PinkNews takes a glance at some of the most moving LGBT love letters of all time.
Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West
Virginia Woolf’s pioneering novel Orlando – which addressed censorship and queer love – was based on the English poet Vita Sackville-West.
Sackville-West was to be Woolf’s lover and lifelong friend and the pair exchanged numerous intimate love letters.
Here is an extract from a letter sent from Woolf to Sackville-West from January of 1927, shortly after the two had fallen madly in love:
“Look here Vita — throw over your man, and we’ll go to Hampton Court and dine on the river together and walk in the garden in the moonlight and come home late and have a bottle of wine and get tipsy, and I’ll tell you all the things I have in my head, millions, myriads.
They won’t stir by day, only by dark on the river. Think of that. Throw over your man, I say, and come.”
Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky
Beat Generation godfather Allen Ginsberg and the poet Peter Orlovsky had met in San Francisco in 1954.
They embarked upon what Ginsberg called their “marriage” — a relationship that ultimately lasted until Ginsberg’s death in 1997.
Actor Daniel Radcliffe spoke out about gay sex scenes in the film Kill Your Darlings – based upon a murder involving prominent Beat poets, in which he plays Ginsberg – to say that he has been told gay sex “is really f*cking painful”.
In a letter from Valentine’s, 1958, Ginsberg writes to Orlovsky from Paris:
“I have been running around with mad mean poets & world-eaters here & was longing for kind words from heaven which you wrote, came as fresh as a summer breeze & “when I think on thee dear friend / all loses are restored & sorrows end,” came over & over in my mind — it’s the end of a Shakespeare Sonnet — he must have been happy in love too. I had never realized that before…
Write me soon baby, I’ll write you big long poem I feel as if you were god that I pray to –
In another letter sent nine days later, Ginsberg writes:
“I’m making it all right here, but I miss you, your arms & nakedness & holding each other – life seems emptier without you, the soul warmth isn’t around…”
Eleanor Roosevelt and Lorena Hickok
First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – the longest serving in history – met journalist Lorena Hickok, whom she would come to refer to as Hick, in 1928.
The thirty-year relationship that ensued has remained the subject of much speculation, stemming from the evening of her husband’s inauguration, when the First Lady was seen wearing a sapphire ring Hickok had given her.
On March 5, 1933, the first evening of FDR’s inauguration – Roosevelt wrote Hick:
“Hick my dearest,
I cannot go to bed tonight without a word to you. I felt a little as though a part of me was leaving tonight. You have grown so much to be a part of my life that it is empty without you.”
Then, the following day:
“Ah, how good it was to hear your voice. It was so inadequate to try and tell you what it meant. Funny was that I couldn’t say je t’aime and je t’adore as I longed to do, but always remember that I am saying it, that I go to sleep thinking of you.”
And the night after:
All day I’ve thought of you & another birthday I will be with you, & yet tonight you sounded so far away & formal. Oh! I want to put my arms around you, I ache to hold you close.
Your ring is a great comfort. I look at it & think “she does love me, or I wouldn’t be wearing it!”
Oscar Wilde and Sir Alfred “Bosie” Taylor
Playwright Oscar Wilde was imprisoned for his “crime” of homosexuality, driven into bankruptcy and exile and finally succumbed to an untimely death.
In June of 1891, Wilde met Lord Alfred “Bosie” Douglas, a 21-year-old Oxford undergraduate and talented poet.
Their correspondence is seen as some of the most beautiful in history.
In January of 1893, Wilde writes to Bosie:
“My Own Boy,
Your sonnet is quite lovely, and it is a marvel that those red rose-leaf lips of yours should be made no less for the madness of music and song than for the madness of kissing. Your slim gilt soul walks between passion and poetry. I know Hyacinthus, whom Apollo loved so madly, was you in Greek days.
Why are you alone in London, and when do you go to Salisbury? Do go there to cool your hands in the grey twilight of Gothic things, and come here whenever you like. It is a lovely place and lacks only you; but go to Salisbury first.
Always, with undying love, yours,
Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict
Renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead who laid the foundation for the sexual revolution of the 1960s with her studies of attitudes towards sex.
Although she was married three times, her longest relationship was with fellow anthropologist Ruth Benedict.
When she was 24-years-old, Mead sailed to Samoa, which would lead to her hugely influential work, Coming of Age in Samoa.
During her journey there in 1928, she repeatedly wrote intimate notes to Benedict.
“Ruth, dear heart,
. . . The mail which I got just before leaving Honolulu and in my steamer mail could not have been better chosen. Five letters from you — and, oh, I hope you may often feel me near you as you did — resting so softly and sweetly in your arms.
“Whenever I am weary and sick with longing for you I can always go back and recapture that afternoon out at Bedford Hills this spring, when your kisses were rained down on my face, and that memory ends always in peace, beloved.”
A few days later:
“Ruth, I was never more earthborn in my life — and yet never more conscious of the strength your love gives me. You have convinced me of the one thing in life which made living worthwhile.
You have no greater gift, darling. And every memory of your face, every cadence of your voice is joy whereon I shall feed hungrily in these coming months.”