I want to start this much-anticipated post (HAHAHHAAA – that was a hilarious joke that I made on account of no one has been reading LHB DOES Germany which hasn’t hurt my feelings at all) by giving a special thank you to all of our new followers. To fill everyone in – we got a lil’ free publicity from an internet gal who writes a popular knitting-related blog, so now we have a bunch of new craft-enthusiasts/historical-sex-scandal-lovers reading For Shame! So a big WUDDUP BITCHES goes out to all our knitter-friends!! We’ll be looking for a scandalous crafter to honor you all very soon. And just so we don’t leave anyone out, thank you so much to those of you who are reading the blog because you know us/love us/have been coerced/threatened. Your support is invaluable. Really. My throat is a little tight. I love this blog. We promise not to forget about you when we finally get our coffee-table-book-deal and become super famous.
But enough of that bull shit, let’s make some dick jokes! AM I RIGHT?!?!
First of all, I know what you’re thinking because I’m omniscient. Just like Voldemort and Patrick Stewart from X Men. “LHB, the Romanovs weren’t German. What the heck does this have to do with you DOING Germany?” And to that I will respond, “I know. I get it. Shhhh. Be quiet.” Here’s what happened: I found Konstantin Konstantovitch on the Wiki page of the first subject of LHB DOES Germany and I really wanted to write about him even though he’s a Romanov. So here’s my thinking: As I’ve said many a time, during this period in European history, all them royals were marrying off their children to one another so everybody had a little Schnitzel in them, okay? Even the Russos. So for our purposes, that’s what happened okay? And by the end of the post, I’m sure I’ll find some sort of superficial connection to the Reichland and pretend like it’s way more real than it is in order to make this shit come full circle. So hold onto your lederhosen because it’s about to get historically scandalicious up in HERR.
As the Gods of Wiki tell us, Konstantin Konstantinovitch was the grandson of the Emperor of Russia. As a poet and playwright of some prominence later on in life, he became known by his pen name, KR, which was an abrev. of his transliterated name Konstantin Romanov. As a young boy, he enjoyed frolicking in fields, pressing flowers, writing poetry, watching musical theatre, listening to the music of Cher, dressing up in his mommy’s pearls and wearing her lipstick. So it’s not so surprising when he was sent away to military school he was kinda like, “Well, I’m not really into the whole fighting/violence thing but I don’t think I would HATE living with a bunch of other men in really close quarters for several years of my young adult life.” In the end, military life suited him. Since he got to be around dudes a lot.
Konstantin didn’t get around to marrying until he was 26, which was really old for Russian royalty. The Wiki article says that this is because he was “shy,” but I’m pretty sure in this case “shy” is another word for “gay.” He did finally marry his second cousin, Princess Elizabeth of Saxe-Altenberg (WHO IS GERMAN-ISH, thank you very much), and they ended up having 9 kids together. So he must have either loved her or have had a portrait of Brad Pitt on his headboard throughout their marriage or something because the two of them were great at procreating. The Wiki article on Princess Elizabeth has this to say about the royal couple: “The marriage was a success, although Grand Duke Konstantin secretly kept male lovers.”
Now, I’m no expert on being married since I’m 21 and, you know, in college, but I don’t know that I would call my marriage “a success” if my husband was in the habit of keeping male lovers. Call me crazy!
I’ll get to all of the Duke’s accomplishments later because he was a pretty awesome guy, but for now, let’s talk about how gay he was. Literally. This scandal is a sort of non-scandal scandal because nobody other than probably his wife and small circle of his close friends and lovers knew about his bisexuality during his lifetime. It was many many years after his death when his extensive diaries were published that people found out that this staunchly politically conservative Russian duke, devoted husband and father to nine children, swung both ways. (And one of his kids didn’t die until, like, 2001 so that must have been really awkward for her when daddy’s diaries were for sale at Barnes and Noble. “NEW in Paperback! Your dad liked guys, too!” It’d be weird, right?)
KR called his sexual interest in men his “main sin” and referred to entering male brothels as a succumbing to his “depraved inclinations.” Which, like, come on. So sad, right? Did your heart just break a little? Mine sure did and it’s really small. I mean, it’s the early 1900s and he’s Russian royalty. Europe is going to shit. I think you know where this story is ending for him and a few members of his ROMANOV family. And on top of all that political stress and responsibility, having a family, being a dad, ranking super high in the military, writing poems and plays and being arty, he’s gotta get his club on every night to figure out who he really is inside (his pants). It’s tough shit is all I’m saying. So it’s not surprising that by 1903 he had become a regular at Chez Hott Boyz, the most popular bath-house in St. Petersburg. FACT. You’re welcome.
In 1904 he wrote in his diaries about his encounter with a young man named Yatsko during which he discussed feelings of shame that came with being in la closet in the early 20th century. A long-term relationship developed between the two that he apparently wrote about for a number of years. Being a muckity muck in Russian society, he “befriended” a lot of interesting, arty people. Like the composer, Pyotr Tchaikovsky. They enjoyed “playing piano” together.
In September of 1914, KR and his wife were in GERMANY (BOOM) on some sort of spa holiday weekend when a little thing called the World War I started (except they didn’t call it that then). They were taken as political prisoners and then allowed to meet up with the German royal family and then continue on back home to Russia where things were even better! NOT. Five of his six sons fought in the war and his two favorites died in 1914 and 1915 fighting on the Western Front and in the Caucasus theater. This was sort of a blow to their pop and he died of general bad health/a broken heart in 1915. Which turned out to be kind of a blessing, am I right?! His four surviving sons were kidnapped by the Bolsheviks in October of 1917 and later slaughtered with other members of the Russian Royal family. His wife and the rest of his kids managed to flee to Germany and then England and the United States.
A few glowing remarks about the late, cabaret-loving, figure-skating KR. He was a really smart, really nice guy. A good father. A valued member of the Russian artistic, literary, and scientific communities and a leader in early Russian Modernism. He was a patron of the arts and an artist and writer himself. He translated Goethe and Shakespeare into Russian, and he also acted in some of his own plays!
So, what have we learned here today? I think it’s pretty simple: being bisexual/gay when you’re Russian Royalty in the early 1900s has got to be a hard knock life and little Orphan Annie/Jay Z didn’t know shit.