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  #1  
Old 02-27-2004, 07:15 AM
Go You Big Red Fire Engine Go You Big Red Fire Engine is offline
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Was Leonardo da Vinci Homosexual?

A friend of mine told me this the other day and I had never heard it before. Apparently it's a common fact. Was he? What proof is there?
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2004, 07:27 AM
Dunderman Dunderman is offline
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In 1476, when he was 24, he was charged with homosexual conduct (a crime at the time). An anonymous person accused him and three other men of availing themselves of the services of a young male prostitute. The charges were dropped due to lack of evidence.

He also painted a lot of nude male bodies and the like. I've seen a few and the ones I've seen aren't exactly erotic. They look like biology textbook diagrams. The famous four-armed four-legged wild-haired male figure I'm sure you've seen is one of these.

He didn't marry nor have any relationships with women that we know of. It's also claimed that he mentored several young men during his life, but I haven't seen much evidence. Can't really claim I've looked very hard.

That's the evidence as far as I know. Now, if you wish to follow me into crackpot territory, take a gander at Freud's book Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of his Childhood, where our favourite psychiatrist tries to explain da Vinci's genius (and homosexuality) with a neglecting father and doting mother. Standard Freud stuff, really, and not evidence either way.

da Vinci is often included in lists of "Great Gay Men" and the like, but his homosexuality is far from proven.
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:20 AM
lissener lissener is offline
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The only way, really, to ask the question is this: "If LdV were alive today, would he call himself a homosexual?"

It's my understanding that the concept of a person who identifies himself as a homosexual is a pretty modern concept. Before modern times, homosexuality was seen strictly as a form of deviant behavior, and not an orientation per se. For further muddying, at various times and places in human history, homosexual acts have inspired varying degrees of acceptance or disapproval. Were more of the ancient Greeks homosexual than, say, modern Hasidic Jews? Undoubtedly not, but the Hellenic culture was less censorious of homosexual acts.

The distinction between the black and white areas of gay and straight are not separated by a clean line; that spectrum is largely gray. So any such label is a self applied one.
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  #4  
Old 02-27-2004, 11:43 AM
Futile Gesture Futile Gesture is offline
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Leonardo never married and had a young 'assistant companion' called Salai who seemed do little work and indulge in behaviour that usually would have ended in redundancy or a good beating. But in Leonardo's own diaries we are told that he always forgave him. All Salai seem to having going for him is that he made a good model.

When Leonardo died he left Salai a significant portion of his wealth.

Draw your own conclusions.
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  #5  
Old 02-27-2004, 12:50 PM
MrVisible MrVisible is offline
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The sexual orientation of historical figures is always difficult to ascertain. You have to keep in mind that there are at least two layers of deliberate obfuscation to penetrate.

First, if the subject is indeed homosexual, they're in all probability doing their best to hide that fact. If homosexuality is criminal in their culture, it's in their best interest to leave as little evidence as possible which could convict them. Which doesn't end up leaving much for future historians.

Second, the future historians of the past may not have held homosexuality in great regard. When a researcher from a past period came across evidence that indicated that their subject was homosexual, they often excluded it from their publications or even destroyed it.

In addition to that, keep in mind that human sexuality, as has been pointed out many times, is not binary; people are arrayed along a continuum of sexualities, ranging from 100% straight to 100% gay, with very few people at the extremes. Instead of asking, "was so-and-so gay" we might be better off to ask where they fall on the Kinsey scale. Of course, even determining one's own position on the Kinsey scale can be challenging, which highlights the problem of nailing down the sexual orientation of people who've been dead for centuries. Heck, there's even still debate about Walt Whitman, and he died in 1919.

Fortunately, there's been considerable interest in gay and lesbian history recently. There are several volumes of interest out there, but if you're interested I'd recommend starting with the excellent overview provided by Richard Norton's web site dedicated to the subject. He's also compiled an excellent page of links to websites concerning gay and lesbian history.

