Queer History: Myths, Legends, & Religions

When I first was inspired to write a blog or two on Queer History leading up to the Modern Era, I thought it would, perhaps, only take blog or two. However, it seems I have underestimated the breadth and scope of such an endeavor, so am trying to limit myself to more of n overview. Plus, I lost, then found, my notes, then lost them again, and then (you guessed it) found them. Hence, the delay.

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Now, I did think about doing representation prior to the 19th Century, and most likely still will, but I thought it might be interesting to focus on myths, legends, and religious representation. Now, some may scoff at the thought of myths and legends, but I have always found myths to be representative of our shared human history. Myths were, after all, once our ancestors religions, so it would seem improper to not look at how our ancestors felt about members of the LGTBQ+ community.

Zeus' Fault by hopeless-romance45 on DeviantArt
Image courtesy of hopeless-romance on Deviant Art

Myths and Mythology can be such an generalization, but the biggest, and primarily the on we tend to think of, is the Greek Mythology. And, of course, when it comes to these myths, the main character always seems to be Zeus (Jupiter in Roman Mythology), or consequences of his actions. It seems at least 90% of the problems, or tales, in Greek Mythology revolve around Zeus and who he is sleeping with (or trying to). Besides having killed his father (who was eating his own kids), to sleeping with his female siblings, and marrying one, Zeus really gets around sexually. While a majority of his encounters are with women (both divine, semi divine, and mortal), he did have a very famous relationship with a man. Ganymede is generally said to be a very (divinely so) beautiful youth. And male. Youth may mean young man, or it’s possible we are indicating he’s a teenager (the Greeks thought nothing was wrong with older men sleeping with boys or young men). I’ve come across a few variations of the tale, and it seems to be the general description of Ganymede being more of a young man than a child. What is interesting, however, is that Zeus’ love and preference for his male (and mortal) lover was so strong, Zeus granted him immortality and their relationship was seen as a threat to the marriage of Hera and Zeus. Ganymede really could be seen as Zeus’ other spouse from the way the relationship is depicted. Poor Hera though. She had to deal with a brother/husband who could not practice abstinence in any way shape or form. Zeus also, because he often transform himself, seduced Callisto in the form of Artemis, his daughter Yes, Zeus became a woman in order to sleep with another woman (he also got her pregnant while pretending to be a woman, but he is a God, sooo….it’s a miracle!). I also came across a tale of Zeus and his brother Poseidon lusting after some mortal king to the point they both became women just to have sex with this guy. Sadly, my notes are not very clear on this and I don’t know the name. Plus, trying to search through all of Zeus’ sexual exploits is really, really difficult.

0036MAN Poseidon.jpg
Poseidon. Courtesy of the National Archaelogical Musuem of Athens

Like his brother Zeus, Poseidon (Neptune) also had sexual relationships with men. Nerites is a minor deity (son of Nereus “old man of the sea” and brother of 50 Nerieids) and lover of Poseidon. He is said to be extremely beautiful, youthful, and is the only male offspring of Nereus. Pelops is the most famous (or infamous) mortal lover of Poseidon. He is said to have started (or inspired) the Olympic games, and was also cursed when he tricked another man into helping him marry a king’s daughter (his descendants include Orestes an Electra). Pelops was himself a king and Poseidon granted him favors and help because of their past relationship. Pelops was at Olympus for a time, but Zeus was jealous of their relationship and banned Pelops from Olympus. Patroclus was not only the lover of Posedion, but the lover of Achilles, the famous Trojan warrior. While Poseidon treated his male lovers fairly well, even after the relationship ended. Like Zeus, he had a habit of raping females (both mortal and immortal) and taking the forms of other animals (primarily horses). After ravishing (ie rape) of the mortal female Caenis, Poseidon agreed to grant her anything she wished for. She wished to no longer be a woman and was transformed into Caeneus, a man (who then ended up being transformed into a brown bird after his death).

