Was Alexander the Great Gay? What's Real from Netflix's New Series

By Klein Felt Posted:
Alexander the Great Netflix Gay

Netflix's new Alexander the Great docuseries has fans questioning if the great military leader was, in fact, gay. 

While being best known for conquering Persia and Greece as the king of ancient Macedon, Alexander: The Making of a God (streaming now on Netflix) suggests the historical figure harbored a secret about his sexuality. 

The new series gets into the inner workings of Alexander the Great, following him on the rise to reign as King of Macedon and through that reign, along with the people around him. 

Was Alexander the Great Gay?

Alexander the Great in Netflix's Alexander: The Making of a God

The new Netflix show Alexander: The Making of a God has resurfaced speculation Alexander the Great may have been gay. 

For years, speculation about Alexander the Great's sexuality has been a topic of much debate amongst the historian community. 

In the series, which is a mix of documentary-style interviews and dramatic reenactments, Alexander (played by Buck Braithwaite) is very clearly represented as queer.

Theories about Alexander the Great's sexuality date back thousands of years at this point, with first-century Roman historian Quintus Curtius Rufus writing, "[Alexander] scorned sensual pleasures [with women]":

"He scorned sensual pleasures to such an extent that his mother was anxious lest he be unable to beget offspring."

While the Macedonian King was married three different times, bearing several children, records show he may have been reluctant to engage in sexual relations with women.

The show sees this version of the historical figure deeply in love with his childhood friend and military commander Hephaestion along with the allusion to relations with one of his generals Ptolemy. 

According to some historians, both Ptolemy and Hephaestion were just close compatriots and military comrades to Alexander the Great and shared no romantic connection with the King. 

In his 2004 book Homosexuality In Ancient Greece The Myth Is Collapsing conservative author and politician Adonis Georgiadis wrote that Hephaestion particularly was Alexander the Great's "closest and dearest friend," having known each other since childhood and risen the ranks as companions.

Another figure that gets brought up in these conversations is the Persian courier Bagoas. 

While most of the evidence surrounding Alexander the Great's romantic connection to people like Hephaestion is mostly speculative, Bagoas exists as the most concrete argument Alexander enjoyed the company of men. 

Bagoas was gifted to Alexander the Great by the Persian court as what James Romm of Bard College (via Forbes) called "a male object of Alexander's sexual interest" or "boy toy:"

"In the case of Bagoas -- a eunuch given to Alexander as (dare I say it?) a boy toy by a Persian noble who wished to win his favor -- there is some room for doubt, though I would venture to say he "counts" as a male object of Alexander's sexual interest."

If Alexander the Great was, in fact, straight, then why would he be parted with a young 'desirable' boy for his companionship? 

Why Alexander the Great's Sexuality May Be More Complicated?

Gay or straight? Straight or gay? As it turns out, the sexuality of Alexander the Great may not be so binary. 

At the time of Alexandrian rule, sex and sexuality were much more ambiguous without terms like 'gay' or 'straight' to describe specific desires.

Acts like homosexuality were largely not seen as taboo, and sexual experimentation was common. 

While Alexander the Great may have not been gay in modern terms (with bisexual probably being a better descriptor), the evidence seems to be stacked in favor of Alexander the Great perhaps enjoying the company of a man rather than a woman. 

Up until around 1907, historical records were heavily censored to avoid even the speculation of non-heteronormativity, so the world may never have a definitive answer on Alexander the Great's love life.

But it ultimately does not matter. Given the open nature of sexuality at all levels of society in ancient Greece, there are likely a myriad of noteworthy historical figures who some may view as queer. 

Alexander: The Making of a God is streaming now on Netflix. 

- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.