Gay and Lesbian People in History

G. F. Handel

The greatest English composer of the late baroque era was German. Handel studied law because his father, a barber-surgeon, disapproved of music. Handel left home and toured Italy, where he impressed the great Italian composers of the day, including Corelli who was gay.

Since Italy was dominated by composers like Vivaldi and Corelli, and Germany had Bach and Telemann, Handel made a canny move and achieved fame and fortune by bringing opera in the Italian style to England. He also created magnificent instrumental works such as "Water Music" and "Music for the Royal Fireworks". An amazing keyboardist, he wrote organ concertos and was famous as an improviser. He fell on hard times when Italian opera went out of style, so he switched to oratorios, which are sung but not acted. Pensioned by the king and idolized by the public, his "Messiah" remains the greatest and most popular religious composition of all time.

What did Handel look like?

Wildly famous in his lifetime, Handel had several portraits done so these are probably pretty accurate.

He looks like a jolly, jowly guy, and his music has a sense of joy and energy that was called "the open and manly style of Handel". He had a temper and cussed like a sailor in heavily-accented English, but a contemporary biographer said when Handel smiled, "there was a sudden flash of intelligence, wit, and good humor beaming in his countenance which I hardly saw in any other."

Herbert Weinstock calls Handel "one of the most majestic, tender, and human voices ever lifted in praise of life, of love, of beauty, and of the art of music."


GayHeroes.comG. F. Handel

Never married.  No kids.  Hmm.             

The statement "I don't have time" is a lame excuse for sublimating one's sexuality -- I should know; I've used it myself. Bach was just as busy as Handel, and he had 2 wives and twenty kids! People get very attached politically to national icons: "national heroes" just CAN'T be gay. Thus the fuss raised when Encyclopedia Britannica said that Richard the Lionhearted was gay, and Handel, a huge icon to the English, falls into the same category. There isn't much evidence in Handel's case, but Professor Thomas delivers a convincing argument and a great read.

"I have no time for anything but music" was Handel's reply to George II's question about his "love of women." But the composer's sovereign was neither the first nor the only of Handel's contemporary admirers and associates to wonder about his sexuality. Scarcely twenty pages into his narrative, Handel's first biographer, Christopher Mainwaring, feels obliged to address the same question: "In the sequel of his life he refused the highest favors from the fairest of the sex, only because he would not be confined or cramped by particular attachments." Later biographers, from Chrysander (1858) to Hogwood (1984) have either ignored the question of Handel's homosexuality or chose to explain it away. The most striking example of the latter is provided by Paul Henry Lang (1966), who after recognizing Handel's sexuality to be a "problem" which has "puzzled his biographers for two hundred years" is able to assure us, virtually without evidence, that the composer, although lacking "time for serious engagement with women" was a man of "normal masculine constitution".

Gary C. Thomas
"Was George Frideric Handel Gay?"
On Closet Questions and Cultural Politics
Queering the Pitch --
The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology



"He made friends
with Johann Mattheson, who later became well known as a writer on music. The two young men went to Lžbeck in the hope that one might succeed the celebrated but aged D. Buxtehude as town organist; however the appointment also entailed marriage with Buxtehude's daughter and as neither wished to undertake this responsibility they both returned to Hamburg."

--The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia of Classical Music by Peter Gammond
GayHeroes.comCrown Books, 1989

G. F. Handel



Hey! Wanna hear some Handel? Sample "Hallelujah Chorus" from Messiah Sample"Arrival of the Queen of Sheba" might take a couple of minutes to download the music, depending on the size and potency of your equipment.... WAIT FOR IT!!!




You can get books and CDs of Handel's music at your library.


of gay pop songs!

with tunes like "I Like Mike" and
"Cryin' Over Brian"

And what about you???

Is your life beautiful music to the ears of the world? Fill out a HERO FORM and tell the world what you're up to. We'll post your story here at on our LEGENDS LIST for all to see. It's easy, it's fun, it's self-aggrandizing!

Fill out a HERO FORM! Don't MYTH your chance to be on the LEGENDS LIST! Click here to fill out a HERO FORM. Click here to check out the LEGENDS LIST.

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Jay Spears
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