Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben was a German-Prussian general who served alongside George Washington in the Revolutionary War and is credited with teaching the Continental Army the basics of military protocol and generally believed to have been a gay man.
The memorial to General von Steuben in Washington, DC bears the homoerotic image of a Roman soldier instructing a nude man in military protocol. Given that von Steuben was likely gay, this stirring image could be the perfect parallel to the celebrated military figure's authentic personal life.
When German-born artist Albert Jaegers is commissioned to design a fitting tribute to the great man in the early 1900s, he is startled to learn from his research that the General was gay and had been in love with a young soldier who died in battle. But when he suggests including the General's lover with him in the sculpture, the government officials behind the memorial balk, refusing to allow an esteemed member of the military be viewed as a homosexual.
Dedicated to preserving his subject's authentic being, Jaegers instead includes an homage to the Roman army, including a pair of soldiers meant to represent von Steuben and his lost love.