It's a fascinating field of study. I hope you pursue your interest in it.
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  #6  
Old 02-27-2004, 01:30 PM
vetbridge vetbridge is offline
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Originally Posted by Priceguy
It's also claimed that he mentored several young men during his life
Well, then. There's your answer.
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  #7  
Old 02-27-2004, 03:00 PM
rjung rjung is offline
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Not to ding the OP, but my response upon reading the thread title was "Who cares?" It's not like confirmation/refudation of Leonardo's sexual orientation is going to affect his works, is it?
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  #8  
Old 02-27-2004, 03:53 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjung
Not to ding the OP, but my response upon reading the thread title was "Who cares?" It's not like confirmation/refudation of Leonardo's sexual orientation is going to affect his works, is it?
It was alleged in Dan Brown's Davinci Code and I was curious if it was true. If this thread hadn't been started, I would have eventually asked. It doesn't change the quality of his work.
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  #9  
Old 02-27-2004, 03:56 PM
absimia absimia is offline
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Originally Posted by rjung
Not to ding the OP, but my response upon reading the thread title was "Who cares?" It's not like confirmation/refudation of Leonardo's sexual orientation is going to affect his works, is it?
No, it wouldn't affect his works, or even people's opinions of them...well I should hope not anyhow, but I think some folks care...at least judging by a poster I once saw during Gay Pride listing famous homosexuals through history. Its a prestige thing.
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  #10  
Old 02-27-2004, 04:12 PM
MrVisible MrVisible is offline
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I managed to get through two years of junior high and four of high school in the US without ever hearing any mention of homosexuality except for derogatory epithets from my peers.

Once I got to college and found out that a few of the people whose works we'd studied were gay, I was reassured about my ability to create things of beauty and contribute to society. A massively negative one-sided portrayal of homosexuals exists in society at the moment, and acknowledging the sexuality of gay and lesbian geniuses from history is a small step towards rectifying that.

I have a nephew who's gay, and who is struggling towards an understanding of himself in that context. It's a great thing to be able to point him towards the work of Walt Whitman and Michaelangelo, and tell him that he can aspire to contribute what they did. To help him to understand that in no way does his sexuality limit his potential.

There's also the matter of historical integrity. The personal lives of artists, for example, are studied in the context of art history classes. Their lives inevitably affect their art. To exclude the alternative sexuality of some artists from discussion, when their loves and persecution must have impacted their aesthetic, is to have an incomplete appreciation of their influences. Especially seeing as discussions of heterosexual artists' love lives and marriages abound.
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  #11  
Old 02-27-2004, 04:26 PM
Eve Eve is offline
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Originally Posted by Priceguy
In 1476, when he was 24, he was charged with homosexual conduct
Ah, but you know what it was like to be in your 20s back in the '70s . . .
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  #12  
Old 02-27-2004, 04:27 PM
Go You Big Red Fire Engine Go You Big Red Fire Engine is offline
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We saw it on a gay pride poster... which had the title No Queers. No Flight! It just seemed because he was dead, they could call him what they wanted.
Then I had to sit through a movie which was apparently all about lesbians and footage of them throughout the history of film.
But just because its a women softball team does not make them all lesbians! And a woman in a porn magazine does not a lesbian make! It seemed that they were calling a LOT of dead people gay, when there was no evidence to support it.
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  #13  
Old 02-27-2004, 04:35 PM
Skott Skott is offline
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Originally Posted by Khadaji
It was alleged in Dan Brown's Davinci Code and I was curious if it was true.
Dan Brown alledges a lot of things in his book, using the amazing schoolground technique of "all historians know it, but the general public doesn't". There are many opinions, but very little facts, and the idea that "all historians" know it is clearly facetious.
Quote:
Wikipedia entry:
Leonardo appears to never have had intimate relations with women. In 1476 he was anonymously accused of homosexual contact with a 17-year-old model, Jacopo Saltarelli, a notorious prostitute. He was, together with three other young men, charged with homosexual conduct and acquitted because of lack of evidence. For a time Leonardo and the others were under the watchful eye of Florence's "Officers of the Night" - a kind of Renaissance vice squad.
The lack of evidence continues today.
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  #14  
Old 02-27-2004, 05:48 PM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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If a guy, once arrested for homosexuality, in his journal writes explicitly that he is disgusted by women’s sex organs [and] He argues that the penis, by contrast, is so fine that it is practically a crime against nature to hide it ... would you call him gay? gay-ish? has issues? It is open to interpretation certainly, but with the relationship to the pretyy male ward thrown in ... I submit the weight of the evidence suggests a homosexual orientation -- not that there is anything wrong with that.

