E J Rosetta profiles for PinkNews five historical women whose sexual orientation was the subject of much speculation, gossip and intrigue.

Everyone loves a rumour, especially surrounding the sexuality of “straight” celebrities (*cough, Kristen Stewart, cough*) and although it’s no longer taboo to be gay or bisexual, this has not always been the case.

History is littered with speculation over certain famous figures and their sexuality. In order to be gay, even 30 years ago, involved an incredibly brave and life altering declaration. It still does, as we all know, but nowadays we’re all required to be dignified and polite to each other by law.

But you have to feel for our predecessors, in their sexless marriages with their clandestine meetings. You have to pity them, deeply. Can you imagine not being able to live authentically, out in the open?

Past generations have been suppressed for years by their peers and powers, not permitted to come out and be honest about how they wanted to live. They were very simply not allowed to feel the way they did, can you imagine how heartbreaking that must have been? We have to be grateful for the changes society has made so far, even if we have a long way to go.

No, being gay isn’t a choice, but the choice to live openly is one I am glad we now enjoy.

Looking back through the sands of time, it’s hard to name many openly gay women… They just don’t seem to exist. But the truth is they must have done. Lesbianism isn’t something that has just been invented over the past 50 years. Attitudes towards it have changed, but not the very essence. Truth is, women have been gay/bisexual for years. The only difference is that are the first generation that are allowed to live openly (almost). We get to be authentic… lucky us!

But the same cannot be said for those that have come before us. And here are a few of my favourite strong women of history who have inspired speculation surrounding their sexuality. Some are widely recognised as gay, others only rumoured. Whispers have swept through the internet after these icons have passed on, deliberating over facts and quotes, trying to find an answer. But the truth is we’ll never know, in some cases. But as it’s fun to hypothesise, here’s my list of rumoured lesbians throughout time.

Let’s start with one we know for sure…

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