Famous gay lesbian or bisexual people/Talk

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In all fairness, we should have a famous heterosexual people page. No need to be biased against heterosexual people. I fail to see how pointing out someone's sexual orientation adds or subtracts credibility or accomplishment. Explictly pointing out someone's homosexuality does little to encourage everyone to treat others without bias. It tends to encourage special treatment as if homosexuality is some kind of handicap. I think it is not a handicap.

Perhaps a situation comparable to that in the famous dictum of Anatole France:
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets,
and to steal bread."

(i'm sure there are countless more)

Three or four, at least!  :-)
But seriously, there's a problem here with "claimed", "suspected", "reputed", etc.
- I'm thinking specifically of Shakespeare, for example.

(Actually a page of "People who might have been GLB" would probably be just as long!


Well Oscar Wilde, for example, certaintly was gay. -- Seems to be adequate evidence in his case, yes.  :-) -- Most modern authors treat Sappho as being lesbian or bisexual (in fact, she is the origin of the word lesbian) -- I knew that!  :-) She was also married and had at least one kid. --, but some are not so sure of this.

Many also question the validity of applying terms like 'homosexual' or 'bisexual' to people who lived centuries before these terms were even invented. Some think this is trying to fit the sexuality of the past into the mold of modern sexuality, which some think won't work. But then a lot of these people deny that anyone is really gay or straight anyway. (I am talking here of course of queer theory.) -- SJK


Well, how about Shakespeare? How about Leonardo da Vinci? How about J. Edgar Hoover? How about a certain famous actress and director?

You see what a kettle of fish this is. (Of course, nothing new about this "problem"!)


Okay people, settle down... ;-)
I wrote a section at the front that hopefully explains that being on this list, especially if you're a historical figure, doesn't mean you were gay by today's standards. --Dmerrill



Dmerrill, thanks very much for your contributions. Why should "who to put on this list" be a dead issue? (I have my own ideas on this, interested in hearing yours.)


Theoretically, because the text before the list says there is no fixed criterion -- iow they aren't necessarily "gay" by modern standards. I hope that will avoid arguments like "she only had one affair with a woman!"
Oh. So it has no criterion like, for instance, meaning in either the person's own time OR our own? --MichaelTinkler
Sorry, having trouble parsing that.
If the word 'gay' is not to be taken as having the same meaning as it does now, then what are these people? If they are not gay as now constructed, then what does the list mean?
I'll try to answer that by clearing up the statement on the page. It needs to stand on its own. Let me know if the criteria are still foggy after that page update. Thanks!

I object not to the list or the wording (actually, I take that back. I object to all the lists of Famous buddhists, famous glbt, or famous Scorpios, come to that matter), but to the concept. You admit on the main page that the concept gay lesbian and bisexual is controverted, fluid, and difficult, but you continue to use it to identify people. I think that's not a good idea. --MichaelTinkler

I'm with you, Michael. My take has been to show how absurd the whole idea is. (Shining light in the darkness, if you get my theological drift. :-) I updated the Biographical Listing page to expose the other silly lists. <>< tbc

Thanks, Tim. Now we have a central resource for awful lists! I think your heading is very NPOV, by the way. I would have put something on the last category like "lists of people designated something-in-particular by Wikipedians". MichaelTinkler

Article says:

The standard that should be used to determine whether a person belongs on this list is whether they have had at least one serious romantic relationship with at least one person of the same gender.

But it is possible for someone to be homosexual and never have a romantic relationship with a person of the same gender, or even to never have sex with one. And one the other hand, a single relationship with a member of the same sex doesn't mean they are homosexual or bisexual either. It could have been just an odd situation, not at all definining their identity.... Maybe we should just say that "these people are commonly claimed to have been homosexual or bisexual, with various degrees of evidence to support the claim." Then we don't have to judge controversial claims or borderline cases. -- SJK

Excellent idea. I'll make it so. --Dmerrill
And THEN there's the fact that even in socieities often presented as 'tolerant' homosexuality has often been pereceived as a character flaw, and some of the individuals are 'alleged' homosexuals. Edward II is a classic example - the allegations AND the rumored form of death (not to mention the play by the equally-ambiguous Marlowe - the play is part of the allegation about Marlowe, by the way) are deeply entwined with the politics of the period. --MichaelTinkler

I like the list because I find it interesting. I agree that defining who belongs on such a list is problematic. Can we try to agree on a definition that is npov and also practical?

