A new series premiering today aims to break down the closet doors of some of the most important figures in history.
Streaming now on Dekkoo, Historical Homos makes the case that Socrates, Virginia Woolf, Michelangelo, and even Shakespeare were all members of the rainbow tribe. Also, Leonardo da Vinci was arrested for sodomy twice; Louis XIV’s brother, Philippe, dressed up in drag; and Eleanor Rykener, a 13th century trans sex worker, claimed in court records that her best clients were monks because they paid more.
“The world is hell-bent on believing that gays, lesbians, trans people and queers of all kinds are the proud innovations of the 20th century,” says Bash, who co-hosts the four part series with actor Donal Brophy. “Donal and I are here to prove that’s utter nonsense. Queer people have been around for eons. Our story stretches from Stonewall to Hadrian’s Wall, and only the gay gods know how far beyond that.”
Historical Homos began as a coffee table book by Bash and his sister, Lucy Hendra. It later morphed into social media with a popular Instagram page. When the siblings began their search for a production company to turn Historical Homos into a series, they were connected with Zachary Quinto who happened to be working on a similar project called Pride and Prejudice with Donal Brophy and Emrhys Cooper. The group decided to combine both projects into one.
“Bash is the real backbone of the series,” Mr. Brophy contends. “Like the true scholar that he is, he researches each figure meticulously.”
“Donal balances my nerdiness and obsession for detail with his empathetic appreciation for the stories and lives we cover,” Bash adds.
According to both, the goal of the series is not to merely congratulate the historical figures for being queer. Bash and Donal interrogate these people, dig into every rumor and slice of gossip. Humor is added because both agree that the narrative of queer history has been one of repression, alienation, and oppression. Historical Homos aims to project a message that queerness has not always been rejected and same-sex love and desire have not always been denigrated.
"Queer people have always been here," Bash asserts. “You just have to know where and how to look.”
The first episode explores male homosexuality in Greek Mythology and how these myths reflected real life in ancient Greece. The second episode, streaming June 16, delves into the story of an 18th century transgender soldier and spy. Episode three, streaming June 23, focuses on the bisexual proclivities of William Shakespeare and his playwright contemporary Christopher Marlowe, and the final episode, streaming on the last Friday of June, reviews the life and loves of Virginia Woolf, particularly her lesbian affair with Vita Sackville-West.
“I wish I knew about these historic queer people as a child,” Mr. Brophy reflects. “Much of what I knew growing up was tied to the fear and stigma around the AIDS epidemic. It would have been so helpful in my coming out to have heard about positive, creative, intelligent gay people.”
Says Bash, “Our hope is that all viewers – gay and straight – learn to expand what they believe about the past and human sexuality. That’s one of the most powerful ways to better understand the queer community’s lived experiences and inherited contexts.”
Historical Homos is streaming now on Dekkoo.com. Historical Homos is also available as an audio podcast on Spotify and all major podcast platforms.