In case you missed it going by on Twitter I’ll post it again – there’s a quote going around attributed to Sir Ian McKellen that says of course Shakespeare was gay. Honestly, when I saw the headline go by that “Shakespeare actor says Shakespeare was gay” I thought, “Well there’s a stupid and uninformed actor trying to get his name in the paper.” Needless to say I was quite surprised to see Sir Ian looking back at me when I clicked.
I’m trying to find the original source since all I can find are clips out of context, but here’s the juicy part:
SIR Ian McKellen: “No doubt Shakespeare was gay. His predilection was evident from his works. An unmistakenly feminine portrait of his patron Henry Wriothesley adds evidence that early sonnets to ‘fair youth’ were probably meant for males.
“Married, with children, he left his wife in Stratford to live in London. I’d say he slept with men. ‘The Merchant of Venice,’ centering on how the world treats gays as well as Jews, has a love triangle between an older man, younger man and a woman. And complexity in his comedies with cross-dressing and disguises is immense. Shakespeare obviously enjoyed sex with men as well as women.”
Clearly this merits discussion. I am hoping (nay, assuming) that Sir Ian was being a bit silly, as I don’t often see anybody with a Shakespeare credit to their name saying that there’s “obviously” or “no doubt” about anything in the man’s life.