In The Making Of David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia, Adrian Turner describes Lawrence as a man who ‘would never come to terms with his homosexuality, and sought ways to suppress it’. Turner adds that, when the film version was in production, screenwriter Michael Wilson was not paying much attention to Lawrence’s sexuality. Wilson was more concerned with the theme of colonialism vs nationalism, and Lawrence’s scholastic pursuits.
This clearly displeased Lean, who wanted to paint more of a controversial character study, albeit on a large canvas, than Wilson had so far achieved. As far as one can judge from Wilson’s notes, Lean had two overriding concerns - Lawrence’s sexual make-up, and the scene that he would film in Petra. As far as the former is concerned, Wilson noted that Lean had, revealingly, compared the Lawrence-Ali relationship to Brief Encounter.
Years later, after the restored version of the film was released, Lean said that he had addressed Lawrence’s sexuality (the credited screenwriter was Robert Bolt, not Wilson): 'The whole story, and certainly Lawrence, was very, if not entirely, gay. We thought we were being very daring at the time, Lawrence and Omar, Lawrence and the Arab boys.'
This can’t last. This misery can’t last. I must remember that and try to control myself. Nothing lasts really. Neither happiness nor despair. Not even life lasts very long. There’ll come a time in the future when I shan’t mind about this anymore, when I can look back and say quite peacefully and cheerfully how silly I was. No, no, I don’t want that time to come ever. I want to remember every minute, always, always to the end of my days.