Pride Month

Francis Poulenc

(January 7, 1899 – d. January 30, 1963)

The composer of a vast catalog of religious music, Poulenc once wrote to a friend, “You know that I am as sincere in my faith, without any messianic screamings, as I am in my Parisian sexuality.” Indeed, Poulenc was a lifelong Roman Catholic whose most lasting romantic relationships were with men. Though he fathered a daughter, Poulenc left behind more information about his gay relationships than his heteronormative ones. A copy of his Concert champêtrebears the following inscription to his then-partner Richard Chanlaire: “You have changed my life, you are the sunshine of my thirty years, a reason for living and for working.”

 

Camille Saint-Saëns

(October 9, 1835 – d.  December 16, 1921)

In 1875, the 40-year-old Saint-Saëns surprised friends and family when he hastily married Marie-Laure Truffot, the sister of one of his pupils. The marriage was an unhappy one: after the deaths of their two young children, Saint-Saëns walked out on Truffot and never remarried. Despite this painful chapter in his life, he remained social and outgoing, hosting lavish soirees—where he supposedly performed in drag on more than one occasion—and indulging in frequent travel to exotic locales in Northern Africa. Some have speculated that he might have pursued trysts in Algiers, then a popular destination for European homosexuals.

Aaron Copland
(November 14, 1900 – d. December 2, 1990)
Though never outspoken on the subject, Copland felt little to no angst about his sexuality. He never went to great lengths to hide his relationships, most of which were with talented young men who ran in his cultural sphere. Nor did his homosexuality interfere with his success as a composer, though it may have contributed to his blacklisting during the Red Scare. At one point, Leonard Bernstein pressured his mentor and friend to publicly come out. Copland wryly responded, “I think I’ll leave that to you, boy.”

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