g) Lots of non LGBT issues
"Royals make the best queens"
My contribution to a charity debate at the Playhouse Theatre, 24.2.06
He who loves not tobacco and boys is a fool.
So said one of the English language’s greatest gay playwrights, Christopher Marlowe.
And he should know.
He was an expert on gay royals down through the ages.
He even wrote a play about one the best, Edward II.
And what he gleaned from all this study was that royals definitely make the best queens.
They have the highest possible disposable incomes.
They love to feast, joust, they love "sword play", and they generally mix with all the most fabulous people.
They’re into the latest recreational drugs, which, as Marlowe reminds us, in the sixteenth century, meant tobacco.
They indulge their passion for home improvement by building castles and palaces everywhere.
Long before Mardi Gras was even thought of, life for royal queens was just one long party.
A few examples should suffice to make my case impregnable to any challenge.
Alexander the Great.
He was great - at bedding Persian dancing boys, drinking lakes of wine, throwing tantrums, wearing too much mascara, parading the very latest hair styles, spending everyone else’s money, and generally acting all tragic.
Sure he conquered the world.
But he only bothered with boring places like Bythnia – even the name sounds boring - so he could lay his hands on the really glamorous kingdoms like Persia, with all its cats and rugs and dancing boys. How gay is that?
If Alexander was the world’s greatest gay over-achiever, Richard the Lionheart was the prototype gay traveller.
After an argument with his dad – which just happens to be the subject of a Lion in Winter - Richard did the classic gay small town boy thing and took off, boyfriend in tow, for sunnier climes.
It’s true that the sunnier clime was the Holy Land during the Crusades, and sure his boyfriend was King Philip of France.
But the principle’s the same. Here was a young man with plenty of disposables and nothing to tie him down but a couple of rainy kingdoms, searching for fun in the sun with some of the hottest Mediterranean men around.
Marlowe’s favourite, Edward II, found other ways to escape – fancy clothes, lots of jewellery, "athletics carnivals" and then there was his dark side.
History records he died with a hot poker up his bum, obviously a veiled reference to mediaeval S&M gone horribly wrong.
The gay French King Henri III was also partial to a bit of S, if not M – he loved to flog handsome young monks.
He also loved little yapping lap dogs and dressing his more dowdy male courtiers in the latest fashions.
This original queer eye for the mediaeval guy has also been credited with popularising hair tongs and the powdered wig, and loved to dress in women’s clothes.
Henry may not have invented drag, but he associated it forever afterwards with the word "queen".
And that, I think, is the moral we can take away from all these gay monarchs.
They may not have been the best royals or the first homosexuals.
But while other gay people were languishing in gaol or being burnt at the stake, our flamboyant autocrats were pointing the way to a better future, one filled with piles of money, sexual excess, great parties and mountains of hair product.
Is it a coincidence that a synonym for "royal" in the Thesaurus is "ostentatious"?
Is it a coincidence that sticking the word "royal" in front of something makes it really gay? – the Royal Yacht Club, Royal Tennis, the Royal Academy of the Arts, Casino Royale, the Royal Navy, the Royal Mail, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Of course it isn’t a coincidence.
As Chris Marlowe knew, for centuries monarchs have modelled how to be totally gay.
As I have shown you tonight, throughout history royals have always made the very best queens.
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