Homosexuality and trans-genders go way back in time and have been found in most societies throughout history. Attitudes towards same sex relationships have varied over time and place. There was an acceptance that all males engaged in same sex relationships whether permanently or casually. (7) Whether this was a form of birth control, or a means of preference, or just a cultural way, I cannot say. But before the 16th Century same sex relationships seemed to be an accepted form of behaviour. (8)
Some examples of this are:
- In East Asia same-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history. (7)
- Homosexuality in Japan is known as shudo or nanshoku and has been documented for over a thousand years. It had some connections to the Buddhist monastic life and the samurai. (7)
- In Thailand kathoey or “lady-boys,” have been a feature of Thai society for many centuries, and Thai kings had male as well as female lovers. (7)
- The earliest Western documents (in the form of literary works, art objects, and (mythographic materials) concerning same-sex relationships are derived from ancient Greece. The formal practice, an erotic yet often restrained relationship between a free-born (i.e. not a slave or freedman) adult male and a free-born adolescent was valued for its sexual teaching benefits and as a means of birth control”. (7)
- The Viking era saw nothing wrong in having same sex relationships. It was looked upon as acceptable so long as both men and women married in order to produce children. (9)
- The art work of the Bushman depicts men partaking in anal sex 20,000 years ago. (7)
Research tells us that whether it is North or South America, Africa, Asia, East Asia or Europe, this type of behaviour was part of society back in the day. (8)
I have to mention though that contemporary scholars suggest caution against judging modern Western beliefs about same-sex and gender in other times and places. What a westerner would assume as same-sex activity could be interpreted completely different to other cultures. (8)
In some societies people who identified with more than one sexual identity were known as “third gender” (seen as neither man nor woman). Some examples of this are:
- Native Americans called them “Berdache”, more commonly known today as “Two Spirits”.
- In the Bugis cultures of Sulawesi, Indonesia, a female who dresses and works in a masculine fashion and marries a woman is seen as belonging to a third gender.
- In the case of ‘Sambia’ (a pseudonym) boys in New Guinea who ingest the semen of older males is regarded as aiding in their maturing; it is disputed whether this is best understood as a sexual act at all. (8)
The history on same-sex relationships seems, apart from a few isolated periods of persecution, to have been tolerated and largely accepted as normal.(10)
Until 1533 -Legislation
The first legislation against homosexuality was put in place in England by King Henry V111 in 1533, and was known as the Buggary Act. “Apparently all Germanic codes up to this point ignored all sexual activities except adultery”. “This new act made sodomy with man or beast punishable by hanging”. (11) There are a number of suggestions as to why this act was introduced, whether it was a fear of the creation of a hybrid creature, or a measure against clergy; it was at this time the Church of England broke away from Rome. (11)
From the days of King Henry V111 to the early 1970’s same-sex relationships went from what was classed as normal and acceptable to being scorned upon, ostracized from society, imprisoned and killed. They lived in a world of secrecy filled with anxiety causing mental illness, and a constant fear that their secret would be discovered resulting in an intolerable life.
It’s about 50 years ago that the first steps to decriminalize homosexuality took place in parts of Europe and North America. The Aids epidemic brought greater awareness, understanding and acceptance to the plight to the LGBT community. It has been a slow, painful and deadly road that the LGBT community have travelled down. The struggle still continues, but there is a much greater acceptance in modern day society. Some parts of the world have gone as far as to legalize same sex marriage and allow adoption of children. Some religious orders permit homosexual priests to preach in churches.
In many countries the LGBT community are still fighting against the death penalty and life imprisonment. Fear, ostracizing, beatings and killings are still very much a part of their existence. Believing homosexuality as a contagious disease and a very taboo practise is still a reality in these cultures.
It’s a slow process, as with unwed mothers, but the LGBT community are fighting for their equal rights which are resulting in new codes, hence influencing cultures.
We can look at religious beliefs towards homosexuality and try to understand what the meanings meant in ancient times. Laws that control religions and their teachings have been translated and interpreted over and over throughout our history. This is a topic onto itself as it requires understanding the meaning of words and the context of situations and cultures of those times. (12) I rather stay in the present where our conscious awareness is today and see what makes sense with today’s knowledge and understanding.
