When you think of Michelangelo, you likely envision his contributions to art before his contributions to fighting homophobia. However, his unapologetic love of men seeped into many of his most prized art pieces… including that which makes up the interior of the most Catholic place on earth!

Michelangelo was a badass queer activist

Artists have always been rebels. They push against the grain, challenge the government, and find their own ways to say f-you to social norms. Michelangelo is no exception, and he boldly challenged the norms of romance and sex with men in a society which rejected it. Homophobia wasn’t going to fly with Michelangelo.

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Michelangelo wasn’t quiet about his desires towards men and the relationships he had with them. Now, during his time, Catholicism was pretty much the focus of society, and they were hard-set against homosexuality. So, Michelangelo found some incredible ways to troll the Catholic church with his art!

Yes, all his artwork had sexual subtext…

For as long as he started creating art, Michelangelo was all. About. Sex. He created erotic poetry and artwork which his family often decided to hide from society. Sure, plenty of artwork at the time was naked and suggestive, so what was so bad about his work? Well, in an uber-religious society, the people he was partial towards depicting weren’t exactly praised.

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Michelangelo was all about the beauty of the male figure and was known to pursue male relationships, paint and sketch nude men in bathhouses, and be absolutely terrible at sculpting female breasts. Still, Michelangelo was an incredible artist, and he got opportunities to paint in some of the most beautiful religious spaces around the world. And he didn’t waste his chance to give Catholicism’s homophobia a big middle-finger with his work!

His brilliant f-you to Catholicism

The pope enlisted Michelangelo to paint in the Sistine Chapel (a.k.a. the most Catholic place on earth), and he hopped on the opportunity. Of course, he made it into the queerest mural he possibly could. What’s gayer than naked men kissing on the clouds of Heaven? And while that was a major middle finger in and of itself, he didn’t stop there.

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He also added a number of nude men into the famous Sistine’s “Last Judgement” piece, none of whom had anything to do with biblical teachings. And when someone in the church complained about what he deemed as inappropriate, Michelangelo painted them, as well – in the depths of hell! He was truly a crusader for queerness before there was even a proper name for it. And come on… who can’t admire the toned abs of his beefy Jesus?