when did homosexuality become wrong i mean in ancient rome they just had giant orgies and nobody thought twice about it
Except they did!
Sexuality used to be a more complex thing: it wasn’t about male/male or male/female (or being exclusively confined to an m/m or m/f relationship!) Rather, it was about who got penetrated vs. who did the penetrating.
So, historically, if you were a male Roman citizen, you could have sex with women or men (well, boys were preferred a lot, but males), but you had to be the one doing all the penetrating. If you didn’t, then that was considered demeaning and bad because it was associated with being submissive and effeminate, and feminine things were largely considered weak and bad - the word virtue derives from vir, man (just like virile.) Being penetrated was something for slaves/barbarians/effeminate Greeks/women. So, in that sense, homosexuality wasn’t considered wrong because they didn’t conceive of a sexual dichotomy in the sense of “do you prefer the ladies or the men?” Rather, it was, “Are you penetrating or being penetrated?” and one of those things was definitely considered wrong, bad, and incredibly demeaning.
For example, Julius Caesar’s political enemies liked to claim that he’d allowed himself to be penetrated by the King of Bithynia to secure his support, and nicknamed him “Queen of Bithynia,” which was a slur throughout his life - it’s not a “gay vs. not gay” thing, especially since Caesar was known as a pretty scandalous womanizer, but rather a “he let himself be penetrated!” issue. Even in the Imperial era, when Elagabalus and Nero both went through marriage ceremonies with men (and where you get the “giant orgies” that people tend to think about), it wasn’t tolerated 100% - there was a lot of dissent and people who were happy to say that those marriages were unnatural/made them dissolute/destroyed their reputation (although Elagabalus wasn’t helping anything by also marrying a Vestal Virgin and stuff, but that’s a different post.)
Even if you go back to the Greeks, who were more tolerant than the Romans, you still get the penetrated vs. penetrating issue, the idea that such relationships were usually between men and boys and wouldn’t be tolerated once the younger man reached the age where he should be off penetrating younger men himself, and then there’s obviously the problem inherent in this entire discourse about the fact that, while the ancient Greeks/Romans may have been more tolerant about some kinds of LGBT relationships (and have some bits of tolerance I haven’t gone into here - yay, Sappho!) - the whole thing was founded on the idea that women are so inferior that the best kind of relationship a man could have was with another man, because obviously ladies were stupid and inferior and could only be penetrated, and were therefore incapable of actually being a soul mate for a man. (Note on the ladies/boys thing, women get grouped with beardless youthful boys as the clear inferior in the relationship - it’s women and children in the forever-inferior group, men in the other.)
I feel like francieum in that I’ve just gone and text-vomited a very long actual serious response to a casual text post, but it always makes me go “Gah!” when people assume the past was better, because in a lot of ways it wasn’t. I really wish the ancient Greeks and Romans had been all about the tolerance and giant rainbow parades of happiness, but inequality, bigotry, and just all-around unhappy situations have always existed.
^ and this is the cultural context in which the New Testament was written. When Paul and the early Christians within the Roman Empire talk about “homosexuality” they were talking about the oppressive/imperial culture of the time’s penchant for “penetrating” slaves and little boys to show how tough they were.
Well, that’s my interpretation, anyway.
Just reblogging for interesting historical stuff.
This is why historical and cultural context are so important! I mean it goes for everything but it’s especially important in biblical stuff. Another good one is the whole “turn the other cheek” thing everyone loves to throw around. The bible was written with a hardcore right handed bias because for some very specific cultural and historical reasons people in the ancient world ONLY ever used their right hands for damn near everything. The bible doesn’t just say to turn the other cheek it specifically says that if someone strikes you on your right cheek to turn the other cheek to them. If someone is using their right hand to strike you on your right cheek they are straight up backhanding you, that’s the only possible way they can do it. To backhand a person is inherently dehumanizing and disrespectful, the gesture really can’t be interpreted any other way. Telling someone that if you are struck on the right cheek to turn your other cheek to them does not mean just sit there and take their abuse all day long it means to assert your humanity and if they’re going to beat you at least force them to treat you with respect while they do it and hit you straight on. It’s a huge difference and one that gets lost when nobody considers historical and cultural context.
Shirley Chisholm was the first black woman to serve in the United States Congress. An early education expert, Shirley Chisholm was elected to the New York Legislature in 1964 and to Congress in 1968. She ran for president in 1972, winning 152 delegates before she withdrew. Shirley Chisholm served in Congress until 1983. During her congressional career, Shirley Chisholm was noted for her support for women’s rights, her advocacy of legislation to benefit those in poverty, and her opposition to the Vietnam war.
— Helen Keller, 1911
It really frustrates the hell out of me that the only public mention of Hellen Keller in any modern context is to poke fun at her disabilities. Keller helped to found the modern day American Civil Liberties Union, wrote extensively on the exploitation of the working poor (particularly those with medical issues), and was a member and contributor to the Industrial Workers of the World. She was a badass and a passionate socialist radical. I intend on posting a more in-depth background on her in the future.
Critics attempted to diminish the impact of her work by saying that her embracing socialism and activism was obviously the result of her “limits in ability and development”. All you are doing is participating in the perpetuation of that lie.
“Passions are the elements of life,” but elements which are subject to the control of reason. Whoever will candidly examine themselves, will find some degree of passion, peevishness, or obstinacy in their natural tempers. You will seldom find these disagreeable ingredients all united in one; but the uncontrolled indulgence of either is sufficient to render the possessor unhappy in himself, and disagreeable to all who are so unhappy as to be witnesses of it, or suffer from its effects.
Having once obtained this self-government, you will find a foundation laid for happiness to yourself and usefulness to mankind.
Part of a letter to her thirteen-year-old son, John Quincy Adams, who had just arrived in France with his father, John Adams, seeking aid for the American Revolution
March 20, 1780