Chapter 4. Why homosexual heterosexuals conceal their homosexual feelings: homophobia, biphobia and

SO YOU SAY YOU’RE STRAIGHT: The one in five hidden homosexual heterosexuals  by the late Dr Neil McConaghy book proposal placed here on StraightGuise.com with permission by the author’s daughter, Dr. Finola McConaghy.


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Chapter 4.  Why homosexual heterosexuals conceal their homosexual feelings: homophobia, biphobia and sissyphobia.

One theory discussed in the previous chapter was that homosexual desire was determined biologically, but its expression in behavior was determined by environmental factors.  If this is correct, it would be expected that in societies in which homosexual feelings and behaviors were not regarded negatively many more homosexual heterosexuals would openly acknowledge and act of their homosexual feelings.  The negative attitude to homosexuality in contemporary society has been labeled homophobia by gay activists in the hope of reducing it.   As phobia is the term given to an irrational fear, such as social phobia, or agoraphobia, fear of crowded spaces, the word homophobia suggests that hostility to homosexuality is a similar irrational fear.   Though this may be true for some individuals, attitudes to homosexuality would seem to be largely culturally determined, varying in different societies of time.  The societies most commonly discussed as being free of homophobia are ancient Greece, and in particular Athens, and pre-Christian Rome.  They appear to be the only societies in which recorded evidence indicates that a number but not all forms of homosexual behavior were both widespread and approved.

Homosexual behavior in Ancient Greece and Rome

Scholars of sexual behavior in classical Athens and pre-Christian Rome including Garrison and Cantarella agree that eroticism was gender-free and distinctions were not made between sexual feelings to one or the other sex.  Dover in his book on Greek homosexuality also considered that in classical Athens whether the beloved was female or male was not considered of significance.  Xenophon in his history, “The Persian Expedition”, described an incident when to prevent the army being slowed on the march, the soldiers were ordered to let go all the slaves who had been recently captured.  They did as they were told, except for cases “when a soldier was in love with a particularly good-looking boy or woman.”   On another occasion Xenophon, a commander in the expedition, reported that when he accused by a soldier of beating him, Xenophon asked “Was it a fight over some good-looking boy or did I ill-treat you because I was drunk?”    He also described an incident when an admired soldier who was very fond of boys was prepared to die for one who is about to executed.   His fondness for boys was treated as unusual not because of it being for boys but because of its intensity.  The most admired Athenian historian, Thucydides in “The Peloponnesian Wars”, showed the same indifferent attitude, referring to “a man  from Argilus who had once been the boy friend of Pausanias”.   In Aristophanes’ “The Frogs” when Dionysus says he has a violent wish, Heracles asks was it for a women, and when told no, asks was it for a young boy.   Halperin commented that it would be a monumental task to enumerate all the ancient documents in which the alternative “boy or woman” occurred with perfect nonchalance in an erotic context, as if the two were functionally interchangeable.   An example he considered could be particularly startling to modern eyes was what he termed a not untypical marriage-contract from 92 B. C. Hellenistic Egypt.   It stipulated that it should not be lawful for the prospective husband to bring home another wife or to have a concubine or boy-lover.  However while this indifference to the sex of the partner applied to sexual activity with slaves or prostitutes it did not apply to the role taken in sexual activity of free adult male citizens.   Those who were believed to take what was considered the female role of being penetrated anally were discriminated against legally and regarded with contempt.   Also somewhat in contrast it did not apply in Athens to male homosexuality in the form of the love of an older man for a pubertal or adolescent youth.   This form, usually termed pederasty, was admired by some members of society, possibly largely an aristocratic elite, as the highest expression of love.   It is pederasty which has attracted most attention from scholars and is usually treated probably incorrectly as the common and typical form of male homosexuality practiced in ancient Athens.

Pederasty and homosexual heterosexuals

The reason that pederasty is central in scholarly accounts of Athenian homosexuality would appear due to the significance given it in Plato’s Symposium, the most extensive discussion of the ethics of sexual behavior, termed “erotics” in the literature of the time.   Written about 380 BC, it consists of a series of speeches given by a number of Greek men at a symposium or drinking party represented as having been hosted in 416 BC by the writer Agathon who had just won the annual prize for the tragedy he had authored. The speeches were in praise of eros, with eros accepted by almost all the speakers to be the love of a man for a boy.   The form of pederasty in Plato’s Symposium is considered by Garrison to have derived from what he termed the Pederastic Code of the wealthy and privileged military men of the fifth century BC, a code which distinguished them from the ordinary Athenians.   As Garrison interpreted the code it excluded women and regarded any attachment to them and any lack of enthusiasm for boys as part of a servile temperament.   Its literary expression was provided by the poet Pindar in his odes praising the beauty of the youthful victors of the Olympic Games, open only to boys and men of the ruling class with the leisure to train for them.   It appears generally accepted that the speakers in the Symposium were members of a similar aristocratic elite, though Socrates the most admired person of the group is reported to have been a foot soldier who went bare-foot.

Phaedrus, one of the early speakers in the Symposium  said he knew of no greater blessing to a young man beginning life than a virtuous lover, or to the lover than a beloved youth.  The principle which ought to guide the whole life of those who intend to live nobly could not be implanted either by family or by position or by wealth or by anything else so effectively as by love.  This was the principle which inspired shame at what is disgraceful and ambition for what is noble.  Neither lover or the beloved would wish to be seen to behave dishonorably by the other.  An army made up of lovers and their loves, although a mere handful, would overcome all men.  Love made men dare to die for their beloved.  Consistent with the concept of pederasty Phaedrus emphasized that the lover was older than the beloved.

The next speaker Pausanias argued that there were two forms of love, that of Heavenly Aphrodite, and of Common Aphrodite.  The latter was felt by the baser sort of men, was directed towards women quite as much as young men, and in either case was directed to the body rather than the soul.   It preferred its objects to be as unintelligent as possible, because its only aim was the satisfaction of its desires, and it took no account of the manner in which this was achieved.    The Heavenly Aphrodite had no female strain in her, but sprang entirely from the male, and was older and consequently free from wantonness.  Pausanias was here referring to the myth that Aphrodite was born of the foam of the sea, impregnated by the severed genitals of Uranus, the son of Mother Earth.   Pausanias continued that those inspired by Heavenly eros were attracted towards the male sex, which they valued as being naturally the stronger and more intelligent.  They did not fall in love with mere boys, but waited until they reached the age at which they began to show some intelligence, until they were near growing a beard.  By choosing that moment they showed their intention was to form a lasting attachment and a partnership for life.  They were not the kind who took advantage of the ignorance of the boy to deceive him, and then were off with a jeer in pursuit of some fresh darling.  Men who did so brought eros into disrepute, and encouraged some people to say it was disgraceful for boys to yield to a lover so that there was a contradiction in the public attitude to love of boys.  The universal encouragement and license which a lover received was evidence that no stigma attached to him: success in a love-affair was seen as glorious The lover could be servile and make promises, begging and praying for the fulfillment of his requests, without eliciting disapproval.  What was strangest of all was the popular conviction that a lover, and none but a lover, could forswear himself with impunity – a lover’s vow was said to be no vow at all.  This attitude of the ancient Athenians would appear to have changed little, to judge from the contemporary proverb that all is fair in love and war.

Pausanias contrasted this evidence of admiration for the successful lover of boys with the fact that boys who inspired this passion were placed by their fathers in the charge of tutors, with injunctions not to allow them to hold any communication with their lovers.  A boy who was involved in such communication was teased by his contemporaries and friends, and their elders made no attempt to stop this teasing and did not condemn it.  This led to the opposite conclusion that love between a man and a boy was not glorious but was reckoned among Athenians to be highly disgraceful.  Pausanias considered the truth as to whether love between a man and a boy was admirable or disgraceful depended on circumstances.  For the boy to yield to the baser sort of lover was wrong, to yield to a worthy man in the right way was right.  Two things were discreditable, to give in quickly to a lover, as time was the best test of most things, and to give in on account of the lover’s wealth or power.  If a person placed himself at the disposal of another because he believed that in that way he could improve himself in knowledge or other excellent quality, it involved no taint of disgrace or servility. There was no action whatever that deserved to be reprobated if it was performed in a decent and regular way.  The lover was justified in performing any service whatever in return for the favors of his beloved, and in return the beloved is justified in any act of compliance to one who can make him wise and good. This was Heavenly Love, valuable to states and individuals.  All other forms of love belonged to the Common Aphrodite.

Scholars such as Dover and Cantarella in their accounts of homosexual behavior in Athens agreed that the idealized form of homosexual behavior, and indeed of sexual behavior generally, was pederasty.  The adult male should educate the boy to become an adult Athenian citizen, and the boy in return should accept the love of the adult in some physical form. Cantarella found that when love of women was referred to, it was in relation to their biological utility, as bearers of children, and this was restricted to a marital context.   Non-procreative heterosexual love, love of a women as a woman, was not envisaged as a possibility until it was suggested by Plutarch, in his Amatorius, written after 96 A.D.   He introduced a distinction between one woman and another, stating as his opinion that heterosexuality was not a choice made for reasons of utility but was the expression of a feeling inspired by a particular person, quite independent of the gender to which the person belonged.  Further over time living with a wife introduced reciprocal affection, leading to the virtue of fidelity, inducing the spouse to avoid other lovers.  Cantarella  made the point that Plutarch’s thesis of the superiority of love for women, which was always within marriage, did not imply any condemnation of homosexuality.  She cited other writings of Plutarch indicating he considered the noblest form of love was love between men.  It was the only sentiment capable of spurring men on to valor, and the practice of the public virtues which held the highest place in the hierarchy of Greek values.  By comparison with these the private virtues induced by marriage were negligible.

Pederasty and contemporary homosexual behavior

While not disputing that pederasty was an admired form of love in classical Athens, at least by an elite, a number of scholars have considered that it was not equivalent to contemporary homosexual behavior.   Ssss  Diamond

The nature of homosexual activity in pederasty

Another source of evidence of the attitude to homosexual feelings in classical Athens  concerns their physical expression.  Dover based his conclusions concerning this on representations of sexual behavior in vase-paintings as well as such statements as those of Pausanias in the Symposium.   He considered that the approved relationship for the honorable loved youth was not to seek or expect sensual pleasure from contact with his lover, and to begrudge any contact until the lover has proved himself worthy of concession.  He was never to permit penetration of any orifice of his body, and never to liken himself to a woman by playing a subordinate role in any physical contact.  When the lover’s prolonged courtship was successful, the accepted sexual relationship was not anal but intracrural intercourse.  The lover and beloved stood facing each other, and the lover bowed his head and thrust his penis between the beloved’s thighs.  If the beloved submitted to anal penetration, under pressure from the lover to bend these rules, there seemed little doubt that by thus breaking the rules of legitimate eros, in Greek eyes he detached himself form the ranks of male citizenry and classified himself with women and foreigners.

Dover quoted the law, relevant to the case of Timarchus, that an Athenian citizen who had prostituted himself, which meant he had submitted his body to another male for payment, could not offer himself for public office or address the assembly.  If through someone’s inadvertence he was elected to office, if he accepted this and did not declare his unfitness, he could be indicted and if found guilty he could be executed.   Any male believed to have done whatever his older homosexual partner wanted him to do was assumed to have prostituted himself.  Cantarella rejected Dover’s belief that anal intercourse was not an accepted part of the relationship between lover and his beloved.    She considered that it was possible that anal intercourse was not represented in vase paintings because the images used were better suited to highlight the affective aspect of the relationship.  They emphasized its importance and nobility contrasting it with the purely physical one which linked two adult lovers.   She quoted poems of the third century B.C. in which the anal area of the loved boys seemed to be their most erotically attractive feature, described in metaphors of a romantic kind.  Sometimes called a rosebud, sometimes compared to the sweetest of fruits, the fig, and other times equated with gold, references to the anus, together with the hinder parts of the loved youth’s body treated it as as irresistibly attractive.

In any case, Dover appeared to believe that anal intercourse was not uncommon in the relationship of adults and youths.   In relation to Pausanias’s statement in the Symposium that the beloved is justified in any act of compliance to one who can make him wise and good, Dover stated  “To translate from euphemism into plain English: acceptance of the teacher’s thrusting penis between his thighs or in his anus is the fee which the pupil pays for good teaching, or alternatively, a gift from a younger person to an older person whom he has come to love and admire”.   Dover pointed out that so long as the behavior in public of the lover and the beloved was decorous and circumspect, the substance of any given homosexual relationship could only be a matter of conjecture for everyone else.  Evidence for such conjecture must have been limited.  Discussion of the nature of sexual behavior was considered ill-mannered in Athens.  Dover pointed out that in the drinking party among men reported in the Symposium, Socrates apologized for his coarseness in mentioning homosexual bodily contact though he only speaks of kissing and caressing.  When the party was interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Alciabiades and companions in a drunken state, Alciabiades in describing his attempt to seduce Socrates to be his lover, made it plain he was breaking the rules of polite conversation in a very striking way.

Dover compared the discrediting of the boy who gave in too quickly to the situation which existed in many societies which were strongly heterosexual in their orientation, but at the same time allowed women a certain freedom of movement.  While the man was admired for seducing a woman, the woman who was easily seduced lost respect.  Dover commented that the heterosexual relationships in such societies and the homosexual relationships in Greek society were regarded as the product not of the reciprocal sentiments of equals but of the pursuit of those of lower status by those of higher status.   He did not give evidence for this conclusion and it could not always have been the case.  In Xenophon’s Symposium, Socrates said of Callias that it was town talk that he loved Autolykus, and that one reason for his love is that they were both born of illustrious families.   ssss



Pausanias’s suggestion  that the Athenian approval of same-sex behavior might be limited to that of the older partner while that of the boy who yielded was at best regarded with suspicion, is apparent in the comedies of Aristophanes who wrote for the Athenian citizens, not only an elite.

Expresses anxiety about passive homosexuality

In relation to his statement that the good lover’s intention was to form a lasting attachment and a partnership for life, Pausanias may have been putting forward beliefs compatible with his own feelings and behaviors, which may not have been held by the majority of Athenians.  In an earlier dialogue of Plato he is represented as the lover of Agathon when the latter was about 18.  In the Symposium he is represented as remaining so more than a dozen years later, when Agathon, then an established dramatist, was aged 30.  However the men who attended the Symposium made no objection to Pausanias’s speech praising the lasting attachment and a partnership for life of male couples, and his relationship with Agathon was treated with good humored acceptance.   When it is commented that Socrates had given unusual attention to his appearance, he replied that one must look one’s best when one is going to visit a good-looking man, that is, the host, Agathon.  Alciabiades said of Socrates that when he was present no one else had a chance with anybody who is good-looking, and pointed out how readily Socrates found a plausible excuse for getting Agathon beside him.  Both remarks jokingly indicated it was acceptable for Socrates to find the 30 year old Agathon attractive.  A later contributor to the dialogue, Aristophanes says it was not to be supposed that his speech was pointing at Pausanias and Agathon, though it explained their being homosexual lovers.   He was speaking of the how men and women in general achieved happiness by finding the mate which properly belonged to them and so returned to the original human condition.


The drinking party reported in the Symposium may or may not have happened in reality, and it is not possible to know the extent the views were held by these men or were those of Plato himself.

At the same time, it is argued that the speakers in the Symposium are an elite, and as such not representative of Athenian free citizens as a whole.

ssss  en given





.   Because of the age of the youth in the pederastic relationship, some authors have regarded it as child-love, or pedophilia, and therefore not equivalent to homosexuality in contemporary society.  Adopting this view Diamond in his 1995 review of biological aspects of sexual orientation stated there was no known culture where adult-adult homosexual behavior was encouraged, was a preferred mode of behavior, or was a practice of other than a minority.  Thornton in his book on sexuality in ancient Greece appeared to derive a similar conclusion from the concept of ideal sexuality attributed by Socrates in his speech in Plato’s Symposium to the wise woman Diotima.  Thornton stated that “We see here a vision of same-sex relations light-years away form the modern gay experience, in which physical and emotional gratification are seen as central to the couple’s relationship – a physical gratification, moreover, that most Greeks would find disgusting”.

These conclusions of Diamond and Thornton were based on highly selected aspects of homosexuality in ancient Athens, that of Diamond on what is usually termed pederasty and of Thornton on a philosophy concerning the love of beauty as based on homosexuality, discussed subsequently.   It would appear that this philosophy is itself light-years away from the view of average Athenians as reflected in the comedies of Aristophanes, and that most Greeks did not find the physical gratification of the male who took the penetrative role in anal intercourse disgusting.

Both forms of homosexuality in Athens considered by Diamond and Thornton to differ from contemporary homosexuality would seem to have been accompanied by other forms which have been given limited attention by most scholars.    The main one was homosexual prostitution which was sufficiently accepted that Dover pointed out they paid taxes.   He added that most boys or men who made a living from homosexual prostitution would rarely be free-born Athenian citizens, given that it was a capital offence for anyone holding public office to be convicted of prostitution.  There is no evidence in Athenian literature to negative attitudes to men who employed the services of male prostitutes though there is no reference to such behavior in Plato’s Symposium.   This presumably reflects their failure to conform to the philosophical ideals of the intellectual and aristocratic elite who were represented as the contributors to the dialogues, as well as the reticence of polite discussion of sexual behavior, pointed out subsequently.  Eva Keuls sums up her examination of homosexual practices in ancient Athens by concluding that the striking feature of the mores of the time was not the glorification of pederasty but the extraordinary propensity for prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual.   McGinn reached a similar conclusion in regard to ancient Rome.  He pointed out that the enormous revenue produced by the taxation of female and male prostitution introduced by the emperor Caligula in A.D. 40 was testimony to its wide extent and profitability in the Roman world.  While gentlemen of rank could own brothels without dishonor provided they were managed by middlemen, they could not be seen to attend them.   McGinn considered the dishonorable status of their attendance was more social than sexual, in that it involved close physical contact between persons of different rank .   The attendance by young men was tolerated provided it was not carried to an excess that would damage their financial status.  McGinn also pointed out that sexual relationships between owners and slaves were common.


A further problem in Diamond’s differentiation of adult-child homosexuality but not adult-adult homosexuality as being the practice of more than a minority is that he does not define what he meant by child.    As he was referred to the pederasty as praised in Plato’s Symposium, it raises the debated issue discussed next, as to what was the age of the younger partner in pederasty.   , this  He may have followed the current practice of many academics of treating post-pubertal males up to the age of 18 to be children, as is done by some academics.   If he did and the younger partners in same-sex activity in classical Athens were post-pubertal, this would mean that the approval at that time would apply to most current homosexual behavior.  As pointed out in Chapter 1, the highest percentage of men representative of the United States population who reported carrying out homosexual acts did so in the post-pubertal period up to the age of 18.

Nevertheless as also pointed out in that chapter, conclusions concerning the frequency of homosexual feelings and behaviors, and of attitudes to them remain controversial even in contemporary societies when considerable efforts are made to assess both, using research methods developed for the purpose.  Understanding the sexual behaviors of previous societies, including whether homosexual behavior was limited to a minority and what was the approved age of sexual partners, requires interpreting the limited relevant written and pictorial records available, and hence is even less certain.

Approved age of homosexual partners in classical Athens and Rome 

Cantarella considered that Xenophon wrote his Symposium to oppose the exaltation of the love of boys expressed in the Symposium of Plato, and to stress the advantages of union with women, as long as the union was a marital one.  Both Symposia were written in the form of dialogues between men at a drinking party, with Socrates appearing to be made the spokesman for the views of the writers.  The contrast between the views concerning the love of boys and women in the two Symposia has been related to the belief that Plato was exclusively attracted to males and never married, whereas Xenophon was attracted to males and females.  The references to marital love in Xenophon’s Symposium make questionable Cantarella’s claims that when love of women was referred to, it was only in relation to their biological utility, as bearers of children, and that non-procreative heterosexual love, the love for a woman as a woman, was not envisaged.  Xenophan has Socrates say of Nicerates that he passionately loved his wife, and at least as report goes, he was equally beloved by her.  In the context the comment treated heterosexual love as equivalent to love between males.   Socrates added that the wife of Nicerates and of Critobulus had no need of perfumes, their natural sweetness supplying the want of them.  Xenophon’s Symposium ended with the company being entertained by a young boy and girl who enacted the love of Ariadne and Dionysus so passionately as to appear they were really in love when they embraced and left the room.   Xenophon added that this occasioned both the married guests, and some of those who were not, to take horse immediately and ride back full speed to Athens with the briskest resolutions imaginable, but he did not know what happened afterwards.   The suggestion would seem to be that the married men were passionately involved with their wives, not solely for procreative reasons.

Cantarella pointed out the lack of evidence concerning female homosexuality in ancient Greece, apart from the writings of Sappho in the sixth century B. C.  Cantarella pointed out that this time was one of transition, from the pre-literacy of Homeric times, and women still had some possibility of living not simply as instruments of reproduction, but as individuals, who at least prior to marriage were socialized and instructed.  This instruction took place in associations of young women, called thiasoi, one of which was headed by Sappho.  In them girls were taught music, singing and dancing, and the grace which made them desirable.  In addition the thiasoi had their own divinities and ceremonies, and Canarella believed the women in them loved other women with a passionate ecstasy.   She supported this view by quoting from the remaining fragments of Sappho’s poetry, one of which describes her intense emotion while viewing another women paying attention to a man.   She further considered that Greek culture in the seventh and sixth century B. C. accepted as normal love relationships between women, and formalized these in initiation-type ceremonies which brought together two girls in an exclusive paired bonding of a marital nature.  She found proof of the existence of such marriages within the thiasoi in a celebratefd song for a chorus of virgins by Alcman, commissioned to celebrate the recognition of such a relationship.

Cantarella criticized a view of Sergent that such initiations of girls were similar to the initiation of a young boy into a sexual relationship by an older man.  She found evidence of the initiation of boys being practiced at the same period in the graffati on a rock wall at Thera, near the temple of Apollo Karneios, which were dated to the sixth century.  They were records of love of youths, such as one she quoted, “here Krimon had anal intercourse with his boy, the brother of Bathycles”.  Cantarella considered the specificity of the engraving indicated it was to preserve the record of an institutional moment in the life of the young boy: his initiation into the combined learning and sexual relationship with an adult.   However Dover considered such statements were hostile boasts or slanders, adding that it should not be imagined that Krimon or whoever wrote it, was on friendly terms with the Bathycles over whose brother he had triumped.  Cantarella quoted a scholarly opinion that initiations of boys in this early period of Greek culture, served the purpose of transfusing manly virtues into the boy through the sperm of his lover.  If correct, this belief paralleled that of the Sambia, an isolated New Guinea tribe, discussed in Chapter 3.  Another opinion was that anal intercourse humiliated the person undergoing it, and symbolized the submission of the younger person to the older, before being admitted to the dominant group which held power.   Cantarella pointed out that there was no such explanations could account for an initiation between women.   They would not join a group of older people with power over younger people of the same sex.  Once married, she would be subject to her husband and the other men of his establishment.  Unlike the homosexual relationship in males being between a youth and an older man, that in females could be with their teacher, or with another girl of the same age, as celebrated in the chorus of Alcman.  She believed homosexuality in the thiasoi was not for the purpose of learning, it was simply an expression of love.

With the cultural change following the sixth century in Greece, the thiasoi disappeared, and with them the possibility for women to be cultivated and perhaps also to experience true love.  Now destined for marriage from the youngest age, and prepared for this and nothing else, women learned to know only one kind of love: the one they were supposed to feel for a husband they were not allowed to choose for themselves, one of devotion, obedience, and respect.  Perhaps in adultery, some were able to experience the freedom to choose one’s lover, and to leave him.  Perhaps they experienced it in homosexual relationships, but after Sappho there is no evidence from women concerning their experience of sexuality.



Aristophanes’ contribution has been admired as one of the most poetic accounts of the development of heterosexual and homosexual love.  It originated the concept of “soul mates”.  He  claimed that the original human condition was that they existed as one of three sexes.   One was male, one female, and the third both male and female.  The last sex had vanished, though their name has survived, hermaphrodite, but solely as a form of abuse.   The original humans had their backs and flanks rounded to form a circle, with four hands and legs, two faces turned in opposite directions on a circular neck, four ears and two organs of generation.  They could walk upright in either direction, but to run quickly they used all their eight limbs, and turned rapidly over and over in a circle, like tumblers who performed a cart-wheel.  They were very strong with overweening pride, and decided to attack the gods.   When they did so, Zeus, the leader of the gods, cut each in two to make them weaker.  Each half yearned for the half from which it had been severed.   Men who were halves of hermaphrodites became lovers of women, and most adulterers came from this class, as did women who were mad about men and were sexually promiscuous.  Women halves of females directed their affections towards women and gave little attention to men; lesbians belonged to this category. This is frequently said to be the only reference to lesbianism as a concept in classical Greek literature.  Cantarella said the word used for lesbians, tribades, was full of disturbing significance, and that tribades were savage, uncontrollable, dangerous females.

Humans who were halves of males pursued males, and loved men throughout their boyhood, and took pleasure in physical contact with men.  Such men and boys were the best of their generation because they were the most manly.  Some people said they were shameless, but they were wrong.  It was not shamelessness which inspired their behavior, but high spirit and manliness, and virility, which led them to welcome the society of their own kind.  A striking proof of this was that such boys alone, when they reached maturity, engaged in public life.  After they grew to be men, they became lovers of boys, and it required the compulsion of convention to overcome their natural disinclination to marriage and procreation; they are quite content to live with one another unwed.

When a person encountered his own actual other half, affection and kinship and love combined inspired in him an emotion which was quite overwhelming, and such a pair practically refused ever to be separated even for a moment and formed lifelong partnerships. Their intense yearning for each other did not appear to be the desire of intercourse, but of something else which the soul desired and could not tell.   This idealization of the relationship between the two actual halves as soul mates was applied only to that of men, not women.   As their actual other halves would be the same age, and their partnership lasted throughout life, it would seem to approve of lasting homosexual relationships between adult men of the same age.