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Disney’s Hercules. Courtesy of Disney

Hercules (or Heracles or Herkules depending n the source material) was a chip off the old Zeus block (being, of course, Zeus’ kid with a mortal). While most of us know about his strength and the trials he went through, not the mention the heroic quests and deeds he participated in, not many consider his close relationships with men. Particularly his three male lovers. Abderos, who worked in that stable he had to clean, was one of his lovers as well as Hylas, who often traveled with him. Heracules’ most famous companion and lover was Iolaus. Their closeness and bond as lovers was so strong, that men in committed sexual relationships would speak vows similar to what we could consider marriage vows at the shrine of Iolaus (shrines often proclaiming to be the final resting place of Iolaus). It is a very sweet and romantic gesture that we don’t often talk abut nor do we see depicted in any tales of Hercules. Hermes (Mercury), the messenger of the God, is another who had lovers of both genders, but his three most well known male lovers were Crocus (yes, the flower is named after him), Daphnis, and also his with nephew, Perseus (the Gods had no issue with incest).

Hephaestus | Definition & Mythology | Britannica
Temple of Hephaestus located in Athens. Courtesy of Britannica.com

Apollo is another deity that we are taught of his (often failed) suctions of women, but never of men. Apollo famously took Adonis as his lover as well as being in a committed relationship with Hymen the God of Marriage (so, the Sun God was married to the Marriage God and yes, that does sound as weird as one might think). His mortal lovers were Branchus, Thamryis, and Hyacinth (yes, again another flower). Speaking of Adonis, he also was the mortal lover of Dionysus (Bacchus), the god associated with wine, sex, and was considered the guardian of transgender and intersex people. Dionysus wasn’t a one-guy deity as he also had a satyr, Ampelus, as a lover as well as Prosymnus Now, Prosymnus is a lover but not really. He was a mortal who died before he could consummate his relationship with Dionysus. In turn, the god had a wooden phallus (yes, a dildo) created to mimic his lover’s appendage, so he could “consummate” the relationship after the mortal’s death. Its a weird tale, but considering his mom burned to death so he was born out of Zeus’ thigh, it’s a bit on point for weirdness. Pan, the minor Satyr deity who was constantly sporting an erection (no, I am not kidding), was known to lust after men and women, whether they were mortal or not, and one such mortal was Daphnis (who may or may not be the same mortal lover that Hermes had). Male deities are not the only ones to experience same-sex relationships. Artemis (Diana) is said to have been the lover of Medusa, Sappho (yes, THAT Sappho), Callisto, and various nymphs, a minor moon goddess or two, and the Amazons. While she is often portrayed as a Virgin Goddess, the virginity status is more associated with her refusal to be with men sexually, than women. Artemis was seen as the protector of virgins (particularly those who were dedicating their lives to her), lesbians, and homosexuality overall. Her sister, Aphrodite (Venus), was also seen as a protector of lesbians and while she is most known for her male conquests. Some sources state she had female conquests as well (most likely minor goddess associate with love, lust, or beauty). Eros (Cupid), son of Aphrodite, is also linked with having numerous male lovers (no names given, but Eros is also depicted as a group of similar deities, so it really does get confusing). Narcissus, who famously wasted away after falling in love with his own image, was first in a relationship with a mortal called Ameinias, who killed himself when the relationship ended (so, one could say that the ending of Narcissus may have been divine justice). Orpheus, who is famous for trying to bring back his wife, Eurydice, swore off female lovers when he failed to resurrect her and only had male lovers (mainly Thracians) until he was torn apart by a bunch of crazed women during a Bacchus orgy. Tiresias, a mortal, was changed into a woman for seven years before being changed back into a man, and was blinded after he proclaimed that women enjoy sex so much more than men. Oddly enough, he was blinded by Hera for his honesty (one wonders is she was kind of turned off by sex because of Zeus). Isis, yes Greeks worshiped this Egyptian Goddess, granted a lesbian Iphis the right to become a man so she could marry Ianthe, another woman.

Isis Wall Painting (by The Yorck Project Gesellschaft für Bildarchivierung GmbH, GNU FDL)
Isis depicted on a wall. Courtesy of Worldhistory.org