A good recent article on what we (think we) know -- & don't know about him.
http://www.artnewsonline.com/current...fm?art_id=1240
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  #15  
Old 02-27-2004, 06:02 PM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Skott
Dan Brown alledges a lot of things in his book, using the amazing schoolground technique of "all historians know it, but the general public doesn't". There are many opinions, but very little facts, and the idea that "all historians" know it is clearly facetious.

The lack of evidence continues today.
Well yeah. That's why I was curious. I don't really care, it doesn't change my opinion of his work, but having read it in that particular book, I was suddenly curious if it were true...
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  #16  
Old 02-27-2004, 08:46 PM
Brandus Brandus is offline
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[QUOTE=rjung] "Who cares?"QUOTE]

I think it matters a great deal. I find it curious that some of the greatest minds in every civilization have been gay, Socrates, Da Vinci, and Nietzsche for starters. Sexuality permeates human behavior way more than most people think, and I wonder if there is something about being gay that forces some people to become great artists and philosophers (or vice versa?).

Would Nietzsche have written such important works if he did not live in such a conservative society that he was forced to repress his sexuality, and find other means of expression? I find it unlikely that he would have written about the ultra-masculine Ubermensch hero coming to save him if he was not such a terribly lonely old man. Although I have not studied da vinci, I do know that when Friedrich saw Da vinci's "Self Portrait", he proclaimed, "That's him! That's exactly what I imagined he looked like!"; speaking of his Zarathrustra character.
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  #17  
Old 02-27-2004, 09:46 PM
Fish Fish is offline
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The weight of the evidence may be there, jjimmy, but it may still be wrong. I'm thirty-two, never married, don't think female sexual organs are particularly attractive, and I'm straight. Interpret all you like, but until firmer evidence comes to light, the conclusion is still a rampant speculation based implicitly on what evidence you think a heterosexual man should have left behind. Futile Gesture also suggests that we draw our own conclusions, and my conclusion is: who really knows for sure, and who cares?

For what it's worth, MrVisible, I agree that for the sake of honest education we should be speaking openly about artwork—any creation, really—brought into the world by homosexual artists. Or black artists, or disabled ones. That is the honest thing to do, and I'm sure it would greatly enhance the lives of homosexuals, blacks, and disabled people to realize that yes, they can make a contribution. I'd just prefer that when we're talking about a historical figure for which there is suggestive but inconclusive evidence, we say, "Well, he coulda been. Or maybe not. Who can say, really."

I've seen a comparison made between the face of the Mona Lisa and Leonardo's own face. I believe I read it in Smithsonian. If I remember it correctly, X-rays show that the pencil "cartoon" underneath the paint layer began as a self-portrait. Was Leonardo trying to paint what he'd have looked like as a woman? Was he, in fact, transgendered and not homosexual? Would that not still fit the facts as we know them?

Again, who knows? It's an interesting theory—but I think that before we co-opt a historical figure for own purposes (cf. Jesus was black), we start with the facts.

