Ms. Daylily

The Chinese emperor who died one year before the Common Era began was a man in love with another man named Dong Xian. According to the historical volume Book of Han, one morning the emperor awoke to find his sleeve caught under Xian, who was still asleep by his side. Not wanting to disturb Xian’s slumbers, the emperor cut his own sleeve so he could get up. Upon recording the anecdote, the ancient historian commented amiably, “such was their love”—a departure in tone from his criticism of the emperor’s rule. “Cut sleeve” thus became a synonym for romance between two men.


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