Cantarella considered loving too young a lad was considered much more disreputable than loving one who was too old.  She cited evidence that the minimum age was 12, which she considered for the Greeks was much less childish than in society today.  For proof of this she pointed out that girls married at 12, or 13, the same age they reached puberty.  Going beyond the upper limits of age was more a question of personal taste, as to how much facial hair was considered to cause the boy to be no longer attractive.  In relation to this Dover quoted the witticism of Bion, recorded in Plutarch’s Dialogues, that the beard appearing on the loved youth liberates the lover from the tyranny of eros.  That this could be in early manhood is suggested by a statement of Socrates in Xenophon’s Symposium.  He said to the married Critobulus, who has earlier expressed his passion for the youth Kleinias, that he would not have him come too near until he had as many hairs on his chin as on his head.  Later he commented that Critobulus was still of an age to love and to be beloved.  Dover, discussing the age considered appropriate for the youthful partner, stated that when he was still in a homosexual relationship he was called pais, even when he reached adult height and hair began to grow on his face.  The term normally used for males at that stage was ephebos, a youngish man.  Dover commented that reported examples of youths of this age remaining loved by older men suggested the possibility that homosexual relationships existed between men of equivalent age, perhaps conventionally disguised by the acceptance on the part of one partner, of the designation pais.  He also described some Athenian vase-paintings which appeared to represent sexual relations between two youths, but added that they were uncommon.

Dover pointed out in any Greek state, when the loved youth was old enough to serve as a soldier, he and his lover could find themselves fighting in the same battle.  As Phaedrus had said earlier in the Symposium, an army made up of lovers and their loves, although a mere handful, would overcome all men.  The desire of the lover to excel in the eyes of his beloved was a spur to his courage.  If the loved youth responded to the sentiment of his lover with love and admiration, he wished to live up to the example set by the lover; this was his spur to courage.  Dover added that in the Greek states of Elis and Boiotia lover and beloved were posted beside each other in battle.  The so-called “Sacred Band” of Thebes, formed about 378 B.C., was composed of pairs of homosexual lovers.  It was the hard core of the Boiotian army, a formidable army at all times, throughout the middle of the fourth century, and at Khaironeia in 338, where Philip II of Macedon, the father of Alexander the Great, crushed Greek opposition, it died to a man.  At Athens the age for military service began at age 18, though only within the frontiers of Attica for the age-group 18-19.  This would mean acceptance of relationship between men of this age with older men, if they were to fight beside their lover.  Cantarella considered that it was accepted that the shift from the passive to the active sexual role was a process that took a number of years, the years roughly between 15 and 25.   The approved age for the younger male partner may have been in the same range in ancient Rome.   The most celebrated homosexual love there was that of the emperor Hadrian for Antinous.  When Antinous drowned in 130 A.D. at the age of 19 he was deified and a city named after him founded on the Nile.   Many of the statues erected throughout the Roman empire to immortalize him remain today among the highest achievements of Roman art.



Dover considered that while in classical Athens it was shocking if the lover was younger than the beloved, whether the beloved was female or male was not considered of significance.


Additional evidence that love of youths by older men was accepted by Athenian men is what Cantarella termed the complete coincidence between the views of Plato written for an intellectual public and those expressed in the legal court by Aeschines.  He wished to obtain a ruling that an opponent, Timarchus had lost his political rights because he had prostituted himself.  The citizens who sat as judges were drawn by lot, were not particularly educated, and often came from the countryside.  To win their assent the legal orators had to avoid shocking their sensibilities, and hence would not put forward views that offended popular morality.  Aeschines began by saying that a boy can honorably have a relationship with an adult, if he has chosen a good lover on reaching the age of reason.  He then listed a number of young men living in Athens at the time, by name and family connection, who were loved on account of their beauty and virtue and were not censured.   Cantarella pointed out that as he himself had relations with youths, he had to avoid the accusation that he was hypocritical in his accusation of Timarchus.   He therefore needed to make it clear that he was not criticizing relationships of male youths with older men which were honorable.   What he accused Timarchus of was being financially supported by a number of men when he was a youth.

Certainly most Athenian references to accepted homosexual relationships are of relationships between men and boys or youngish men, presumably aged 12 to 19, rather than between adult men.   As with the relationship of Achilles and Patroclus, Diamond’s belief that these relationships were adult-child same-sex activities seems inappropriate, when a number of the loved youths were of an age when they could be soldiers, and it seemed a number were.  The degree to which relationships between older men were approved is harder to determine.   There are few references concerning them, and the lack of disapproval of the relationship between Pausanias and Agathon shown by the men in the Symposium could represent the views of an intellectual elite, rather than the majority of Athenians.  What appears to be a major exception is Aristophanes’ account of the origin of heterosexuality and homosexuality which appears to idealize the love between adult men.  However in view of Arisophanes’ fame as a writer of comedies, it may be that in attributing the account to him Plato meant it to be treated as a comic idea, not to be taken seriously. In putting it forward, Aristophanes said he feared what he was going to say would be regarded as absurd.



As Plato aged he expressed in his dialogues increasingly restrictive views of what was acceptable homosexual behavior.  In his earlier dialogues he attributed his views to Socrates.  In the Symposium Socrates argued that love was the desire for the perpetual possession of the good, achieved by procreation of what is beautiful, either physically as children, or spiritually, as wisdom and virtue.  A man pregnant with wisdom and virtue sought a beautiful environment to bring these qualities to birth.  If in a beautiful body of a man he found also a beautiful, noble, and gracious soul, he talked to him about virtue and goodness.  By this intimate association he brought forth the spiritual children (that is, wisdom and virtue) which he had been long in labor.  When they were born he shared their upbringing with his friend.  The children they shared surpassed human children by being immortal as well as more beautiful.  To follow this path a young man must apply himself to the contemplation of physical beauty, and first fall in love with one particular beautiful person and beget noble sentiments in partnership with him.  Later he would observe that physical beauty in any person is closely akin to physical beauty in any other, and would become a lover of all physical beauty.  He would then relax the intensity of his passion for one particular person, because he would realize that such a passion was beneath him and of small account.

The next stage was for him to reckon beauty of soul, moral beauty, was more valuable than beauty of body, which was a poor thing in comparison.  His love of morals would then extend to love of the sciences and awareness of their beauty.  He would no longer be the slave of a base and mean-spirited devotion to an individual example of beauty, whether the object of his love is a boy or a man or an activity.  Instead he ascended continually from love of one to two, and from two to all, then from all physical beauty to moral beauty, and from moral beauty to the beauty of knowledge, until he arrived at the supreme knowledge of absolute beauty.  Having brought forth and nurtured true goodness he had the privilege of being beloved of God, and becoming, if ever a man can, immortal himself.  Socrates therefore considered love between men as not in itself admirable, but as a stepping stone to the admirable.   It is not clear what physical expression of love was approved of by Socrates, if any, when he referred to the man and his beloved begetting noble sentiments together.

His speech in Xenophon’s Symposium concerning love recognizes the distinction made by Pausanias in Plato’s Symposium between the common and the heavenly Aphrodite.  The love inspired by the common Aphrodite was of the body only, that inspired by the heavenly Aphrodite fired the mind with love of the soul, with friendship and a generous thirst after noble actions.   He suggested that the love of Callias for Autolykus was of this sort, as whenever he desired to talk with Autolykus, it was in the presence of his father, a proof that his love was perfectly honorable.  Those who loved the body only, could while endeavoring to possess it, often  hate the temperament and mind of the person.  They endeavored to obtain something from the other that gives him pleasure but the other shame.  As their love was based on beauty, it could weaken with satiety and also because beauty decayed with time, their love would not subsist.  The soul ripened with age and became more lovely.  Love of the soul became more ardent with time, and because it was pure and chaste, would not become satiated.   Men who loved in this fashion would take the utmost satisfaction in one another’s company, in discoursing together, in mingling their mutual interests and rejoicing in their good fortune and bearing a share in their bad fortune.  A friendship like thus must necessarily persevere to the end of their lives, uninterrupted and altogether pure.   Socrates as represented by Xenophon appeared to argue that the approved love between lover and youth should not be expressed physically.   Ironically it would seem that here in Xenophon’s writings rather than in those of Plato is the clearest statement approving of what is commonly termed Platonic love, defined in Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary as a close relationship between two persons in which sexual desire has been suppressed or sublimated.

Other dialogues of Plato also attributed to Socrates negative attitudes to the physical expression of love, which he assumed would be of a youth.  In the Republic, Socrates argued that pleasure deprives a man of the use of his faculties as much as pain and there is no greater or keener, or madder pleasure than that of sensual love. True love was a love of beauty and order, temperate and harmonious, and no intemperance or madness should be allowed to approach true love, and hence should not be a part of the love between the lover and his beloved if their love is of the right sort.   An ideal city should have a law that a friend should use no other familiarity to his love than a father would use to his son, and then only for a noble purpose, and he must first have the other’s consent.   If he exceeds this limit he is to be deemed guilty of coarseness and bad taste.   The approved familiarity may have included kissing.  It was agreed that in the ideal state the hero who has distinguished himself in war should receive honor from his youthful comrades, every one in succession crowning him, and he should kiss and be kissed by them all.   No one whom he had a mind to kiss should refuse him while the expedition lasted.  This would mean that if there was a lover in the army, whether his love be youth or maiden (women were able to be soldiers in the ideal republic), he would be more eager to distinguish himself to win the prize of valor.  However Xenophon in his Memorabilia of Socrates, recounts Socrates when hearing that a friend had kissed a handsome youth saying that it was a headstrong and dangerous act.  Xenophon replied that he himself was ready to undertake such an act.  Socrates warned him that he then risked becoming a slave rather than a free man, spending money upon hurtful pleasures, and becoming too involved to attend to anything honorable and profitable.   Socrates then compared the kiss to the bite of a spider, but whereas the spider had to touch one to bite, the sight of a beautiful youth even from a distance could drive a man mad.  Xenophon quoted this as an example of Socrates’ self-restraint.

Evidence that Socrates behaved in accordance with the views he expressed was provided in the Symposium, was provided by Alciabiades in the account he gave after arriving drunk. Alciabiades, famous as a handsome man and a heroic soldier, recounted how as a youth he attempted to seduce Socrates, believing him to be the only lover worthy of him.  He arranged it so that Socrates must share his bed, but Socrates did not respond when he threw his arms around him, and Alciabiades said he might have been sleeping with his father or elder brother.  Alciabiades’ reaction indicated he found Socrates’ failure to respond exceptional.  He added that many other youths have been treated by Socrates in the same way, and he has pretended to be in love with them, when in fact he was the beloved rather than the lover.  He then teased Socrates, saying he was always seeking good-looking men, so that no one else has a chance with them.

In the dialogue termed Phaedrus, Socrates spoke against the physical expression of love by introducing the famous metaphor of the soul of man as consisting of a charioteer controlling two horses.   The concept was developed by Freud as men and women’s minds consisting of the id, ego, and super-ego.  In Socrates’ account one horse (equivalent to the super-ego or conscience) is upright and clean-limbed, with his thirst for honor tempered by restraint and modesty.  He needs no whip.  The other (the id, or sensual urges) is crooked, lumbering, and ill-made.  Wantonness and boastfulness are his companions.  He is hairy-eared and deaf, hardly controllable even with whip and goad.  When the charioteer (the ego, or self) sees the vision of his loved one, he feels an itching and the stings of desire.  The obedient horse holds himself back from springing on the beloved; but the other, utterly heedless now of the driver’s whip and goad, rushes forward prancing.  He encourages the charioteer to approach the boy and talk of the sweetness of physical love.  Initially when the charioteer and the other horse can get no peace they yield to the importunity of the bad horse.   The vision of the beloved dazzles their eyes, but then awakens in the charioteer the memory of absolute beauty.  He sees her again enthroned in her holy place attended by chastity, and he falls back in fear.  The bad horse eventually grudgingly assents to the attempt being deferred to another time.  However each time the charioteer prevents the bad horse advanced by use of the bit, drenching his abusive tongue and jaws with blood.  Finally, the wicked horse abandons his lustful ways, and when he catches sight of the loved one is ready to die of fear.  So at last it comes about the soul of the lover waits upon his beloved in reverence and awe.

When the beloved finds himself treated nobly from a lover whose love is true love and no pretence, in response his own nature disposes him to feel kindly towards his admirer.  He may repulse him at first because in the past he has imbibed from school-fellows and others the mistaken idea that it is disgraceful to have dealings with a lover.  However as time goes on he begins to enjoy the lover’s conversation and society.  He realizes that all his other friends and relations together cannot offer him anything to compare with the constant kindness and affection that he receives from this friend whom a god has inspired.  When their intimacy is established and the loved youth has grown used to being near his friend and touching him in the gymnasium and elsewhere, the current of the stream which Zeus when he was in love with Ganymede called the ‘stream of longing’ sets in full flood towards the lover.    So now the beloved is in love, but speaks of it and thinks of it as friendship, not as love.  Like his lover, but less strongly, he feels a desire to see, to touch, to kiss him, and to share his bed.  Naturally it is not long before these desires are fulfilled in action.  When they are in bed together, the lover’s unruly horse has a word to say to his driver, and claims to be allowed a little enjoyment in return for all he has suffered.  His counterpart in the loved youth has nothing to say and swelling with a desire of whose nature he is ignorant he embraces and kisses his lover as a demonstration of affection to so kind a friend.  When they are in each other’s arms he is in a mood to refuse no favor that the lover may ask; yet his yoke-mate (the good horse) in his turn joins with the charioteer in opposing to this impulse the moderating impulse of modesty and reason.  So, if the higher elements in their mind prevail, they will pass their time on earth in happiness and harmony by subduing the part of the soul that contains the seed of vice.

However if they practice a less exalted way of life and devote themselves to the pursuit of honor rather that of wisdom, in their cups or at some other unguarded moment their two unruly horses will catch them unaware.  Joining forces the two horses constrain them to snatch at what the world regards as the height of felicity and to consummate their desire.  Once they have enjoyed this pleasure they will enjoy it again thereafter, but sparingly, because what they do does not carry with it the consent of their whole mind.  Though their friendship is on a lower plain, such a pair too will remain friends, not only while their passion lasts but after it has abated.   Hamilton, a translator of the Republic suggested that this acceptance of the consummation of desire may be allowing for lovers who are not philosophers, perhaps the pairs of lovers in the Spartan army and the Sacred Band of Thebes.

In his final work, Laws, Plato made no such allowance. The Athenian speaker, who takes the place Socrates held in the earlier dialogues, proposed a law concerning sexual intercourse and all that has to do with eros.  “Either, among those of good citizen stock and free status, no one should touch anyone except his own wedded wife, and should not sow unacceptable seed in concubines, not unfruitful seed in males, contrary to nature; or we could ban intercourse with males entirely…  The law will debar erotic fury and insanity, all kinds of adultery and all excesses in drink and food, and it makes men truly affectionate to their own wives”.   Dover considered that Plato’s main concern was to reduce to an unavoidable minimum all activity of which the end was physical enjoyment, in order that the irrational and enjoyment seeking element of the soul would not be encouraged and strengthened by indulgence.  To this end he was prepared to deploy arguments of different kinds, including a prudential argument, the strengthening of the marital bond, which contributed to the strength and stability of the whole community.  Dover and Cantarella considered that Plato’s most distinguished pupil, Aristotle, treated the issue of the acceptability of homosexual behavior more cautiously, arguing that it could not be condemned as expressing lacking in self control in men who loved other men by nature.  Dover believed it was customary for any Athenian to vilify and ridicule other Athenians for any conduct real or alleged which could be represented as disadvantageous to the community, and to found the attack on moral principles generally professed, however imperfectly observed, by the citizen-body.  Evidence of an unusual degree of enthusiasm for heterosexual or homosexual intercourse afforded manifold grounds for moral censure, as it was considered it could lead to rape, adultery, dishonest acquisition of money or consumption rather than preservation of an inheritance, with loss to the city of taxable capital.

Like Dover, Greenberg in his book, The Construction of Homosexuality considered that Plato’s objection to homosexual intercourse was that it was, like heterosexual intercourse, an expression of physical passion.  As expressed by Socrates in the Symposium, while male physical beauty could inspire men to seek the ideals of beauty, truth and good, lust, heterosexual or homosexual, was evil as it lead to a distracting and slavish surrender to the passions.  Plato in the Laws, did not reject homosexual eros, but its expression in intercourse, just as he rejected the expression of heterosexual passion outside marriage.  Greenberg pointed out that later Greek philosophers accepted the importance Plato gave asceticism.  Epicurus taught renunciation of the world with the pursuit of pleasure to be achieved by the attainment of tranquility through prudence and moderation.  Lucretius, a follower of  Epicurus, opposed sexual love of all kinds, as an obstacle to quietude.  The Stoic school, founded by a contemporary of Lucretius, preached acceptance of the events of life, with indifference to pain or pleasure.  Irrational impulses and excessive emotions such as sexual excitement were to be avoided.   All considered a live devoted primarily to physical pleasure should be rejected.  However none followed Plato in insisted only procreative sexual activity was acceptable.  How much the average Athenian was swayed by the ideals put forward by these philosophers remains unknown.   It seems unlikely they influenced the soldiers who according to Xenophon refused to abandon their good-looking boys or women.

Negative attitudes to men who adopted a passive role in anal intercourse: sissiphobia

Dover considered that in contrast to the lack of disapproval for sexual relations between men and boys, there was abundant evidence that for Athenians the differentiation between the active and the passive role in homosexuality was of profound importance.   Though this was particularly the case for adult males who adopted a passive role, as pointed out earlier, the speech of Pausanias indicated that the behavior of the loved boy could be subject to disapproval.  Dover found that while no Greek comedies ridiculed or criticized men for wishing to copulate with beautiful young males or for preferring them to women, they did question the appropriateness of youths submitting sexually to their older lovers.  In regard to the law forbidding male prostitutes to accept any public offices, the later social and political standing of loved youths required that their behavior was accepted as motivated by the eros of the lover, not payment, which would make it prostitution.   Further it should not involve any form of penetration.

These distinctions were questioned in Aristophanes’ comedies.   The behavior of both loved youths and prostitutes were reduced to the same bodily act.  In his comedy, Peace, the dung beetle says it will stay in Olympus and feed on the ambrosia of Ganymede, the beautiful boy abducted to Olympus by Zeus to be his cup-bearer.   Dover considered this brutally reminded us of what Zeus does to Ganymede.  The ambrosia would be his faeces, the food of the gods.  He quoted an interchange between Karion and Khremylos in Wealth, which questions the difference between the motivation in eros and prostitution:   “Karion:  Yes, and they say that boys do just the same (present their buttocks), not for the sake of their lover, but for money.   Khremylos:  Not the good boys, only the prostitutes; it isn’t money that the good ones ask for.  Karion:  What is it, then?  Khremylos:  One asks for a good horse, and another for hunting dogs.  Karion:  Maybe they’re ashamed to ask for money, so they dress up their bad behavior in a different word.”   Dover cited other evidence of generalized hostility to youths who play the role of loved ones in Aristophanes’ comedies and concluded a scornful attitude to these boys may always have existed in some sections of Athenian society.  He pointed out the contrast in attitudes shown to the young athlete Autolykos, the beloved of the high ranking Callias.  Xenophon in his Symposium reported a banquet given by Callias for Autolykos and his father.   Xenophon awarded Autolykos the sovereignty which belonged to his beauty, especially when it was accompanied by modesty and virtuous bashfulness.  At the banquet, Socrates praised him as being truly virtuous, and that it was proof of Callias’s love for him being honorable that when they conversed together, it was always in the presence of Autolykos’s father.    In a comedy by Eupolis written in 421B.C., entitled Autolykos, he was referred to by a term which suggests “easily penetrated”.  Certainly as pointed out earlier Socrates regarded the behavior of the youth who submitted physically to his lover as shameful.   In the discussion as the same banquet, where he contrasted love of the soul with love of the body, in addition to referring to the latter as giving the lover pleasure and the youth shame, he referred to it being carefully concealed from  parents and friends.  A lover who gained what he wished by persuasion insensibly corrupted and defiled the mind of the person they pretended to love.

Plutarch reported that when after his victory, Philip II saw the bodies of the dead homosexual lovers of “Sacred Band” of Thebes bodies mingled one with another, he burst into tears and said “Perish miserably they who think that these men did or suffered aught disgraceful.”  This statement could be considered evidence that there was a view that the relationship between lover and beloved was disgraceful.   However Greenberg, consistent with Dover’s suggestion that a scornful attitude to loved boys may always have existed in some sections of Athenian society, considered it was only the behavior of the loved boys that had the potential to be criticized.  He described the band as consisting of older charioteers who were nobleman and their young companions who protected their vulnerable areas and were subordinate.  He suggested they were receptive male homosexuals and the difference in age and social status insured they were not competitors with the charioteers, and it was the attitude to them to which Philip referred.

Identification of the passive role and effeminacy: sissyphobia

In Aristophanes’ comedies adult males who were believed to submit passively to active males were treated with amused contempt as effeminate, being described as having female bodily characteristics (e.g. sparse facial hair) and behaving in ways categorized by Athenian society as feminine (e.g. wearing pretty clothes).   A similar negative attitude to male effeminacy rather than to homosexual behavior was identified in contemporary gay as well as heterosexual society by Bergling.  He termed it sissyphobia to distinguish it from homophobia.   In the opening scene of Aristophanes’ “Thesmophoriazusai” when Euripides’s father-in-law says he doesn’t know who Agathon (the tragedian) is, and asks if he is robust of built and has a beard, Euripides replies that evidently he has not seen him.  He then adds “And yet you have fucked him.  Well, it must have been without knowing who he was.”   The implications are that Agathon is effeminate in build and lack of facial hair, and the father-in-law has copulated with Agathon anally, without seeing his face.  When Agathon comes on stage, the father-in-law says he sees no man, but Cyrene, a well-known woman prostitute.  Agathon is described as holding a lyre, wearing a hairnet and a girdle, carrying a mirror as well as a sword, being close shaven, fair and delicate, and having a woman’s voice.   Dover suggested that the real Agathon, because of his relationship as an adult with Pausanias, may have cut his beard close to retain the appearance of a young man whose beard is beginning to grow.  The father-in-law accuses him of wanting to be ravished and says he will do his best to help him from behind.    He and other men in the comedies who express their willingness to anally penetrate effeminate men are regarded as expressing their masculinity and behaving like any normal male.  Dover found no passage in comedy which attributed an active role to any men who were ridiculed for taking a passive role, indicating their effeminacy was fixed.

In contrast to Aristophanes’ negative attitude to passive males as effeminate in his comedies, in the speech attributed to him in Plato’s Symposium he praises both partners who were pairs from the same original male double.  It is possible that when he referred to the desire of these pairs not being for intercourse, he meant that neither was a passive partner in sexual activity.  This seems unlikely, given his emphasis on the sexual activity of all the other pairs of separated humans, and also his statement that some people said the men and boys who were halves of males, and pursued males, and took pleasure in physical contact with men, were shameless.   He added that they were wrong.  It was not shamelessness, but high spirits and manliness, and virility, which led them to welcome the society of their own kind.  A striking proof of this was that such boys alone, when they reached maturity, became politicians.  Dover considered Aristophanes was being ironic in emphasizing the masculinity of these boys because in his comedies he represented politicians as being passive partners in homosexual intercourse.  Dover believed the choruses in Aristophanes’ comedies were normally made up of middle aged or elderly citizens resentful of the energetic, disrespectful young men who seemed to them to dominate the assembly and to be elected to military and political positions.  They expressed this resentment by speaking of the young as “fucked”, or “wide-arsed” as in the comedy “The Wasps”.  Dover continued that the man in the street consoled himself in this way with the thought that those who ran his life politically and ordered him about were in fact, his inferiors, no better than prostitutes, or the homosexually subordinate.  When in “The Knights” Kleon claimed to have deprived a debauched man of his rights as a citizen, the Sausage-Seller replied:  “Well, that was a bit much, arse-watching and putting a stop to them that were being fucked.  It must have been jealousy that made you do it; you didn’t want them to turn into politicians.”  Dover suggested that when Aristophanes’ claim that boys who enjoyed sex with men were the most manly and as proof when they grew up they became politicians, needed to be interpreted in the light of the claims in his comedies that it was the “wide-arsed” who became politicians.

Dover pointed out the difficulty in interpreting these comments, as when a comic poet used words such as “wide-arsed” of a named person, it is not clear whether he it mattered to him whether  the audience interpreted the word as a charge of passive homosexuality or of worthlessness, inferiority or shamelessness in general.  This is clearly relevant in attempting to understand the reaction of the audience to the statement of the character termed Just Discourse in Aristophanes’ Clouds, that not only advocates, tragic poets, and politicians, but the nearly all the audience were “wide-arsed”.   Dover considered the related implication of Euboulos, a comic poet of the fourth century, that passive homosexuality is not uncommon when men are kept without women for a long time, was a humorous motive common to most cultures.  Concerning the Greeks who spent ten long years in capturing Troy, Euboulos commented: “No one set eyes on a mistress; they wanked themselves for ten year.  It was a poor sort of campaign: for the capture of one city, they went home with arses much wider than the gates of the city that they took.”  A related recent reference is that life in the navy in the past consisted of rum, sodomy, and the lash.  As pointed out in Chapter 2, Jane Austen in her 1814 novel “Mansfield Park” included a pun indicating the association of sodomy, in the sense of male anal intercourse, with naval life in “Mansfield Park”.

