Was Newman gay?

Was Newman gay?

Mark Sullivan examines the evidence that the Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman was an abstinent homosexual who had a long-term close yet abstinent relationship with another priest.

I know barely anything about Newman’s life so I’m not really qualified to comment on the merits, but I wonder if we’re looking at a 19th-century reality through 21st-century eyes. What I mean specifically is that whenever two men share an abiding love for one another, in our society we’re quick to jump to the conclusion that they’re gay, but yet we don’t say the same thing for women in similar relationships. Yet it wasn’t that long ago that men had close friendships, so close that they could speak of their love for one another, not in a sexual way, but as brothers and friends.

This is why we often hear activists of our modern era calling the relationship between Jesus and John, “the apostle whom he loved,” a homosexual one. Or for that matter, the relationship between King David and Jonathan: “I am distressed for you my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.” (2 Sam 1:26) They weren’t homosexual, yet they were as close friends as two men can be.

I read an essay recently (and I wish I could remember where; I think it was a National Review book review) that talked precisely about this topic and the loss of the ideal of male companionship which was found most recently in Victorian England.

But in a sex-soaked society we are conditioned to see everything in terms of sex and sexuality. Are we perhaps seeing something of the same thing with Newman and his friend?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli