Gay Love Stories

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Gay Love Stories - Blast from the Past

The ancient civilizations of Greece and Rome were way ahead of their times when it came to accepting same-sex couples. Though records of a lot of the original ancient LGBT love stories were erased by the homophobic revisionists, there are a few that survived the test of time and stand among us as an example of what it truly means to have an open mind and a well-developed ideology.

1. Hadrian and Antinous

The very first tale, reportedly the oldest of all, is that of Emperor Hadrian and Antinous. As they say, in love, status doesn't count; in fact, love is the only thing that has the power to destroy all biases created by this material world. So it doesn't come as a surprise that Hadrian was an emperor and he fell in love with Antinous, a peasant boy of Bythinian origin. It was the year 123 when this love story bloomed; as per historian Roystan, Hadrian was around 48 years old at the time and Antinous was just a teenager. The Emperor's bad marriage and lack of interest in other women fueled his attraction to Antinous. As per the historians, both men, later on, traveled the world from Athens to Alexandria to Antioch. It was during these travels that Antinous fell into the River Nile and died. The mystery behind his death was never solved but a cult emerged out of the incident and gave Antinous the stature of a god. 

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2. Catullus and Juventius

The second story that comes to mind is that of Catullus and Juventius. Though his love for Lesbia, a female, dominates most of the work done by the poet, yet his love for Juventius (among other men) is hard to ignore. 

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 3. Nisus and Euryalus

The next love story includes two Roman soldiers, Nisus and Euryalus. This love story appears in Book 5 of Aeneid where both the men are described as 'boys of blooming years'. Described as pious love, this story reaches a tragic end in book 9. 

4. Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema

4. Elagabalus and Hierocles

Number four on the list is the love story of Elagabalus and Hierocles; while the former, a Roman Emperor, was likely a transgender, the latter was his charioteer. This love story is well documented in Augustan History, according to which Elagabalus used to refer to himself as the queen and wife of Hierocles, which was quite scandalous. As per Cassius Dio, a historian, Hierocles is also known to have contacted a physician so that he could get his genitalia replaced with a female's. This story also ends in the tragic deaths of both lovers. 

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5. Julius Caesar and Nicomedes

Another great same-sex love story that is still talked about is that of Julius Caeser and Nicomedes (both were kings). As per Suetonius (the renowned Roman historian who wrote during the initial imperial ear of the Roman empire), King Nicomedes IV of Bythinia and Julius Ceasar had an affair that incidentally began when the latter was sent to the Nicomedes when he was just a young boy and was undergoing training under M. Minucius Thermus. Some say that this is just a lie that was fabricated by Ceasar's rivals (like Cicero, Licinius Calvus, and Bibulus) to hurt his reputation. 

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6. Megillus and Leaena

This is another same-sex love story worthy of a mention. It tells the tale of two women, one a gender-defiant girl who was born as Megilla and the other her one-time hookup, Leaena. Megilla, the girl from Lesbos, is said to have shaved her head to take on the identity of a man, and her story can be read about in the Dialogues of the Courtesans. In this piece, Leaena is quoted saying,  “I threw my arms around her as though she were a man, and she went to work, kissing me, and panting, and apparently enjoying herself immensely”. As per Leaena, there were more women of Lesbos who looked and loved like men. 

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7. Alexander the Great and Hephaestion

Another gay love story and a rather popular one is Alexander the Great and Hephaestion. As per David Lane Fox, a renowned ancient historian, “Alexander was only defeated once, the Cynic philosophers said long after his death, and that was by Hephaestion's thighs.” The extent of their relationship can also be deciphered from the description of the couple presented by Aristotle, “one soul abiding in two bodies.”

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8.  Socrates and Phaedo

The love story of Socrates and Phaedo is also quite popular. As per the writings of Plato, his famous teacher Socrates was into younger men. The very last of these love affairs was documented in rich detail in Phaedo. The tale is not overly sexual and says a lot about intimacy and reflection; in one of the passages, Socrates is depicted sharing a moment with Phaedo, he runs a hand through his hair and asks him not to cut his hair when he is gone. 


9. The Sacred Band of Thebes (or Epaminondas and Pelopidas)

This epic love story involves 150 same-sex couples and their famed generals, Epaminondas and Pelopidas. Plutarch wrote about this battalion from Thebes in detail, a group of gay warriors who fought side by side and were never known to face defeat until their last battle (the Battle of Chaeroneia). The reason behind their victories was the love they shared for their partners; they defended each other with their lives.