Was Shakespeare gay or bisexual? Was Shakespeare gay or bisexual? Was he in love with a man?

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Some people think so, partly because of the content of his poems and partly because of the plays.  I think most of the content in the plays was a type of humor that we don't understand, and I just think that poems are being re-interpreted grasping at straws.

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I'm always interested in this question, because I guess I just don't see why in the world it matters.  He was clearly a sexual being, and robertwilliam has it right in describing Elizabethan sexuality as "fluid."  If Shakespeare was gay, I shudder to think of his work somehow being absorbed into the narrow category of gay and lesbian literature.  His work, it seems to me, is transcendent and does not belong in any restricted category.  I have nothing at all against gay and lesbian literature, but it strikes me as being shallow to categorize any good writer in such a way--women, African-American, whatever.  Same principle. Good literature is good literature and good writers are good writers.

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It's a very complex question.

First thing to say is that the Elizabethans didn't have "straight" and "gay", but that it was widely accepted socially (though, of course, not religiously) that a man could be attracted to men (usually boys) and women in a fluid way. It wasn't about being gay, straight, bi or anything else. It was just who you wanted to sleep with and be in love with right then.

The sextet of Sonnet 20, which addresses a male, offers a pretty clear indication that its speaker is thinking sexually about a male ("thing" means "penis", and "nothing" means vagina):

And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick'd thee out for women's pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love's use their treasure.

Shakespeare's plays also contain several characters who can be (and are!) interpreted as "gay": notably the Antonios in "The Merchant of Venice" and "Twelfth Night". Shakespeare's friend, Christopher Marlowe, certainly slept with other men - and Shakespeare's comedies are packed full of sexual/gender confusion.

So Shakespeare wouldn't think of himself as "gay", but may well have had relationships with a man (what happened to his marriage to Anne H. all those years he was in London?). As usual with Shakespeare's biography, we can never really know.

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