That's why I have to call for a cite on "Socrates was gay," Brandus. As far as I know, the only evidence we have of the very existence of Socrates is in the writings of his student, Plato. Unless Plato boinked him himself—and told the truth about it—and we can prove it's the truth—then how do you know? Did Plato write "by the way, Socrates is gay, ask Aeschylus" in something and I just missed it?
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Old 02-27-2004, 10:45 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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It's an interesting theory—but I think that before we co-opt a historical figure for own purposes (cf. Jesus was black), we start with the facts.
I thought this was worth reiterating. Well put, Fish. Leo may or may not have been gay, but there are agendas in play here too. (Not among our posters, I mean, but certainly among some groups.)

Quote:
We saw it on a gay pride poster... which had the title No Queers. No Flight! It just seemed because he was dead, they could call him what they wanted.
Well, it's not like he was gonna argue with them about it.

Quote:
Then I had to sit through a movie which was apparently all about lesbians and footage of them throughout the history of film.
But just because its a women softball team does not make them all lesbians! And a woman in a porn magazine does not a lesbian make! It seemed that they were calling a LOT of dead people gay, when there was no evidence to support it.
You're correct on both counts. But did they just assert these people were gay, or are they actually gay? Are there lesbian softball teams? (If so, I think a lot of guys have just had a dream come true.) Some dead people actually were gay, you know.

Quote:
I find it curious that some of the greatest minds in every civilization have been gay, Socrates, Da Vinci, and Nietzsche for starters.
No doubt that's true, although you can't say for sure any of the three were actually gay. People's experiences and personalities affect their works. Then again, lots of brilliant people were straight, so let's hold off on making the gay>genius correlation.
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  #19  
Old 02-27-2004, 11:00 PM
WernhamHogg WernhamHogg is offline
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For that matter...

It seems to me that there is little or no evidence that Da Vinci was straight.
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:14 PM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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That's true, but I don't think it's so wrong to assume someone's straight, given that the vast majority of people are. At least, it's okay if you're discussing someone who died hundreds of years ago, it's kind of impolite normally.

Evidence is a funny thing, you know? Shakespeare married young and had three kids and people say he was gay.
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Old 02-27-2004, 11:17 PM
XT XT is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjung
Not to ding the OP, but my response upon reading the thread title was "Who cares?" It's not like confirmation/refudation of Leonardo's sexual orientation is going to affect his works, is it?
Its actually kind of scary when I agree with rjung twice in a week.

-XT
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  #22  
Old 02-28-2004, 12:12 AM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Originally Posted by Brandus
I think it matters a great deal. I find it curious that some of the greatest minds in every civilization have been gay, Socrates, Da Vinci, and Nietzsche for starters. Sexuality permeates human behavior way more than most people think, and I wonder if there is something about being gay that forces some people to become great artists and philosophers (or vice versa?).

Would Nietzsche have written such important works if he did not live in such a conservative society that he was forced to repress his sexuality, and find other means of expression? I find it unlikely that he would have written about the ultra-masculine Ubermensch hero coming to save him if he was not such a terribly lonely old man.
The evidence for Nietzsche's homosexuality is far weaker than that for Da Vinci. I did my thesis on Nietzsche, and speaking personally I'd kind of get a kick out of it if he were gay, but I don't feel I could honestly make such a claim. Unlike Da Vinci, Nietzsche is known to have been romantically involved with women. This never worked out well for him, but I couldn't say whether this was because he was gay or because he was just bad with women. There doesn't seem to be any particular man in Nietzsche's life who was "someone special" in a romantic sense, and right up to the end he seems to have had a big crush on Cosima Wagner.

