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Charles Webster Leadbeater
(1854 - 1934) U.K.

Charles Leadbeater

Clergiman, occultist


He was born in Stockport, in the County of Chester, to lower-middle-class parents. He took orders in the Church of England, and became curate in a small village parish, eventually turning to High Anglicanism for siritual and aesthetic satisfaction. He also began to dabbel in occultism.

Joining the London Lodge of the Theosophist Society, in 1884 he resigned his parish and traveled to India. His interest in the occult did not preclude his Christianity: while in Sidney, in 1916, he founded the Liberal Catholic Church, with himself as Bishop.

KrishnamurtiOver the years, there had been occasional scandals over Leadbeater's interest in young boys, as in the case of Krishnamurti, an attractive young Brahmin whom Leadbeater "acquired" in 1906, proclaimin him to be the future world saviour. A court battle with the boy's father ensued, giving unwanted publicity to the movement - and to Leadbeater.

In Sidney, in 1922, another of these scandals burst. The bishop was charged with indecencies against minors. His case made headlines throughout Australia, when police investigations revealed that it had been his practice to have a boy with him, even in bed or in bath, ostensibly to monitor the aging bishop's health. Even though the charges were eventually dismissed, Leadbeater never lived down the scandal.

At a time when few people even knew about - certainly did not understand - homosexuality, he was, for most Australians, the very public face of a homosexual scandal. He died in Perth, Western Australia, in his 87th year.


Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Gay and Lesbian History, from Antiquity to WWII, Routledge, London, 2001

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