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From time to time (and especially in our own age) it has been suggested that William Shakespeare was either gay or bisexual. Secondary (and flimsy) support for Shakespeare's homosexuality comes from the numerous examples of cross-dressing and other forms of gender confusion in the plays. We do know that King James I, England's ruler and one of the Bard's patron's was openly gay. But it is to the "young man cycle" of his Sonnets that the proponents of a gay Shakespeare turn. The first 126 of Shakespeare's numbered sonnets are addressed to a young man, whom the narrator admires for his physical beauty, and about whom the narrator expresses jealousy. In Sonnet #20, for example, the narrator opens his address to the young man by saying that Nature has painted the latter with a woman's face and calls him the "master mistress" of his passion. There are additional Sonnets in which a "same-sex" relationship is implied. Nevertheless, even in Sonnet #20 the narrator indicates that his love for the young man cannot be consummated, that the speaker of the verse has been "defeated" by Nature on this count. Moreover, we know that Shakespeare fathered three children and that the romances that appears in his plays are exclusively heterosexual. The fall back position of the "gay" Shakespeare camp is that the Bard was actually "bisexual." But even this claim rests on shaky ground.

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