I really like SJK's suggested guideline because it is npov, and it's simple and direct, and it avoids any possibility of libel accusations. Saying:

These people are commonly claimed to have been homosexual or bisexual, with various degrees of evidence to support the claim.

seems to work best IMHO. Any arguments why this is insufficient? Let's try to come to an agreement, as we always seem to do on Wikipedia. --Dmerrill


Tori Amos does not identify as gay or bi, AFAICT. The mtv biography at http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/amos_tori/bio.jhtml states that (at least at the time of recording Under The Pink) her partner was her musical collaborator Eric Rosse, who sounds pretty male to me. Secondly, this interview with Tori by a gay newsletter, http://thedent.com/sterotype.html, includes an answer where she states her long friendships with gay people and the fact that some of her earliest gigs were in gay clubs, but there's no indication that she herself is actually gay or bi. Hence, I'm removing her from the list until somebody provides some evidence. --Robert Merkel


O.K., this list has already grown in EXACTLY the way that all these 'Famous' lists grow, and I'm going to insert my usual whine. Chastity Bono would not get an entry in Wikipedia until *I* got a bigoraphical entry in Wikipedia except that she is out and the daughter of two (particularly horrific!) people we've all heard of. Candace Gingrich is even less relevant today than Chastity, because at least Cher keeps grinding out what passes for dance music. These people are not all gblt by any reasonable defintion, nor are they all famous. This is now just a list of folks, and hence somewhat irrelevant. If you want to make a biographical listing for each of these people, have at it. --MichaelTinkler


Horatio Alger was gay? I guess that explains his famous phrase. You always hear "Go west, young man", but no one mentions the follow-up "but weeturn to my woom tonight."...


I thought Horace Greely said "Go west, young man"....


I am considering starting a list of famous red-haired people, and one on famous spectacle-wearers, and another on well-known stammerers, and freckle-nosed people, and notorious smokers, and nose-pickers, and......I am very much against these kinds of lists. One BIG vote for removal. It does not serve any informational purpose. If relevant, a person's sexual orientation should be included in his/her biography and nowhere else.

I'm inclined to agree. According to the article on bisexuality, at least 90% of people are bisexual, so this could be a long list... And the comments at the top of the article make it even more nonsensical. --Zundark, 2001 Oct 31
What a load of tripe! But I've taken that discussion to bisexuality/Talk. <>< tbc
I'd like it to go as well, but there's a bias (and probably an appropriate one) towards keeping material around here. This list conceivably *might* serve an informational purpose, if worked on enough, to be able point homophobic teenagers to and say "well Bloggs the action movie star, Smith the footballer, Jones the physicist, Green the rapper, and Brown the Medal of Honour winner were all gay." Therefore, much and all as I'd like it to go away, I find it difficult to argue that it serves *no* useful purpose. --Robert Merkel
Let's keep an NPOV, Robert. :-) There will also be teenagers confused about their sexuality who will look at this page to affirm themselves. That's one reason atheists, Buddhists like lists. Let's all jump on the [[Logical fallacy/In all fairness, we should have a famous heterosexual people page. No need to be biased against heterosexual people. I fail to see how pointing out someone's sexual orientation adds or subtracts credibility or accomplishment. Explictly pointing out someone's homosexuality does little to encourage everyone to treat others without bias. It tends to encourage special treatment as if homosexuality is some kind of handicap. I think it is not a handicap.
Perhaps a situation comparable to that in the famous dictum of Anatole France:
"The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets,
and to steal bread."

(i'm sure there are countless more)

Three or four, at least!  :-)
But seriously, there's a problem here with "claimed", "suspected", "reputed", etc.
- I'm thinking specifically of Shakespeare, for example.

(Actually a page of "People who might have been GLB" would probably be just as long!


Well Oscar Wilde, for example, certaintly was gay. -- Seems to be adequate evidence in his case, yes.  :-) -- Most modern authors treat Sappho as being lesbian or bisexual (in fact, she is the origin of the word lesbian) -- I knew that!  :-) She was also married and had at least one kid. --, but some are not so sure of this.

