Jun 28, 2017

The Gay Myths of Orpheus

You're probably thinking, "Orpheus?  Wasn't he that musician who was trying to lead his wife out of Hades, but he looked back, so she was lost forever?  Moral: Never look back.  Also: Be heterosexual.
















That's the story that has appeared constantly in stories, legends, ballets, operas, and symphonic poems for the last 500 years, from Sir Orfeo in Middle English to Black Orpheus in Brazilian Portuguese.









Even gay artists, like Tennessee Williams, go with the heteronormative myth.  Orpheus Descending is about a man with a guitar and a muscular physique who invades a seedy Southern town, falls in love with an older woman, and...well, you get the idea.

But Eurydice is actually a later addition.  In the earlier myths, Orpheus was gay.

















He was the greatest musician in the world, able to charm animals, able to use his music to gain entrance to Hades.

He only liked boys (young men).  In fact, he introduced the practice of same-sex love to the Thracians.

He started a relationship with Calais, one of the Boreads (sons of the North Wind).

Therefore he refused the Bacchantes, who tore him to pieces in  a jealous rage.






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