Professor: Who is Hamlet in love with?
A het: Hamlet is only in love with Ophelia, no one else.
A different het: No one, he just wants to bang his mom.
Me, a gay homosexual who has read Hamlet and remembers the intensely homoerotic ride-or-die bond that he and Horatio had, and also that bisexual is a thing people can be:
Me, knowing historical context and that more close platonic actions where a thing back in the day and not every country, especially a few houndred years back, had such a “you hug once you are gay” code of the US: Yeah, no.
Yea, you’re right. Not every romantic friendship can or should be read as explicitly gay by modern standards, and the US does have a tendency to point to any act of affection between two men and label it as gay, which is incorrect.
I made this joke because A.) I am a lesbian, and B.) I have actively studied Shakespeare, both his life and his work, for the past several years. And while using a modern term like ‘bisexual’ probably isn’t the most accurate way to describe either Billy Shakes or any of his characters, there is a reasonable amount of evidence (primarily in his sonnets but also some in his comedies) that points to him, on some level, being attracted to men.
In terms of the actual text itself, Hamlet contains more than enough evidence that Hamlet and Horatio’s relationship extends beyond the purely plutonic. And it’s not just us assuming modern Americans who think that. The book ‘The Mystery of Hamlet’, which argues (with some really sexist logic) that Hamlet can’t possibly be a MAN™ because he TALKS TOO MUCH, actually uses Hamlet and Horatio’s relatonship as ‘proof’ arguing it’s too romantic for Hamlet to not be a woman. …Ok.
And if you want a more recent, equally non American example, I’d point you in the direction of the 1960s BBC made for tv version of Hamlet, with Hamlet being played by Christopher Plummer and Horatio being played by Michael Cain. Plummer and the films director famously wanted to highlight the ambiguously romantic nature of the two characters relationship, to the point where Cain was actually encouraged to NOT be in it. But he did anyway.
Even if you don’t believe that Shakespeare intended for these characters to be gay, changing cultural ideals and hundreds of years worth of in depth character studies have lead to this interpretation bring incredibly popular, especially among (shock!!) gay people. Who exactly is it hurting to interpret these characters as gay. It’s certainly better that fruedian interpretations of the play. And it helps young, queer kids better understand and relat to this 400 year old character. And that’s pretty fucking cool.