This isn't to say Nietzsche couldn't have been gay. Joachim Köhler makes a decent argument that he was in Zarathustra’s Secret, but it's far from conclusive. And in the particular case of Nietzsche, too many people have already tried to "explain" his work by inventing weird theories about the man himself.
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  #23  
Old 02-28-2004, 12:27 AM
Priam Priam is offline
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My feelings on this would be if a particular work or body of work was inspired by a same-sex relationship it has every amount of relevance to education as were it inspired by opposite-sex relationships (ala many of Shakespeare's sonnets). I think Walt Whitman is fair game, regardless of his sexuality, because some of his poems were quite obviously inspired by men he was in some sort of close relationship with. Ditto Byron, whose scandalous affairs with both men and women are a matter of (IIRC) public record. And, of course, could you really give a decent biography of Oscar Wilde without mentioning the end of his career?
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  #24  
Old 02-28-2004, 03:20 AM
MrVisible MrVisible is offline
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Originally Posted by Fish
For what it's worth, MrVisible, I agree that for the sake of honest education we should be speaking openly about artwork—any creation, really—brought into the world by homosexual artists. Or black artists, or disabled ones. That is the honest thing to do, and I'm sure it would greatly enhance the lives of homosexuals, blacks, and disabled people to realize that yes, they can make a contribution. I'd just prefer that when we're talking about a historical figure for which there is suggestive but inconclusive evidence, we say, "Well, he coulda been. Or maybe not. Who can say, really."
Which is, if you'll note, the exact position I took.

I think we'll all agree that in the study of history, it's imperative that the truth be the end goal. Unfortunately, the truth is elusive. One historical event can be described in an awful lot of ways by different witnesses or participants, and the further we get from it, the less chance there is that we're actually understanding it as it happened.

Do we stop studying history because we never know for certain what actually transpired? No, we keep sifting through clues, looking for evidence, and we come up with new theories that fit the evidence that we have. And even if we have an incomplete picture, the research we've done may lay the foundation for further discoveries.

In other words, no, we don't know for certain whether Leonardo was gay. But it's an interesting question, and one that scholars and laymen will ponder for as long as there's no new evidence either way. All we can hope for is that conclusions aren't drawn on the basis of agendas, and instead are based on evidence.
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Old 02-28-2004, 03:46 AM
rjung rjung is offline
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Originally Posted by xtisme
Its actually kind of scary when I agree with rjung twice in a week.
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  #26  
Old 02-28-2004, 03:53 AM
kimera kimera is offline
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Apparently people that knew him or people that knew people who knew him also debated or thought that he was homosexual. Gian Paolo Lomazzo (1536-1584) did not personally know Leonardo, but he knew many of Leonardo’s younger students. He wrote a treatise where Leonardo declares that he made love to Salai many times.

And I don't want to start a hijack, but I do believe that many people at that time did understand the concept of homosexuality. After all, you have Il Sodoma (1477-1549), a painter who had such a love for those as the same sex as himself that he called himself ‘the sodomite.’ So it is entirely possible that Leonardo da Vinci thought of himself as a 'homosexual' by modern definitions. I don't think that we will ever know the truth one way or another though.
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Old 02-28-2004, 03:54 AM
Marley23 Marley23 is offline
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Not to ding the OP, but my response upon reading the thread title was "Who cares?" It's not like confirmation/refudation of Leonardo's sexual orientation is going to affect his works, is it?
To be fair, this is not the intent. Someone usually asks this when a thread about a celebrity's sexuality comes up. The guy is just asking a question. I think few people would judge da Vinci differently if it was proved he was gay.
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Old 02-28-2004, 08:27 AM
Khadaji Khadaji is offline
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Originally Posted by Marley23
To be fair, this is not the intent. Someone usually asks this when a thread about a celebrity's sexuality comes up. The guy is just asking a question. I think few people would judge da Vinci differently if it was proved he was gay.
I agree. There is nothing wrong with being curious, even about topics people want to be PC about. We could say "who cares" about so very many questions. What is the etymology of "Crazy like a fox?"

"Who cares? It won't really change how often I use it. It won't change how I think of the phraze."