Many also question the validity of applying terms like 'homosexual' or 'bisexual' to people who lived centuries before these terms were even invented. Some think this is trying to fit the sexuality of the past into the mold of modern sexuality, which some think won't work. But then a lot of these people deny that anyone is really gay or straight anyway. (I am talking here of course of queer theory.) -- SJK


Well, how about Shakespeare? How about Leonardo da Vinci? How about J. Edgar Hoover? How about a certain famous actress and director?

You see what a kettle of fish this is. (Of course, nothing new about this "problem"!)


Okay people, settle down... ;-)
I wrote a section at the front that hopefully explains that being on this list, especially if you're a historical figure, doesn't mean you were gay by today's standards. --Dmerrill



Dmerrill, thanks very much for your contributions. Why should "who to put on this list" be a dead issue? (I have my own ideas on this, interested in hearing yours.)


Theoretically, because the text before the list says there is no fixed criterion -- iow they aren't necessarily "gay" by modern standards. I hope that will avoid arguments like "she only had one affair with a woman!"
Oh. So it has no criterion like, for instance, meaning in either the person's own time OR our own? --MichaelTinkler
Sorry, having trouble parsing that.
If the word 'gay' is not to be taken as having the same meaning as it does now, then what are these people? If they are not gay as now constructed, then what does the list mean?
I'll try to answer that by clearing up the statement on the page. It needs to stand on its own. Let me know if the criteria are still foggy after that page update. Thanks!

I object not to the list or the wording (actually, I take that back. I object to all the lists of Famous buddhists, famous glbt, or famous Scorpios, come to that matter), but to the concept. You admit on the main page that the concept gay lesbian and bisexual is controverted, fluid, and difficult, but you continue to use it to identify people. I think that's not a good idea. --MichaelTinkler

I'm with you, Michael. My take has been to show how absurd the whole idea is. (Shining light in the darkness, if you get my theological drift. :-) I updated the Biographical Listing page to expose the other silly lists. <>< tbc

Thanks, Tim. Now we have a central resource for awful lists! I think your heading is very NPOV, by the way. I would have put something on the last category like "lists of people designated something-in-particular by Wikipedians". MichaelTinkler

Article says:

The standard that should be used to determine whether a person belongs on this list is whether they have had at least one serious romantic relationship with at least one person of the same gender.

But it is possible for someone to be homosexual and never have a romantic relationship with a person of the same gender, or even to never have sex with one. And one the other hand, a single relationship with a member of the same sex doesn't mean they are homosexual or bisexual either. It could have been just an odd situation, not at all definining their identity.... Maybe we should just say that "these people are commonly claimed to have been homosexual or bisexual, with various degrees of evidence to support the claim." Then we don't have to judge controversial claims or borderline cases. -- SJK

Excellent idea. I'll make it so. --Dmerrill
And THEN there's the fact that even in socieities often presented as 'tolerant' homosexuality has often been pereceived as a character flaw, and some of the individuals are 'alleged' homosexuals. Edward II is a classic example - the allegations AND the rumored form of death (not to mention the play by the equally-ambiguous Marlowe - the play is part of the allegation about Marlowe, by the way) are deeply entwined with the politics of the period. --MichaelTinkler

I like the list because I find it interesting. I agree that defining who belongs on such a list is problematic. Can we try to agree on a definition that is npov and also practical?

I really like SJK's suggested guideline because it is npov, and it's simple and direct, and it avoids any possibility of libel accusations. Saying:

These people are commonly claimed to have been homosexual or bisexual, with various degrees of evidence to support the claim.

seems to work best IMHO. Any arguments why this is insufficient? Let's try to come to an agreement, as we always seem to do on Wikipedia. --Dmerrill


Tori Amos does not identify as gay or bi, AFAICT. The mtv biography at http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/amos_tori/bio.jhtml states that (at least at the time of recording Under The Pink) her partner was her musical collaborator Eric Rosse, who sounds pretty male to me. Secondly, this interview with Tori by a gay newsletter, http://thedent.com/sterotype.html, includes an answer where she states her long friendships with gay people and the fact that some of her earliest gigs were in gay clubs, but there's no indication that she herself is actually gay or bi. Hence, I'm removing her from the list until somebody provides some evidence. --Robert Merkel