While Isis is not associated with any homosexuality in Egyptian Mythology per se, she was seen as the primary female deity who represented all living beings. There is not much depiction in Ancient Egypt for homosexuality, but the fault could be it was erased when the Romans took control, or when the library at Alexandria burned, thus destroying so much information. Though a few scholars believe the demonization of homosexuality took place in the late Kingdom period (so, again, thinking the Roman influence had something to do with it here) or just a general shift in Society. However, there are a few clues left to us to see that there were examples. The most well known is that between Horus and his Uncle-Lover Set. There are stories about how they tried to dominate each other (basically, who was one to be penetrated) via their semen. I know, bear with me here because it’s weird. Set ejaculated in-between Horus’ thighs while trying to have sex, and Horus decided he didn’t want to get pregnant (like I said, weird), so threw the semen into the river (probably the Nile). Horus, meanwhile, ejaculated on lettuce, which was considered a male phallic item, and also Set’s favorite food. Set ate the lettuce with Horus’ semen, thus when it came to proving who dominated whom, Horus was proclaimed the winner as his “seed” was inside Set (who later gave birth to the lunar disc for the God Thorth from this) because Set’s “seed” was in the river. Some say it’s seen as a demonization of homosexuality, but others say t’s more about dominance as Horus was the more dominant God in the Pantheon (being the child of Osiris and Isis), so it would make more sense his sexual relationship with Set would also showcase this dominance. It seems to b ea common association that it was acceptable to be the dominant party engaging in the homosexual act, but no the passive (receiving) end of it. While I could not find any lesbian associations in Ancient Egypt, there does seem to be a few transgender/intersex representation. Fertility was a big thing in Egypt and while Hapy was the God of the Nile, the fertility aspect of him was seen as female (more like the association of fertility was seen as a feminine trait). Likewise Wadj-Wer, God of the Nile Delta, was said to be a male fertility deity, but is often depicted with female breasts (breastfeeding). While I do wish it as more, that is all I could find.

Satellite Image of Africa. Pubic Domain Image

While I know it is hard to believe, but Egypt is in the Continent of Africa and Africa has more representation outside of Ancient Egyptian Mythology. I took class with Kathy Perkins when I was at UIUC and I learned about Carnivals and Festivals, and how some can be traced back to religions that are still practiced in Africa today (primarily we focused on West Africa because slavery). The main one we learned about was the Yoruba religion, which is primarily in Nigeria. Now, in the Yoruba faith, possession by spirits and ancestors is a big part of the religion and while women tend to be the ones possessed, men can also be possessed and the spirits can be either gender. Or gender less. While I know this doesn’t do justice to the Yoruba religion, Western thought tends to see possession as evil or demonic, while this faith sees it in a good light (which I think is good to know). Dahomey Religion originated in Africa (and I believe its still in the Benin area), but it migrated (because slavery) to the Caribbean where it’s sort of merged with aspects of Christianity and other beliefs into what is often called Voodoo. Mawa-Lisa is the primary deity (creation) in Dahomey religion, being the merging of Mawa (Sun & Male) with Lisa (Moon & Female), which I don’t know if this makes the deity inter-sexed or transgender (I’m guessing probably inter-sexed, but I couldn’t find a definite answer so it’s a guess on my part). The deity who gave birth to Mawa & Lisa is Nana Buluku (Great Mother), which is a deity that is also seen as embodying both genders, which makes sense. In Ghana, the y have deities associated with the Celestial, who are either depicted as being transgender or androgynous (depending on the source). The ones I found the most information on (in terms of being transgender) are Abrao (the planet Jupiter), Aku (the planet Mercury), and Awo (the Moon). To me, I find this fascinating since Jupiter & Mercury are both “Male” deities in Roman Mythology while the Moon was generally seen as being female. The creation deity in Zimbabwe, being the religion of the Shona people, is seen as having no gender (but can aspects of both) an is called Mwari. In the religion of the Kongo people, their creation deity is considered to be the embodiment of perfection for being both male and female. This perfect being was called Mahungu and was slit into the two genders by the tree of Life (and thus, creating the human race).

