Thursday, 1 September 2011


One reason I love doing research is coming across unexpected connections. They could be of the “6 Degrees of Separation” type, or the “James Burke’s Connections” type.

Using the 6 Degrees type I can place myself just 3 degrees away from both the Queen and the Pope through 2 different cousins.

“James Burke’s Connections” are those which follow the examples in the tv programmes of the same name (sadly never repeated enough, if ever). These connections cover any aspect of life – science, history, geography, art, biography, philosophy, technology – each step being inextricably linked to the next. It’s easy to do this yourself these days with Wikipedia. Just start with …. anything you want really. Keep clicking on a random link and see how far away from the original subject matter you can get in 6 clicks.

I created a card game a few years based on the “Connections” idea called “Around the World in 80 Gays”. Concentrating on the lgbt community I designed cards which could be linked to as many as 6 others. I’m no good with maths, so I can’t work out the possible number of combinations.

I’ve got the cards in front of me now, so I’ll just pick 2 cards at random. They are … actor George Takei and Otto Rahn (both shown below). Now I’ll try to link them together with 4 other cards. Back in a few minutes.

Okay, all 6 cards have been linked together. I’m sure I could have come up with a better chain of connections with other cards. Never mind, this is what I’ve come up with:
1          Actor George Takei and his partner are one of the relatively few officially married same-sex couples;
2          as was Sir John Clanvowe (d.1391) and his partner Sir William Neville, Constable of Nottingham Castle;
3          at the base of which is the medieval Brewhouse Yard;
4          which at one time was under the parochial control of the Knights Templar;
5          who allegedly knew the location of the Holy Grail;
6          which was researched by gay German historian Otto Rahn.

I like a challenge. So if you can think of 2 entirely different things in the lgbt world that don’t seem to be connected, test me. Perhaps think of a famous lgbt person (dead or living) and an ancient historical event, or part of the lgbt community and a famous invention. I’m sure I can link anything together in 6 “degrees of connection” or less. Send me an email.

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