O.K., this list has already grown in EXACTLY the way that all these 'Famous' lists grow, and I'm going to insert my usual whine. Chastity Bono would not get an entry in Wikipedia until *I* got a bigoraphical entry in Wikipedia except that she is out and the daughter of two (particularly horrific!) people we've all heard of. Candace Gingrich is even less relevant today than Chastity, because at least Cher keeps grinding out what passes for dance music. These people are not all gblt by any reasonable defintion, nor are they all famous. This is now just a list of folks, and hence somewhat irrelevant. If you want to make a biographical listing for each of these people, have at it. --MichaelTinkler


I am considering starting a list of famous red-haired people, and one on famous spectacle-wearers, and another on well-known stammerers, and freckle-nosed people, and notorious smokers, and nose-pickers, and......I am very much against these kinds of lists. One BIG vote for removal. It does not serve any informational purpose. If relevant, a person's sexual orientation should be included in his/her biography and nowhere else.

I'm inclined to agree. According to the article on bisexuality, at least 90% of people are bisexual, so this could be a long list... And the comments at the top of the article make it even more nonsensical. --Zundark, 2001 Oct 31
What a load of tripe! But I've taken that discussion to bisexuality/Talk. <>< tbc
I'd like it to go as well, but there's a bias (and probably an appropriate one) towards keeping material around here. This list conceivably *might* serve an informational purpose, if worked on enough, to be able point homophobic teenagers to and say "well Bloggs the action movie star, Smith the footballer, Jones the physicist, Green the rapper, and Brown the Medal of Honour winner were all gay." Therefore, much and all as I'd like it to go away, I find it difficult to argue that it serves *no* useful purpose. --Robert Merkel
Let's keep an NPOV, Robert. :-) There will also be teenagers confused about their sexuality who will look at this page to affirm themselves. That goes for the Celebrity atheists and Listing of noted Buddhists pages, too. Let's all jump on the bandwagon. :-| <>< tbc

Zundark, I'm glad you tend to agree we need to remove this page, but you refer to an argument without any support in the article on bisexuality. I first want to see what answer comes up the question about proof for this allegation. It seems to me an unbelievably high figure. But I agree with you that the argument on top is one more reason to do away with this list. It specifies people with a quality within their personalities, that's what bothers me.
Robert, you mention a pastoral argument. You have a point that young people with homophobic ideas should be able find something on this Wikipedia to change their biased feelings into more understanding of something that is alien to them. And I am also for a route along wiki articles which will help them, plus young, scared gay people in-the-closet to find the right information, if that's what we want. But role-models? Do they get to know and appreciate those people for who they are when they know the bare fact that they're gay and famous for something? Doesn't convince me, really. I don't want to whine, but still vote for removal.

To a gay person, this is *very* important information.

I didn't realise when I started this list how much controversy it would cause! :) I thought the list might be informative from the point of view of GLB history, which some people seriously study. While it might be useful in "educating homophobic teenagers", that wasn't my idea, and I don't think it should be the main focus of the article.

You're right, it should remain as npov as possible. It is not a propoganda tool, and I didn't mean to imply that it should be. It is just information, and the purpose of Wikipedia is to record and disseminate information.
Anyone who is interested in gay culture would find this list a valuable resource. --Dmerrill

Also, there is an obvious reason why we could have this list and not a "list of famous heterosexuals". A list of famous heterosexuals would be way too long, and ultimately boring. Who really cares if some particular person is straight -- nothing non-ordinary about that. OTOH, that someone was GLB can be an interesting piece of information, especially with reference to the very famous and long dead (someone being GLB today is a lot less interesting, because modern society, at least in the West, is much more tolerant of it). -- SJK


A proposal: if it is true (which I still doubt) that someone was GLB can be an interesting piece of information, then it is only true when this piece of information sheds light on historical developments of the relationship society-gay/lesbian people, or on the general self-image of gays and lesbians. I can imagine that for instance the controversy around Oscar Wilde caused a significant change, or he at least caused great ripples in society those days. It would be worth to mention his homosexuality with the accompanying story. There will undoubtly be other examples. We could perhaps refracture this page into something really infomative and relevant. But to mention each and every GL person of fame just in order to have a list, just in order to be as complete as possible, just to satisfy people's curiosity, or for other quite superficial (don't take this personally) reasons, what good does that do?