And, I presumed, as heterosexist as most of the other "great writers" purveyed by English teachers.
A few months later, I started my freshman year at Augustana College, and my English Literature survey assigned Milton's L'Allegro and Il Penseroso.
I leaned toward "having fun," since Milton mentions partying with Corydon and Thyrsis, two gay characters from Virgil's Eclogues.
3. This muscular, shirtless Comus appeared in the only modern production that I'm aware of, at Florida International University in 2010.
Anything celebrating a same-sex love can't be boring.
6. During my junior year, I took an entire class in Milton, and we read the big, scary one: Paradise Lost, an epic poem the fall of Satan, the temptation of Adam and Eve, and their expulsion from Paradise. But there were lots of gay subtexts: Satan, an "angel of light," heterosexual sex leads to downfall, and so on. I wrote a paper on it at Indiana University.
8. We also had to read Paradise Regained, about Christ being tempted by all of the pleasures of the world, including: "fair stripling youths rich clad, of fairer hew than Ganymede or Hylas." So they're hotter than the boyfriends of Zeus and Hercules in Greek mythology?
9. And the "closet drama" Samson Agonistes: the Biblical strongman has been captured by the Philistines, blinded, and enchained. He bewails his seduction by Delilah: "foul effeminancy held me yoke." That's right, liking women is effeminate. Real men like men.
10. Strongman Fernando Lamberty played Samson in a performance at Florida International University in 2009.
John Milton was no doubt homophobic -- who in 17th century Britain wasn't? But there's still a lot of gay interest in his works.