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.

Here are a few of my favourite strong women of history who have inspired speculation surrounding their sexuality. Some are widely recognised as gay or bisexual, while others are only rumoured.
Let’s start with one we know for sure…

1. Eleanor Roosevelt

The infamous American first lady, although married, was known to have been permitted a clandestine “Boston Marriage” by her straying husband – essentially a permitted affair – and chose reporter Lorena “Hick” Hickock

After her death, the speculation surrounding the decades-long relationship between these two unearthed a series of letters between them. Although most were destroyed by the Roosevelt family, the ones that were uncovered revealed a tender and indisputably romantic relationship between the two women. There are whole books available of the published collections. It’s undeniable.

One reads “I want to put my arms around you & kiss you at the corner of your mouth” and another “I can’t kiss you, so I kiss your picture goodnight and good morning” and it is said that only Hick’s sister, Ruby, knew the true content of their first years correspondence.

Eleanor Roosevelt, a strong feminist, was the first First Lady to actively engage in political issues and was known to have a close group of openly lesbian friends. On Inauguration Day, Roosevelt wore a sapphire ring, given to her by Hick.

In a 1933 letter, Eleanor writes “I want to put my arms around you. I ache to hold you close… Your ring is a great comfort to me. I look at it and think she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it.”. Which sort of puts to bed any speculation that end, doesn’t it?

Click on to learn about a famous royal and one of the world’s best known sex icons.

Click here to read part two