The Secret Gay Lives of Historical Figures: Leonardo da Vinci

By: Bryan K. Ludeña Campoverde

Uncovering Leonardo’s Sexual Orientation

Leonardo da Vinci is widely known for his artistic genius and innovative scientific discoveries, but his personal life has been shrouded in mystery. However, recent research suggests that he may have been gay, and that his sexuality played a significant role in his life and work.

According to a recent article in The Independent, a new TV series titled “Leonardo” explores the possibility that the artist had sexual relationships with men. The show’s writer, Frank Spotnitz, says that there are “enough indications” in Leonardo’s writings and art to suggest that he was gay.

While there is no definitive proof of Leonardo’s sexuality, some scholars have pointed to his relationships with men, including his close friendship with the younger artist and musician Salai. Leonardo referred to Salai as his “beloved” and left him several of his personal belongings in his will.

Leonardo’s Artistic Expressions of Gay Love

Leonardo’s art has also been analyzed through a queer lens, with some scholars arguing that his depictions of male figures reveal his own same-sex desires. For example, in his painting “St. John the Baptist,” some have pointed out the sensuous curves of the figure’s body and the dreamy expression on his face.

Similarly, in his “Study of Two Warriors’ Heads,” Leonardo depicts two muscular, semi-naked men gazing at each other intently. Some scholars see this as a homoerotic image, with the men symbolizing the artist’s own desires.

The Importance of Recognizing LGBTQ+ Historical Figures

Leonardo da Vinci is just one example of a historical figure whose sexuality has been obscured or erased from the historical record. However, by acknowledging and celebrating LGBTQ+ figures from the past, we can help to create a more inclusive and diverse understanding of history.

It is important to recognize that LGBTQ+ people have always been a part of human history, and their contributions have often been overlooked or minimized. By shining a light on the lives and accomplishments of LGBTQ+ historical figures like Leonardo da Vinci, we can help to create a more accurate and inclusive narrative of the past.

If you want to learn more about LGBTQ+ history and support the movement for equality, we encourage you to subscribe to Insure Equality’s YouTube channel, follow us on Instagram and Linkedin, and join our blog. By staying informed and engaged, we can work together to ensure that all voices are heard and all people are valued.


The Independent. 2021. “Leonardo da Vinci’s sexuality to be explored in TV drama.” Accessed May 4, 2023.

Artsy Editorial. 2018. “6 Things You Need to Know About Leonardo da Vinci.” Accessed May 4, 2023.

Kemp, Martin. 2019. “Leonardo da Vinci and the Art of Same-Sex Desire.” JSTOR Daily. Accessed May 4, 2023.

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