Gay and Lesbian People in History



1475 - 1564

Some of the most famous sculpture, painting and architecture in the world was created by Michelangelo, who spent most of his lengthy career creating monumental works of art for seven consecutive Popes. Regarded as the greatest living artist of his day, he remains one of the greatest artists of all time.


Michelangelo Pieta
Michelangelo Sistine Chapel

What was Michelangelo like?

A hot-tempered guy, Michelangelo got his nose broken in a fistfight with another sculptor. He didn't wash, slept in his studio alongside his work, and though he became wealthy, ate and dressed like a pauper and worked like a dog. His homosexuality and religious fervor generated great conflict within him, and one self-portrait shows him as the flayed skin of St. Bartholomew (above right). When he was older, a much healthier self-portrait portrays him as Joseph of Aramathea (above left).


How do we know Michelangelo was gay?
When the contemporary sculptor Cellini was accused of "sodomy" by a rival, he retorted "Oh, fool, you're wrong [he lied!]: but would God I knew how to practice such a noble art, since one reads that Jove used it with Ganymede in paradise." So knowing that, as educated people did back then, if a guy you'd just met made drawings like these for you, would you think he was gay? Jove in the form of an eagle seems to be copulating with Ganymede, right. The drawings, with legs spread wide and thighs for days, were for Tommaso De'Cavalieri, a handsome young nobleman. Tommaso responded in kind, and the two men were friends for over thirty years.

Michelangelo drawing
Michelangelo drawing

Michelangelo drawing


In his poetry also,
Michelangelo's passion for Cavalieri resounds:

If I must be defeated to be blessed,
Don't marvel that one, naked and alone,
should prove a prisoner of an armored knight.

The name Cavalieri of course means "knight". Michelangelo also wrote:

The love I speak of aspires to the heights;
woman is too dissimilar, and it ill becomes
a wise and manly heart to burn for her.

It's true that Michelangelo seems more inhibited about his sexuality than was Leonardo da Vinci, but Leonardo lived in Florence and Michelangelo in Rome, a generation later -- the time and place were not as permissive.

There can be no doubt Michelangelo fell erotically and romantically for Tommaso, even if some people don't think they expressed it physically. You don't have to get laid to be gay (but it helps!).

Michelangelo drawing

Michelangelo gave Cavalieri this drawing of the Fall of Phaeton; the erotic meaning of the story was well- known. What could be more erotic than a horse's crotch?



BUT don't just take MY word for it....

From Serge Bramly, Leonardo: Discovering the Life of Leonardo Da Vinci (1991):

About Michelangelo, Bramly writes "A homosexual, he was torn between his passions and his religion." p. 344

From Michael White, Leonardo, The First Scientist (2000):

In describing Leonardo da Vinci's relationship with Lorenzo de Medici, White writes:

"Lorenzo was heterosexual, later described by Machiavelli as "incredibly given to the pleasures of Venus". Leonardo was homosexual with a very public sodomy trial behind him. However, it is certain the different sexual tastes of the two men would not have been a major factor in the progress of their relationship. After all, Lorenzo actively encouraged at least one other homosexual artist, Michelangelo, giving him a string of commissions and even opening his homes to him, treating him almost as a social equal." p. 83-84




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The Creation of Adam from the Sistine Chapel ceiling -
God gives the spark of life to his new toy.



Meet a thirteen-foot-tall rock-hard naked man named David... the GayHeroes Michelangelo Sculpture gallery! Click here!

(it'll take a minute to download the images. Chant "ooohhhmmm...")




Heroes, Myths, & Legends BookstoreGreat books about Michelangelo are at your library.


of gay pop songs!

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

And what about you???
Michelangelo changed the world forever with his passion for beauty. How is your passion changing 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
Date Last Modified: 12/21/04

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