Today In Gay History French poet Arthur Rimbaud has his love was immortalised by the way of postage stamps issued by the French postal service.
Arthur Rimbaud was born in Marseille, France in 1854. He died from cancer just after his 37th birthday. Rimbaud was described as a restless soul who travelled on three continents before he died.
In 1951 many years after his death the French Postal Service issued stamps featuring Rimbaud and his lover Paul Verlaine.
Rimbaud met Verlaine in the summer of 1870 when he was 16. A friend of Verlaine was less than impressed and described him as, “a tall, gawky young man, very thin, with the look of a rather fierce street Arab”, however, Verlaine was so taken with the younger wayward man, he deserted his wife and child and ran away to London.
It didn’t go well for the two. Their relationship ended in Brussels and during an argument, Verlaine shot Rimbaud in the arm. Rimbaud, however, did not press charges.
France decriminalised sodomy in 1791, becoming the first West European country to do so. In 1832 an age of consent of 11 years-old was adopted for both homo and heterosexual relationships before being raised to 13 and then 21 for homosexual relationships and 15 for straight ones.
It was equalised once again in 1982.
Edmund White writes and the life and times of Rimbaud in his book Rimbaud: The Double Life of a Rebel