Recent research suggests now, more assuredly than ever before, that the Bard wasn't straight.
What do cuffed jeans, bob haircuts, septum piercings, the song "Sweater Weather" by the Neighborhood, and Shakespeare have in common? They're all tenets of bisexual culture.
Yes, you read that right: William Shakespeare, inarguably the greatest English-language writer of all time, has been inducted into bisexual culture—a celebration of things that are generally thought to be affiliated with, in one way or another, people who are bisexual. Speculation surrounding Shakespeare's sexuality is nothing new, but recent evidence proves that the English playwright was almost definitely not straight.
Leading Shakespeare scholars Sir Stanley Wells and Dr. Paul Edmondson were the editors behind All the Sonnets of Shakespeare, a forthcoming collection of 182 of the Bard's sonnets. What sets this collection apart from countless other publications is that, in addition to including those that were originally written as part of Shakespeare's plays, all of them are arranged in order of when they were composed. No collection of Shakespeare sonnets has done this before, providing new opportunities for insight into his personal life.
Yes, people have suspected that Shakespeare wasn't straight for a long time—and not just because of that little hoop earring he's wearing in his famous Chandos portrait. Shakespeare's sonnets were first published in 1609 (though it's still unclear whether or not he had permitted their distribution). Over 100 are love poems to someone referred to as "Fair Lord" or "Fair Youth," which is widely assumed to be the same person as "Mr W.H.," to whom the sonnets are dedicated.
There's pretty clear evidence that Shakespeare was still attracted to women, however. At age 18, he married 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children. Three years later, he ended up leaving his family and moving to London, but there's sufficient evidence to suggest he probably continued to have affairs with women.
The proof that Shakespeare liked women? "Upon a time when Burbage played Richard the Third there was a citizen grew so far in liking with him, that before she went from the play she appointed him to come that night unto her by the name of Richard the Third," a lawyer named John Manningham wrote in his diary, with Burbage being one of Shakespeare's most popular actors. "Shakespeare, overhearing their conclusion, went before, was entertained and at his game ere Burbage came. Then, message being brought that Richard the Third was at the door, Shakespeare caused return to be made that William the Conqueror was before Richard the Third." Apparently, Shakespeare had game.
Some have argued that the only times Shakespeare explicitly mentioned sexuality in his sonnets were in instances directed towards women, but he romantically alluded to men multiple times. This can be seen in Sonnet 18 ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more temperate"), in which he uses he/him pronouns later on. Sonnet 20 indicates male-male attraction, too: "A man in hue, all hues in his controlling / Which steals men's eyes and women's souls amazeth."
With All the Sonnets of Shakespeare, Wells and Edmonson are hoping to solve the mystery of Shakespeare's sexuality. "The language of sexuality in some of the sonnets, which are definitely addressed to a male subject, leaves us in no doubt that Shakespeare was bisexual," Edmonson told The Telegraph. "Some of these sonnets are addressed to a female and others to a male. To reclaim the term 'bisexual' seems to be quite an original thing to be doing."
Wells also notes that Sonnets 40-42 and 133-134 read as "two bisexual mini-sequences," depicting an apparent love triangle between Shakespeare and two romantic interests—one male and one female. Sounds like a classic case of a bisexual love triangle, if you ask us.
So congratulations, bisexuals. In addition to Lili Reinhart, Halsey, and Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Rosa Diaz, you now officially have Shakespeare himself in your club. At least, it's as official as it'll ever be.