Dover pointed out that in Aristophanes’ comedies it is assumed that all homosexual submission is mercenary, and there is no reference to the possibility of extreme devotion, courage and self-sacrifice occurring in a homosexual relationship.  This was analogous to another feature of comedy that all holders of administrative office feather there own nest, with silence on the possibility of their showing public spirit, integrity, and devotion to duty.   In contrast to the attitude in Plato’s Symposium, in comedy homosexual eros is consistently reduced to the coarsest physical terms and is also displaced from the centre to the periphery of Athenian sexual life.  Nevertheless while Plato’s writings approve the love of men and boys provided it is not expressed in sexual behavior, they also express disapproval of effeminacy.  In the Republic it was decided that the warrior guardians of the city were not to be exposed to tragic literature because of its feminizing effects.   Passages of Homer which encouraged fear of death and portrayed the underworld as real and terrible could render their nerves too excitable and effeminate.   Also it was pointed out that  passages in Homer and the tragedians in which some pitiful hero drawled out his sorrows in a long oration, wept, or smote his breast were admired by the audience of men.  Yet when any sorrow happened to men, they prided themselves on the opposite qualities of being quiet and patient.  This was the manly part, and the other which delighted men when they were recited, was womanly.   The youth of the city should be trained in both gymnastics and music, as too exclusive a devotion to gymnastics produces a temper of excessive hardness and ferocity, and to music, one of softness and effeminacy.  Robbing an enemy corpse was considered to show a degree of meanness and womanishness in making an enemy of the dead body when the real enemy has flown away.

Prevalence of male homosexuality in classical Athens

The evidence seems substantial that it was accepted that most Athenian men were attracted to adolescent males.   Cantarella stated bluntly that all Greeks fell in love with boys.  Griffen in his mainly critical review of her book not only agrees with this statement but extends it.  He stated the “It is true that the ancient peoples of the Mediterranean – not so differently from their modern descendents – took a very different veiw of sexual acts depending on whether they were active or passive.  To treat a boy as a woman was a natural desire…”  (p. 32).  Dover pointed out that hundreds of Greek vase-paintings depicted relationships of an older with a younger man ranging from being in conversation to thrusting his erect penis between the thighs of the youth.  At intermediate points the man may be offering gifts, cajoling, entreating, titillating or embracing the youth.   Dover categorized as “pin-ups” the large number of youths portrayed in a variety of poses, usually naked, sometimes dressing or undressing which greatly outnumbered the female equivalents at the beginning of the classical period.

The relationship between adult man and youth was seen at least by an aristocratic and intellectual elite as the most admirable form of physical love, with the potential to lead to a love of beauty and truth.   It was also accepted without disapproval by the average Athenians, at least where the behavior of the adult man was concerned.  It would seem likely that Socrates’ view that it should not be expressed physically, when it would persist throughout life, was a minority view.   Dover’s explained the importance awarded the relationship between the lover and beloved in Greek society, as satisfying a need for a personal relationship of an intensity not otherwise met, by marriage, the relations between parents and children, or those between the individual and the community.  These deficiencies derived from the political fragmentation of the Greek world.  The Greek city-state was continuously confronted with the problem of survival in competition with aggressive neighbors, and for this reason the fighter, the adult male citizen, was the person who mattered.  The inadequacy of women as fighters promoted a general devaluation of the intellectual capacity and emotional stability of women.  Males tended to group themselves together for military, political, religious and social purposes, enough to inhibit the intimacy between husband and wife or between father and son.  Lovers and those loved found in each other something which they did not find elsewhere.   The result was a consistent Greek tendency to regard homosexual eros as a compound of an educational with a genital relationship.  On growing up, in any Greek community, the loved youth graduated from pupil to friend, and the continuance of an erotic relationship was disapproved, as was such a relationship between men of equivalent age.   This seems a contraction of Dover’s earlier contradict statement concerning the possibility of such relationships, perhaps conventionally disguised by the acceptance on the part of one partner, of the designation pais.

Dover advanced an alternative explanation for the apparent commonness of relationships between young adult men and boys.   This was that the strict segregation of the wives, daughters, wards, and widowed mothers of Athenian citizens was practicable only for heads of households sufficiently wealthy to afford enough slaves to perform all shopping errands and work outside the house.   Among the rich, a young man’s opportunities for love affairs with girls of his own class were minimal.   If he were to enjoy the triumph of a leisurely seduction, rather than the limited satisfaction of sex with slaves or prostitutes, he must seduce a boy.  Dover pointed out that among the poor, women often had to go to market or work in the fields, segregation could not be strict, but does not explain why the wealthy young man would not attempt to seduce these women.

As a possible index of the prevalence of homosexual relations in classical Athens, Plato’s dialogues suggest that all the men present at the Symposium experienced homosexual eros,  directed to a boy, aged 12 to about 19, as the ideal form of love.  The youth in gratitude for the education given him by the adult lover would ultimately accept sexual activity with him which ideally should not include penetration, and not be enjoyed by the youth.   However as the speech of Pausanias indicated, a number of men were driven by the Common Aphrodite to seek brief relationships with youths to satisfy their desires in any manner.  The comedies of Aristophanes suggest the average man would take the active role in intercourse with available scorned effeminate adults.  Dover pointed out that prostitutes paid taxes in Athens, indicating their activity wasn’t against the law.  He added that most boys or men who made a living from homosexual prostitution would rarely be free-born Athenian citizens, given that it was a capital offence for anyone holding public office to be convicted of prostitution.  Hence a further number must have employed male prostitutes.  That there is no reference in Plato’s earlier dialogues to these relationships, presumably reflects their failure to conform to the philosophical ideals of the intellectual and aristocratic elite who were represented as the contributors to the dialogues, as well as the reticence of polite discussion of sexual behavior.  The proposed law against the sowing of unfruitful seed in males in Plato’s last writings could refer to these relations.  Given the number of options available, and the amount of attention given sexual relations between males in Greek writings, comedies, and vase-paintings, it would seem that a significant percentage, and possibly the majority of men in Athens were involved in some form of these relations.   Eva Keuls sums up her examination of homosexual practices there by concluding that the striking feature of Athenian mores was not the glorification of pederasty but the extraordinary propensity for prostitution, both heterosexual and homosexual [repeated earlier]

Homosexuality in pre-Christian Rome

Cantarella considered that in Rome as in Greece the fundamental opposition between different types of sexual behavior was not the heterosexual/homosexual contrast, but the active/passive contrast.   Activity was characteristic of the adult male, and passivity was reserved for women and boys.  Hence, in both Greece and Rome, disapproval and ridicule was directed only at the passive adult free-born male.   She contrasted the love for young boys in the Republican period in early Rome and in Athens.   In Athens the boys would of necessity be a free-born boy, as the function of the love for boys was to educate them to become valued citizens.   Loving slaves would be meaningless.  The young Roman male was educated from his earliest years to be a conqueror, so that a boy could not become the Roman ideal of an adult man, invincible and dominant, if he had submitted to another male at a young age. In early Rome therefore, the passive partner could not be a free youth but a slave, a defeated enemy, or a prostitute.

In stressing this contrast between early Rome and Athens Cantarella used the term love for the relationship of man and boy in both cities.   She later made it clear she believed that in Rome at this time the passive slave or prostitute was usually an object of sex, not love.  This is consistent with Sennett’s account in his book “Flesh and Stone” which suggests that such partners were available in the public spaces of Rome much as they are in many cities today.  “ The old Roman forum (Forum Romanum) was a town center much like the Athenian agora of Perikles’ time, mixing politics, economics, religion and sociality.   Amid the milling crowd, special groups had their own turf.  Plautus, the Roman playwright, sardonically described these territories during the early second century B.C. according to various sexual tastes: ‘rich married loungers, hang about the Basilica.  A good supply of harlots, too, if not in prime condition; also men for hire-purchase…  In the Vicus Tuscus, homosexuals, very versatile, flounce about’ ”(p. 111).  Though neither Cantarella or Dover discuss the number or age of male prostitutes in Athens the frequent references to them discussed earlier suggested there was a significant number.   Presumably as in Rome, most male slaves and prostitutes were objects of sexual desire rather than love.  If so, homosexual activity without love with male slaves and prostitutes was accepted in both cities.   Whether it was acceptable for the male prostitutes to be adults was not discussed.   What was unacceptable in early Rome unlike Athens was the homosexual love of a free-born youths, because of the belief that being a passive partner would prevent the Roman youth developing into the ideal of the  dominant male.

Cantarella reported episodes from the fourth to the second  century B.C. when men were tried and at times committed suicide or were killed for having seduced free-born young men, or when the young men they attempted to seduce killed them, but were not punished.   She considered that the law termed the Lex Scatinia was introduced at the end of the third century B.C.  and that one of its provisions financially penalizing sexual activity with free-born boys.  A further law was introduced shortly afterwards punishing men who followed pre-pubertal free-born boys in the street or abducted their escort with the intention of seducing the boys.  Canterella considered the need for a further law indicated that such attempts were becoming common, indicating development of a homosexual interest in boys resembling the Greek practice, in response to the growing admiration in Rome of Greek culture.   Love poems commenced to be written to boys of free status in the Greek style.   She quoted poems of Catullus written in the earlier half of the first century B.C. to a youth:

Your honeyed eyes, Juventius,

If someone let me go on kissing,

I’d kiss three hundred thousand times

Nor never think I’d had enough


Honeyed Juventius, while you were playing I stole from you

A sweeter kiss than sweet ambrosia.

Cantarella points out that some scholars think that the poems are a literary fiction, but she found that view hard to accept.   However a poem in which he threatens to force some friends into  passive homosexuality as a hostile response to their implication that he is effeminate like his poetry, suggests his verses may not reflect his behavior:

I’ll bugger you and stuff your gobs,

You two passives,

You have dared deduce me from my poems

Which are lascivious, not quite decent.

The true poet remains in his own fashion chaste

Himself, his verses need not be…

Because you’ve read of those thousand

Kisses you deduced an effeminacy there.

You were wrong.  I’ll bugger you and stuff your gobs.

Cantarella pointed out that being made the recipient in sodomy, by which she meant anal intercourse, and fellatio were punishments that could be enforced by the husband on a man found in a sexual relationship with his wife.  A further poem demonstrated sexual desire without love and suggests that an active role in anal intercourse is an accepted form of sexual activity in casual relations with a boy:

Just now I found a young boy

Stuffing his girl,

I rose, naturally, and

(with a nod to Venus)

fell and transfixed him there,

with a good stiff prick,

like his own.

Anal intercourse would appear also to have been an accepted mode of sexual activity with loved boys, in contrast to intracrural intercourse, argued by Dover to be the accepted mode in Athens.   Another poem of Catullus which attacked Aurelius stated:

You long to bugger my love, and not

In secret.  You’re with him, sharing jokes,

Close at his side, trying everything.
It’s no good.  If you plot against me

I’ll get in first and stuff your gob.

Anal intercourse with boys and women was the activity accepted by by Lucretius in his “On the nature of the universe” also written in the earlier half of the first century B.C.  He pointed out that the stimulus that evokes human seed from the human body is a human form.   He then added that “when a man is pierced by the shafts of Venus, whether they are launched by a lad with womanish limbs or a woman radiating love from her whole body, he strives towards the source of the wound and craves to be united with it and to transmit something of his own substance from body to body” (p. 163).

Cantarella quoted from later poets of the first century B.C. including Virgil, Horace, and Ovid to conclude that compared to previous centuries when woman and boys were equal objects of desire, an innovation had taken place.  Boys no longer were considered only to satisfy physical desire, but had become objects of love and like Greek men, almost all Roman men unless they were passive homosexuals loved boys, even after they were respectably married. She considered the Lex Scatinia with its provision penalizing sexual activity with free-born boys had been forgotten and this activity had become a normal relationship, socially accepted, engaged in with total freedom, and celebrated by poets.  Veyne, writing on Rome in the period of the emperors from the middle of the first century B.C. commented that nearly anyone can enjoy sensual pleasure with a member of the same sex, and pederasty was not at all uncommon in tolerant antiquity.  Many men of basically heterosexual bent used boys for sexual purposes.  It was proverbially held that sex with boys procures a tranquil pleasure unruffling to the soul, whereas passion for a woman plunges a free man into unendurable slavery.   It would seem that he did not consider that this sexual activity with boys involved love, at least for the majority, and did not comment on whether some of the boys involved were freeborn.

Boswell in his 1990 book considered an indication that most men carried out homosexual as well as heterosexual activity in Rome was that some classical writers found exclusive heterosexuality odd enough to mention it as characterizing some named men.  He quoted a warning of the first century A.D. satirist Martial to a friend that if his adultery was discovered he would not be able to mollify the husband with sexual favors, translating the warning as “Do you trust in your buns?  The husband is not interested in men”.    Boswell found references to bisexual men to be so numerous that some historians have inferred that the whole population of the ancient world fall into this category.

Cantarella did not discuss the issue which remains unresolved concerning the Athenian practice of boy love, that is, what was the social attitude to free-born boys made passive partners of intercourse by men.  The act by the men was penalized in the Lex Scatinia.  She argued that a second provision of the Lex Scatinia punished passive but not active homosexuality by a free-born citizen, but did not discuss whether this applied to youths as well as adults.  Another possibly later edict, banned passive homosexuals from representing others in legal proceedings.  Cantarella considered that the need for the laws indicated that not only was soliciting of free-born youths was becoming common, but also free-born adult males had ceased to confine themselves to an active homosexual role, in opposition to ancient principles. By the first century B.C., some of the most prominent people of in the political life of Rome, generals and popular leaders, whose virility was not open to question, were behaving sexually like women.   She added that at least that was what was said, and in the last analysis, that was what counted.   The attitude to these men was ambiguous, combining ridicule with love, and esteem.  Their sexual passivity was not enough to have them ranked as effeminates or passive homosexuals who were by definition incapable of being credited with civic virtues.  Cantarella put Julius Caesar at the head of this group of men.  He was widely referred to as having been the lover of Nicomedes, king of Bithynia, by such comments as “the queen’s rival and inner partner of the royal bed”, “Nicomedes’ Bithynian brothel”, and “the queen of Bithynia”.   During the triumph held after his conquest of Gaul, his soldiers sang “ Caesar got on top of the Gauls, Nicomedes got on top of Caesar.”    Cantarella considered his virility remained unquestioned firstly, because of his fame as an adulterer, he was said to be every man’s wife, and every wife’s husband.  His soldiers at his triumph also sang a warning to keep their wives out of Caesar’s sight.  The second factor, was his reputation as a soldier.

Cantarella pointed out that Caesar was the first in a line of conquerors, men of power, dominators who were not always exclusively dominant in their sexual activity.  Augustus, his adopted son and successor, later to become the first Roman emperor, was accused by the general Pompey of being effeminate and Mark Anthony said that Caesar had forced Augustus to yield to him sexually before adopting him.  The account given by Vrettos in his 2001 book on Alexandria was that when Mark Anthony in 43 B.C. learned of a plot by Augustus, then called Octavian, to kill him at the time they were both sharing power, in retaliation Antony began spreading the story that Octavian had been adopted by Caesar only because of their homosexual relationship.  Octavian responded by accusing Antony not only of having immoral relations with Curio, the young son of the wealthy Caius Scribonius Curio, but that the affair had become so notorious the father forbade Anthony from even entering his house.”  Given Roman values, the accusation that Octavian unlike Anthony had been sexually submissive would seem a much more damaging one.  Other stories quoted by Cantarella from the “Lives of the Caesars” by Suetonius were that after losing his honor by submitting to Caesar, Octavian rented himself out to a man for a large sum of money, and that he used to rub red-hot walnut shells on his legs to soften his skin.  On the writings of the lead shot used in slings by the soldiers fighting for Anthony against Octavian which have been found, Octavian was described as Octavia, the feminine form of his name, was accused of fellatio and was described as an effeminate passive homosexual.   The writings on the shot of the soldiers supporting him carried no similar implications concerning Anthony.   Cantarella pointed out that like Julius Caesar, Octavian survived the accusations to become the emperor Augustus.  His reputation changed radically to become that of a conqueror of women, partly on the basis of a public relations strategy he implemented.  In relation to the Roman emperors generally Cantarella quoted Gibbon in his “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” as stating that of the first fifteen emperors Claudius was the only one to confine his sexual relations solely to women.  She pointed out there were many reports that a number of the fifteen were passive in some of their homosexual relations.

Cantarella considered that the open practice of passive homosexuality by these powerful men served either as an example to the average Roman citizens so that the open practice became widespread, or as an excuse so that the practice which was previously widespread in secret became  open.   She based her belief concerning this development on the satires of Martial and Juvenal, writing in the first century A.D.   Those of Martial made it clear he did not disapprove of active homosexual behavior, reporting his preference of a submissive little slave-boy to a young woman.  Cantarella explained the preference as resulting from the assertiveness of women at that time, following a marked reduction in their legal control by men.   Her view was supported by Martial’s comment that he was unwilling to marry a rich wife, because he was unwilling to take his wife as husband.   He added that a matron should be subject to her husband, in no other way do men and women become equal.   Nevertheless while celebrating his enjoyment of the active role with a boy, Martial conformed to the tradition of scorning passive homosexual adult men, naming a number in his satires.

Juvenal described two groups of men who have given up their virile role, some for vicious desires, some for fashion, and some for cash.  The hypocritical group railed against the vice, while their appearance demonstrated their secret practice of it.  They showered themselves with perfume, wrapped kerchiefs around their foreheads, and hung trinkets around their necks, being both pathetic and ridiculous.   The shameless group, mentioned in Chapter 2, dressed in women’s clothes, celebrated the festival formerly reserved for women, painted their eyes, wore hairnets and softened their facial skin with bread pellets.  In addition they conducted weddings with each other, imitating the rites of marriage, with the ‘wife’ wearing a veil and bringing a dowry to the ‘husband’.  As reported by Boswell, Seutonius wrote that Nero married a man in a very public ceremony with a dowry and a veil with all the solemnities of matrimony and lived with him as his spouse.  Juvenal referred satirically to such ceremonies as “Nothing special: a friend is marrying another man and a small group is attending.”  Boswell considered that though advanced as a criticism of the decline of Roman mores, the subject of all Juvenal’s poetry, part of what dismayed him was its casual and accepting reception by his contempories.   Juvenal further scornfully described clients who adopted a passive role with male prostitutes.

Boswell in his book on same-sex marriages considered they became acceptable in Rome under the earlier emperors due to the shift in heterosexual marriage which had been a dynastic and property arrangement with virtually no relation to emotional ties.  In the empire of the first and second centuries A.D. there was an increasing emphasis on love as a concomitant of marriage as well as a diminution of the complete subordination of the bride to her husband.   This increased egalitarian concept of marriage removed the difficulty it would have posed earlier to two men of equal status seeking to solemnize their relationship when one would be expected to accept the other as dominant.

Cantarella adopted a somewhat ambivalent position concerning the open passive homosexuality of the powerful, which she believed did not challenge the view that they were real men.   She considered this could have led to an acceptance that a passive homosexual, even if he was not Caesar or Augustus, could be a man.  However there is little evidence of such acceptance.    Plutarch in his Dialogue on Love written at the same period stated that “Those who enjoy playing the passive role we treat as the lowest of the low, and we have not the slightest degree of respect or affection for them.”  Boswell considered the Roman man could commit only a few sexual failings.  He would incur contempt for financial or political foolishness due to his sexual appetite, or for taking the passive role or selling his favors in sexual activity.  He added that the attitude to receptive homosexuality was apparent in a description of Celtic warriors in the first century AD.   “The extraordinary thing is they haven’t the smallest regard for their personal dignity or self-respect: they offer themselves to other men without the least compunction.  Furthermore, this isn’t looked down on, or regarded as in any way disgraceful”.

At another point in her discussion Canterella stated that the ideology in regard to passivity in homosexual relations had not changed, a man was only a real man if he was gloriously active, but such men had become rare.  She concluded that even allowing for the exaggeration expected in the satirical forms of Martial and Juvenal, passive behavior was continuing to spread in a worrying fashion, and that this intolerable novelty would lead to savage repression in the later Roman empire, contributed to by the acceptance of Christian ideology.   However as discussed subsequently this repression was directed at both active and passive homosexuality.  The evidence cited by Cantarella that the open practice of passive homosexuality had become widespread in free born Romans men was based on its being condemned in a few men in the satires of poets.  Other authorities do not report it.  Veyne says of Rome in the time of the emperors from the middle of the first century B.C. that there were two supreme forms of infamy for free born men.   To use one’s mouth to give women pleasure was considered servile and weak, and to allow oneself to be buggered was the height of passivity (impudicia) and lack of self-respect.  Pederasty was a minor sin so long as it involved relations between a free man and a slave or person of no account.

It would seem that throughout the only recorded period in history where the available evidence indicates that homosexual activity was widespread, it also indicates it could be practiced with approval only by male citizens who took the active role.  Passive homosexuality in adult men was held in contempt.  In Athens and possibly Rome after the early period their free-born partners were in the age range of 12 to 20 years.  There are suggestions that acceptance of the passive role by these boys left them open to disapproval as prostitutes because they accepted gifts or as effeminates if they enjoyed the passive role.  Though the evidence was not discussed by authorities such as Dover or Cantrella, presumably it was acceptable for men to use male adult as well as adolescent or child slaves or prostitutes in the passive role.  These partners were not entitled to respect as lacking the privileges of citizenship.

The evidence concerning the attitude taken in Athens and Rome to female homosexuality is sparce.   Cantarella considered at the time of Sappho in 6th. century B.C. Greece it was accepted in the schools for unmarried women called thiasoi, but the only reference in Athenian writings in the classical period, that of Aristophanes, used the word tribades for lesbians which she translated as stated earlier as meaning savage, uncontrollable, dangerous females.   Cantarella believed that homosexuality was the worst form of female depravity in the eyes of the Romans and that though no law covered it, it was considered a crime.  She largely relied of evidence for her belief on derogatory comments on women accused of homosexuality in the satires of Martial and Juvenal, while pointing out that their scorn for women generally was so strong their words must be taken with a pinch of salt.  She also cited the comments of a Roman doctor, Caelius Aurelianus, that women who were more desirous of lying with women than with men want women with male concupiscence; like “molles” (passive male homosexuals) the tribades were also affected with mental disease.  One of Martial’s criticisms was that “you were, it seems, a poker… your portentous lust imitates man”.  In the Dialogues of Courtesans, Lucian writing in the second century A.D. reported the conversation of two prostitutes.  One, Leana, had been hired as a harpist for a feast given by Megilla, a lesbian women, Leana described as frightfully masculine.  Megilla invited Leana to spend the night with her and her female partner.  She then asked Leana to allow her to demonstrate she was no less able than a man to play the husband and give pleasure.  Leana agreed but refused to give further details, as they were shameful.  The implication seemed to be that with female homosexuality, the behavior of the woman playing the male role was much more unacceptable than that of the woman who played the female role.  As with passive male homosexuality, behaving like a member of the opposite sex could not be tolerated.  Cantarella concluded that pagan morality, being the morality of the world of men, in the last analysis believed that female homosexuality was not important enough to deserve serious attention.

Homosexuality and Christianity in relation to the fall of Rome

The statement is at times encountered that the prevalence of homosexuality in the Roman empire was responsible for its decline.  It is made by fundamentalist Christians to oppose movements requesting equality of legal and social treatment of homosexuality and heterosexuality.  Fundamentalists argue that such treatment would result in an increase in homosexual behavior and lead to a decline of contemporary societies similar to that of ancient Rome.   The fact that the belief is contrary to the evidence is rarely pointed out.   Boswell in his 1980 book pointed out that the greatest output of homosexual literature occurred during the first two centuries of the Empire when it was at the zenith of its power and prestige.  As the influence of Christianity increased in Rome prior to its decline, tolerance of homosexuality decreased.   What could be considered an opposite view that Christianity was responsible for the decline of the Roman empire was expressed by some Christian writers at the time of the decline, as well as by the eighteenth century Gibbon, author of the still admired “The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.  Their writings were  reviewed by Pelikan in his book sub-titled the fall of Rome and the triumph of the Christian church.  He cited the statement of Gibbon that he had accomplished his narrative of the decline and fall from the fortunate age of Trajan and the Antonines to its total extinction in the West about five centuries after the Christian era.  This fortunate age so admired by Gibbon was the latter half of the first century and much of the second century A.D. when Christianity was opposed and homosexuality apart from its passive expression by free born citizens remained accepted.

Early in the third century A.D. the emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, which  was then established as the official religion of the empire by Theodosius the Great in 392 A.D.  The Rome that was sacked by the then pagan Goth, Alaric in 410 A.D. was described by the contemporary St. Jerome as having a holy church, and true confession of Christ, and being a city where the name of Christian is daily exalted higher and higher.  As Pelikan pointed out the title of Supreme Pontiff, assumed by Augustus, and accepted by seven Christian emperors, had at least by the time of Pope Leo I in the middle of the fifth century been passed to the pope.  He added that pagan Rome had fallen and Christian Rome arisen.  It was this Christian city that the Christian historians Sozomen wrote from Constantinople that the calamities Alaric wrought on it were indications of divine wrath for its luxury, debauchery, and manifold acts of injustice, and Eusebius, that its fall was the social triumph of the church.  Gibbon pointed out that that St. Augustine writing in the fifth century A.D. in his “City of God” celebrated with peculiar satisfaction this memorable triumph of Christ.  St. Augustine said of his work that while the city of God was his theme, as occasion offered he would speak also of the other city which is ruled by its lust for ruling, that is, Rome.  He admitted he had spent most of the first seventeen books of the city of God, and only then did what he had passed by, showing how the other city had run its course.

Gibbon saw one of the most influential factors in the decline and fall of Rome was the diversion of men of great ability from the service of the empire to the Christian church.   He pointed out that with the transformation of Ambrose in 374 from governor to archbishop the empire lost his impressive talents for political administration.   Athanasius, the patriarch of Alexandria, who died in 373 A.D. displayed a superiority of character and abilities which would have qualified him, far better that the degenerate sons of Constantine, for the government of a great monarchy.   Two centuries later the empire lost the abilities of Pope Gregory the Great, whom Gibbon termed a crafty and ambitious statesman.

Gibbon saw as a virtue the tolerance in the Roman empire of the various modes of worship in the pagan period.  As he ironically stated, they were treated by most of the population as equally true, by the philosophers as equally false, and by the magistrates as equally useful.   In pagan Rome, tolerance produced not only mutual indulgence, but even religious concord.  The rejection of all other religions which characterized Christianity including worship of the emperor was a major reason for its initial persecution particularly in Rome.  However the missionaries who preached the gospel in other areas of the empire claimed the benefit of this tolerance.  Once Christianity had triumphed the tolerance was gradually extinguished.  Pelikan considered it a paradox that under Constantine the various Christian heresies were proscribed and persecuted far more fiercely than were the remnants of paganism.   It seems less paradoxical when it is noted that the hostility of political groups is often greatest to those that closely resemble them, rather than those completely opposed.  In the reign of Theodosius, the legal principle was established that the idolatrous worship of fabulous deities and real daemons was the most abominable crime against the supreme majesty of the Creator, so that paganism was destroyed initially in law and finally in fact.   The Christian clergy were granted immunity from prosecution in the civil courts, and the ancient privilege of sanctuary was transferred from the pagan to the Christian temples.  Gibbon cited the establishment of the holy office of the Inquisition as a later development of the intolerance which characterized Christianity.  Gibbon concluded that the inestimable gift of Roman law had degenerated during the two centuries of Christian rule from Constantine to Justinian.   Another degeneration was in the art of rhetoric.  The schools which taught the art of speaking in pre-Christian Greece and Rome poured forth a colony of statesman and legislators.   As practiced by Christian missionaries, at its worst a submissive multitude whose minds had been prepared and subdued by the awful ceremonies of religion, were harangued without the danger of interruption or reply.

Judaism, Christianity, and hostility to homosexuality in the Roman empire

The most widely quoted and well known source in the Bible of hostility to homosexuality is the destruction of Sodom.   McGee in his discussion of sexual orientation and the law, pointed out the sin for which it was destroyed was interpreted by Biblical scholars at least since the third century A.D. as sodomy, the term of course deriving from the city’s name.  These scholars considered the city’s destruction was due to the single fact that the men of the city were homosexual.  Nevertheless he and Greenberg both argued that the sin of Sodom was not homosexuality as such but the threat of homosexual gang rape, an outrageous violation of hospitality norms.  This and other attempts to interpret episodes of the Bible as not condemning homosexuality but different acts would seem to be motivated by the hope that if this can be established fundamentalist Christians will cease to oppose homosexuality.

The destruction of Sodom as related in Genesis 19 followed the visit of two angels there.  In the evening they were invited by Lot into his house to eat and spend the night.  The men of Sodom young and old surrounded Lot’s house and called to him “Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out to us that me may know them.”   Lot said “I pray you, my brethren, do not so wickedly.  Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man: let me, I pray you bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; forasmuch as they are come under the shadow of my roof.”  When the men of Sodom refused and drew near to break the door, the angels smote the men.  They then advised Lot to depart with his relatives as the Lord had sent them to destroy Sodom.  Cantarella pointed out homosexual rape must have been considered a much more infamous act than heterosexual rape, as otherwise why would Lot have attempted to prevent it by offering his daughters to be raped.

Greenberg accepted that two passages in the Old Testament chapter, Leviticus, did prohibit male homosexuality.  They were that “thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is an abomination”, and that “if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them”.  In relation to the suggestion of Boswell that these prohibitions could have referred only to cult or religious prostitution, Greenberg pointed out that even if this were the case, later interpreters of the Bible understood them as applying to homosexuality generally.   He related their origin to attempts by the priesthood to unify the Jewish people by inculcating a sense of sin, guilt, and expiation, at a time of calamity.  War had left Judaea devastated with its political leaders taken into exile in Babylon.   Greenberg also rejected Boswell’s interpretation of the word translated as “abomination” in the Leviticus prohibitions as not being acts that are intrinsically evil but ritually unclean.  He pointed out that simply bathing and sacrifice could purify the acts recognized in Leviticus as ritually unclean, such as childbirth, heterosexual intercourse, and menstruation.  Greenberg considered that in the centuries that followed the Babylonian exile included long periods of peace and prosperity, punctuated by conquests and massacres, and none of these changes favored a relaxation of the biblical prohibition against male homosexuality.  Cantarella considered the Jewish opposition to homosexuality was due to their duty to procreate and fill the earth, so that unlike that of the Greeks and Romans it was directed also, and perhaps primarily, against the active partner.  He was the one who wasted his seed.   Any emission of semen outside the female uterus was a contamination.  Onan was punished with death not so much for failing to marry his brother’s widow, as for spilling his seed on the ground.  She quoted the historian of sexual behavior, Bullough, as stating that in the Jewish tradition, masturbation was to remain a very serious sin.

Strong condemnation of homosexuality whether male or female, active or passive, though absent from the Gospels, appeared in Christian writings from the time of St. Paul in the first century A.D., as discussed in Chapter 3.  In his first letter to the Corinthians Paul included among those who would not inherit the kingdom of heaven malakoi and arsenokoitai, which Cantarella and Greenberg agree meant passive and active homosexuals.  His letter to the Romans stated that women and men who left the natural use of the opposite sex, and burned in lust towards someone of the same sex, men with men working that which is unseemly, are worthy of death. Greenberg commented that what he termed this little outburst is conventionally taken to prohibit both lesbianism and male homosexuality, which in itself remarkable, as almost all condemnation of homosexuality in the ancient world was of the male form only.   He pointed out that the persecution of lesbians in Christian Europe was minimal compared to that of male homosexuals.  The condemnation of homosexuality expressed by Paul was repeated by the Christian writers of the first and second century.  Terrifying chastisement in hell were predicted for those engaged in these relations.   In the early third century Tertullian wrote that those who engaged in frenzies of passion beyond the laws of nature should be banished from all shelter of the Church, because they are not sins but monstrosities.   This statement would seem to be preparing the way for the later references to homosexuality other than sodomy as  “the sin that cannot be named” and  “the unmentionable vice.”  Greenberg pointed out St. Augustine described homosexual acts as foul offences against nature, to be detested and punished as were those of the men of Sodom.

Boswell challenged what he termed the common supposition that Christian hostility to homosexuality originated in Judaism, as the early Christian writers rarely cited the Old Testament as grounds for it.  However Greenberg pointed out that many Christian leaders did cite the Leviticus prohibitions and considered them valid for Christians.  Also Paul was educated by an esteemed rabbi in Jerusalem and his commitment to his training was such that he accepted a role in the Jewish persecution of Christians there.  Following his conversion to Christianity his missionary activities led him to travel widely throughout the Roman empire.  His retention of hostility to homosexuality in contrast to the current acceptance he would have found there would seem likely to have resulted from his earlier exposure to the Biblical writings.  This is supported by his failure to discriminate active and passive homosexuality, so foreign to the Greek and Roman tradition.  Cantarella commented that his concern was to impose respect for a rule which is for the first time defined as natural, which demands than men should always and only couple with women, and vice versa.  This rule also appeared to originate in Jewish beliefs.  Greenberg considered Hellenized Jews were particularly receptive to appeals to nature, in view of the Hebrew belief that Yahweh established the order of the universe.   Philo, a Jewish neo-Platonist of the first century wrote that the men of Sodom as violating a law of nature by mounting men.  He added that those who transform their male nature to the female debase the sterling coin of nature and those who love them pursue an unnatural pleasure.  Cantarella pointed out that Paul’s sexual ethic, new that is to the Roman world, was repeated without concession or hesitation by Christian writers in the following centuries.

Canterella considered the first extension of opposition to homosexuality beyond that of passive free born men commenced in the Roman empire when Christianity began to be proselytized and was to that of male prostitutes.   She accepted an account written in about 400 A.D. that the late second century A.D. emperor Severus decreed that the tax they and pimps paid should not be deposited in the public purse.  Instead it was to be used to restore some theatres and stadiums.  Cantarella considered this indicated he thought male prostitution a shameful business. However McGinn considered the account was fictional, and meant to satirize the embarrassment of the Christian emperors at the time it was written.  They were unwillingly forced to retain the tax on prostitution due to their financial dependency on it.   Cantarella believed that Severus also required that male slaves should not be forced into prostitution by their owners but doubted reports that he increased the financial punishment for passive homosexuality beyond that of the Lex Scatinia and introduced the death penalty for anyone who violated an adolescent boy against his will, considering both these developments occurred later.  Subsequently male prostitution was outlawed by the emperor Philip the Arab in the middle of the third century A.D., though it is not known how it was outlawed and what was the form of punishment.   Cantarella stated it certainly was not stamped out as later attempts were made to repress it.

Cantarella considered the first definite date in the history of imperial repression of homsexuality was 342, when the Christian emperors, Constantius and Constans issued a statement the meaning of which remains disputed, but which she believed meant passive homosexuals should be punished.   The nature of the punishment may have been castration, or burning alive.  The latter punishment, to be carried out in public, was clearly defined in a decree of the Christian emperor Theodosius I in 390, though the nature of the behavior to be punished is disputed.  It was to be administered to “all those who have given themselves up to the infamy of condemning their manly body, transforming it into a feminine one, to bear practices reserved for the other sex, which have nothing different from women, carried forth – we are ashamed to say – from male brothels…”  The interpretation given the ruling by different scholars varied from its being directed to men who dressed as women, to active homosexuals, to those who directed boys or men into homosexual prostitution, or to either all passive homosexuals, or those who were in brothels.   Cantarella reviewed the grounds for the various interpretations to conclude that the last was correct, that it was passive homosexuals in brothels who were to be burnt alive, and that the earlier ruling of Constantius and Constans had not produced the desired effect of removing them.   She pointed out repression of homosexuality was to increase in intensity.  In 418 the ruling of Theodosius I was inserted by Theodosius II into his Theodosian Code, with the reference to prostitution removed.  All passive homosexuals were to be burned alive and in public.  In 506 the amended ruling was included and possibly extended to apply to active homosexuals in the code issued by Alaric II, king of the Visigoths, in order to, as Cantarella stated “regulate the relationships between Roman citizens living in his kingdom.”

Cantarella considered that prior to the sixth century A.D. imperial policy had respected the ancient ethics in regard to homosexuality, that the only people condemned to die were passive homosexuals.   In 533 in his Instutions, a new textbook for law schools which had binding legal authority, Justinian extended the death penalty to male homosexuality irrespective of role.  This was confirmed in a further ruling in 538 in which homosexual relations were described as contrary to nature.  Men who practiced them should abstain from them for fear of God and judgment, and so that the divine anger the acts provoked would not fall on them and their cities not be destroyed, together with all their inhabitants.  Cantarella pointed out the obvious reference to the fate of Sodom.  The ruling continued that the prefect of capital cities were to arrest those who persisted in carrying on the aforesaid illicit and impious acts after these warnings and subject them to extreme punishment, that is, death.

Cantarella pointed out that homosexuality had been transferred into the field of crimes which offend the divinity, with its punishment being both on earth and in the next world.  Law had become a weapon of the church, acting to realize the will of God.   However she considered Justinian’s rulings did not produce the desired effect as in 559 he issued another specifically directed against both active and passive homosexuality.  They were termed sins of lust against nature, the abominable, wicked behavior which is rightly odious to God, committed by men who abandon themselves sinfully, men with men.  In the new ruling the punishment of the people of Sodom was again referred to, as was the fact that homosexuality was condemned by the apostle Paul.  The ruling continued that all must abstain from the impious and wicked action which not even animals commit.  Those who had committed these actions should undertake the proper penitence and report their disease to the most holy Patriarch.   If they did not cease sinning and confess they must undergo the most severe punishment as they will not be worthy to receive forgiveness in future.   Cantarella said it was not known how the most severe punishment, death, prescribed in the three rulings of Justinian was administered.

Cantarella questioned why homosexuality which had been tolerated for centuries, and if active, considered a sign of virility, became subject of this pitiless imperial repression.  She considered Christianity was one of the causes if not the fundamental and decisive cause, as it added the Jewish disapproval of active homosexuality to the pagan disapproval of male passive sexual activity.   She pointed out an apparent contradiction to this belief.  This was that the first Christian emperors severely punished only passive homosexuality, and it was not until the sixth century that Justinian introduced extended the punishment to active homosexuality.  She attributed this to the imperial legislation being advanced in a world which for centuries had not merely accepted, but respected and admired active homosexuality. She supported this argument by comparison with the similar slow change in the legislation on the marriage bond.  In pagan Rome it could be dissolved at the wish of either party.   In Christian Rome divorce was gradually made more difficult to obtain until once again it was Justinian in 542 who instituted penalties against a divorce by common agreement.   It was only possible if one party had committed a sufficiently severe fault, or if such impediments existed as the husband becoming impotent subsequent to marriage.  Nevertheless this law proved so unpopular Justinian’s successor was forced to withdraw it in 566.

Commenting on Boswell’s belief that it was coincidental that anti-homosexual legislation of the late Roman empire was enacted by Christian emperors, Greenberg pointed out that when pagans viewed sex or homosexual acts negatively, it was rarely with extreme hostility.  Concepts that it caused a god to destroy a city and its perpetrators would suffer gruesome tortures after death were unique to Christian writings.   Justinian introduced into his legislation the belief that homosexuality threatened not the individual sinner but the entire community:   “because of such crimes, there are famines, earthquakes and pestilences”.   Some historians argued that the motive for Justinian’s legislation was not religious but political, in that charges of homosexuality were a pretext for arresting people he or his wife wanted out of the way.   Greenberg pointed out this was unlikely as both he and his wife were able to and did arrest, torture and execute men on charges of homosexuality without using this legislation.

In the conclusion to her book Cantarella stated that Christianity had introduced a new way of looking at sex, which came from the Hebrew tradition, the principle of “naturalness”, which was exclusive to heterosexual intercourse.  Unlike the pagan identification of manliness with the active sexual role either with women or men, the new state religion condemned homosexuality in all its manifestations.  It was necessary that all those who abandoned themselves to practices against nature be condemned to death.  For many centuries it had been according to nature for women to be put down, and for men to put down both women and other men.  Now the only act according to nature was heterosexual intercourse.

Is homosexuality unnatural?

Though Cantarella attributed the principle of naturalness in sexual behavior to the Hebrew tradition, as pointed out earlier Plato in his final work, Laws, had the Athenian speaker label the sowing of unfruitful seed in males by good citizens as contrary to nature.   By contrary to nature the speaker appeared to mean that homosexual behaviors were not found in the animal world.  He argued that the law against such behaviors must declare “Our citizens should not be inferior to birds and many other species of animals, which are born in large communities and up to the age of procreation live unmated, pure and unpolluted by marriage, but when they have arrived at that age, they pair, male with female and female with male, according to their inclination, and for the rest of their time they live in a pious and law-abiding way, faithfully adhering to the agreements which were the beginning of their love.”   Dover believed Plato used this argument to reduce to an unavoidable minimum all activity of which the end was physical enjoyment, in order that the irrational and appetitive element of the soul may not be encouraged and strengthened by indulgence.  However his condemnation of homosexual acts as contrary to nature was destined to have a profound effect on the history of morality.   By destined presumably Dover meant it would not have this effect until it was emphasized by Judeo-Christian theology.

Boswell in his 1980 book considered two major assumptions underlay the belief that homosexuality was unnatural.  One was that behavior that is inherently nonproductive is unnatural in an evolutionary sense.   However though masturbation and use of contraception has been opposed by Christian belief they have never been labeled abominations that justify the death penalty and celibacy has often been admired, and is of course still required at least in theory of the Roman Catholic clergy.   The nonproductive nature of homosexual behavior would therefore not appear to be the basis of the powerful objections to it because of its unnaturalness.   The second assumption listed by Boswell was that homosexual behavior was unnatural because it was  commonly believed, as it was by Plato’s Athenian speaker, that it is not found in animals other than man. The extensive evidence to the contrary was reviewed by Bagemihl in his 1999 book “Biological Exuberance”.

Homosexual behavior in animals

Homosexual courtship, sexual interactions, pair-bonding, and parental activities were documented in over 450 species of animals worldwide.  In regard to mammals and birds, one or more of these behaviors had been observed in about 300 out of the 1000-2000 species, the observations being made in the wild in 60% of the 300.  Bagemihl considered it was likely that homosexual behavior occurred in additional species which had not been observed with the necessary detail. The need for such detail was demonstrated by the fact that in many species, such as the humpback whale, heterosexual mating had never been recorded despite thousands of hours of observation in many areas of the world. Opposite-sex copulation had only been observed five times in the wild in cheetahs during years of scientific study.

Of the mammals and birds which showed any of the four homosexual behaviors, in about 40% they included courtship, which in most species were similar to the often elaborate rituals performed in the heterosexual form.  About 25% of the behaviors were termed affectionate, such as grooming, rubbing, nibbling, kissing or hugging which had sexual overtones, in that the two animals who performed them were visibly sexually aroused, or the acts followed homosexual copulation or courtship, or occurred in a same-sex pair bond.  Affectionate behavior often led to or was inseparable from overt sexual behavior involving genital stimulation, as when animals kissed same-sex partners during sexual mounting.  Mounting was the most common form of homosexual sexual interactions.  One animal climbed on top of the other in a position similar to heterosexual intercourse, usually from behind in a front-to-back position, though Bagemihl said that occasionally more creative mounting positions were used.  The genital contact involved could be full penetration in male anal intercourse, and insertion of fingers or the erect clitoris into the vulva in females.  It could be pelvic thrusting and rubbing of the genitals on the rump of the other animal; or genital-to-genital touching in species which do not have a penis, as in most birds.  It could include self- or mutual masturbation and sucking or licking of genitals.  Same-sex activity was observed in about 80% of male and 55% of female mammals and bird species in which any of the four forms of homosexuality had been observed.    It made up about 20% of the total same- and opposite-sex activities observed in these species.

Same-sex pair-bonding observed in the wild could be between “partners” who engaged in sexual or courtship activities, or “companions” who did not necessarily have overt sexual relations.  It was found in more than a third of birds and mammals belonging to the species which showed homosexual behaviors.   Partnerships could be similar to heterosexual partnerships in the same species, with the partners showing courtship, sexual, and/or parenting behavior, spending significant amounts of time with each other, and carrying out similar activities.  These partnerships were found primarily in birds, as they typically have heterosexual partnerships, which are rare in other animal groups.   However Bagemihl reported examples of homosexual partnerships in mammals, which could be exclusive, with partners defending their bond against intrusion from outside individuals, reported in male gorillas, female Japanese macaques, and male lions.  Some male gorillas competed for a male partner, and female orangutans and Japanese macaques competed with males for a female partner.  In terms of duration, homosexual partnerships commonly followed the species-specific pattern for heterosexual pairings, being life-long in the greylag goose, and a few hours or days in bison.   Their duration could be longer than heterosexual partnerships in some species, such as lions and elephants, and shorter in others, such as black-headed gulls.

Same-sex pairs in many species, especially birds, raised young together.  The most common arrangement, found in species of gull, tern, and geese, was for one or both females to copulate with a male with whom no bond was formed.  The two female raised the resulting offspring without assistance from the sperm donor.   If each female was fertilized they nurtured what were termed supernormal clutches, with double the number of eggs nurtured by heterosexual pairs.  Bonded male black swans fathered cygnets by temporarily associating with female swans and chasing them away once the eggs were laid.  Other arrangements were for two female animals who already had offspring to bond and raise their young as a same-sex family unit, or for a female or male animal without offspring to bond with a same-sex one with offspring, and help with rearing.   Homosexual pairs could raise young of which they were not biological parents.  The young could have been orphaned or abandoned, or obtained by taking over the nest of heterosexual pairs.   Homosexual parents were generally as successful as heterosexual parents in raising young.  At times they were more successful.  Pairs of male black swans often acquired the largest and best-quality territories for raising their young because of their combined strength.  In one study, over a three year period 80% of male pairs successfully raised offspring, compared with 30% of heterosexual pairs.  In species where single parenting was the rule as there was no heterosexual pair-bonding, homosexual pairs could provided improved parental care.

Vasey in a 2002 article pointed out that most researchers agree that same-sex interactions involving genital contact are widespread in animals and can occur independent of any hormonal or neurological manipulations.  He considered what was contentious was whether these interactions ever reflected an actual preference for same-sex sexual partners, and occurred when the animal was presented simultaneously with same and opposite-sex potential partners, or whether they occurred because opposite-sex partners were difficult to access.  Vasey stated that another source of controversy was whether the interactions in animals were sexually motivated, or were sociosexual interactions.  He reviewed his findings with Japanese macaques, a species in which the females in some populations, both captive and free ranging, routinely engaged in both heterosexual and homosexual behavior over their life spans.   His observations caused him to conclude that exclusive homosexual pairings which could occur over periods of less than an hour to over a week, were not sociosexual adaptations, nor were they expressions of dominance relationships, for alliance formation, or to obtain parental care for their offspring.  The bidirectional nature of the solicitations, mounts, clasps, and mutual support during the relationship was similar whether the partner was female or male.   Also available males were rejected so that homosexual activity could be continued.   He concluded the relationship was based on mutual sexual attraction.   The preference for a female over an available male partner indicated female Japanese macaques were not preferentially heterosexual.  Equally they were not preferentially homosexual.  Those which engaged in homosexual behaviors almost invariably engaged in heterosexual behaviors at other times in their life spans.   Exclusive preference for same-sex sexual partners throughout their lives had been documented but were exceptionally rare. Most were best characterized as bisexual.

In characterizing the behavior of female macaques as bisexual, Vasey appeared to be referring to and rejecting the possibility the macaques’ homosexual behaviors could be considered equivalent to typical human homosexual behavior.  As stated earlier researchers of animal behavior tend to regard human homosexual behavior as preferentially or exclusively homosexual, ignoring the evidence that the most homosexual behavior is carried out by men and women who are preferentially heterosexual, and an exclusive choice of same-sex sexual partners is rare. Laumann and colleagues found that choice to be shown by 2% of men and 1% of women in later life, and  only 0.6% of men and 0.2% of women over their life-span.

Bagemihl pointed out that verification of lifetime sexual exclusivity in animals required tracking a large number of individuals from birth to death and recording all the types of sexual interactions they had.   As with the provision of evidence of lifetime exclusive heterosexuality, this has been achieved for only a few species. Lifetime homosexual couples were not prevalent in mammals for the same reason lifetime heterosexual couples were not.  Monogamous pair-bonding occurred in only about 5% of mammalian species.   Nevertheless exclusive homosexuality of various types had been observed in more than ten kinds of primates and 20 other species of mammals.  The majority of males in some populations of bottlenose dolphins formed lifelong homosexual pairs, some lasting over 10 years, until death.  Though absolute verification was not possible, it was likely that at least some of the pairs had no sexual contact with females.  In other mammals, long periods of exclusive homosexuality had been documented for other social contexts apart from pair-bonding.  In some species, such as gorillas, and hanuman langurs, as well as hoofed mammals, a number of males lived in sex-segregated groups termed bachelor herds, where homosexual activity took place.  The average length of stay was several years, with some remaining until death.  However as in humans, in most mammalian species individuals who showed  homosexual activity also showed heterosexual activity, either in the same time period, or sequentially.

Bagemihl quoted a scientist studying primates as saying that all wild primates within a particular species are equally homosexual, “it’s not as if one is 6 on the Kinsey scale and another a 2”.  Bagemihl pointed out this was not correct.  Observations of a troop of female bonobos showed the ratio of the number of their homosexual genital rubbings to heterosexual copulations varied from 33 to 88%, so that the individual bonobos showed different degrees of bisexuality. The broad patterns of sexual orientation across individuals varied with the species.  In some, the majority of animals were exclusively heterosexual, while a small proportion engaged in bisexual activities, as with the mule deer, or in exclusively homosexual activities, as with male ostriches.  In other species, such as the bonobos, almost all the animals were bisexual and few if any exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. Bagemihl concluded that nearly every type of same-sex activity found among humans had its counterpart in the animal kingdom and that anyone looking at the prevalence and elaboration of homosexual behavior among our closest relatives in the animal kingdom will be led to accept that homosexuality is part of our evolutionary heritage.   At the same time he pointed out that as in humans, in different groups or “cultures” of the same animal species the nature of the sexual activity could take different forms, so that learning played a role in addition to biological factors in determining it.

Homophobia concerning animal behavior

Bagemihl considered the evidence of extensive homosexual behaviors in the animal world was unlikely to modify the behavior of the man who assaults or murders a gay man or lesbian because he thinks that homosexuality is unnatural, or legislative or the judicial decisions influenced by reference to “crimes against nature”.    Rather than reducing homophobia, it has had the effect of extending homophobia from human to animal behavior.  Scientists who observed homosexual behaviors in animals have described them in the scientific literature as strange, bizarre, perverse, aberrant, deviant, abnormal, and anomalous.   One reported as unnatural, tending bonds in male bulls and another described mounting among male domestic bulls as male homosexual vice.  Courtship and mounting between male lions was regarded as an atypical sexual fixation.  Bagemihl quoted titles of zoological articles demonstrating this attitude of treating animal homosexuality as pathological.   They included “Sexual perversion in male beetles”, “Sexual inversion in animals”, “Disturbance of the sexual sense (in baboons)”, and “Aberrant sexual behavior in the South African Ostrich”.   He gave the prize to a 1987 article, “A note on the apparent lowering of moral standards in the lepidoptera”, describing the homosexual mating of butterflies.

Orangutan males who participated in homosexuality were said to be forced into nonconformist sexual behavior by their partners even though they displayed none of the signs of distress, such as screaming and struggling violently, shown by female orangutans during heterosexual rapes.   Same-sex courtship in ostriches was said to be perpetrated by sexually aberrant males, and the calm stance of the courted male, referred to as normal, was described as astonishing.  Same-sex partners have been separated because their activities were considered unhealthy, or to try and coerce them to mate heterosexually. Bagemihl reported additional evidence of the homophobia of scientists in their frequent misidentification of homosexual behaviors as heterosexual.  Original descriptions of heterosexual matings in emus, courtships in bower birds, and courting and mating in dugongs were later confirmed to have been of interactions between two males. When homosexual behaviors were observed, they were often not recorded into scientific accounts of the species’ sexual behaviors.  When they were they could be referred to as mock courtships, sham or pseudo-matings, false or pseudo-sexual mountings, and feigned coitus or pseudo-copulations.  Attempts were made to account for them as not sexually motivated, but as dominance or aggressive behaviors, play, or social interactions that relieve group tension.   Bagemihl pointed out the limited explanatory power of these interpretations, and that similar ones were not made for heterosexual behaviors.

The sexual behavior of a species has been taken into account in decisions about its survival.  A briefing by a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to Senator Jesse Helms’s staff, arguing the value of saving a species of endangered bird, stressed its supposed family values, referring to its formation of monogamous and relatively long-lasting heterosexual pair-bonds.  The right of the species to exist was predicated not on its intrinsic value, but how closely its behavior could be made to resemble what was currently considered acceptable conduct for humans.  Bagemihl asked would the species be considered less worthy of preserving if the senator had been informed of the existence in it of solitary non-breeding birds, all male groups, and non-approved family behaviors, such as killing of siblings, starving of offspring, infanticide, and chick-tossing from the nest.   None of these documented behaviors were included in the scientific presentation.    Bagemihl added that homosexual behaviors had not yet been observed in the species, though it did occur in closely related species.  He added that should such behavior come to light, one could only dread the consequences for this, or any other endangered species whose survival depended on human assessment of its moral conduct.

Bagemihl reported some evidence of abandonment of animal homophobia by some scientists in the last few years when homosexual behaviors previously observed only in captive animals and considered a pathological reaction, were also observed in the same species in the wild.  Finding that male pairs and sex segregation was a feature of the social organization of free bottlenose dolphins, zoologists advocated that captive males should be kept as bonded pairs and released together if reintroduction into the wild was attempted.   Based on similar evidence concerning wild gorillas it was recommended they be kept in all-male groups in zoos.  Presumably this change in attitude will become widespread, with homosexual activity being accepted as normal expressions of sexuality by animal scientists, as it is accepted, at least in theory, by scientists of human behavior.   However such acceptance by the general public is likely to encounter the resistance evidenced in the reaction of Anita Bryant, a vocal opponent of homosexuality in humans.  Having said “even barnyard animals don’t do what homosexuals do”, when informed that they and many wild species do, she responded “That still doesn’t make it right”.

Tolerance of homosexuality in the Post-Roman Middle Ages in Europe

As pointed out above by the end of the Roman empire, the prejudice against passive homosexuality persistent since the time of Aristophanes had been complemented by legal rulings that both active and passive homosexual acts were contrary to nature and identified with the sin of Sodom.  They were abominable, wicked behaviors rightly odious to God, and those who persisted in them should be punished by death.  A theological and legal basis for current homophobia was established at that time.  Boswell’s argument that the legal rulings of the Christian Roman emperors were not motivated by Judeo-Christian writings could in part be motivated by a desire to influence fundamentalist believers to accept there is no religious basis for their opposition to homosexuality.   A more incontrovertible but probably no more successful  approach would be to point out the fact that other behaviors condemned in such writings have been accepted by fundamentalists as no longer relevant in the contemporary world.   In Genesis 38 the sin of Onan is said to be wicked in the sight of the Lord and the Lord slew him.   This sin has been interpreted by some Christian writers as coitus interruptus and others as masturbation.  Many dictionaries define onanism as masturbation.  In Deuteronomy 21 it is stated parents of a son who is stubborn and rebellious should bring him to the elders of the city to be stoned to death.  In Leviticus 11 there are prohibitions against eating hare and swine as they are unclean, and all that have not fins and scales in the waters as they are an abomination.   Leviticus 13 requires that the clothes of a leper be rent and that he shall cover his upper lip and cry unclean, unclean, and shall dwell alone without the camp.  Leviticus 15 requires that if any man’s seed of copulation go out from him he shall bathe all his flesh in water and be unclean until the even.  And every garment, and every skin, whereon is the seed of copulation, shall be washed with water, and be unclean until the even.  The woman also with whom a man shall lie with seed of copulation, they shall both bathe themselves in water, and be unclean until the even.  Leviticus 20 states that the man that commits adultery with another man’s wife should be put to death with the adulteress.   A man who takes a wife and her mother should be burnt with fire along with both women.   If he lies with a beast he and the beast should be put to death.

Both Boswell and Greenberg agreed that following the fall of the Roman empire and the barbarian invasions in western Europe there was little sustained or effective oppression of men or women who engaged in homosexual behavior until the thirteenth century. Greenberg considered that in western Europe the church had little power to enforce its beliefs concerning sexual practices as it was totally occupied with restoring order and converting the heathen.   Boswell adopted the somewhat contrasting position that the church at the time did not have a strongly repressive attitude to homosexuality.  He cited evidence that it was demoted from the position of unique enormity given it by some influential early church fathers to become a simple form of fornication, joining the ranks of common failings, such as adultery.  Churchmen such as the eighth century Saint Boniface used the term sodomy for lack of respect for the ties of lawful marriage, and for the preference for incest, promiscuity, adultery, and impious unions with religious and cloistered women.  He did not use the term to include homosexual acts.  Hincmar of Reims, who Boswell describes as one of the most influential theologians of the ninth century, included as acts of sodomy which were against nature all nonprocreative and some potentially reproductive sexual acts.  They were any sexual release of semen with a nun, a relative, a married woman, any woman in a way that precluded contraception, an animal, or by oneself, whether through manipulation or any other means.  Boswell found further evidence to support his belief in the penances recorded for sinful behaviors in the earlier Middle Ages.  The duration of those required by the eighth century Pope Saint Gregory III were 160 days for lesbian activities, and one year for homosexual acts between males, compared with three years for priests who hunted.   A few centuries later Burchard, bishop of Worms followed Hincmar in classifying homosexual acts as a variety of fornication.   Anal intercourse with a married man if committed habitually incurred a penalty of 40 days of bread and water, followed by 12 years of fasting.   A single offence of heterosexual adultery incurred a penality of 80 days of bread and water followed by 14 years of fasting.  Boswell pointed out there were numerous ways of circumventing the punishments, such as payment of fines.   No penalties were assigned to homosexual acts by the unmarried.

Boswell considered that in the eleventh century a small, vociferous group of ascetics attempted to revive the earlier violent hostility of some church fathers to homosexual acts, arguing they were not only sinful, but gravely so.  Saint Peter Damian in “The Book of Gemorrah” written around 1050 stated that no other vice could be compared to it, and it surpassed all others in uncleanliness.  In particular he considered it was common among the clergy.   Pope Saint Leo IX declined to accede to his demand that all clerics guilty of any homosexual offence be removed from office.  Those who had not engaged in such acts as a long-standing practice should remain in the same rank they held when convicted and only the most severely sinful might be degraded from their rank.   Yet the same pope agreed that prostitutes who serviced priests should be enslaved.  Boswell commented that this was a surprisingly severe punishment for a very common activity.  He added that a attempt fifty years later to interest Urban II, the pope who launched the first crusade, to become active in relation to high-ranking prelates known to be involved in homosexual activities  failed even more completely.   He took no action against the election as bishop of Orleans on the recommendation of Ralph, the archbishop of Tours, of a certain John, known to be his lover.   John had previously shared his favors with Ralph’s brother, the previous bishop of Orleans, and was popularly termed Flora, in reference to a celebrated courtesan of the day.   Both Ralph and John were in office four years later when another bishop was removed for being an adulterer.

At the same period efforts were made to designate homosexual behavior as sinful in England where there had previously been no statutes against it.  Saint Anselm, the archbishop of Canterbury prohibited publication of the relevant decree because “this sin has hitherto been so public that hardly anyone is embarrassed by it, and many have therefore fallen into it because they were unaware of its seriousness”.   Boswell considered Anselm’s reservations about publishing the prohibition could have been due to his recognition that its stipulations regarding degradation of clerics violated the decree of Leo IX.  He pointed out the contrast of the apparent indifference to homosexuality with the strenuous efforts being made at the time to enforce clerical celibacy.  Leo IX was the first pope to take decisive action to this effect.  Boswell considered the contrast might be more than coincidental.  Contempories were quick to note that homosexual priests would be more willing than heterosexual ones to enforce prohibitions against clerical marriage.  He cited a satire of the time against a reforming bishop:

The man who occupies this [episcopal] seat is Ganymedier than Ganymede.

Consider why he excludes the married from the clergy:

He does not care for the pleasures of a wife.

Boswell added that satirical literature of the time was filled with references to gay priests and in some areas the mere fact of having taken orders seemed to have rendered the person liable to the suspicion of being a sodomite.  He considered some justification for the suspicion was provided by the astounding amount of homosexual literature written by clerics at this period.  Poems of an intensely erotic nature by male and female clerics were written to other monks and nuns.  Baudri, a twelfth century abbot of a French Benedictine monastery and later an  archbishop said of his erotic poetry that he wrote to please both boys and girls and both sexes had been pleased by his verses.  Saint Aelred, abbot of a Cistercian monastery in England, and adviser to Henry II in the twelfth century, posited friendship and human love as the basis of monastic life as well as a means of approaching divine love.  Though indicating that when young he has expressed his love for male friends sexually he accepted the vow of celibacy as part of monastic life, but continued some loving relationships with monks of his order.  He commented on his reaction to the death of one that “some may judge by my tears that my love was too carnal.  Let them think what they wish”.   As abbot he allowed his monks to hold hands and otherwise expression affection, unlike other abbots who considered this grounds for expulsion.   He justified his belief on the example of Jesus and his disciple John, whom Jesus allowed “to recline on his breast as a sign of his special love…   the closer they were, the more copiously did the fragrant secrets of the heavenly marriage impart the sweet smell of spiritual chrism to their virgin love”.

Boswell considered that though most homosexual literature was written by clergy this did not indicate that the tolerant attitude towards homosexuality in the eleventh and twelfth century was limited to them.  It would have resulted from their being the main literate class in the Middle Ages.   Similar attitudes were also present in literature which more closely reflected popular culture, such as the Carmina Burana.   This was a collection of Latin songs, many by students, some of which were set to music in the twentieth century by the German composer, Carl Orff.   In one of the songs, a cleric persuades his clerical lover not to abandon him and enter a monestary.  Boswell also reported that there were numerous twelfth century English manuscripts which contained homosexual writings.  Throughout European literature of the time the word Ganymede was widely used to refer to a male homosexual and in several debates the spokesman advocating homosexuality was given this name.   The love of David for Jonathan became the biblical counterpart of the pagan Ganymede as a symbol of passionate attachment between two men.

Boswell considered the homosexual literature produced in Europe in this period was of an amount and range that had not been seen since the first century AD and would not be encountered again until the nineteenth century.  He regarded it as the most obvious manifestation of what could be called a gay subculture in the period from 1050 to 1150, which he stated made its first reappearance since the decline of Rome.   Boswell anachronistically used the term gay rather than homosexual for persons who are conscious of an erotic attraction to their own gender.  In fact it would seem arguable that there was a gay or homosexual subculture in the Roman empire.  The evidence discussed earlier suggested that homosexual activity was practiced openly and accepted as a part of normal sexuality.  Boswell in his 1990 book concluded most men at that time carried out homosexual as well as heterosexual activity.  However he considered the frequent references in medieval poetry celebrating or satirizing bisexual inclinations in prominent people were likely to have produced the reaction sought because the inclinations were noteworthy rather than typical.

That is he believed consistent with the concept of a homosexual subculture that only a minority were involved in homosexual activity.

Boswell related the emergence of a gay subculture in eleventh and twelfth century Europe to  the expansion of the economy of Europe at that time, which resulted in its transformation from a condition of rural depression to one of increased trade and population growth.   As a result many European cities increased in population five- or six fold, with equivalent increases in size.  The equation in the popular mind between urban life and personal freedom became especially prominent at this time, as the cities offered opportunities for self-government not present elsewhere in the medieval world, and the lower and middle classes were to some extent able to make their wishes expressed politically.  Peasants who lived in a city for a year after having escaped from a rural estate could claim freedom from feudal obligations.   These attitudes to urban life were expressed in the commonly used proverb, “City air makes one free”.

Boswell believed the gay subculture he identified in the Middle Ages had its own slang which gradually diffused into the general population with the term Ganymede coming to be used in the sense of the contemporary term gay.   Boswell considered its invocation of Greek mythology tacitly removed the stigma conveyed by the use of sodomite, the only word in common use before or after this period.  The Latin word “ludus” (game) appeared to have been widely used in reference to homosexuality, and “hunting” figured prominently in poetry by or about homosexuals, as possibly equivalent to the use in contemporary gay culture of “cruising”.   Other expressions appeared to have a sexual significance which cannot now be identified.   As further evidence of the emergence of a more overt homosexual subculture Boswell found frequent references to male prostituting themselves and to homosexual brothels.  References to such establishments were absent in Christian literature up to the eleventh century and disappear immediately after the thirteenth.  Hergemoeller agreed that in some texts of the period identified by Boswell used the term Ganymede with a positive connotation.  However unlike Boswell he considered it was used to designate only the receptive, feminine partner of a homosexual relationship, not homosexual men generally.

Boswell pointed out that debates about the superiority of homosexual or heterosexual love appeared for the first time in Latin literature.  (Latin was the international written language in Europe in the Middle Ages).  Though they were present in the Greek literature which continued to be written in the Roman empire until the fourth century, there had then been no Latin equivalents.  The “Debate between Ganymede and Helen” was extremely popular and survives wholly or in part in manuscripts all over Europe, from Italy to England.  Boswell considered that a woman being was one of the two disputants in the debate contrasted with the earlier Greek equivalents, and reflected the profound change of the position of women in society.   Boswell found striking resemblances between the poem and a debate on the same theme in the “Arabian Nights”, “The Dispute between the Man and the Learned Woman from Baghdad concerning the Relative Excellence of Girls and Boys”.   Boswell concluded that the appearance of these debates in Europe indicated the tolerant ambience in which they were written.   By the end of the thirteenth century homosexual literature and apparently the homosexual subculture it represented were utterly gone.  A brilliant urban culture consciously tolerant of human variation was radically changed.  Even hostile comments about homosexuality took on a different tone.  They were no longer directed at a large social element but were harsh condemnations of individual and seemingly isolated sinners.   This change could reflect the preparedness of homosexual heterosexuals to take part in a homosexual culture when it was socially acceptable, and to remain concealed when it was not.

Intolerance of homosexuality from the late Middle Ages

Boswell considered that most historians agree that in contrast to the late eleventh and early twelfth centuries, the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries were characterized by less tolerance, adventurousness and acceptance, but do not agree about the reasons for the change. Greenberg  believed that once Europe was converted and pacified and the royal houses established, both church and state were able to enact and enforce legislation hostile towards homosexuality.  He explained its expression in the later Middle Ages as part of the Catholic church’s attempt to establish the claim that the Pope was superior to the rulers of Europe even in civil matters.   The claim required that the church be seen as unified and total in power.  The allegiance of the clergy had to be shifted to the Pope from the civil rulers who had previously appointed them to wealthy positions which they could pass to their children.   Measures to prevent priests marrying were introduced. Boswell considered that in contrast to Catholic Europe sustained and effective oppression of those who engaged in homosexual behavior was never common in the Orthodox Christian Byzantine east.  Greenberg related the contrast to the church and state being integrated and the lower clergy being married in the east.  Though the Justinian prohibition remained as law there, it was ignored. Homosexuality continued to be practised though with some evidence of disapproval, presumably as it had been in the Greco-Roman world.

A second requirement for establishing the Pope’s claim to superiority over the secular rulers was to make all the rulers’ subjects aware they were foremost members of the church.  The newly founded Franciscan and Dominican monks were sent into to the world to preach Christian doctrine and morality unlike the monks of previous orders who remained in monasteries.  Most of the population of Europe learned about homosexuality from the sermon and confessional.  Greenberg concluded it was Catholic doctrine that shaped popular consciousness, evident in the writings of Chaucer and William Langland in the latter half of the fourteenth century, which  expressed orthodox repugnance for homosexuality.  Boswell pointed out the dramatic change in attitude from that in Purgatorio written by Dante at the end of the thirteenth century.   In this poem, the most detailed charting of eschatological punishments of the time, sodomites were placed in the highest rung of purgatory, just outside the gates of heaven, along with persons guilty of “too much” heterosexual passion.  In this rung they are near salvation and far above the majority of sinners on the terraces of purgatory and all humans being punished in hell.  Brutus, “the noblest Roman of them all” in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, lies with his fellow conspirator Cassius and Judas Iscariot in the lowest pit of hell because of his treason to the empire.

It is possible popular attitudes could not be rapidly changed.  Evidence that a somewhat amused acceptance of homosexuality persisted in the middle of the fourteenth century at least in Florence.  It is shown in the few references in the Decameron of Boccacio, the tales told to entertain in each other, by women and men of the Florentine upper class who escaped to the countryside to avoid the Black Death of 1348.   Most stories dealt with the stratagems used by women to conceal evidence of their adultery, which it is accepted that if detected would result in their death, possibly by burning.  There is no suggestion that homosexual men are likely to be charged and killed.  In the first story, one is a rogue who becomes recognized as a saint because of his false confession.  In the fiftieth story, another marries “to blind others and mitigate the evil repute in which he was held by the citizens of his town of Perugia, (rather) than by any desire to wed”.   When he finds his wife with a youth, he accepts her explanation that he neglects her sexually, and says he will arrange the affair so that she will have no more cause for complaint.  Presumably pretending to taking the sensitivity of his women hearers into account, the story teller says the nature of the arrangement had slipped his memory.   He then adds that in the morning the boy would have been puzzled to say, who of the wife and husband had the most of his company during the night.  The homosexual behavior of the clergy is treated with less tolerant amusement.   In the second story, a friend of Abraham, a Jew, tries to persuade him to convert to Christianity to save his soul.   Abraham decides in order to decide he would go to Rome to determine the behavior of the Pope, the cardinals, the other prelates, and all the courtiers.   He  discovered that without distinction of rank they were all sunk in the most disgraceful lewdness, sinning not only in the way of nature (that is, with women) but after the manner of the men of Sodom, without any restraint of remorse or shame, to such an extent that to procure a favor, the influence of the courtesans and boys was of no small moment.   Abraham becomes a Christian because Christianity grows despite the efforts of its Pastor and all about him to bring it to nothing.

Boswell believed the rise of absolute government played a major role in establishing hostility to homosexuality.  Pressure for intellectual and institutional uniformity and corporatism occurred throughout Europe, resulting in the strengthening and consolidation of civil and ecclesiastical power.  Collections of canon law were put forward which joined Roman civil law with Christian religious principles to standardize clerical supervision of ethical, moral, and legal problems. The rediscovery of the political works of ancient authorities, in particular the changes in Roman law effected by Justinian, led to a great increase in theoretical as well as practical interest in lawmaking. While there were less than 100 volumes of royal edicts from all the ruling houses of Europe in the twelfth century, the output from a single monarch in a small kingdom in the fourteenth century could include from 3000 to 4000 registers of documents.

Boswell pointed out that much of this codification entailed loss of freedom for distinctive or disadvantaged social groups.  Women steadily lost power as admission to the hierarchy of church and state required qualifications, such as ordination or a university education, which few could obtain.  The poor were seen as the cause of social unrest and became the objects of massive legislation and antipathy from the establishments of many countries.   In the early fourteenth century the papacy forbade too zealous an adherence to the ancient ideal of apostolic poverty as heretical.  About the same time the Jews were expelled from England and France, lepers all over France were imprisoned and prosecuted on charges of being in league with Jews and witches, and the wealthy order of Knights Templer was dissolved on charges of heresy and sodomy.  Edward II, the last openly homosexual medieval monarch was deposed and murdered.   Boswell believed that his being killed by insertion of a red-hot poker into his anus indicated the nature of the animosity towards him.  However the animosity to Edward II may have been directed more to his policy of seeking advisors outside the powerful network of medieval barons than his homosexuality.  Greenberg found that in medieval England charges of sodomy were rare and dealt with by ecclesiastical courts giving mild penances.

Boswell considered that the Jews were one of the first casualties of the intolerance of the later Middle Ages.   He commented in regard to the accusations of the ritual murder of Christian children which became commonplace throughout Europe with disastrous consequences for Jews, that no charge against minorities seems more damaging than that they pose a threat to the children of the majority.  Boswell found it not surprising that in such an atmosphere homosexuals became the objects of increasing mistrust and hostility on the part of the heterosexual majority.   Towards the end of the twelfth century, the theologian Peter Cantor, as Boswell phrased it, ransacked the Scriptures for all possible references to homosexuality.   He used the word sodomy to refer solely to homosexual acts, against theological precedents, and argued they were not merely violations of chastity but sins equal to murder which cried out to heaven for vengeance.  He asked why homosexual acts which were said in Leviticus should be punished with death, were left untouched by the church.  Boswell pointed out that as if in direct response, Lateran III of 1179 became the first ecumenical council to rule on homosexual acts:  “Whoever shall be found to have committed that incontinence which is against nature, on account of which the wrath of God came upon the sons of perdition and consumed fivc cities with fire, shall, if a cleric, be deposed from office or confined to a monastery to do penance; if a layman, he shall suffer excommunication and be cast out from the company of the faithful”.

In the thirteenth century literature encouraging the establishment of the crusades, wanton and violent sexuality was regularly attributed to the Moslems.  One historian claimed that Muhammad, “the enemy of nature, popularized the vice of sodomy”.   The earliest and most drastic legislation against homosexuality enacted by any Middle Age government, which specified death by burning of sodomites, was passed in the new Christian kingdom of Jerusalem.  Boswell added that as crusade after crusade failed accounts of Moslem sexual wickedness escalated to rouse European antagonism.   Charges became well known that Christians were selling Christian boys, fed with sumptuous meals to be made rosier and more voluptuous, to satisfy the lust of the Saracens.  The implication that infidel homosexual interest posed a threat not only to adult Christians but to their children, like comparable accusations against Jews, was particularly effective.

Boswell pointed out that a further association which disadvantaged homosexuals was with heresy.  By the mid-thirteenth century rigid and exacting standards of faith had been established to which all Christians must adhere or face the power of the Inquisition.  Numerous heretics of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries were accused of practicing sodomy, often in the specific sense of homosexual intercourse.  It became a commonplace of official terminology to mention traitors, heretics, and sodomites as if they constituted a single group.  Greenberg pointed out that as heretics were believed to practice sodomy, the Inquisition following its creation in 1233, was given jurisdiction over sodomy cases as well. He considered that in Spain where it was given a free hand it played an active role in the prosecution of homosexual activity.  Inquisitors interrogated and tortured suspected sodomites, then delivered those found guilty to the secular authorities to be executed.  Hergemoeller pointed out that in a 1233 letter of pope Gregory IX encouraging the crusades, a new picture of the heretic was created whose offence consisted not in the denial of dogmatic religious propositions but in participation in alleged sexual offensive and idolatrous practices.   The habit then prevailed in the first half of the thirteenth century of calling sodomites heretics.   He reported that the Alsace knight Richard Puller von Hohenburg whom he termed a murderer and one of the most famous sodomites of the Middle Ages, was burned in 1482 along with his last lover for heresy.   He was said to heretic a boy, the term “to heteric” being used in the sense of the modern word “penetrate”.

Greenberg considered there could have been some factual foundation for the association of heresy and sodomy in relation to the Albigensian heresy which originated in Bulgaria.   Followers termed the Cathars in France considered material things to be evil and only the human spirit was good, so that the highest good was to free the spirit from the body.  Marriage and procreation were therefore condemned.  While the elite were to be celibate, it was alleged the ordinary believers could practice forms of intercourse, including homosexual acts, that could not lead to conception.  Initially the French word “bougerie”, a corruption of Bulgarian, referred to the heresy but later took on the connotation of the sexual acts the believers were considered to practice.   Boswell stated that “bougre”, a common French word for heretics, came to refer to a homosexual male, but survives in modern French with no sexual meaning whatever.  By the sixteenth century “buggery” was used in English law to designate homosexuality.

Greenberg pointed out that as the Cathars grew in power they were proclaimed heretics by the Roman Catholic church so that the harsh military campaign mounted by the king of France in the early thirteenth century to take over their territory could be justified as a crusade.   Financial extortion appeared to play a major role in the earlier mentioned prosecution of the order of the Knights Templer, previously highly esteemed for their bravery in fighting in the crusades.  In the early fourteenth century the then king of France brought charges of homosexual promiscuity, heresy and sacrilege against the knights of the order and used torture to extract confessions, enabling them to be burned and him to confiscate their enormous wealth.

Boswell pointed out that many of the heretical movements of the late Middle Ages were noted for extreme asceticism, and the indulgence and moral looseness of the Catholic clergy was one of the major complaints of those who abandoned the organized church.  It therefore did not seem likely that persons willing to suffer gruesome deaths for the sake of restoring Christianity to its early purity would preach sexual license of any sort, homosexual or heterosexual.  It was more likely that it was wished to portray heretics in the most damaging light possible, and accusations of sodomy were effective in view of the changed attitude to homosexuality at this period.

Boswell emphasized that no European civil law prior to the thirteenth century had prescribed death for homosexual acts or related their gravity to nature.   Subsequently the law codes in Germany and in the kingdom of Sicily under the German emperor Frederick II remained exceptional in not penalizing homosexuality.   A Castilian royal edict enacted that “Although we are reluctant to speak of something which is reckless to consider and reckless to perform, terrible sins are nevertheless sometimes committed, and it happens that one man desires to sin against nature with another.  We therefore command that if any commit this sin, once it is proven, both be castrated before the whole population and on the third day after being hung by the legs until dead, and that their bodies never be taken down.”

The nameless sin

The reluctance to speak of homosexuality expressed in the Castilian edict appears to have become more common in the thirteenth century.  Hergemoeller considered  late Middle Age theologians such as the Paris Bishop Guillaime D’Auverge who died in 1249 interpreted St. Paul’s use of the term “passio ignominiae”, which Hergemoeller translated as shameful passion, to  mean unmentionable passion, and was a prohibition by St. Paul to assign a specific term to this sin.  Other theologians supported this concept of a peccatum mutum (“dumb sin”) by citing warning to priests of the pope Gregory I against speaking “on these matters”.   Greenberg cited Pope Honorius III in 1227 advocating moderation in cases involving incest, bestiality, and “the sin which neither be named nor committed, on account of which the Lord condemned to destruction Sodom and Gomorrah”.   Hergemoeller added that the preacher Berthold von Regensberg who died in 1272 regarded the dumb sin, which he also called “the red, the crying sin” as the summit of all offences.  It was so frightful that neither God nor men, not even the devil in hell, could give it a name and it resulted in five powerful cities once being reduced to rubble and ashes.    In 1418, the Doge of  Venice and his college of 10 established a secret committed of four to completely eradicate and destroy the evil of sodomy, so that henceforth no one would dare commit it, not even mention it by name.  The previous vice squad, the “Gentlmen of the Night” had not done this, and its custom of applying torture only if at least five of its members had approved of its use was considered an inefficient deterrant.  In 1484 the Cologne council entrusted a Secret Committee of 13 “clever gentlemen” to investigate the unspeakable dumb sin stimulated by several priests’ reports of hearing of sodomy activities in confessions.  They could summon suspects, and use torture.  Some theologians opposed the investigation as it could make young lads aware of things they did not yet know.  They emphasized the sin was still uncommon and could spread quickly, so that talk of the secret sin could result in incurable consequences.   The investigation was ceased when it found some councillors may have been involved and would need to be questioned.  It was feared the resultant scandal could result in the city leadership being threatened.   Boswell argued that the thirteenth Saint Thomas Aquinas, regarded as the ultimate authority for natural morals in the Catholic church, despite being unable to produce a logical argument to support his position, promoted homosexual acts to a position of enormity unparalleled in the previous several centuries.  In his 1994 book Boswell stated he had no explanation for what he termed the rabid and obsessive negative preoccupation with homosexuality as the most horrible of sins.  He considered that the same preoccupation occurred in the Greek-speaking Christian world, but was less extreme, possibly due to much of this world coming under Ottoman domination.

Boswell saw the introduction of the death penalty in the Castilian edict as reflecting the influence of Justinian’s law, then well known everywhere in Europe and the principal legal text of universities. Hergemoeller commented of the acceptance of Roman law in the twelfth century that the 559 AD ruling of Justinian against sodomy opened the way to unlimited discretion in the nature of interrogation, use of torture and execution of the accused.   Greenberg reported that secular laws were introduced in France at this time punishing homosexual relations in men by amputation of the testicles for the first offence, removal of the penis for the second, and burning for the third.  Unlike laws in most other European countries, female homosexuality was also punished, with the women to be mutilated for the first two offences and burned for the third.   Boswell added that the French law required that all the goods of those convicted were to be confiscated for the king, an open invitation to him to eliminate nonconformity from his kingdom while relieving any fiscal embarrassment.

Equivalent physical punishments usually with the addition of confiscation of the convicted man’s property were introduced in the self-governing towns of Northern Italy, Flanders and the Rhine valley, but the laws were not always enforced.  Also a charge of sodomy did not always involve homosexual intercourse.  Men tried for bestiality were prosecuted as sodomites, and there were reports of married couples being burned for that offence.  Boswell pointed out that earlier English laws did not mention homosexuality.  However when the Jews were expelled, a legal text was drawn up in which those guilty of such social or religious deviations as arsonists, sorcerers, those who abandoned the Christian faith, those who dared sleep with the wife of their feudal lord, or even the nurse of his children, were condemned to being drawn or burnt alive.  Those who had intercourse with Jews, animals, or persons of their own gender were treated as a separate group to be buried alive.

While stressing that between 1250 and 1300 homosexual activity passed from being completely legal in most of Europe to incurring the death penalty in all but a few countries, often for a single proven act, Boswell questioned whether such a sudden change in morality actually be imposed by law.  He found the legal records for the Middle Ages completely inadequate to provide an answer.  There were few reports of capital punishment for the crime of sodomy alone, and the number killed for heresy was strongly disputed.  He concluded for most of Europe sodomy was not regarded as of singular enormity until considerably later and the condemnation of homosexuals in the late twelfth and thirteenth may have been rhetorical rather then put into practice.  However homosexuality in the public mind had changed from the personal preference of a minority, satirized and celebrated in popular verse, to a dangerous, antisocial and severely sinful aberration.  Boswell pointed out this shift in opinion could be hazardous to non-homosexuals also, giving the example of the obtaining of confessions of heresy and sodomy by extreme torture of members Knights Templer.   Even though such incidents may have been rare and politically and financially motivated, the expressed animosity to homosexuality appeared to have resulted in the disappearance of nearly all manifestations of the homosexual subculture he had identified by the mid-thirteenth century.

Increase in intolerance of homosexuality in the Renaissance

Greenberg commented that in opposition to a more tolerant and enlightened approach that might be expected from the more rational thinking of the Renaissance, in some countries the persecution of homosexuality was intensified.  Burckhardt in his classical account “The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy” did not find the Renaissance was characterized by tolerance.  He believed that the rapid progress of humanism after the year 1400 paralyzed native impulses, as men looked only to antiquity for the solution of every problem.  The surrender of political freedom in many Italian cities to ruling families was partly the result of the so-called new learning, that is the revival by humanists of antiquarian learning, as it rested on obedience to authority, and sacrificed municipal rights to Roman law.  The humanists showed a reverence for pagan culture equivalent to Christian teachings, following Dante who in the Divine Comedy was the first to treat the two as parallel sources of truth.   Hergemoeller saw one aspect of humanism in Italy was the formation of groups of men who aimed at a daring synthesis of philosophy and the love of young men, based on the concept of eros as expressed in the Platonic dialogues, discussed earlier.  In Florence, Rome and Venice, they formed humanist academies.   The best known was the Florentine or Platonic academy of whom the most renowned members were the friends Marsilio Ficino and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who to cite Hergemoeller “outbid each other in the praise of ‘divine love’ ”.  King in his book about the painting of the Sistine chapel by Michelangelo said that Ficino coined the term ‘Platonic love” to describe the spiritual bond between men and boys expressed in Plato’s Symposium.  King added that according to Ficino if love between men and women was merely physical, and resulted in feeble brains and indigestion, Platonic love seeks to return us to the sublime heights of heaven.  Ficino’s identification of the love of God with the concept of love  attributed by Plato to Socrates in the Symposium is clearly expressed in the quotation cited by Coetzee in his essays:  “The urgings of a lover are not quenched by beholding or touching any particular body, for it is not this or that body that he desires but the splendor of the celestial majesty shining through bodies, a splendor that fills him with wonder.  This is the reason why lovers do not know what they desire, what they seek:  because they do not know God.”

While humanists could be under suspicion for their advocacy of pagan learning, they were initially supported by the rulers of the Italian cities who sought their presence as evidence of the culture of their courts.   The Florentine academy was supported by Lorenzo the Magnificent, under whom King considered Florence celebrated the ancient cultures of Greece and Rome, preachers quoted Ovid from the pulpit, the populace frequented Roman-style bathhouses and artists such as Botticelli depicted pagan rather than religious subjects.   In response Savonarola preached that this mania for the antique world was turning the young men of Florence into sodomites.  To avoid God’s wrath sodomites should be burned along with the vanities which included musical instruments, tapestries, paintings and books by Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio.   The first bonfire of the vanities, a sixty-foot-high pile of these objects was carried out in 1497 in the Piazza della Signoria in a public celebration.   As Savonarola claimed he received angelic visions, in opposition to the church teaching that the Holy Spirit spoke to the Pope alone, he was excommunicated and when he continued to preach against the Pope’s command, in 1498 he was hanged and his body burned in the same piazza.   While his influence was still strong, Burkhardt reported occurrences which antedated those of the cultural revolution in China.  Organized parties of boys forced their way into houses and seized objects considered vanities suitable for burning.

Following the development of methods of printing which lead to ready availability of editions of the literature of antiquity not only the courts but also the educated classes no longer put the same value on the presence of humanists.   Hergemoeller pointed out that in 1488 a committee of theologians assembled by Pope Innocent VIII condemned all the theses of Pico della Mirandola and arrested him.  Hergemoeller reported that the Neoplatonic Roman Academy, established by Leto, was destroyed by Leto’s love for young men.   Following a complaint to Pope Paul II by two Venetian Doges that during a short stay in their city he had sent their sons enthusiastic love letters, Leto along with eight members of the Academy were interrogated with severe torture, and then imprisoned for treason, heresy and sodomy.   Following the death of Paul, Pope Sixtus IV released them from the dungeons and promoted them to high positions.

Hergemoeller added that under Sixtus IV, known for showering young nephews and other good looking young men with cardinal’s hats and rich benefices, the Roman Academy did not need to hold back any more with regard to the veneration of youth.  When one considered the most beautiful youth in Rome died in 1474 at the age of 16, Leto gathered twenty poets to publish an anthology in his praise.  They attempted to outdo each other in praise of his external and internal beauty and his exemplary tendency to make friends.   Hergemoeller commented that possibly in memory of Hadrian and Antinous they had a commemorative medal struck showing a young hero on the front and on the reverse the horse Pegasus, on which a naked Ganymede is seated, while a bristling swan approaches from behind.   Presumably Hergemoeller assumed the swan represented Zeus, a reference to his making love to Leda as a swan.  He commented that the development of homo-social structures in the Renaissance was based not on progressive tolerance, but the subjective benevolence of individual rulers.  The death of a prince or a pope could mean the end or the encouragement of these humanist assocations.

In regard to the level of prosecutions of sodomy in Italy in the general population, Greenberg considered it rose markedly in the fifteenth century with the legislation condemning sodomy introduced in the Middle Ages being employed with increased severity.  By contrast, fornication and adultery were treated with great leniency.   However his later comments suggest he believed the level of prosecution of sodomy was not great.  He found evidence that homosexual men formed associations in the Italian cities of the Renaissance and were not commonly prosecuted.   When they were, some were executed until the eighteenth century, but such executions were sporadic.   Hergemoeller concluded that there were social niches especially in the larger cities, such as in the entourages of homosexual popes, kings, and princes in which somodites could be protected against prosecution as long as their master lived or remained with sufficient power.   He found clerics and nobles convicted of sodomy had good chances of escaping death by burning.   The former were handed over to Church courts where they were generally punished by removal of religious duties and assignment to a monastery.  Nobles and leading persons were generally allowed to flee.   Also he considered the authorities had no interest in investigating non-citizens or men at the bottom level of citizenship, in which he included beggars, shepherds, linen weavers, minstrels or “fools.  They were rarely mentioned in sodomy charges, which mainly involved men from the upper or middle bourgeoisie.

Greenberg believed that until the Counter-Reformation (the response of the Catholic church to the Reformation which initiated Protesantism) of the sixteenth century many of the urbane sophisticated members of the Italian elite, both secular and ecclesiastical, considered homosexuality little more than a peccadillo.   He added that some Popes were rumored to be lovers of males, Cellini’s convictions for sodomy did not prevent his receiving commissions from the church for his sculptures, and the painter Giovanni Bazzi was (as he still is) referred to as Il Sodoma.   King stated that the nickname was given to him according to Vasari, in his sixteenth century account of the lives of painters, because he had about him boys and beardless youths, whom he loved more than was decent.  King considered it a mystery why Bazzi alone received this nickname considering the sexual preferences of the average Renaissance painter, adding that in Rome the punishment for sodomy was burning at the stake.  However Bazzi reveled in it, again according to Vasari, writing about it songs and verses and singing them to the lute with no little facility.   King discussed the limited evidence that Michelangelo was homosexual, including that he was indifferent to woman at least as lovers, and developed a powerful infatuation for a young Roman nobleman in about 1532.   Hergemoeller reported that Leonardo da Vinci was in 1476 accused of maintaining sexual contacts with a 17 year old youth.  He added that he was acquitted by the Inquisition, but not by twentieth-century psychoanalysis, referring to the analysis by Freud of a dream of Leonardo’s.   Leonardo’s apparent lack of sexual interest in women, and his attachments to handsome young men is regularly referred to as evidence of his homosexuality.   Though Botticelli was known to have destroyed some of his paintings influenced by Platonic concepts in the bonfire of the vanities, Hergemoeller pointed out that after his picture “The Birth of Christ” was temporarily seized by the Inquisition in 1500.  Two years later it accused him of unlawful intercourse with his apprentices.  Hergemoeller added that he spent the remaining years of his life unrecognized and embittered in his native city.

In relation to the prevalence of homosexuality at this period King reported that Luther, the initiator of the Protestant Reformation, on his 1510 visit to Rome was disillusioned to learn that syphilis and homosexuality were rife among the clergy.  Luther later said the trip was a miracle as it allowed him to see how Rome was the seat of the devil and the Pope worse than the Ottoman Sultan.  Walker in his discussion of the artistic competition between Brunelleschi and Ghiberti, basing his comments of Rocke’s book on homosexuality in Renaissance Florence stated that recent scholarship has established that sexual relations between Florentine men were common in the fifteenth century, so that the German word Florenzer meant sodomite.  Greenberg commented that even in that atmosphere one could not speak of a homosexual subculture analogous to the modern one as many of the homosexually active men were also actively heterosexual.  This comment suggests that he believed, contrary to the evidence discussed in Chapter 1, that currently few men who are homosexually active are also heterosexually active.

In opposition to Greenberg’s indication that few men were executed for homosexuality in the fifteenth century, Hergemoeller stated that in as in Venice, permanent commissions against sodomy were established in Florence and Siena.  They worked with the methods of the secret police, accepting anonymous denunciations, carrying out systematic raids, bribing witnesses for the prosecution, and personally supervising the weekly torture.  A parallel to current laws for mandatory reporting of evidence of suspected child abuse in 1467 in Venice all barbers, surgeons, and physicians were compelled on penalty of exclusion from their profession, to report immediately all injuries to backsides, which they found in men or women.  He added that in Florence between 1432 and 1503 more than 10,000 persons were accused in sodomy cases, 2,000 of whom were executed.   He concluded that between 1250 and 1300 sodomy was classified as a offence prohibited under pain of death, and its persecution in the fifteenth century was greatly expanded.

Persecution of homosexuality in the early modern period

Hergemoeller believed that the increased persectution of homosexuals in the fifteenth century was like a prelude to that in the years from 1500 to 1800.  The degree of searching and killing real or alleged sodomites then reached its height in Catholic and Protestant Europe.  In  eastern Europe relative tolerance appeared to have persisted.  In his book on same-sex unions Boswell cited evidence they were increasingly performed there both between Christians and non-Christians.  In 1526 the Ottoman sultan granted governance of Buda to his same-sex partner, who was pretender to the throne of Hungary.  Isherwood in his novel “Christopher and his Kind” suggested that same-sex unions were still being carried out in some Orthodox churches.  In it he said that Christopher kept repeating to himself that they were entering the Balkans – a romantically dangerous region of blood feuds and (so he had been told) male marriages celebrated by priests.  Boswell commented that where in the Christian Orthodox world what he termed the visceral revulsion to homosexuality took hold, same-sex unions became suspect as in some way legitimizing it.  In the nineteenth century a synod of the King of Greece prohibited them as against law, nature, and reason, and irreligious and illicit.  Boswell quoted a number of Greek texts for such unions, and also evidence some had been destroyed, he presumed by clerics who disapproved of them.    Such texts had earlier disappeared from most of western Europe and no Latin versions of the ceremony survive though Boswell believed they must have existed.  In contrast to the apparent acceptance of same-sex unions in eastern Europe at the beginning of the modern period, Boswell reported that following a same-sex union in Rome in 1578, many of those involved were executed by burning.   Boswell considered this evidence of the largely inexplicable hostility of the masses compared with the general equanimity of the church.   He does not explain how he excluded the possibility that the ceremony was approved by a particular member of the clergy while the majority could have been strongly opposed – the case if a “gay marriage” was carried out by a clergyman to-day.

Greenberg found references to the persecution of lesbians in Catholic and Protestant Europe in the period following the Renaissance were rare.  However it would seem possible that among the astonishingly high numbers of women who were then burned as witches there some may have been suspected of lesbianism.  Persecution of homosexual men occurred both in waves of killings in addition to what Greenberg termed the everyday repression of local and territorial authorities.  Hergemoeller reported that in Rome and the Papal State, the sixteenth century Pope Pius V, canonized in 1712, adopted terror measures against Jews, prostitutes and homosexuals.  He not only had numerous secular sodomites burnt at the stake, but handed over ordained clerics to be executed by the “worldly arm”.   It is possible other popes did not emulate this persecution.   Greenberg believed the reform of moral standards in the Catholic church which accompanied the Counter-Reformation did not appear to increase the prosecution of homosexuality and travelers to the Italian cities were quoted as finding sodomy rife in them up to the nineteenth century.   However he agreed with Hergemoeller concerning the severity of prosecutions in Portugal and Spain.  The fifteenth century Spanish monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, known for their expulsion of the Jews as well as their support of Colombus’s voyage of discovery of America, converted the thirteenth century death penalty for male homosexuality of castration followed by stoning to the Roman one of burning at the stake. Prosecutions were frequent from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century for sodomy.   Hergemoeller found that some hundreds of men being executed for the “unspeakable sin” in Spain and Portugal between 1540 and 1700, and Greenberg that there were 52 executions in Seville alone between 1578 and 1616.  Greenberg also recorded the execution of two nuns in Spain who used “material instruments”.  He added the women convicted of lesbianism in mid-sixteenth century Grenada were “merely” given a whipping and sent to the galleys.

Greenberg concluded that in both Catholic and Protestant Swiss towns sodomy was persecuted with extraordinary intensity, with 62 prosecutions and 30 executions for sodomy in Geneva between 1555 and 1687.  Hergemoeller found that 24 men were executed for the offence in a small town near Zurich between 1694 and 1698.    He believed that according to present knowledge, the provinces of Holland and Groninger were the sites of the greatest sodomite persecution of this period in Europe.  van der Meer agreed, stating that men labelled sodomites were subject to much more prosecution in the Netherlands than in France or England, at least in the eighteenth century.  He and Greenberg both recorded that in 1730 the Dutch Republic mounted a major campaign with secret denunciations and extraction of confessions by torture, resulting in the public discovery of networks of homosexual men.  When completed anal intercourse with ejaculation was considered to have been proved, execution by hanging, burning, beheading, garroting, or drowning followed.  Possibly as many as a hundred boys and men were executed and denied burial and more than 100 who fled the country were sentenced in their absence and permanently exiled. Further waves of prosecution followed in 1764-65 and 1776-79.  By 1811, when the French penal code decriminalizing sodomy was enforced under Napoleon, over 800 trials had been held. In Amsterdam more people, including women for the first time, were arrested for sodomy between 1795 and 1811 than in the previous sixty years.

Both Greenberg and van der Meer related the sudden public recognition of sodomy to the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.   As it was interpreted, those cities became very wealthy because of the fertility of the plain in which they were settled.  Their gluttony resulted in all kinds of debauchery and finally in same-sex practices, expressed in  their appalling behavior in demanding such sex from the angels visiting Lot.    Consequently they were punished with total destruction.  Paralleling their history the Protestant Republic of Holland initially became wealthy as a trading nation when it emerged triumphant from its wars with Catholic Spain.  This prosperity and power success were considered to be the reward of God reflecting the special place Holland in the early period of the Republic held in his esteem for its sobriety, modesty, and generosity towards the less fortunate, considered to characterize it at that time.  Its inhabitants had become his chosen people after the Jews and the Catholics had failed him.  Sodomy was considered not to exist in this early period.   van der Meer provided evidence that of course it did exist then, but was unacknowledged, a denial made possible by its being a vice unmentionable by Christians.  This denial was evidenced by there being no mention of it in records of the Dutch Reformed Church until 1730, despite the frequent record of all other kinds of carnal sins committed by members of the church.   He added that unlike the seventeenth century libertine novels of England and France, those of Holland did not mention sodomy, adding that if ever there was a conspiracy of silence, the Netherlands virtually invented it.  In this period executions of sodomites were carried out in secret, with records usually destroyed.   The overtaking of the Dutch economy by England and France in the early 1700’s resulted in the belief that society was being destroyed as a result of sodomy spreading among its citizens and must be eradicated.

Hergemoeller pointed out that the persecution of homosexuality occurred also in the overseas colonies of European states, then being established.  In the Caribbean and Central and South America, that by Inquisitors and the Conquistadors was directed mainly against natives, blacks and persons of mixed blood.  He added that some Conquistadors literally waded in blood, and when Balbao found about 40 Indians amusing themselves in women’s clothes he ordered his strictly trained hunting dogs to tear them to pieces.  The Dutch East India company in Cape Town had blacks who were sentenced for homosexuality or bestiality, chained together with their sex partners, and thrown into the sea.

Greenberg was unable to determine the magnitude of repression in France in the early modern period as sodomy was considered so heinous the transcripts of court records were sometimes burned along with the offenders.   He added that the Parlement of Paris processed 176 sodomy cases between 1565 and 1640, including 121 cases in which the death sentences were being appealed.   As elsewhere most prosecutions were of men, but occasionally women were charged. In the sixteenth century a number of women were burned in France for what would now be termed transsexualism.  They had disguised themselves as men, worked at male occupations, and married other women before being discovered.  Greenberg considered it was clear they were burned for gender-crossing, not lesbianism, as their partners were not prosecuted.   The women were called  tribades, which he stated was a term derived form the Greek verb “to rub” and carried connotations of masculinity. Greenberg reported that legislation was introduced against lesbianism in the Roman Catholic Holy Roman Empire in the sixteenth century with unchastity contrary to nature between two men, two women, or with an animal being punished by burning.

It is possible that that the persecution of  homosexuality was not as severe in France, particularly for members of the upper class.  Greenberg considered that as in Renaissance Rome, the atmosphere of the French court of the late-sixteenth and early-seventeenth century was shown by the memoirs of participants to be irreligious with homosexuality and lesbianism, termed tribady, common and open.  The term may have been used at this time for lesbians without any implication they showed gender crossing behavior.  Greenberg described Henry III  as a bisexual transvestite who surrounded himself with ruffled mignons who disgusted the public by flaunting their effeminacy and homosexuality.   Henry ruled from 1574 to 1589 before himself being burned to death when, roped together with two friends in bears’ costumes, the tar of their costumes accidentally caught fire from torches at a ball.  Greenberg pointed out it was widely believed that Louis XIII who ruled from 1610 to 1643 was slow to produce an heir because his sexual interest was in males, and that though his son Louis XIV found homosexuality distasteful, he tolerated it.  He removed sodomy cases to the royal court in 1670 to restrain the regional Parlements from applying the harsh medieval punishments indiscriminately, particularly not to those who enjoyed noble status or protection.   Boswell in his 1990 book cited a 1701 letter of the Princess Palatine, sister-in-law of Louis XIV, stating that many of her contemporaries criticized in private the “biblical prejudice” against homosexuality.  She added that heterosexuality was necessary in earlier times to populate the planet, but was no longer required.   It was a sign of good breeding to observe that since Sodom and Gomorrah the Lord had not punished anyone for such misdeeds.   When police surveillance of homosexual networks commenced under Louis XV, Greenberg said their concern were more pragmatic than religious.  They were after pederasts, not sodomites and were mainly worried about potential threats to public order.  Few of those detected were arrested.  Exceptionally in 1750 two young working men “caught in the act” in a public street were burned at the stake to serve as an example at a time when homosexuality was believed to be spreading.  Greenberg considered that though in the eighteenth century effeminate men were still ridiculed and homosexuality viewed somewhat negatively with the term “bougre” revived as a term of abuse, it was no longer considered horrifying.

As pointed out earlier Greenberg found that in medieval England charges of sodomy were rare and dealt with by ecclesiastical courts giving mild penances.  However in 1533, the detestable and abominable vice of buggery, defined as carnal knowledge of mankind with mankind, or with brute beast or by womankind with brute beast was made a capital offence punished by hanging.   Greenberg considered this resulted less from changing attitudes to homosexuality than that due to  Henry VIII’s break with Rome offences previously heard in church courts were handled by the state.   He related the harsh penalty to the fact that all Tudor legislation was harsh, giving as an example the death penalty for vagabonds who refused to work on three occasions.  He added that the “Buggery Act” was only invoked in connection with religious or political prosecutions and the moral tone set by the English court varied over the course of the seventeenth century.   James I who reigned until 1625 was romantically linked with a number of men and his court was noted for its moral laxity.  Under his son, Charles I immoral behavior had to be hidden, but there was no initiation of the prosecution of “buggers”.   The treatment of male homosexuality in Elizabethan and Jacobean literature was also mixed, with authors with Roman Catholic sympathies treating sodomy as a monstrosity that threatened to upset the natural order of the universe, whereas others published homoerotic verses celebrating the love of boys in imagined Arcadian settings.  Greenberg cites Antonio’s reference to himself in The Merchant of Venice as a tainted wether of the flock meetest for death as indicating his self-disgust at his homosexuality.  He loves the much younger Bassanio and finances his courtship of Portia by borrowing from Shylock, so risking his life.

Greenberg believed that the Puritan interregnum under Oliver Cromwell which followed the execution of Charles I did not result in many charges of sodomy or severe penalties for those charged.   Far greater attention was paid to religious offences such as blasphemy and Sabbath breaking.   When the Puritan sobriety was replaced by the frivolous and free-wheeling values of the court of Charles II, the upper classes gladly accepted its tolerance of sexual variance.  Possibly reflecting the different values of the court of William and Mary and the Hanoverian monarchs, Greenberg detected a shift in feelings of the aristocracy early in the eighteenth century to a distaste for homosexuality. Greenberg attributed this shift to aristocrats being influenced by the negative attitude of the middle class which continued to increase in size and influence over this period. The account of the development of a homosexual subculture in eighteenth century England associated with the establishment of molly houses, discussed in Chapter 2, could seem inconsistent with an intolerance by the middle classes.  However their establishment was accompanied by the development of a Society for the Reformation of Manners in London in 1690 and similar societies were subsequently founded in other English cities.

Greenberg stated the societies were made up primarily of artisans, apprentices and lower middle class retailers who were distressed by the crudity and uninhibited sexual manners of the urban poor.  With paid staff they detected what they regarded as offensive behavior, brought it to the attention of the authorities and pressured them to prosecute it.  They took credit for over 90,000 arrests between 1692 and 1725.  In London they included the local homosexual subculture as one of their targets, disrupting outdoor meeting places, and sending informers to the molly-houses to gather evidence to use in prosecutions.  They organized small raids in 1699 and 1707 and in 1726 broke up more than twenty houses.  Greenberg commented that though these efforts were sporadic and given low priority in the overall agendas of societies, a number of men were hanged or exposed in pillories as a result of the prosecutions initiated.  He added somewhat conflicting statements.  These included that most of the executions in the eighteenth century did not result from prosecutions initiated by the reforming societies, that after the societies disappeared soon after 1730 prosecutions feel dramatically, and that private prosecutions for consensual sodomy were rare, and were mostly for acts taking place in public.

Though convictions for sodomy could be punished by exposure in pillories Greenberg pointed out this was not necessarily a minor penalty.  Antagonistic crowds frequently pelted pilloried sodomites with anything at hand, so they could be seriously injured and two were killed, one in 1763 and one in 1780.  As further evidence of the negative attitude to homosexuality at that time Greenberg cited an episode in Smollet’s 1748 novel when Roderick Random, the eponymous hero, believed Earl Strutwell is attempting to determine his attitude to homosexuality.  Roderick quoted the lines of an unnamed satirist:  “Eternal infamy the wretch confound who planted first this vice on British ground; A vice! that, ’spite of sense and nature, reigns, and poisons genial love, and manhood stains!”   However the novel made clear that though this earl was notorious for a passion for his own sex, and had stripped many young men of their chastity, he remained accepted in society.   Greenberg found an increase in the 1780’s in prosecutions for attempted consensual sodomy.  Acts were included which bore no obvious relationship to the legal definition, such as mutual masturbation, fellatio, and kissing or exposure of private parts to stir up filthy and unnatural lusts.  Greenberg quoted Hints to the Public, an 1811 publication as insisting the mollies must receive instant death to prevent them contaminating others.

It would seem from the presently available concerning the attitudes to homosexuality in Europe since Roman times that strong opposition to homosexuality could exist alongside relative tolerance.  As pointed out in Chapter 2, Jane Austen’s writings both as an adolescent and an adult indicated an amused acceptance of sodomy, at least among sailors.  While she was writing raids on homosexual meeting places continued.  Greenberg referred to a 1810 raid on a London tavern, the “Vere Street scandal” in which 30 men were arrested and implied all were homosexual.   He gave no information on how common such raids were at this time or what were their outcome.   It may have been extremely punitive, as period, attitudes to homosexuality in England at that time became more repressive, in reaction to their apparent liberalization in continental Europe under the influence of Napoleonic legislation, discussed in the next section.

Decriminalization of consenting homosexuality

The possible increased tolerance of homosexuality in France towards the end of the eighteenth century referred to by Greenberg may have encouraged the decriminalization of homosexual relations between consenting adults introduced following the French Revolutionwith in the French Penal Code of 1791 and the subsequent Code Napoleon.  It was extended when Napoleon’s conquests brought French law to many other European and Latin American counties.  Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Tuscany all dropped the death penalty for homosexuality, though this did not eliminate all prejudice or even legal repression.  A degree of increased tolerance appeared to have preceded the Napoleonic legislation in some of these countries.  Greenberg considered one influence for this attitude was the shift from attributing homosexuality to physical rather than moral causes as the growth of science led to materialist explanations for human behavior, a feature of the “age of enlightenment” which spread through Europe.  The influential French philosopher of this enlightenment Diderot stated of homosexuality that these abominable tastes come from the abnormal nervous systems in young men and from decaying of the brains of old men.  In 1785 the Russian senate issued a ukase at the request of the empress Catherine II, a friend of Votaire, telling judges to treat sodomy cases with the utmost clemency and mercy because the victims must be considered to have been temporarily out of their wits, than really criminal.   However Hergemoeller attributed the dropping of the death penalty in Austria in 1786 under the Emperor Joseph II (the emperor who told Mozart that one of his pieces of music contained too many notes) to a need for cheap labor at this period.  This was required to support the increasing industrialization of the nation states, and the development of colonies in the case of England and France.  Hergemoeller pointed out that the public forced labor which commonly replaced the death penalty often resulted in a slower, and more cruel death.  Of 1,173 men sentenced to “boat hauling” for sodomy in Austria between 1784 and 1789, 721 died.  What was called “destruction by work” in other countries included working in galleys and State spinning mills.  Greenberg reported that in 1826 and again in 1845, the Paris police raided clubs frequented by men and women with homosexual interests.   This repression continued with varying severity throughout the nineteenth century.  By the 1920’s it had lessened in France to the point where a gay subculture could flourish openly, with writers like Proust and Gide able to write about homosexuality.  Homosexual behavior remained stigmatized in that men were sent to jail for distributing pornography or participating in homosexual acts in public urinals.

Greenberg considered the outbreak of the French Revolution slowed legal reform in relation to homosexuality in England.   It was seen as resulting from moral decay.  A Society for the Suppression of Vice was founded in 1802, largely by members of the upper-class.   Possibly in response to the decriminalization of consenting homosexuality between adults in Napoleonic France, more than 50 executions took place in the first third of the nineteenth century.   In 1828 the evidence to prove sodomy was relaxed so as to make proof of emission unnecessary.  An  unsuccessful attempt to abolish the death penalty for homosexual acts was made in 1841, and only in 1861 was the maximum penalty for sodomy reduced to life in prison.  It was further reduced  to two years’ imprisonment in 1885.  Scotland followed suit in removing the death penalty in 1889.   Greenberg commented that prosecutions were rare in the Victorian age, but intermittant scandals kept male homosexuality before the public.  Greenberg found little evidence of persecution of lesbianism in England.   There were references to financially independent female couples who lived together for long periods of time, infrequently in the eighteenth and more often in the nineteenth century and who seemed to have aroused little suspicion.  He considered men were so firmly committed to seeing women as nonsexual they resisted evidence to the contrary.  Despite highly persuasive testimony, the House of Lords ruled in a libel suit in 1819 that two schoolmistresses accused of a lesbian relationship could not have been guilty.  According to one of the judges, no such case was ever known in Scotland or in Britain and that he believed that the crime here alleged had no existence.   Another remarked that according to the known habits of women in this country there is no indecency in one woman going to bed with another.  Queen Victoria was said to have refused to believe in the possibility of sexual activity between women.

In the United States Greenberg states that following Independence sodomy remained criminal, as it was in the previous English law, but most states replaced the death penalty as part of a broader movement to replace executions with imprisonment.   Sentences were usually long.  In relation to the emergence of homosexual networks, and cruising grounds in New York, he said homosexuality was not vigorously persecuted despite stringent laws.  The first conviction for sodomy occurred in 1861, more than 200 years after the previous one.  The few sodomy cases prosecuted in subsequent years almost always involved coercive anal intercourse with a minor.  Consenting adults were occasionally prosecuted for indecent exposure if discovered having sexual relations in public, but not for sodomy.  Greenberg added that the public showed no signs of panic over homosexuality in those years.   Though there is no available evidence concerning their attitude in the nineteenth century it is likely to have been negative.   In a national survey conducted in 1970 for the Institute of Sex Research 49% of the respondents agreed with the statement “homosexuality is a social corruption which can cause the downfall of a civilization”.   Laumann and colleagues pointed out that from 1972 to 1991 over 70% of the U.S. adult population has answered that homosexuality is always wrong in response to a question asked annually as part of the General Social Survey.   They contrasted this apparent stability of public opinion with the notable increase in the legitimation and visibility of homosexuality and the fact that a substantial minority and often even a majority of Americans opposed discrimination against homosexuals over this period.   Greenberg pointed out that a 1977 Harris Poll found that Americans favored legislation prohibiting job discrimination by a 2 to 1 majority and the following year California voters defeated a referendum that would have barred homosexuals and those publicly advocating homosexuality from employment as teachers.    At the same time he pointed out that violence against homosexuals continued to claim many lives, often with the killers, usually male teenagers receiving no sentence. A national gay task force survey of eight cities found that a quarter to a third of gay men had been assaulted or threatened with violence.  The percentage of lesbians was lower but still substantial.   Kellina Craig pointed out that in the last two decades this violence to victims selected on the basis of the perpetrator’s prejudice against their actual or perceived status, such as being members of ethnic or religious minorities, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, or physically or mentally challenged have been labeled hate crimes.  They typically involve multiple perpetrators, and the greater the number of perpetrators, the more severe the crimes.   The typical offender was male, between the ages of 14 and 24, with no prior record, neither impoverished nor chronically unemployed.  A particular religious orientation could be especially likely in those who committed antigay hate crimes.

Contemporary persistence of homophobia and sissiphobia and biphobia

A negative attitude to male effeminacy seen as associated with sexual passivity, was expressed by several writers in the pagan Greek and Roman world, but only by treating it with contempt, or as a subject for comedy.   Following the 342 A.D. ruling of the the Christian emperors, Constantius and Constans it was to be punished with castration or burning.  Justinian in his 533 textbook for law schools extended the death penalty to male homosexuality irrespective of role.   Cantarella argued that the delay in this extension was because to be effective legislation repressing homosexuality could not totally oppose popular morality.  It was directed against passive homosexuality initially to take advantage of the existing negative attitude to it.  It could then by later extended to active homosexuality.

Despite the persecution of homosexuality being directed to both active and passive forms from the time of Justinian until the modern age, a negative attitude to effeminacy, commonly seen as associated with passive homosexuality appears to have persisted.   ?  literature:  effeminacy    Be has  than to homosexual behavior was identified in contemporary gay as well as heterosexual society by Bergling.  He termed it sissyphobia to distinguish it from homophobia

Theological responsibility for homophobia

As pointed out earlier Cantarella considered Christianity was one of the causes if not the fundamental and decisive cause of the pitiless repression of homosexuality in Christian Rome   after it had been tolerated for centuries in pagan Greece and Rome.  Hergemoeller considered the though the torture and killing of sodomites in the Middle Ages was largely carried out by city authorities with the Catholic church’s “inquisition of the heretical evil” then taking no active part, the catalysts for the persecution were the theologians.  Not content with repeating the biblical prohibitions or the Justinian laws in their moral sermons and penitential books they consistently developed new anti-sodomite dogmas which produced a loathing of homosexuality by the public.   Hergemoeller pointed out hardly any other area of human life underwent such a multitude of variants of theological slander and annihilation strategies.   As an example he quoted what he termed the ten-point anti-sodomite program of the Christenspiegel  (Christian Mirror) published about 1485 by a Mendicant order preacher, Kolde.   As it was easy to read it had gone through forty editions by 1677, and was one of the most loved and read catechisms of the early modern period.   One of the ten points was that the birth of Jesus was delayed for five thousand years following creation because God did not want to expose his son made flesh to the company of sodomites.   Hence thousands of persons were born and died without hope of salvation. Other points were that all sodomites were killed at the birth of Jesus and that the biblical Flood that submerged the whole world was a consequence of sodomy.  Hergemoeller pointed out that to the Dutch and Flemish who lived in constant fear of floods, the presence of sodomites were an existential danger.  Further, sodomy was the sin for which God punished the world every day.     Hergemoeller added that although Kolde left unsaid the final consequences of this statement, it was clear to his listeners who were the guilty parties for the bloody wars, the theft of merchandise, the scourges of pest and plague, the attacks of enemies and the threat from the sea.  By systematically constructed, methodologically considered forms of argument and agitation, the theologians thus prepared the soil for the anti-sodomite extermination concepts in the Middle Ages and modern times.  He concluded “This is the guilt from which no one can exonerate them”.   In fact it would seem they have no wish to be exonerated for the encouragement of the persecution of homosexuals, as opposed to the  persecution of other groups by the church, for which apologies have been made.   Hergemoeller named several of the responsible theologians who remain venerated, some such as Albertus Magnus being canonized as recently as 1931.










Homosexuality in women  pg 169


Flesh and Stone, Richard Sennett, WW Norton and Co., London, 1994 p. 111   P223: “Christian strictures on bodily pleasure had relaxed in the days of Venetian affluence.



See review  ASB june 1999 271.

See ffff and iiii in bookhomo on disc A1 if not in bookhomo in Articles under different letters.

Internalized homophobia   Bell and Weinberg  Also sissiphobia  –  like masculine characteristics  86 ? Bell and Weinberg .

Able to predict identified homo from hetero  ?  occupational choice of the homosexual heterosexuals.  In Miller ASB 2000 February  ? Also in more recent ASB

See attitude to erastes versus eromenos in socrates, dover


Add Lippa  83 ASB  2002 Feb.  Occupational preference separates identified homosexuals and heterosexuals.   ? Homosexual heterosexuals do not show this preference.


Homophobia   See yyyy  bookhomo  also aaaa     not to be named bbbb bookhomo

Sissiness ffff sissiness cccc bookhomo   eeee bookhomo   renaissance ffff – persecution of


? Any society free from

Homophobia developing in late childhood in relation to differences in interest  Review of Maccoby’s 1998 book in ASB Dec 2001.


Social factors – women more flexible.



The greater esteem awarded men than women in most cultures is reflected in gender issues associated with sexual diversity.  Most societies regard with varying degrees of disapproval, the man who is penetrated in anal intercourse, seen as accepting a woman’s role.  It is commonly assumed that men who show effeminate traits adopt female sexual roles.   They are regarded as less worthy of respect certainly than the man who engage in opposite-sex activity, and usually of the penetrating man in homosexual anal intercourse.   The Greek comic writer Aristophanes relied on his audience having this attitude in the fifth century B.C., and the negative attitude to effeminate men in the current gay community was pointed out and termed sissyphobia by Bergling (2001).

Consistent with the less attention given sexual behavior of women generally, there is much less information concerning cultural attitudes to lesbians and the degree to which they are influenced by a belief that lesbians challenge male authority by adopting a masculine role.   Hostility in the form of peer harassment to both lesbians and gays is most documented in relation to adolescents, where it is seen as contributing to their increased risk of mental health problems, compared to their heterosexual peers.   The youths most frequently abused were those who failed to live up to cultural ideals of sex-appropriate, masculine and feminine behaviors and roles (Savin-Williams, 1995).   He considered these adolescents were neglected by health professionals who write and teach as if they did not or should not exist. Double stigmatization of ethhic lesbians, gays, and bisexuals.



Plutarch in Cantarella  pg.   72  Culture versus nature  76   love between women – prostitute unnatural   92,93.   In bookhomo:  Philo, a Jewish neo-Platonist of the first century wrote that the men of Sodom as violating a law of nature by among other acts mounting men.  He added that those who transform their male nature to the female debase the sterling coin of nature and those who love them pursue an unnatural pleasure.   However Greenberg pointed out that opposite views were expressed by other philosophers who cited examples of animals that were naturally homosexual and commented that culture and civilization improved on nature.


E. Michael Jones, editor of the ultra-conservative American Catholic magazine “Culture Wars”:  “Basically they [progressives] won every battle up until the homosexual battle, and the homosexual battle is in many ways the last frontier.  If homosexuality is OK, then there is no such thing as nature anymore.  That means the Catholic Church was completely wrong in saying there was a natural order of sexuality”.  SMH  March 3, 2003.




Put in Treatment   ?  Prolonged negative effects of gay bashings   factor in increased pathology

Internalized homophobia   Bell and Weinberg  Also sissiphobia Xxxx Considerable media attention has been given to “gay bashings”, the occasionally fatal physical assaults of homosexual men, particularly following the identification of homosexual activity with increased risk of HIV infection.  Of 289 gay men and lesbians who answered a questionnaire (Anderson, 1982), 72% reported verbal harassment, 23% physical assault, and 6% (including 10 men) rape, because of their sexual orientation.  Nine percent of those assaulted reported the incident to the police, 22% talked to a friend, and 66% took no action.  Empirical support does not appear to have been sought for speculations that the perpetrators of gay bashings are in part motivated by conscious or unconscious fears of their own homosexual feelings.

Evidence of homosexual men and women being liable to sexual coercion in Victim Vulnerability in Sexual Assault Chapter.



Apart from homosexual acts still be criminal in some U.S. states,  being considered homosexual can affect career.   Surveys have shown that some medical practitioners would not refer patients to doctors known to be homosexual, and some would reject gay students for medical training.  (?Justice Kirby).

Purcell and Hicks (1996) considered there were grounds for dismissing laws that discriminate against homosexual women and men on the basis that they should receive “equal protection” in law.   One criterion required for this claim to succeed is that the trait leading to the discrimination is immutable.   Sexual orientation would be likely to meet this criterion if the evidence is accepted that it is highly resistant to change and at least partly attributable to biological and genetic factors.   The authors considered that in the future equal protection claims are the most likely strategy for attacking institutionalized discrimination.

Purcell, J. D., & Hicks, D. W. (1996).  Institutional discrimination against lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals.  The courts, legislature, and the military. In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein.  Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (pp. 763-782).  Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.

and the negative attitude to effeminate men in the current gay community was pointed out and termed sissyphobia by Bergling (2001). He referred to the flamboyant effeminate behavior of the “mollies” of eighteenth century England, adding that such behavior has since then been a staple of gay nightlife, when for the first time gay men began to gather in the great metropolitan cities of London, Paris, and Amsterdam.  He considered it had the practical effect of making certain liaisons, as it was much more palatable for earlier generations of men who did not think of themselves as homosexual, a term only introduced in the nineteenth century, to have sex with a “fairy,” as long as the fairy in question played up the feminine role, usually including that of being the “receiver”.  The active partner could then depart the encounter with his sense of masculinity intact. [Anecdote re in rev. Drescher  ASB 1999  Oct 28  p.405]

Receiving anal intercourse:  10.8% of men 18-44.  Laumann 162.

Verbal and physical harassment and lack of parental support extensively documented.

See NIMH survey

If identified – custody of children,   job discrimination.

“Because such struggles with internalized self-hatred are often a normal part of the coming-out process, Brown (1989) and Gonsiorek, (1994) have proposed that the mental health professional who is currently coming out should abstain from working with sexual minority patients until the crisis of self-acceptance has been adequately resolved and that this issue should be addressed in both personal psychotherapy and supervision for the sexual minority health professional.  Both Brown and Gonsiorek have suggested a 2-year period for this process.”  Brown, L.S. (1996).  Ethical concerns with sexual minority patients. In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein.  Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (pp. 897-916).  Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.


Trumbach:  Burke successfully sued two different papers in 1780 and 1784 for suggesting he was at least sympathetic towards sodomy because he had protested in the House of Commons against the treatment that was meted out to sodomites in the pillory.     In 1789 charges that Marie Antoinette had been at the head of a set of monsters called by each other “Sapphists”.        The stigmatization of sapphists was never as great as that experienced by male sodomites.   Women’s lives were never as public as men’s.   There is no evidence of a female sexual subculture of taverns or public placesn of assignation like those for male sodomites.      Sexual relations between women were not illegal in England.  Coke in the seventeenth century had defined sodomy to mean either sexual intercourse between a woman and a beast or anal intercourse by a man with either a male or a female.  Sexual relations between two women did not come under the sodomy statute.   As a consequence  there are no detailed descriptions of sex between women in the legal sources hat parallel those for sodomy between men

Sissyphobia  see bookhomorepeat  “In some Native communities, as in some Latino communities, one’s sexual orientation is tied to behavior rather than to gender of a partner.  In other words, in some communities, a male will be considered heterosexual as long as he is engaged in an active, insertive “masculine” role.  The gender of the partner is irrelevant for the “masculine” man, but a passive receptive male partner would be labeled as homosexual.  This labeling does not result from simple denial, because the entire community confirms the active partner as  being heterosexual (p. 612, Tafoya).    (macho)

In discussions of homophobia, reference to insertor versus insertee, often termed active versus passive rare, as provoking prejudice, though are references to “sodomy laws” are evidence of homophobia.  Behavioral stereotypes of masculinity and feminity referred to.    Acceptance of Ian Roberts as masculine.   ? Refer to attitudes to homosexuality in apparently liberal social groups when it is believed no homosexuals are present.    [Anecdote re boxer telling re boy   ASB Oct. 1999  405].

Not an actual phobia –  Herdt in 1990 suggested heterosexism as the ideological system that denies, denigrates, and stigmatizes any nonheterosexual form of behavior, identity, relationship, or community.

G. M. Herek,  “Heterosexism and homophobia” In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein.  Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (pp. 101-113).  Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.   Cites San Francisco Examiner 1989 survey of lesbians and gay men, depending on the area of the country between 23% and 40% had not told their family they were gay, and 37% to 59% had not disclosed their sexual identity to coworkers.

He prefers heterosexism,  homophobia not a phobia in the clinical sense

“Most children internalize society’s ideology of sex and gender at an early age.  As a result, lesbians and gay men usually experience some degree of negative feeling toward themselves when they first recognize their homosexuality in adolescence or adulthood.  This sense of ‘internalized homophobia’ often makes the process of identity formation more difficult (Malyon, 1982).”  Pg.107  [Malyon, A K. (1982).  Psychotherapeutic implications of internalized homophobia in gay men.  J of Homosex, 7, 59-69].



Ageism   ASB  Aug 2000  452;   prefer younger  ASB 2000 Feb 67

In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein.  Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (1996).  Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.     Three chapters on gay and lesbian and bisexual “during youth”, “in mid-life” and “grown older”   – References 1990 on – 35 of 65; 19 of 38; and one of 14.

Islamic  Aug 2001 ASB  445

Cuba   ASB  Dec 99 575

Penetrator normal   ASB Oct 99 404

Cantarella review  ASB Oct 99 400

Review  ASB  June 99  271s

Rev Dec 2001  650  – commences late childhood

Affiliative and aggressive dimensions of dominance and possible functions during early adolescence.  AD Pellegrini.  Aggression and Violent Behavior,  2002, 7  21-   Natural selection.  Girls attracted to dominant boys  ? aggressive.

Measuring workplace bullying.   H Cowie +  Agg and Viol Behav  2002, 7, 33    university for homosexuals

Examining hate-motivated aggression A review of the social psychological literature on hate crimes as a distinct form of aggression.   KM Crain  Agg and Violent Behav, 2002, 7, 85-  Against gays related to religion.  Characteristics of perpetrators


In relation to homophobia:  ? cite Voeller  re the negative response to men and women who wished to identify as bisexual has subsequently been termed – biphobia. Sex-related motor behavior  ASB 1983 415-  homophobia;     butch a complement to men –   tomboyish not always negative in girls.    (Also see reference P Rust – from PaddP. Lesbian’s belief about bisexual women.

CHOICE, FLEXABILITY:   What’s in a name? Sexual self-identification among women.  Carla Golden In RC Savin-Williams,   KM Cohen   The lives of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals:  Children to adults (pp. 229-249).  Orlando, FL,   US  Harcourt Brace College Publishers.   Among women who openly adopt a lesbian label, some consider themselves “born” or “true” lesbians as opposed to those they consider “false” or “not real” lesbians who have made a conscious decision to become lesbian.  Unlike the former they did not have a conscious sense of being different from other girls at a young age.   Some considered themselves lesbians whose sexual feelings could be most accurately characterized as bisexual, or just sexual.  In other words, their sexuality felt fluid or changeable.   Golden noticed this difference in in-depth interviews with more than 100 women actively involved in the process of sexual self-definition.   Golden reported some women who identified as lesbian expressed their resentment of women who describe their sexual preference as a choice and who do not relate exclusively to women, citing the statement  “they have the privilege to experiment with our lives, because they have betrayed us when being a lesbian became no longer fashionable (or politically correct) and they went right back to fucking men.”   Golden considered some lesbian communities “more readily accept celibate and sexually inexperienced women who choose to call themselves lesbians than bisexual women who choose to identify as lesbians.   In these cases, it appears that the critical issue in determining the “legitimacy” of a woman’s claim to a lesbian identity is not whether she is sleeping with women but whether she is sleeping with men”.  Attempts to define who is a “real” lesbian are thus divisive.    In interviews with women who identified as heterosexual, Golden found some who had been or could imagine being, attracted to and becoming involved with a woman.   “I was particularly struck by how powerful the idea of sexual fluidity was to this subgroup of heterosexual women… the possibility had first occurred to them in women’s study classes; exposure to lesbians within feminist groups; …

These had often prompted ongoing reflection, including reinterpretation of close female friendships and/or attachments to teachers… as evidence of the possibility that they had been sexually attracted to women but had never recognized it as such until now.  They acknowledged the possibility that their sexuality did in fact involve a choice that they had not previously realized.  In this sense they were similar to the elective lesbians described above…   Thinking about sexuality, however, had led them to make a conscious choice not to explore their lesbian or bisexual potential… choosing to be lesbians would make their lives more difficult in a variety of ways”  (p. 237)   “These interviews reveal that one cannot predict simply on the basis of sexual attractions and involvements whether a women considers herself, to be lesbian, bisexual, or heterosexual” (p.242)

Suggests fluidity more characteristic of women’s than men’s sexuality.  It makes understandable why some women who choose to be sexually involved with women and to identify as lesbian  consider themselves “bisexual lesbians”, acknowledging that they may experience sexual attraction to men; why some are so-called transient lesbians, women who do so for a period of time but subsequently become involved with men; and so-called political lesbians, who make this an erotic as well as political choice.(p.245)  “If sexuality is not essential (fixed and unchanging) or dichotomous (focused exclusively on women or men), then bisexual are neither confused, passing through a stage in the process of coming out, not unwilling to give up heterosexual privilege”  (245)

“Conceptualizing sexuality as fluid and as subject to personal choice also helps make sense of the fascination, fear, and even hatred of lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in our culture…   (it puts) heterosexuality in danger” (245)   Fear than with increasing acceptance more people will adopt these roles.

