Homosexuality & Civilization

An archive of poetry, pictures, history, and quotes dedicated to queer individuals before the year 1900.

The title is an homage to a book by Louis Crompton, but the blog will contain content expressing all forms of sexuality and gender identity.

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As European explorers spread throughout the Americas, Africa, and the Pacific in the next three centuries, their explorations of new lands were accompanied by similar unexpected discoveries about the sexual customs of these ‘primitive, undeveloped’ peoples, who the Germans called the naturvölker, the nature people. In contrast to the rigid morality focused on procreation held by the Europeans, native peoples in many areas displayed no discomfort with sexual interaction among members of the same sex, and seemed to take such behavior for granted. Early explorers were taken aback by the casual acceptance of homosexual behavior amongst tribal peoples and confounded by the seemingly universal presence of androgynous homosexual individuals, whom they often found playing important leadership roles in many tribes. Though in many cases the reactions of other Europeans wasn’t as drastic of that of the Spanish conquistadors and their Inquisition, the missionaries who later accompanied the colonists nonetheless labored industriously to enforce their European sexual morality on the natives.

What is one to make of the sexual practices these early explorers encountered? Certainly to many modern Westerners, the sexuality described would be as foreign and perplexing as it was for the Spanish. But as recent anthropological and historical research makes clear, it is the Western cultural attitude towards sex, as solely being for the purpose of procreation, is unique.

In a vast range of societies around the world throughout human history and even today, homosexual behavior has existed alongside, and complemented, heterosexual activity, making an important contribution to the health and vitality of those societies. What the Spanish conquistadors saw amongst the indigenous peoples of the Americas, was merely glimpses of the diversity of sexual expression that has characterized many societies throughout the non-European world.

The Origins & Roles Of Same-Sex Relations In Human Societies, James Neill.

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