61 Voodoo ideas | voodoo, baron samedi, voodoo hoodoo
Baron Samedi, also called Papa Ghede. Courtesy of Pinterest

Because Voodoo is practiced in the Caribbean, and in parts of the US, I find it fascinating that they have a deity who is depicted as a female Drag Queen. Seriously, I think this is the coolest deity I have come across. This deity is called Ghede Nibo and is a spirit (Iwa) who cares for those who die young, and is associated with lesbian and transgender people. Ghede Nibo’s father is called Baron Samedi, but I have seen him as Papa Ghede Baron Samedi as well, He is said to be a bisexual deity, who lusts after men and women, and is dressed as a 19th C Dandy. He can wear pants, sometimes a skirt and heels, but always with a top hat and frock coat. I’m fairly certain Baron Samedi is my 19th C inner spirit. Ghede Nibo’s mother is Maman Brigitte, and while she is associated with death (bot not any aspect of LGTBQ+), she does like to drink rum with an infusion of hot peppers. Why Voodoo is never included in any World Religions course is beyond me because it really is an incredibly diverse and fascinating religion. Most World Religion courses focus on the 3 Abrahamic Religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) with a small scattering of Hinduism and possibly Buddhism thrown in for good measure. I am of the personal opinion that they really should rename World Religion courses as Western Religions because tat is really all they focus on. Getting back to Voodoo, it also has two male deities who are depicted as being lovers, Baron Lundy and Baron Limba. Yes, these are both male deities as well. Baron Ova Ova is associated with homosexuality as well, but I culdn’t find if it was just a general association or if the deity was part of the LGTBQ+ community as well. . Erzulie Freda & Erzuie Dantor are associated with love, sensuality and beauty, but Erzulie Freda is male homosexual aspect while Erzulie Dantor is the lesbian side. There are probably more examples within the Voodoo religion of LGTBQ+ representation, but I really wanted to pull out a few examples to show that not all religion think badly of this community.

Pin by Andy Benkert on Weird Weird West | Pacific northwest art, Haida art, Native  american art
Coyote from Native American Mythology & Religion. Courtesy of Pinterest

Native American Mythology is a giant umbrella term which does the Indigenous Peoples of America no courtesy. And also, in my opinion, a bit of a feeling of being unworthy as I struggled to find representation under the terminology “religion” but found it under the term “mythology” when I know their religions are still being practiced in our modern day. One of my favorite Indigenous Spirits is Coyote. Mischievous, sneaky, I’m fairly certain Coyote and Loki would be best friends in real life. What makes Coyote interesting is he is known as a seducer of lesbian couples. Why only Lesbian couples, I am not sure, but I thought it was something fascinating that I never knew and wanted to share. Another part of Indigenous People’s beliefs is the concept of “Two Spirits” or people who contain both male and female aspects. It’s such a beautiful, simple, and yet powerfully inclusive. White settlers, naturally, tried their best to wipe out this method of acceptance, but I am glad it is a belief that never a erased and is starting to gain acceptance once again. In Mayan mythology, Chin is a god ho is associated with same sex love and relationships. And Xochipilli (and no, I have no idea how to pronounce this name) is the “Flower Prince” God of homosexuals, homosexuals sex workers, art, beauty, and flowers. This shows that even in an ancient culture of the Mayans, they acknowledged the presence of LGTBQ+ people and felt it was a normal part of life (and really, that is the point of this post, is to make everyone aware that LGTBQ+ people have always been in existence and they deserve our respect and equal rights)

Xochipilli aztec god of art love beauty | Aztec art, Mexican art, Digital  media art
Xochipilli (artist rendering). Courtesy of Pinterest

The Inuit people have a very interesting creation story involving two men, Aakulujjuusi and Uumarnituq. These first humans were both male and in a relationship together. Uumarnituq became pregnant and became female as a result. The Inuits also have a Goddess, Sedna, who is sometimes depicted as being a Two Spirit deity. The Mayan Gods Tezcatlipoca and Yaoti, both male, became female just so they could have sex with the human (and mortal) King Huemae. The fluid nature of the Mayan Deities is something I as never aware of until I started researching this and it’s a pity this isn’t taught in schools here in America since the Mayans were a big part of the Americas pre-colonization.

Chinese Dragon of the Qing Dynasty. Public Domain via Wikipedia

Like Coyote, Dragons in Chinese Folklore are vastly different from their European counterparts in more than just appearance. While European Dragons seem to have a taste for young maidens, their Chinese brethren prefer the company of older men. Why older men? I am not sure, but perhaps the association with wisdom and knowledge was seen as a more masculine trait, so it made more sense for the Dragons to prefer men to women in terms of company. In Chinese Mythology, Chou Wang, Lan Caihe (which I am certain I wrote down incorrectly and have butchered the name), Shan Gui, and Yu the Great are figures associated with homosexuality, bi-sexuality, and transgender. Much of this information I couldn’t read and Google translate isn’t always reliable, so I am unsure if they were figures who accomplished heroic quests or feats, or if they were deities. However, I did find that the rabbit Deity, Tu Er Shen, is a representative of homosexuality and the love that exists between men. I also found reference to Duke Ling of Wei and Mizi Xia, who were actual figures in Chinese history, who were male lovers, and were written about. So while I don’t have much here, I was pleasantly surprised to find some historical figures.

