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 Byrne Fone, a historian of homosexuality-related issues

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PostSubject: Byrne Fone, a historian of homosexuality-related issues   Sat Jun 11, 2011 10:10 am

But thou, Giraud, whose beauty would unlock
The gates of prejudice, and bid me mock
The sober fears that timid minds endure,
Whose ardent passions women only cure,
Receive this faithful tribute to thy charms,
Not vowed alone, but paid too in thy arms.
For here the wish, long cherished, long denied,
Within that monkish cell was gratified.

G. Wilson Knight, unlike most early critics, thought the poem was worthy of response, although he says that it was from "the most indecent poet of high quality in our literature".[39] However, Grebanier believes that Colman, as "a recipient of Byron's confidence during a crucial period of the poet's life, and as a man who shared Byron's hatred of pretense ... must have seen an ideal subject in presenting ruthlessly, even brutally, the basic truths about Byron's moral dilemma, as a powerful means of blasting once more that sanctimoniousness which has always been fashionable in Britain."[40] Colman's purpose was not necessarily to discuss Giraud, but to respond to those who spread rumours about Byron and criticized Byron for his failed marriage, the reason for his exile. However, the poem does focus on Giraud, and, as Grebanier argues, "If, the poem says, our hero's affections were fastened upon Nicolo Giraud" then Byron's actions are acceptable because "he was but following the custom of the country. Once he had seen a beautiful Ganymede of fifteen attending the Turkish Governor, a Grecian youth, publicly known as the Governor's 'catamite.' Was it criminal to do what the Governor was doing?"[41]

Byrne Fone, a historian of homosexuality-related issues, emphasizes how the poem and the fictional discussion of Giraud and Byron's relationship reveal insights into 19th-century British views on homosexuality. To Fone, the poem was written by one who knew Byron and reveals Byron's homosexuality. Fone also argues that the 1833 publication of the poem was prompted by the arrest of William Bankes, a homosexual friend of Byron's, and the execution of Henry Nicholls for homosexual activity. The opening lines of the poem mention "crippled Talleyrand", William Beckford and William Courtenay. Fone argues that the references to Beckford and Courtenay are used both to talk about the unfair treatment of homosexual men who had committed no real crime, and to emphasise England's hypocrisy when it comes to sex. The poem then claims that England's treatment of homosexuals forces Don Leon to travel to Greece in order to fulfill his desires and be free of intellectual control, which is fulfilled when Don Leon is able to be with Giraud. The fictional Giraud, according to Fone, allows Don Leon to break free of the homophobia of England. The poem, as he points out, tries to convince Moore to mention Byron's homosexual desires. Fone concludes, "It is not only the poem that is an effective attack on homophobic prejudice, but the example of the poet himself."[4



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