Verifying facts isn't wrong, nor does it imply a judgement.
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Old 02-28-2004, 08:30 AM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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Originally Posted by Fish
The weight of the evidence may be there, jjimmy, but it may still be wrong. I'm thirty-two, never married, don't think female sexual organs are particularly attractive, and I'm straight. Interpret all you like, but until firmer evidence comes to light, the conclusion is still a rampant speculation based implicitly on what evidence you think a heterosexual man should have left behind.
Well I disagree. "Rampant speculation" is far too strong. As I said I think the weight of the evidence is that he had a homosexual orientation for the reasons I cited and others (like [B]ava{/B] cites).

Where speculation (rampant or other) is needed is to explain away the evidence as so:
Well lots of lifelong bachelors have relationships with young men, proclaim their love repeatedly for the handsome young male companion, have no known sexual relationships with women, are arrested for Homosexual acts, are thought by some contemporaries to be gay, note that they are "disgusted" by women's sex organs ... and are not in fact gay.

As I said, I submit the weight of the evidence we do have points logically to a homosexual orientation of some sort - I don't care in any way - but it is the question at hand.
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Old 02-28-2004, 02:24 PM
Fish Fish is offline
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We will agree to disagree, then, jjimmy, because until solid evidence comes to light—a confession by Leonardo, perhaps, written in his own handwriting—then we're still speculating. Rampantly speculating—you have provided no cites. I did say there was evidence that Leonardo may have been gay—but declaring his sexuality as proven fact is not particularly scientific.

Remember, there are people alive today who are being constantly shifted from one side to the other of the Is He Or Isn't He column and despite the fact that they are living celebrities we don't know for certain. People with an axe to grind will compile large lists of "evidence" such as yours and make their assumptions. And sometimes they're wrong—and sometimes they're right and the celebrity doesn't admit it—and sometimes they're right and the celebrity does admit it. McCarthy had better evidence.

In other words, I'm not saying Leonardo is and I'm not saying his isn't. I don't care one way or another; it won't affect my view of the man or his contributions to the world. There's simply a limit to how much you can know about a man that has been dead for four centuries. So convince me.

To easily rebut your specific allegations about Leonardo:

Quote:
Well lots of lifelong bachelors have relationships with young men, proclaim their love repeatedly for the handsome young male companion, have no known sexual relationships with women, are arrested for Homosexual acts, are thought by some contemporaries to be gay, note that they are "disgusted" by women's sex organs ... and are not in fact gay.
"Lifelong bachelor" is not the same as "confirmed homosexual." If it is proven that he had sexual relations with many men, the other evidence is probably not necessary (ie, Leonardo was gay, bi, or at least curious). Or are you simply assuming that because he was friends with them, he was sexual partners with them? I have had relationships with plenty of gay men, and slept with none of them. Did I love any of them? In a way, yes. What did Leonardo declare about his love and how did he say it? Did he say it in Italian? What word did he use and are you translating it right?

I love many people that I haven't slept with, but I couldn't prove this because I don't record my sexual encounters and (I presume) neither do my partners. Would records of any of my sexual encounters last for four hundred years? I doubt it. So instead of saying he has no known sexual encounters with women, shit, you could say he has no recorded sexual encounters with women—and I already asked about recorded encounters with men (that is, if you have evidence, bring it).

What Leonardo's contemporaries think about his sexuality isn't evidence—and any conclusions you derive from that is speculation based on speculation. Don't call that rampant? 'Cos I do.

Of course, you only provided your interpretation of facts as you saw them. Your allegations were full of sematic leanings. Now if you have links, cites, or proofs, show us. That's the topic of the thread, after all, and this is Great Debates.
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  #31  
Old 02-28-2004, 04:07 PM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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Look I'm saying there is complete unshakeable proof. I'm saying the weight of the evidence suggest he had a homosexual orientation.
You say I'm not convinced. That's cool.

But I provided evidence. You did not. You provided (I would say) (rampant) speculative answers "That make sense to Fish" to the evidence e.g. Yeah maybe that thing that walks like a duck, and talks like a duck is actually a dog disguised as a duck. Again cool. This GD -- but to pretend that no evidence has been provided, is just silly.

