Thursday, May 31, 2012

England Once Had A Gay King

Right up to 1967, Homosexuality was still a crime in England. In 1957, just 10 years before that, the story was awful. But that year (1957), the Report of the Departmental Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution (Wolfenden report) overseen by Sir John Wolfenden, the chairman of the committee was published. By this time a series of well-known men, including Lord Montagu, Michael Pitt-Rivers and Peter Wildeblood, have been convicted of homosexual offences. But the story was different approximately 800 years before that.

As the first Prince of Wales, King Edward II, was besotted with his court servant, the1st Earl of Cornwall,
Piers Geaveston. At that time, the word favourite was rather preferred. The love between the two young men was so strong that it took outlawry to defy their relationship. In fact, one might blame it on their friendship which started  the young Prince Edward was served by young Gaveston who, it is said, was extravagant and even impressed the prince's father before that, which led to Gaveston being employed in the courts. But even after the King married his wife, Queen Isabella, Gaveston was not made a secret but rather, became a thorn in the queen's flesh.

Although Gaveston had been sent into his first exile by the prince's father, on his accession, the new King brought back his man-lover from exile and their love affair resumed. It is known that Gaveston played a very important role at his coronation. But after so many infighting within the nobles, and after Gaveston died as a result, the King did not stop.

Yes, King Edward II went further to find himself another male lover, Hugh Despenser; and this, while he was still married to the Queen and quite openly. The king was bold and brave and his subjects knew that he was homosexual or bisexual.

However, what was very significant during these tussles was not that anyone disproved strongly the king's love life, no. Disapproval  was only based on the morals of his marriage to a woman. Nonetheless, if not for an heir, one can assume that the king wouldnt have married a woman at all. What with the role Gaveston played at his coronation?

Although the King had a lot of ill-lucks with wars and uprisings, it must be noted that it was in his time - the time of the first known 'gay' King - that colleges were established in Oxford and Cambridge. This must not be a surprised; only a gay man could have thought of improving social mobility... And a 'bisexual' King Edward II did that. To this day, that legacy have continued to be the tool that liberate us from the usurping powers of the landowners.

The first openly gay monarch of England, did us all proud.

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