“Gonsiorek (1988) has described that the coming out process for males appears to be more abrupt and is likely to be associated with psychiatric symptoms, whereas the process for women appears to  be characterized by greater fluidity and ambiguity.  Differences in tempo of identity development may be influenced by patterns of sexual socialization.  Because women are allowed a broader range of behavioral and emotional interactions with other women, some lesbians may experience their emerging sexual and emotional intimacy as friendship.  Because men are confined to narrower patterns, longing for emotional and physical contact with other males is apt to be perceived as clearly homosexual.  Consistent with traditional sex role socializaton, men are more prone to  sexual activity during the coming out process and women are more likely to respond with reflection and self-aborption.”  Gonsiorek (1995 in B’graphy)

? Chapter homosexuality in the past  – better as part of homophobia

When past writings refer to love between men, is it justified to regard such love as homosexual, as Greenberg does when he discusses the love between warriors, such as that of David and Jonathan, as reported in the said by David in his lament on the death of Jonothon to be “passing the love of women”.  As discussed in Chapter ? Shakespeare made it clear at least to his own satisfaction that his love for the man to whom he wrote his sonnets was not sexual.   When a male engages in sexual activity with an older or socially superior male without sexual arousal, as in the cultures discussed in Chapter ?

Differences in sexual risk behaviors between college students with same-sex and opposite-sex experience: Results from a national survey.  M Eisenberg ASB 2001, 30, 575.    Same-sex more partners less condom use.


van der Meer (1994):  In 1862 the German jurist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs proclaimed the existence of a third sex: “anima muliebris virile corpore inclusa”, men who desired other men because they harbored a female soul in a male body, which originated in embryological developments.  The congenital origins of “Uranism”, as he called it, were the best argument that homosexuality was a part of nature, rather than contrary to it, as had been considered for centuries.   Therefore, those who engaged in such behavior should be free from persecution.   About the same time, Berlin’s first professor of psychiatry, Karl Westphal, coined the phrase “contrary sexual feelings”, for homosexual feelings, a congenital reversal of heterosexual feelings which he considered was a result of degeneracy, a moral insanity.  The concept of a third sex was taken up by other sexology writers, and Kertbeny’s term homosexuality being accepted to describe it.

Foucault in his history of sexuality considered this development marked a complete break with previous thinking about same-sex behavior with the creation of a new social role, that of the homosexual man and woman.   Sodomy, the crimen nefanddum, the unmentionable vice, were the common terms prior to that of homosexuality.  Foucault believed that those terms referred to an act which anyone could carry out, it was not associated with a personality.   van der Meer reported evidence from records and related writing mainly in relation to the legal persecution of sodomites in the Netherlands that the concept of same-sex activity as part of a role, rather than casual acts developed there in the period from the late seventeenth to the second half of the nineteenth centuries.  He argued that the ideas of Ulrichs and Westphal had their roots in largely unarticulated popular beliefs, both of people engaged in same-sex activity and their adversaries.

In reality van der Meer provided evidence of its occurrence during this period along with unacknowledged denial, which he considered was reinforced by the concept of “crimen nefandum”,  that it was an unmentionable vice not to be mentioned among Christians.  He supported his belief by any mention of it being absent from the records of the records of the Dutch Reformed Church until 1730, despite the frequent record of all other kinds of carnal sins committed by members of the church.   He added that unlike the seventeenth century libertine noves of England and France, those of Holland did not mention sodomy, adding that if ever there was a conspiracy of silence, the Netherlands virtually invented it.   In this period executions of sodomites were carried out in secret, with records usually destroyed.

xxxxThe situation was reversed in 1730 when the extensive networks of sodomites were publicly revealed.  ? conflict between courts, claiming of property, rise of middle class in judiciary sodomy of wealthy. xxxx

Trumbach:   “By 1800 … there were four genders, two of them legitimated, and two stigmatized.  Consequently, in the modern Western world, there were men and women, and sodomites and sapphists” (p. 136).          “late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth-century attitude towards sodomy between males that could be found among male rakes before the development of the role of the adult passive, effeminate sodomite, or molly.   Such a rake was prepared to have sexual relations with both women and boys because he took the dominant role in both kinds of acts.  Others might view his behavior as very wicked, but they did not think of him as effeminate.  Sexual relations with a younger male did not lessen the masculine status of a rake: if anything, it reinforced the image of his power.  The rake certainly did no go in for any degree of cross-dressing as part of his dominant sodomitical behavior.  There were, however, a few adult males who took the passive role in sodomy.  They were likely to be classified as hermaphrodites since they had changed, in effect, from being men to being women.”  (p. 128).  “women, unlike men, had not in the eighteenth century  yet come to be consistently classified into what by the late nineteenth centruy would be called a heterosexual majority and a homosexual minority.”  (p. 130).  Diary of Mrs. Hester Thrale Piozzi  – showed great interest in male sodomy and “noticed the difference between Italian tolerance and English ostracism, and she usually approved of the latter, except when she found the poor man personally sympathetic.   She wondered about the dynamics of personality that were involved.  She was frequently convinced that she could detect sodomitical inclinations in men who had otherwise sought to hide them.”  (p. 131).  [Thraliana: The Diary of Mrs. Hester Lynch Thrale, 2nd. ed., 2 vols., ed. K. C. Balderston, Oxford, Clarendon, 1951, pp 595, n 1, 949 and n. 3, 740, 850-51, 868 and n. 3 and 922 (for women) and passim (for men].

United States:   McGee considered a reading of Genesis 19;4-11 made it clear that the sin of Sodom, was not homosexuality but homosexual gang rape.  It was misinterpreted as sodomy by Biblical scholars since the third century.  They considered the destruction of Sodom was due to the single fact that the men of the city were homosexual.  McGee considered it would be relevant to challenge these views when in attempts to have laws discriminating against homosexual overthrown.

Another area he considered appropriate to raise is the interpretation of English common law, the source of the statutory law of the United States.  The first English statute criminalizing any behavior related to homosexuality was passed by King Henry VIII in 1533.  The statute provided for the death penalty for buggery – male anal penetration but criminalized no other act.   McGee concluded this was evidence that all other gay and lesbian acts were legal in England until 1885, when male homosexual acts generally were made criminal offences.  This law was effectively repealed by the 1967 Sexual Offences Act and since that time male homosexuality has been decriminalized in England.  At no time was lesbian activity considered illegal in England.   The U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Bowers v. Hardwick made the error of collapsing the distinction between various forms of homosexual conduct.  The majority found that the laws of the 13 original colonies were patterned after the English common law, referring to Henry VIII’s original sodomy law.   Ignoring that this applied only to male anal penetration, the Supreme Court seemed to include all oral and anal acts whether by men or women, whether heterosexual or homosexual.   McGee pointed out this was clearly unwarranted on the basis of the English common law and the Supreme Court also failed to note that all sodomy laws between consenting adults were repealed in England in 1986.  McGee considered it was likely that no argument on these issues was included in the briefs submitted to the Supreme Court.

a third psychological feature of the modern West complicating both the writing and reading of this study is the salient horror of homosexuality characteristic of the West since the fourteenth century… (B1994 xxiii;   few, if any, other major cultures have made homosexuality – either as a general classification of acts according to gender or as an “orientation” – the primary and singular moral taboo it has long been in Western society: “the sin that cannot be named”, “the unmentionable vice,” “the love that dare not speak its name.”   … this extraordinary prejudice… Murder, matricide, child molesting, incest, cannibalism, genocide, even deicide are mentionable. (p. xxiii).   But even following the most ascetic traditional Roman Catholic morality to the letter (i.e. procreative purpose), homosexual sodomy would be on the same moral grounds as heterosexual sodomy, about which there has been comparatively little concern in Western society.  It was not that it has been approved, but there have been no witch hunts to hound out of society those who enjoy it, no widespread efforts to detect those who might be engaging in it privately, no social conflict about whether those who indulge in it should be eligible for the military, or teaching positions, or the clergy. (p. xxiv).





? origins in childhood  See review “The two sexes: etc” EE Maccoby ASB 2001 30  p. 647.

Mental health*

Rothblum (1994) in an introduction to a special section of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, pointed out that as homosexuality was no longer considered a mental disorder, articles about it ceased appearing in journals of clinical psychology.  Consequently there had been comparatively little focus on mental health and treatment issues concerning lesbian and gay men, the topic of the special section.   (Ref sexdys02) In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association despite some opposition accepted that homosexuality did not meet the requirements for a psychiatric disorder since many homosexual were quite satisfied with their sexual orientation and demonstrated no generalized impairment in social effectiveness or functioning.   When it was removed from the DSM classification of mental disorders, the DSM-II introduced in its place a new diagnostic category, sexual orientation disturbance.   This was seen as retaining the implication that homosexuality was a disorder, as was the diagnosis which replaced it in the DSM-III, ego dystonic homosexuality.   It was argued that most lesbians and gay men go through a period when they have problems accepting their sexual orientation.  Malyon (1982) pointed out that children internalize society’s ideology of sex and gender at an early age.  As a result, lesbians and gay men usually experienced some degree of negative feeling toward themselves when they first recognize their homosexuality in adolescence or adulthood.  He termed this a sense of internalized homophobia which often made the process of identity formation difficult.  The DSM-IV and DSM-IV-TR retained a diagnosis of “persistent and marked distress about sexual orientation”, a sexual disorder not otherwise specified. These issues were dealt with at much greater length in the Text-book of Homosexuality and Mental Health edited by Cabaj and Stein (1996).   In a number of its chapters it was pointed out that while homosexuality itself was not a disorder, the negative treatment of gays and lesbians, and aspects of their life style put them at high risk for mental health problems, particularly in adolescence and early adulthood.   Compared to the general population a greater percentage sought counseling, and received mental health services.   However many found some mental health workers had marked negative reactions to their sexuality, so that they often did not reveal this.  Approximately 30% were considered to suffer from substance abuse, particularly of alcohol, compared with 10-12% for the general population.  A 1989 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services task force report was quoted, which concluded that studies seemed to confirm a high rate of suicide attempts among lesbians and gay males, particularly during their youth.   Uncertainty remained regarding the relationship between attempting suicide and completing suicide.  It suggested that gay youth may comprise up to 30% of completed youth suicides annually, an estimate which has been cited repeatedly although unsupported by research.   A 1987 National Institute of Mental Health mental health survey of approximately 2000 women who identified themselves as lesbian found that nearly three-fourths had received some form of counseling or mental health services.  Reasons for seeking counseling included sadness or depression, problems with a lover, problems with family, anxiety or fears, personal growth, being gay, alcohol or drug problems, and work problems.  Twenty-seven percent had considered suicide and 18% had tried to kill themselves.  The suicide risk was highest during adolescence.  Many reported discrimination, being verbally attacked, and losing jobs because of their lesbianism.  Physical abuse, rape, and childhood molestation, eating disorders and alcoholism same rates as heterosexual women.  (National Institute of Mental Health: National Lesbian Health Care Survey (Contract No. 86MO19832201D).  Washington, DC, DHHS Publication, 1987Less systematically collected information in other articles in the text-book revealed similar problems reported by gay men.

The authors of one chapter commented that despite the growing body of research that documents the existence of homophobia among health care providers, little effort has been made to educate future and practicing physicians about homosexuality as a normal variant of human sexuality.  In a 1992 survey in which 65% of 126 U.S. medical schools responded only one reported that gay and lesbian issues were integral to its curriculum.  Eight had no teaching in gay and lesbian issues, and the majority marginalized the teaching to a small component of their human sexuality curriculum.  On average 3 hours and 26 minutes in 4 years of curriculum were spent presenting gay and lesbian issues to U.S. medical students.  The authors considered that the students were not likely to supplement their lack of education with up-to-date resources.   While retaining the emphasis that homosexuality is not a disorder, it would seem that mental health trainees require more education than they are currently receiving in regard to the problems and the life-styles of gays and lesbians.   This education should include encouragement for them to examine their own attitudes to sexually diverse behaviors and their suitability for treating people with these behaviors.

Coleman and Rosser (1996) considered some diagnoses in the DSM-IV classification reflected heterosexist bias.   Although terms such as “vaginismus” and “dyspareunia” were employed to describe problems in peno-vaginal functioning, there was no equivalent term for problems in anal intercourse.   However the failure of the DSM-IV to refer to these problems was more likely due to the lack of interest on the part clinicians and researchers discussed subsequently.  Most of the men and women who practice anal intercourse do so in heterosexual activities.  Heterosexist bias may have been responsible for the other example they gave, that the only illustration of compulsive sexual behavior is a heterosexual man who has repeated sexual conquests and sees women as objects to be used.   Recognition and effective treatment of compulsive sexual behavior of gay men is crucial in decreasing the likelihood of their exposure to HIV infection.



Definition of homosexuality:  ? Percentage of men (and women) capable of homosexual activity.  The report of Ford and Beach (1951) based on their examination of cross-cultural patterns of sexual behavior, that “100 per cent of the males in certain societies engage in homosexual as well as heterosexual alliances” (p. 242), is often accepted at face value.   However can it be accepted that all acts that involve genital arousal in one of two same-sex partners being considered homosexual acts by both?

Failure to appreciate the need to clarify use of the terms related to sexual orientation remains evident in the literature concerning it.   Greenberg writing on the construction of homosexuality introduces the word without definition.  He later says he will be concerned with the ways in which homosexuality is conceptualized, though never appearing to go beyond the dictionary definition that homosexuality is sexual desire towards or sexual activity with a member of the same sex.  This definition requires some discussion of what constitutes sexual desire and sexual activity. **** should his homosexual act require qualification?   Two men seen kissing each other on the mouth would lead to suspicions that this was a sexual act in much of the Western world.   Boswell  in his 1994 book on same-sex unions in Europe provided illustrations of a Russian World War II stamp of a male peasant kissing a Russian soldier peasant as an expression of his gratitude and a mural of the Leonid Brezhnev kissing Erich Honeker as an expression of the friendly relationship of the two leaders.  He considered they raised no such suspicions in Russia or East Germany.

The dictionary definitions of homosexual – one who is inclined to or practices homosexuality, and bisexual – one who participates in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships, require  clarification.  Most men and women who meet these criteria do not define themselves as homosexual or bisexual, nor are they so defined by others, at least while their participation remains unknown, as it usually does.  Again the issue of these definitions is commonly ignored in the scholarly literature dealing with  homosexual or bisexual men and women.





Prevalence and patterns of same-gender sexual contact among men.  Fay, RE,Turner, CF, Klassen AD, Gagnon JH.  Science, 1989 243, 338-348.  Data from 1970 and 1988

Prevalence and social distribution of men who have sex with men: United States and its urban centers.  D Binson…JH Gagnon JA Catania.   JSR 1995 32 245-254.


Homosexuality an advantage  ASB Oct 99  Rev 419  ASB Feb 2000 1

(?less likely to kill children of other men)

Negative hypermasculinity  see Johnson +  Sexual Abuse july 2000 165 (?obtain references in)

Related to sexual aggression.


Sex-reassignment: Experiment of nature: Ablatio penis at 2 months, sex reassignment at 7 months, and a psychosexual follow-up in young adulthood.   Susan J. Bradley +  Pediatrics102, 1998   R3095h – article   (Intersexuality)   good outcome ct. Diamond.





Pppp  Eighty-four% of the women and 73% of the men identified as heterosexual.  Of the 65 men and 89 women who reported homosexual desire without behavior all but 2 men and one woman identified as heterosexual.   (Laumann +)

The findings of the study of Laumann et al. (1994) indicate that the tendency of subjects with bisexual feelings to choose more opposite sex partners is shown less by women, presumably  reflecting a greater social tolerance of lesbian relations and/or a greater readiness of lesbian women to act independently of social attitudes.  Current feelings were exclusively homosexual, predominantly homosexual, equally bisexual, predominantly heterosexual, and exclusively heterosexual in 2.4%, 0.7%, 0.6%, 2.6%, and 93.8% of men and 0.3%, 0.6%, 0.8%, 2.7%, and 95.6% of women, respectively.  Any same-sex behavior in the previous year was reported by 2.7% of  men and 1.3% of women.  Hence the%age of men reporting homosexual behavior was less than the%age of men whose feelings were predominantly or exclusively homosexual (3.1%), whereas the percentage of women reporting homosexual behavior was greater than the percentage of  women with predominant or exclusive feelings (0.9%).  These figures suggest than few if any men but some women with equally bisexual or predominantly heterosexual feelings continue to have sex with same sex partners as they age.  Two.7% of men and 1.4% of women in the study of Laumann et al. identified as homosexual or bisexual, virtually the same percentage as reported any same-sex behavior in the previous year.  It is likely that they were mainly the same subjects.  As pointed out earlier that the sexual identity of the subjects in the study was related to their behavior rather than their feelings, with extremely few men or women aware of homosexual feelings identifying as homosexual or bisexual if they had not been involved in homosexual behavior.  If few men with equally bisexual feelings were involved in homosexual behavior, few would identify as bisexual.  Altshuler (1984) would appear to be correct in believing that the majority of men who identify as bisexual are predominantly homosexual in their feelings, but incorrect in concluding that bisexuality of feelings does not exist.




Stuart Michaels,  The prevalence of homosexuality in the United States.  In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein.  Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (pp. 43-63).  Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.   About 3% of men and half this of women consider themselves homosexual or bisexual, and the rates are similar to those reporting a same gender partner in the last year, they are not identical groups.   About a third of the latter women and men do not consider themselves homosexual or bisexual, and about a quarter of men and a third or women who do so consider themselves have not had a same gender partner in the last year. (56).

? “fluidity” of women –  Pillard pg. 117 says low percentage who identify as homosexual or bisexual;  however women more often describe themselves as bisexual and some women even resist a lesbian-bisexual-heterosexual schema (Fox, Ch. 10)    “As Golden (1987) has pointed out, these definitional debates (about who is lesbian) also raise questions regarding the degree to which a lesbian identity (as may be attached) is fixed, invariant, and stable, in contrast to flexible and changeable over time.”  (Laura S. Brown, 1995).  [Lesbian identities: Concepts and issues.  In A. R. D’Augelli & C. J. Patterson,  Lesbian, gay, and bisexual identities over the lifespan Psychological perspectives,  New York, Oxford Univ. Press, 1995].

qqqqOnly 1.4% of the women and 2.7% of the men identified as bisexual or homosexual.  These percentages were roughly equivalent to the percentages of women and men who reported current awareness of predominant or exclusive homosexual feelings, and who had been homosexually active in the previous year.  It is likely they were they were the same people.  : NO


?Freud – how explain homo heteros

Value of scientific study of sexual orientation in improving legal treatment of gays and lesbians.

In her 1995 discussion of the conflicting positions of essentialism and social constructionism in relation to sexual identities, Celia Kitzinger saw the main value of encouraging the continuance of essentialist studies because of their value in establishing lesbian and gay civil and political rights. She pointed out that form the late 1960’s on gay men in the United Kingdom campaigned for law reform using the argument that homosexuality is a natural sexual orientation.  At the same time lesbian feminists who did not have what she termed this vested interest in essentialist arguments, began to develop a theory that reflected their own interests – that lesbianism can potentially be chosen by all women in opposition to patriarchal oppression: “any woman can be a lesbian”. “Social constructionist approaches, then, overlapy and fit well with aspects of radical lesbian feminist theory”.  Acceptance of the position that social factors contributed to the establishment of a gay or lesbian identity was labeled by Celia Kitzinger a weak form of social constructionism as opposed to the strong form discussed.   She considered that both essentialism and social constructionism should be encouraged.  “As long as the legal and political apparatus by which we are governed is (or affects to be) responsive to scientific “evidence” or “data” in making decisions about who is allowed to teach what in state schools, who is permitted to adopt or foster children or to use medically provided artificial insemination services, who is imprisoned, and what acts of violence count as crimes, one can argue that it is important for gay and lesbian psychologists not to vacate the field (of essentialism).”   She pointed out that though she generally aligned herself with the social constructionist perspective, there was “always the option of using essentialist arguments as a rhetorical form on a par with any other.  The extent to which social constructionists should self-consciously and in their own (or their groups’) interest use a rhetorical form (such as that of empirical science) in which they do not personally believe is a matter of ethical and political debate”.


?Hooker – poor science.

?Add problem of mixed ethnic origin ? little attention.  “Passing” in NYR of Books.

Saikaku, I  The Great Mirror of Male Love (1687), translated by Schalow PG, Stanford, CA  Stanford Univ. Press, 1990.

Schalow, PG, Male love in early modern Japan: a literary depiction of the “youth” in Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past.  Ed. Duberman, MB, Vicinus, M, Chauncey, G.  New York, Meridian, 1989.

Read POW:

Friedman, RC +   Special article: homosexuality.  N  Eng J Med, 331, 923-930, 1994.

Schwartz  M,   Masters W.  The Masters and Johnson treatment program for dissatisfied homosexual men.  Am J Psychiat, 141, 173-181.   (1984).    Among gay men and lesbians sex with opposite sex person third most common sexual fantasy,   for heterosexual men sex with another man fourth most common

Tinmouth, J.  Hamwi G.   The experience of gay and lesbian students in medical school.  JAMA, 271, 714-715,  1994.  Referred to in MH Townsend,  MM Wallick,  Gay, lesbian, and bisexual issues in medical schools.   In R. P. Cabaj & T. S. Stein.  Textbook of Homosexuality and Mental Health (pp. 633-644).  Washington, DC, American Psychiatric Press.  – no mention of my studies of medical students.

That bisexual is not acceptable to majority of homosexual heterosexuals contributes to their being excluded in thinking about sexual orietation.   Bisexuals are commonly included with homosexuals in research in view of small percent who identify as bisexual.

Ignoring the homosexual heterosexuals:

Ramafedi, G., Resnick, M., Blum, R., & Harris, L. (1992).  Demography of sexual orientation in adolescents.  Pediatrics, 89, 714-721.  As cited by Savin-Williams,  a survey of nearly 35,000 junior and secondary high school students in Minnesota.  Less than 1% who were sure about their sexual orientation identified themselves as lesbian or gay, another 10% were unsure and more likely to have hemoerotic attractions and fantasies that self-identified heterosexuals.  2% at aged 12 and 6% at age 18 reported homosexual attractions.  Savin-Williams makes no reference to need for anonymous investigations, though has a section on research methodology.

Social constructionism:   ? Ambivalence in criticising sexology for creating the homosexual while not encouraging l,g, and b. to accept a homosexual identity.




of BUT ? Williams two-spirit article, chose one of five sons.  (p. 419)

The nearest word currently in use which has negative connotations for opposite sex-linked behaviors in women equivalent to the term effeminate for these behaviors in men, is butch, which is less frequently encountered in life or in literature.   When it is, it is as likely to be used approvingly of men as disapprovingly of women.   In contrast to the condemnatory attitude shown to homosexuality in men in “Fanny Hill”, the report of the heroine’s introduction to sexuality through lesbian activity in a brothel is written to provoke sexual arousal in the reader rather than criticism.  As pointed out by Trumbach at this period in the earlier eighteenth century, lesbian activity was not generally considered to be associated with masculine characteristics in Fanny or her female seducer.

Transgender movement has evolved, advocating the abandonment of the labels used in the scientific literature in favor of such terms as transgenderism.


pg. 84 = about 30,000 words   315 pp  = about 80,000.

Bisexuality and the challenge to lesbian politics  ASB  2002  375.

In relation to bisexuality see two pppp sections









It is possible that Diamond in stressing adult-child but not adult-adult same-sex activities were fostered in some societies, considered that the relationships terminated before the younger male was 18, at times considered to be when childhood ends.   However the evidence discussed seem it is possible and this seemed to have been the case in ancient Greece, there was no known culture where adult-adult homosexual behavior was encouraged,


. It would seem like many homosexual, like heterosexual men, are attracted to adolescents.  that  in the age range what his who he accepted to be children, and whoat he meant by a childunIf he is correct it would be understandable that not only to-day but at all periods, most men and women aware of some homosexual feelings would endeavor to conceal this


. The existence of homosexual heterosexuals remains largely ignored as they can only be identified in anonymous surveys.

In a society where homsexual feelings are subject to disapproval , a number of men and women with some homosexual feelings might repress awareness of such feelings.   If so, in societies tolerant of homosexuality, such feelings would be experienced by a higher percentage of men and women than the one in five regarded as the most likely figure in the studies discussed in Chapter 1.  In those studies just under half of both men and women medical students reported they were currently aware of some degree of homosexual feelings, and over half stated they had been aware of some degree of these feelings by the age of 15.   It is possible that medical students in this respect were not representative of the general population.   Equally they may have been less likely to repress awareness of such feelings.   While conclusions concerning the sexual behavior in contemporary society remain so uncertain, those concerning such behavior in past societies derived from the  scanty and ambiguous records available must be even more questionable.  Diamond’s distinction between the prevalence of adult-child and adult-adult homosexual relationships in ancient Greece is one such conclusion.   If it is questionable, so is his statement that there is no known culture where adult-adult homosexual behavior was encouraged, was a preferred mode of behavior, or was a practice of other than a minority.


If Diamond’s statement concerning adult-adult homosexual behavior is limited to behavior between men of similar age, he may well be correct in stating for the majority of Athenian citizens such behavior was not encouraged or preferred and was carried out only by a minority.  A further proviso discussed subsequently was this may only have been true of men, both of whom were considered reputable.

However when Philip made this statement, Greenberg considered Greek acceptance of male homosexuality was waning, seeing the first sign of the change in writings of Plato following the Athenian defeat in the Peloponnesian War in 404 B.C.






? wealthy have younger partners in Weinberg +

Cantarella quoted from this section of the Symposium as “ a youth does not share in the pleasure of the intercourse as the woman does, etc.  pg. 63 – check in another translation of Xenophon].



[? Intercourse with a menstruating woman – an abomination – was considered extremely grave not trivial as Boswell suggested, as menstrual taboos were taken very seriously in many primitive societies]




ADD  homosexuality associated with martial men,   passive homosexuals shameful,  not to be talked  – Thornton in quotations.

?  Emphasis on what sexual activities took place – particularly in sodomy did not occur –  seem to minimize the fact that homosexual feelings were involved,  e.g. Thornton,  pg. 99 and 211/2 in quotations.

Add reference to machismo

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