What better way to celebrate the upcoming Valentine's Day than with some salacious gossip?
Scandalous love affairs have fueled dinner table conversations and filled tabloid pages for ages, and same-sex love affairs certainly spike the scandal meter with the added layer of gay drama. Whether carried out by politicians, Hollywood stars or religious leaders, secret gay love affairs have shaken the dust right off history books for centuries.
Check out 10 of the most scandalous gay love affairs in recorded history, and feel free to add any that I didn't cover in the comments section.
1. Julius Caesar: In times B.C. this leader of ancient Rome was said to have had an affair with the King of Bythinia, Nicomedes. Though Caesar never publicly affirmed the affair, he never denied it either. Though same-sex male desire was more widely accepted during Caesar's time, people who didn't like him referred to him as a "queen" or a "woman" to mock his gay love affair and tarnish his reputation.
2. Pope Julius III: Reigning as the leader of the Catholic Church during the first half of the 16th century, Pope Julius III took on a young male lover, Innocenzo, whom he eventually appointed cardinal. In an attempt to mitigate the unfolding scandal, the pope changed the boy's birthday so that he would appear older, but he failed to quell public speculation on their affair. Innocenzo was shunned and banished following Julius' death, and the love affair went down in history as the most scandalous of the papacy.
3. Lord Byron: This famous poet who lived in England during the 18th and early 19th centuries was a popular sex symbol in his own right, but "Byromania" didn't protect him when he was likely driven away from his home country over allegations of same-sex relations. His romantic liaisons, including an affair with a choirboy, are well-documented, and he was known as a public proponent of "free love" during a time when such lifestyles were widely frowned upon.
4. Greta Garbo: A famous Hollywood heartthrob known for her roles in silent and talking films during the first half of the 20th century as much as for her good looks (in 1954 the Guinness Book of World Records named her the most beautiful woman who ever lived), Garbo spent some time living with her long-term partner, the poet and playwright Mercedes de Acosta. In fact, it is said that de Acosta taught her how to "act like a lady" for Hollywood.
5. Brandon Teena: Though not widely known until after his death, transgender teen Brandon Teena was outed during his relationship with girlfriend Lana Tisdel. When so-called friends discovered that Brandon was a biological female, they raped and murdered him, sparking a national outcry and public awareness of trans issues, as well as an Oscar-winning movie, Boys Don't Cry.
6. Ellen DeGeneres: When Ellen came out on her sitcom in 1997, a public disclosure of her relationship with actress Anne Heche soon followed. The several-years-long love affair was highly publicized, and some say that's what caused Heche to hit the road, running into the arms of a man, cameraman Coley Laffoon, in 2001. It was the first (and to this day the only) lesbian breakup to play out so publicly.
7. Bishop Gene Robinson: In 2004, Robinson, now retired, became the first out gay priest to be consecrated as a bishop by a major Christian denomination. The New Hampshire bishop's scandalous affair took place not with a person but with his religion. Standing proud and tall despite enormous blowback from the church, Bishop Robinson broke barriers and paved the way for a more tolerant religious landscape.
8. Ted Haggard: The former pastor of the New Life Church in Colorado, Haggard was the first in a string of religious leaders who were outed for engaging in illicit same-sex relations. Haggard's 2006 affair was one of the most controversial; he was as outspoken against homosexuality as they come, yet he was outed as having engaged in transactions with male prostitute Mike Jones over a three-year period.
9. James McGreevy: Not only did the then-governor of New Jersey announce publicly in 2004 that he was "a gay American" who had had a same-sex affair during his term in office, but his aids quickly disclosed that his lover was Golan Cipel, a man whom McGreevy had appointed as the state's homeland security advisor. The announcement was followed by his prompt resignation. McGreevy remains the only out state governor in U.S. history.
10. Jodie Foster: As irony would have it, it was Jodie Foster's pronouncement not of love but of her breakup with longtime partner Cydney Bernard that made headlines during the recent Golden Globes. Foster had alluded to being gay in less public settings, but it was her acceptance speech at the Golden Globes that marks the first time she whispered from the rooftops that she is a lesbian.