Was King James I Really Gay?

Jennifer R. Povey
3 min readOct 8, 2020
Photo by Mitya Ivanov on Unsplash

Ah yes, King James. That King James. The one who paid for a translation of the Bible. He was James VI of Scotland and James I of England, succeeding Elizabeth I after she died without an heir.

And supposedly, he was gay.

Which, of course, causes some issues for those who think that homosexuality is profound.

So, was he?

Let’s examine the evidence.

James I was Married

Which, of course, means nothing. But he also fathered no less than eight children, of whom three survived to adult. His wife was Anne, the daughter of the King of Denmark and Norway.

This was, of course, an arranged marriage. So, piece of evidence against James I being gay: He had a long-term relationship with a woman, albeit one not of his choosing, and was able to perform well enough to father children.

Of course, not all gay men experience vagina repulsion and he was under a lot of pressure to father a lot of children, given England’s experience with the Tudors.

James I Had Several Male Lovers

James I’s most famous “favorite,” which was a euphemism, was of course George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham.

Obviously, this is strong evidence in favor of him being gay. He also had at least two other male lovers. In one case, this appears to have been a pederasty-type relationship, with James as the boy…so there’s a question as to whether this should truly be counted.

His other boyfriend was Robert Carr, 1st Earl of Somerset, and their relationship ended badly, with an entire saga that involved poisoning and blackmail. I’m tempted to write that one up.

Furthermore his relationship with Buckingham was pretty well known at the time, and criticized mostly because of the amount of money James gave his lover…to spend on clothes. Apparently, Buckingham was quite the clothes horse.

So, assuming his relationship with Queen Anne was forced and he only fathered those kids out of duty, the evidence strongly swings towards, yup, gay.

But wait!

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Jennifer R. Povey

I write about fantasy, science fiction and horror, LGBT issues, travel, and social issues.