I provided a link where an art historian translated the text. She says
"Today, Leonardo’s homosexuality is generally taken for granted."
Any competent biography will deal with the subject. Here are three, you can see folks who got them are upset that he was gay is mentioned (not saying you are upset)

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...57627?v=glance

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...57627?v=glance

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg...57627?v=glance

Now I must say: The weight of evidence has led the majority of scholarly opinion to believe that Leonardo was probably a homosexual. What do you have to offer to show (besides your personal opinion -"takes") that the evidence doesn't convince you?
I submitt there is nothing to show anything but a homsexual orientation -- no girlfriends, no sexual relationshp with a woman... zip, nada. What say you?
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  #32  
Old 02-28-2004, 04:58 PM
WernhamHogg WernhamHogg is offline
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When I suggested earlier that there was little or no evidence supporting his heterosexuality, I was not merely being cute, but making an accurate statement of the evidence.
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  #33  
Old 02-29-2004, 05:49 AM
Go You Big Red Fire Engine Go You Big Red Fire Engine is offline
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Originally Posted by Marley23
The guy is just asking a question.
I'm a lady
and also marley, they were asserting they were gay, it looked just like your average game of softball to me... not saying that it couldn't have been lesbians, or that some of them weren't.. but the context of the game, in black and white, in public, suggested that this was just footage they stole of an early women's softball game.
She even adlibs the word "lesbians" over women in Eleanor Roosevelt's (?) opening speech at the first national women's meeting.
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  #34  
Old 02-29-2004, 06:46 AM
Fish Fish is offline
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Um, your original link was lacking any actual proof. As far as I can see it contains one relevant paragraph in a page otherwise devoted to da Vinci's artistic technique:

Quote:
Today, Leonardo’s homosexuality is generally taken for granted. (In his writings, he does seem to take an obvious interest in the boy Salai, who at age ten came to live with him. And he notes that the male form is not only more beautiful than the female, in the way any ancient Greek would have seen it, but writes explicitly that he is disgusted by women’s sex organs. He argues that the penis, by contrast, is so fine that it is practically a crime against nature to hide it.)
That's your evidence? Sorry, but taking something for granted isn't exactly the same as proving it. Suspicious coincidences aren't exactly like proof. Which is why I say "maybe he was, maybe he wasn't."

I'm afraid I'm not here to prove anything about his sexuality. I'm only pointing out that conclusive proof of the sexual orientation of a four-hundred-years-dead man is probably not possible. I didn't disagree with you that the weight of the evidence was suggestive; I'm just observing that it isn't conclusive. Some of the anecdotes told about Leonardo, I pointed out, could be told about me—and be wrong. Even the paragraph you cited contains weasel words: "taken for granted," "seems to have taken an interest" (bolding mine).

We agree there is not concrete proof. We might even agree that it's improbable that concrete proof will turn up after all this time. (I don't even know if da Vinci knew the word 'homosexual.' Was it even invented yet?) I would submit that a treatise written by someone who knew da Vinci, writing that da Vinci claimed he had made love to a man, is about as convincing as a People magazine exposé today on the sexual orientation of... oh, Tom Cruise or Richard Gere. I also suggest that being arrested for homosexuality is telling—just as telling as being acquitted for it. Richard Jewell, anyone? I'm not saying Leonardo was anything.

When something looks like a duck and quacks like a duck and walks like a duck, it still might be a goose. The honest thing to say, in my opinion, is "we don't know for sure, but he may have been." As nearly as I can tell, we both say this. I even credit you in my first post with saying that you, in addition to Futile Gesture, say it is open to interpretation. I don't understand why you object to my interpretation because I really think we're both saying the same thing:

Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimmy
It is open to interpretation certainly, but with the relationship to the pretyy male ward thrown in ... I submit the weight of the evidence suggests a homosexual orientation -- not that there is anything wrong with that.
So why are you arguing? I really don't understand. I have already said in multiple posts that it's possible and the evidence is curious but we don't know for certain. Are you taking a different position?
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  #35  
Old 02-29-2004, 10:46 AM
jimmmy jimmmy is offline
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Why am I arguing? Why because when you said this about my post it was not true

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
Rampantly speculating—you have provided no cites.
Nor did I care for the tone of this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
people with to grind will compile large lists of "evidence" such as yours and make their assumptions.
Nor could I let this (totally unnecessary) shot go unanswered

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
McCarthy had better evidence.
Then you followed a paragraph which paraphrases Da Vincvi, his contemporaries and scholars with a wave of the hand & personal opinions, disagreeing with scholarly opinion and offering nothing but your own takes
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
To easily rebut your specific allegations about Leonardo:
Then launched another broadside, for someone who is going against every scholarly biography of Da Vinci that I know of -- who has provided improbable explanations to what we do know, with this request for more cites --so I provided them

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
Of course, you only provided your interpretation of facts as you saw them. Your allegations were full of sematic leanings. Now if you have links, cites, or proofs, show us. That's the topic of the thread, after all, and this is Great Debates.
You next response was a GD -- not a answer worthy of the Pit as your first -- but it still told us what Fish thinks about all this scholarly mumbo-jumbo -- great -- We can agree to disagree, but don't say I offered nothing but my own opinion, no cites etc. That was not the case.
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  #36  
Old 02-29-2004, 10:56 AM
manhattan manhattan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Futile Gesture
Leonardo never married and had a young 'assistant companion' called Salai who seemed do little work and indulge in behaviour that usually would have ended in redundancy or a good beating. But in Leonardo's own diaries we are told that he always forgave him. All Salai seem to having going for him is that he made a good model.

When Leonardo died he left Salai a significant portion of his wealth.

Draw your own conclusions.
Cato Caelin is immortal.
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  #37  
Old 02-29-2004, 08:01 PM
Lamia Lamia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
I'm afraid I'm not here to prove anything about his sexuality. I'm only pointing out that conclusive proof of the sexual orientation of a four-hundred-years-dead man is probably not possible.
Strangely, people rarely hold claims that historic figures were heterosexual to the same exacting standard. Instead, their heterosexuality is often taken for granted even when there is little or no evidence to support it -- even when there is evidence against it! Perhaps you can understand how this might make some people feel that their history was being unfairly ignored or even intentionally hidden.
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  #38  
Old 03-01-2004, 12:20 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fish
For what it's worth, MrVisible, I agree that for the sake of honest education we should be speaking openly about artwork—any creation, really—brought into the world by homosexual artists. Or black artists, or disabled ones. That is the honest thing to do, and I'm sure it would greatly enhance the lives of homosexuals, blacks, and disabled people to realize that yes, they can make a contribution. I'd just prefer that when we're talking about a historical figure for which there is suggestive but inconclusive evidence, we say, "Well, he coulda been. Or maybe not. Who can say, really."
I like your point about recognizing the group to which someone undeniably belonged. And I'd say that your last line here could be modified to -- report the known facts, the implications they lead to, and let the reader judge for himself. (This feeling may have a bit to do with the approximately 70 "were David and Jonathan gay?" threads I've encountered in the past few months on one board or another.)

Quote:
That's why I have to call for a cite on "Socrates was gay," Brandus. As far as I know, the only evidence we have of the very existence of Socrates is in the writings of his student, Plato. Unless Plato boinked him himself—and told the truth about it—and we can prove it's the truth—then how do you know? Did Plato write "by the way, Socrates is gay, ask Aeschylus" in something and I just missed it?
Actually, his friend and contemporary, the soldier and historian Xenophon, wrote rather extensively about him. That is what is used as the historical criterion in trying to separate Socrates-the-man from Socrates-Plato's-sock-puppet. And there's some evidence of a very close relationship with Alcibiades -- but, as is known historically, Alcibiades screwed everybody, one way or another.
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