2. Marie Antoinette
Arguably the most famous French female Royal, “Madame Deficit” endured a life of infamy.
People loved to hate her, blaming her from everything from the French Revolution to ruling through the King. She is famously misquoted “Let them eat cake!” when, actually, she said nothing of the sort.
In those days, lesbianism was known as “The German Vice”, and the Austrian princess, as she became increasingly unpopular, was slandered by the opposition. They accused her aggressively of bisexuality and promiscuity, naming her close friends The Princess of Lamballe and The Duchess of Polignac as her lovers.
Throughout France, the population was convinced of the rumour by the publication of pamphlets picturing her in compromising positions with other women. Back then they didn’t have celebrity magazines, so Royal Gossip was circulated in leaflets, usually with a political agenda, and Marie Antoinette was a regular feature.
And it’s understandable how much of France believed the rumours. The Queen had fervently remained a virgin for the first seven years of her marriage and never addressed publicly the accusations. As is the case now, if you didn’t deny it, people generally assume it’s true.
Now although we’ll never know the answer, it’s a sad thought. As Queen of a country, you’d be watched at every turn, and even in modern times, a member of the Royal Family probably simply wouldn’t be allowed to be gay. I can’t imagine how it must feel to not be able to be your true self, just because of who you were born.
3. Virginia Woolf
Virginia Woolf met fellow writer Vita Sackville-West in the early 1922, and the women began a romantic affair that lasted for a number of years. Now I realise you can prove pretty much anything with the internet nowadays, and also disprove it, but Virginia Woolf’s bisexuality is almost impossible to argue with.
Vita and her husband were both bisexual, and had an open marriage, and once Virginia’s own husband gave his blessing to the affair, the two woman began a relationship. This remained secret, but not because they were ashamed. Virginia’s publisher, Bloomsbury, held a strong opinion against lesbianism, and so their secrecy can be attributed to Virginia’s passion for her career and her writing. But although they kept their tryst on a strictly “need to know” basis, history has proven the affair without doubt.
In a letter from Virginia to Vita (Current day celebrity couple name…Virgita?) she described coming out to her sister Nessa –
“I told Nessa the story of our passion in a chemists shop the other day. ‘But do you really like going to bed with women’ she said – taking her change. ‘And how’d you do it?’ and so she bought her pills to take abroad, talking as loud as a parrot.”