The Byron Journal

Least Like Saints: The Vexed Issue of Byron's Sexuality

The Byron Journal (2010), 38, (1), 29–37.

Abstract

This article considers the complex issue of Byron's sexuality. It seeks not to assign a definitive orientation or preference to the poet, but rather to consider the various possibilities and offer a conclusion about how modern readers might reconceive his sexuality. The piece examines evidence for Byron's heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality. It finds all three terms inadequate: Byron's evident desire for and enjoyment of non-heterosexual sex suggests he was something more than heterosexual, while his similar enjoyment of heterosexual sex and his strong romantic attachments to women suggest he was not simply homosexual, either. Indeed, a certain cavalier lack of interest in the gender of his sexual partners suggests that even 'bisexual' is too confining a label. In the end, the essay suggests that the difficulty with understanding Byron's sexuality lies precisely in modern labels, which are too controlling and confining to adequately describe his protean desire.

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Author details

Bernhard Jackson, Emily