For a start, we know people from the LGBT communities are not carrying a disease, they are not contagious, and this was not a conditioned introduced by the white man. This is how God created them; they are wired this way and cannot be changed, and they too are children of God.
So what I’m realising is, whether it’s past or present, codes are man-made. These codes influence our cultures. As humanity evolves and our conscious awareness grows, I think we can see we have been living with incorrect information. Realising the Buggary Act came into play to address issues in the 16 Century has nothing to do with how humanity has treated and still treats the LGBT community in recent times.
My thoughts on how I feel about all this
I don’t know about you, but I believe there is a shift happening in today’s consciousness. More and more people are questioning the logic and teachings of some of our religious codes. Individuals are searching more within themselves for truths and a sense of what feels right to them rather than being indoctrinated by religious beliefs. This is bringing about a greater conscious awareness allowing more light to enter this dark hole. There is a change of outlooks and acceptance towards unwed single mums or dads, unmarried parents, same sex parenting, and the LGBT community.
It’s a heavy topic, but I find it to be fairly black and white. I have no issues living within a community where unwed mums and LGBTs live. Even if we don’t understand this reality, they still deserve to be accepted, respected trusted, and treated as equal players in society. Where my boundaries end is when lives are not granted these same basic rights. Sex with children, slaves, bestiality with animals, or rape with either sex, seem to have been looked on as acceptable in those ancient times; this crosses over my line of acceptable behaviours, and I do stand up against this and class these actions as abuse, cruelty and criminally wrong.
Being raised a Christian I try and live by Christian principles; the 10 Commandments, which I call guidelines, and which I believe are the foundation of Christianity. The two most prominent guidelines being: “Love thy God above all else” which in my interpretation is “Love all life as it is all God”, and “Love thy neighbour as you would choose to be loved”. This guideline seems self-explanatory. But I struggle with some confusion in regards to these guidelines and certain Christian teachings and behaviours from past and present day activities.
How does the behaviour of societies towards the LGBT community and unwed mothers go hand in hand with either of the Christian commandments, but let’s just stick with “Love thy neighbour as you would choose to be loved”?
In all my readings of the Bible I have never read in black and white that we are supposed to traumatise and kill unwed mothers and LGBTs. Interpretations can be, and are made from the Bible by different Christian sects, but nowhere have I read that it’s OK for us to ostracize, condemn, abandon and kill these people.
The first and most important commandment ” “Love thy God above all else” feels like we are ostracizing, condemning, and abandoning God?
Why is it allowed for catholic priests throughout our history, to choose to molest and rape young boys and girls? This is a criminal act, and I am confused as to why these priests have never been brought to justice by the Catholic Church? Is it not Christian teachings that this behaviour is a mortal sin, and yet the Catholic powers above have worked hard to keep their own people protected from this criminal act?
PHEW, this has been a long dig, way longer than I anticipated… One thing that has struck me though is that codes are man-made, and man makes mistakes, and has made humongous and horrendous mistakes throughout history. So maybe we need to remember to stand back a little and not be so quick to make judgements, assumptions and accusations against people and situations that we don’t understand.
As I said earlier, “variety is the spice of life” and we all have a right to our own beliefs and lifestyles. But at the end of the day there has to be something that binds us together. Maybe being more aware of our lack of understanding towards different cultures, our willingness to be more open and learn more about our differences will help us live by basic values of “acceptance, respect, trust and equality”. This may then help us create codes that are beneficial to all the spices of life.
And so the world turns with man creating codes that are related to present day situations which in-turn influences our cultures. These codes do not come from some higher source. We have the power to change them when they no longer serve us. Thank goodness we have the freewill to search and seek truths that make sense to us as our consciousness grows and we becomes more enlightened.
I know my beliefs are influenced by Christianity. I understand there are different beliefs on both these subject. I would love to hear your thoughts, but I do ask that it be done in a respectful manner; there is no healthy way forward with anger and hatred.
By building bridges created on foundations of “Acceptance, Respect, Trust & Equality” we can “Love they neighbour as we would choose to be loved” and try creating a world of peace and harmony… Why not?
UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL.