The name of the god Apollo rings across time as the classic young, powerful, beautiful man. He is typically portrayed as the ideal kouros, the beardless athletically bodied youth idealized by the ancient Greeks. Apollo had many powerful attributes as he was the god of the sun and light, prophecy, healing, music, and poetry. Typical of handsome young men, he was also known for his sexy ways.

At one point Apollo fell in love with a young man named Hyacinth. One day they were playing discuss together as Zephyr, the god of the west wind, watched. Zephyr grew jealous of their affections and when Apollo threw the discuss high into the air Zephyr blew the discuss back at Hyacinths head, killing him.

As Hyacinth’s head hung broken from his body, drooping like a flower blossom from its stalk, his blood spilled into the earth. On that spot a beautiful flower sprang up, the Hyacinth, although it was probably the flower we now call the Iris.

The gay myth of Apollo and Hyacinth

The Death of Hyacinth by Benjamin West, 1771, Swathmore College, Philadelphia.

For more ancient myths that include gay people and gender variation, click here.