosexuality that surrounded this case helped perpetuate the public perception that homosexuality and treason were linked, an idea that was a hallmark of McCarthyism.  
 
 
  Margaret Clap (fl. 1720s), also known as "Mother Clap," operated one of the more popular molly houses in London. After it was raided in 1726, she was pilloried and imprisoned.  
 
 
  Prince Albert VictorThe Cleveland Street Scandal of 1889, involving members of the English nobility and allegations of a government cover-up, fueled the perception of homosexuality as an aristocratic vice that corrupted working-class youths.  
 
 
  Henry CowellHenry Cowell (1897-1965) was an important musical innovator who sought to create an ultramodern style that synthesized Western, Asian, and African music. His career was severely damaged when he was convicted and imprisoned for having sex with a seventeen-year-old male.  
 
 
  Jérôme Duquesnoy (1602-1654) was one of the most renowned sculptors of the seventeenth century, but for decades after his death he was best known for his execution for sodomy.  
 
 
  Philipp zu EulenburgPhilipp zu Eulenburg (1857-1921) was a political advisor and favorite of Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany. Eulenburg's involvement with a circle of homosexual men led to public scandal and his estrangement from the Kaiser.  
 
 
  Barney FrankBarney Frank (b. 1940), an openly gay Democratic congressman from Massachusetts, was first elected
in 1980. He was beset by scandal in 1989 when the Washington Times revealed that his male housekeeper was a convicted felon and operated a prostitution ring while working for the congressman. Frank survived the scandal and continues to represent the Fourth Congressional District of Massachusetts.
 
 
 
  Gustav VKing Gustav V of Sweden (1858-1950) was the last Swedish king to exert direct power over his government. After his death, Swedes were shocked to learn that Gustav was bisexual and that the royal family paid an enormous sum to one of his male lovers in a cover-up.  
 
 
  Radclyffe Hall (1880-1943) lived her lesbianism openly and proudly. She is best known for The Well of Loneliness (1928), arguably the most important lesbian novel ever written. Hall's effectiveness in engaging the reader's sympathy alarmed conservative moralists who sued the book's publisher for obscenity in a sensational trial.  
 
 
  An unflattering depiction of Pope JoanPope Joan was said to have lived in the ninth century. She was thought to have been a woman who lived as a man in order to rise in the church hierarchy to eventually become Pope John VIII. The story captured the imaginations of Europeans for hundreds of years.  
 
 
  Pope Julius IIIPope Julius III (1487-1555) appointed Innocenzo, his fifteen-year-old male lover, to church office and eventually named him cardinal creating one of the most notorious homosexual scandals in the history of the papacy.  
 
 
  Friedrich Alfred KruppFriedrich Alfred Krupp (1854-1902), heir to the German armament company, was accused of betraying his birthright by pursuing homosexual pleasures in the south of Italy. After the scandal became public, Krupp died under circumstances that remain mysterious.  
 
 
  Leopold and LoebNathan F. Leopold (1904-1971) and Richard A. Loeb (1905-1936) gained notoriety for the murder of a fourteen-year-old boy in 1924. Their story has since become a staple of popular culture, inspiring numerous books, films, and plays including the films Rope (1948), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and Swoon (1992), directed by Tom Kalin, as well as Murder by Numbers (2002), which starred Sandra Bullock.  
 
 
  Jean-Baptiste LullyJean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), a composer who served as Master of the King's Music under Louis XIV of France, had an immense impact on opera throughout Europe. After an affair with a male "music page" was exposed, Lully was expelled from the court.  
 
 
  George MichaelGeorge Michael (b. 1963) is a popular singer/songwriter who began his musical career in 1980 as half of the pop duo Wham!  Michael's sexual orientation remained elusively undefined until his 1998 arrest for "lewd behavior" in a restroom in Beverly Hills, California made headlines.  
 
 
  Joe Orton (1933-1967), an openly gay British playwright, may have been the twentieth century's greatest writer of farce. His shocking death--the result of hammer blows inflicted by his lover in a murder-suicide--occurred as Orton was about to achieve worldwide fame.  
 
 
  Johnnie RayJohnnie Ray (1927-1990), a teen heartthrob in the 1950s, was dubbed the "Prince of Wails" because of his emotional on-stage musical style. His career was severely damaged by arrests for solicitation and gossip about his sexuality.  
 
 
  Alfred RedlAlfred Redl (1864-1913) was an Austro-Hungarian Army Chief of Counterintelligence who was blackmailed into spying for Russia in the years before World War I. Many historians believe that tens of thousands of Austro-Hungarian soldiers died as a result of Redl's sales of information to the Russians.  
 
 
  Ernst RoehmErnst Röhm (1887-1934), both an avid supporter of Hitler and the national socialist movement in Germany and a homosexual, was assassinated in 1934, when the German leader "cleansed" the party of homosexuals.  
 
 
  Clay Shaw (1913-1974) is known as the only person ever tried for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Because of his vulnerability as a homosexual, Shaw was falsely accused and tried by New Orleans district attorney Jim Garrison to further the latter's political ambitions.  
 
 
  Simeon SolomonSimeon Solomon (1840-1905) was an artist associated with the English Aesthetic Movement who was remarkable for choosing to live openly as a homosexual at a time when it was dangerous to do so. After arrests in England and France, friends shunned him and he was reduced to poverty.  
 
 
  Gerry StuddsGerry Studds (1937-2006) was the first member of the United States Congress to come out publicly. First elected in 1973, Studds faced controversy when a former page revealed that he had had a sexual relationship with the congressman ten years earlier. Though he was censured by the House, Studds was re-elected and continued to serve until 1997.  
 
 
  Brandon Teena (1972-1993) was brutally murdered on December 31, 1993 on account of his gender non-conformity. His life and death spurred transgender activism and inspired the film Boys Don't Cry (1998) for which Hilary Swank, as Brandon, won an Academy Award as Best Actress.  
 
 
  Big Bill TildenWilliam "Big Bill" Tilden (1893-1953) was one of the greatest tennis players of all time. His spectacular success on the courts was followed by an equally spectacular fall when his homosexuality and penchant for teenaged boys became known.  
 
 
  A member of the Vere Street Coterie at the pilloryThe Vere Street Coterie was a group of men associated with a male brothel in London. Their convictions for homosexual offenses in 1810 led to the most brutal public punishment of homosexuals in British history.  
 
 
  Detail from a portrait of Oscar WildeOscar Wilde (1854-1900) was one of Britain's most accomplished and visible writers at the end of the nineteenth century. His spectacular public trial and subsequent imprisonment for "gross indecency" have established him as an iconic gay martyr.  
 
 
 

 
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