In his book Lovers’ Legends: the Gay Greek Myths, Andrew Calimach discusses how more “proper” generations have “whitewashed” the Gay out of Greek Mythology, removing uncomfortable sub-texts from the Classic Myths such as the Homoerotic nature of the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus (thus changing significantly a major episode of the Trojan War). Arthur Evans is preoccupied with the same theme- the whitewashing of Gay History- expanded from Classical Mythology to medieval Western Culture at large, in his ground-breaking 1978 Queer Studies Witchcraft and the Gay Counterculture. (Evans also expands the issue from the Whitewashing of Gays to the Demonizing of Witches; Evans is one of the first- if not the first- to make a connection between the historical misrepresentation of Witches and that of Gays, as well as one of the first to attempt a “Reclaimed” History of medieval Witchcraft).
As an example, check out the two Classical Pagan films released in 2004. In the Brad Pitt version of the Trojan War, Troy, Mr. Pitt stars as the Greek Hero Achilles. One of the most beautiful men ever to be filmed, Mr. Pitt has also cultivated a reliably Heterosexual screen identity since the early ’90s. Not for him (or the producers, apparently) the controversy arising from playing up the Homoerotic nature of one of the most famous warriors to live. Accordingly, Patroclus (once Achilles’ somewhat-older husband) gets recast as a much younger cousin. Hence a paternalism on Achilles’ part, as well as family-relations justification for his outrage over Patroclus’ death (what WILL he say to his aunt when he sees her again); however, due to the whitewashing of the original Homoerotic story-line, a viewer of Troy will have no idea that “Achilles and Patroclus” was at first a tale of same-sex love.
2004′s other “Toga-Epic,” Oliver Stone’s Alexander, however, apparently wanted to make some sort of bold Homoerotic “statement” concerning the lifelong relationship between Alexander (Colin Farrell) and Hephaestion (Jared Leto), going so far as to invoke Achilles and Patroclus to describe their relationship (as did ancient writers). However, despite Anthony Hopkins’ unfortunate line, “That while Alexander conquered the world, he was himself conquered by Hephaestion’s thighs” (Eww! Eww! Script rewrite! Script rewrite!), this is the most curiously un-sexual Homoerotic relationship in the history of Homoerotic relationships (especially for being conducted by two men as Hot as Mr. Farrell and Mr. Leto). Despite Mr. Leto’s smudging his eyes with kohl and wearing fetching caftans (to show us that he is the “wife,” I take it), he can’t seem to engage Mr. Farrell’s attention, who seems determined to keep his “boyfriend” at some curious arm’s-length (“No sex on the Eve of battle”; cue Jared Leto crumbling).
The most ridiculous moment arrives at the moment of Hephaestion’s death. Alexander was said to be beside himself with grief, ordering the physician who failed to save Hephaestion hung, and ordering the world’s largest bonfire to burn as Hepheastion’s funeral-pyre. However, in this movie, Alexander goes to the sick-room; crosses to the window, where he is lit very prettily; while he indulges in a monologue anticipating the glories of the Hellenic Age. Over his shoulder, behind him, we see Hephaestion succumb to some sort of convulsion- then (most amusingly) Alexander goes, “Hephaestion? Hephaestion,” and turns around- to discover that his lover and lifelong companion has died.
Alexander misses his boyfriend’s death in Alexander.
Such films demonstrate the point of both Mr. Calimach and Mr. Evans, regarding the need to discern the removal or the camouflage of the Homoerotic by the Hetero-Normative; as well as Mr. Evans’ concurrent theme- that of the importance of rediscovering the “non-demonic” Past of European Witches and Pagans.