By October 5, 2015 5 Comments Read More →

Boys and Girls Keep Swinging (Revisited)


Marlene Dietrich

Recently, various whispers have emerged in a few historical fiction groups. What about sexual orientation in the past? How should sexuality be portrayed in fiction? It’s a hot new topic and one which is deserving of our time, since October is LGBT History Month. I am especially interested in this discussion as the next installment of SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME will feature the Bearded Lady in a traveling medicine show. (Today, a bearded lady would be known as a transvestite or cross dresser.) An alternative lifestyle is not a product of modern culture, is it?

History has glossed over the sexuality of kings, queens (no pun intended), celebrities, artists and socialites. Richard the Lion-Hearted comes to mind, as does numerous members of royalty who have had a close adviser of the same sex who was closer to them than their spouse. Mary, Queen of Scots, standing at 5 ‘ 11″ was reported to dress as a man on occasion in order to make the rounds of pubs in Edinburgh in order to discover what her subjects felt about her reign. There’s so much more. Literary great Oscar Wilde was imprisoned due to his open sexuality.

Actress Marlene Dietrich was a fashion and screen icon. She influenced David Bowie, and her immortal photograph taken on the movie set of Shanghai Express (1932) was cited by Mick Rock as the inspiration for the Queen II album cover.


Marlene Dietrich in Shanghai Express

She once said, “I dress for myself. Not for the image, not for the public, not for the fashion, not for men.”Her public image included openly defying sexual norms, and she was known for androgynous clothing, film roles and for her open bisexuality.

According to blogger Christopher Hawthorne Moss, “I am absolutely devoted to reclaiming GLBTQ history through our historical fiction stories and novels…We deserve a heritage too.”
You can follow his blog here

English historical specialist and fiction writer, M.J. Logue, features a central character in her upcoming novel, who “…is gender queer; lives as a man, identifies as a man, accepted as a man…Is female.” 12088044_1676616572559472_306388526968888976_n As she said, “Takes all sorts to make a world…Women, and men, in history fought hard to live outside convention, knowing they faced exposure, ridicule, social ostracism, even death, for disclosing themselves. And they still do, we have not yet come so far. We owe it to readers to write those men and women back into historical fiction, not as plaster saints or wayward sinners, but as real, rounded human beings. Just like us.” You can read and follow M.J. Logue’s blog here. (With a blog title ‘Fifty Shades of Gender Bias and Sexuality in Historical Fiction’, you know it’s gotta be great, right?) Look for more about her upcoming release, very soon.

Historical fiction author Char Newcomb states that from her research she feels that “Same sex relationships were generally tolerated or ignored.”Char’s latest novel, 


Men of the Cross, involves a steamy relationship between two men in the Middle Ages. She is quick to point out that the story involves graphic scenes, but it a story of deep friendship and abiding love between two men who have survived the horrors of war. You can purchase the book here. MenoftheCross. Char writes about her research into this sensitive topic on a blog post. Take a look.

Medieval man, sex, and mortal sin in Men of the Cross

Award winning author of The Graham Saga, Anna Belfrage, says that “My new series has an indirect LGBT theme.” It appears that it remains the work of artists, actors, musicians and writers to keep the candle of truth shining through so that lives from the past are better understood. After all, throughout time we are all people looking for a way to survive, wanting someone to love us and give our lonely lives more meaning.

With that in mind, we will end with David Bowie to keep us straight, metaphorically speaking, with “Boys Keep Swinging.”  

~ ~ ~ 

SECRETS from a DANGEROUS TIME, story 1. The journey begins.

Story 2 will be released soon, and take us inside a traveling medicine show. You will meet diverse characters such as Tallulah, the bearded lady, and other members of the troupe as they entertain while peddling their wares in the war torn Southern States following the U.S. Civil War. Then as now, entertainers saw no color or religious creed; only the need to connect with an audience and survive.







Post Script. This blog was originally posted October 5, 2015. Since then Susan Bordo, author of the phenomenal book The Creation of Anne Boleyn has shared an article with me which stated that David Bowie studied Lauren Bacall during his Hunky Dory period of work.

As the world mourns the loss of David Bowie, I want to acknowledge his personal influence on my work which taught me that art has no gender, only source.

RIP David Jones.



All photographs are public domain or shared by permission of the authors.

Mary Queen of Scots, Antonia Fraser

Rolling Stone Magazine

Top of the Pops, UK

David Bowie, 1975, Wikimedia Commons, Photograph licensed for Reuse.


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About the Author:

I am a writer of fiction, history & travel journalist. Originally from Tennessee, I now live in Atlanta, GA. History, travel, and international culture are my specialties. Look for my fictional stories, written as Hunter S. Jones. If you love history, check out Sexuality & Its Impact on History: The British Stripped Bare, an all-female collection of essays, coming soon from Pen & Sword Books.
  • Amber Lea Easton

    Fascinating article and topic. Very well-written as well. You’ve peaked my interest and I am anxious to know more. I will definitely share this!

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    • Thank you, Amber. You are very thoughtful. Have a great day.

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  • Gale Stanley

    I write in several genres including manlove. Loved your post! Fascinating stuff. Gotta share…

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    • Thank you, Gale. I love your stories. Glad you enjoyed the blog. Cheers!

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  • Author Maya DeLeina

    nice post- sharing. This weekend was dedicated to listening to some China Girl and Watching Die Hard. David Bowie & Alan Rickman…. 🙁

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