02 Vishnu
Vishnu, Courtesy of Advocate.com

When I was an undergraduate, I purposefully refused to refer to Hinduism as a “mythology” in my Word Religions course, much to the ire of the teacher, who was Lutheran Minister. He had an annoying habit of referring to anything that was’t Christian as mythology, when this really isn’t true (yes, he referred to Judaism and Islam as myths and yes, I called him out on it as well). Hinduism is the World’s oldest still practicing religion and predates all three Western Abrahamic Religions. While the influence of British ideals has demonized LGBTQ+ aspects of Hinduism, it remains true that it still exists and is starting to be accepted once more. Among the minor deities, we have Ananda and Naga, who are both male and serpent in their forms. However, Naga is King amoung the serpents and can appear as female. Naga is known to reward and assist people and resides near and in rivers (which JK Rowling bastardized). Divine couple Shiva and Parvoti are seen as separate beings (Shiva being male and Parvoti female). However, they can also be depicted as being one form, with male on the right, female on the left. This two genders, one form is referred to as an Ardhanarishvara form and other deities can be depicted in such a way, as well as minor deities and spirits. Vishnu, while male, sometimes becomes Mohini, a female Goddess. As Mohini, she was impregnated by Shiva and gave birth to Ayyappa, who has shrines and which draws pilgrims and worshipers still. As Mohini, Vishnu is seen as an enchantress who can inflame lovers to the point of madness (or obsession).Krishna, who is a reincarnation of Vishnu, also became Mohini in order to marry the mortal man, Aravan, in order to assist him in one of his last heroic quests. As Mohini, she lived as the hero’s widow for many years after his death, showing her devotion in her mourning period. Shikhandini was born female but raised to be a King by her father. She even was married off to a princess. Because she couldn’t satisfy (or impregnate this princess), she fled to the forests and met a minor deity, who granted her the male form and she became known as Shikhandi, and remained a man until his death during battle.

Aboriginal Rock paining of the Rainbow Serpent. Public Domain

Like Hinduism, the belies of the Aboriginals is also one to the oldest practicing religions in the world. Their creation belief centers around the Rainbow Serpent, which I have seen as Ungund or Gund, but I will just refer to the God as the Rainbow Serpent since that is the most well known name. The deity is more associated with water and rain, than serpents, but the snake form could just be another association with water. There is also more than one Rainbow Serpent, with different names and aspects, so I will state that I am using it more as a generic name, and not specific. Rainbow Serpent is male, female, bisexual, a hermaphrodite, and androgynous/non-binary depending on the Aboriginal tribe and name they have given this deity. While Western scholars state this is an important creation deity, for Aboriginals, the act of creation is not past tense, but is past, present, and future (in other words, the act of creation is constant and never ending, which is truly a beautiful belief to have). Much of what we know of Aboriginal belies is based on what colonizers have written down as much of their religion is oral and has not been written down. Perhaps one day, more of their beliefs will be written down so we can all enjoy their beautiful views of the world.

Norse Mythology
The Norse Pantheon. Courtesy of Mythopedia.com

While Neonazis, Proudboys, KKK, and Tea Party enthusiasts seem to want to link themselves with Vikings and Norse Mythology, the truth is Norse Mythology was fairly accepting of homosexuality as an act of aggression and dominance. Vikings had no problems with men having sex with other men, as long as the man in question was the one to be penetrating, not the receiver. Plus, there were laws regarding punishment of men who were found to be engaging in a homosexual relationship, so I do wonder if as seen as acceptable to engage in homosexual sex BUT not to be in a committed same-sex relationship. Some have included the punishment of homosexuality to include lesbian relationships, but it’s hard to say if that was more due to an influence of Christianity or was applied at a later date. In all honesty, we know very little regarding what these people truly believed because we base so much on the Sagas, which can be confusing. Freyr is the male God of Fertility and his sister, Freya, was the Goddess of Fertility. Loki, the ultimate God of Chaos, has not only switched genders, but species (he became a female horse, got pregnant, and gave birth to Sleipnir, an eight legged horse). Odin has been depicted as a woman and because he is a user of Magic (Sedir) is often ridiculed for being feminine. Loki, likewise, as a user of Magic is often ridiculed as well. Heimdall, who is older than Odin, has 9 mothers and no father, and his twin is Lady Sif, who is married to Thor. So, there’a a lot we don’t understand because so much of it was destroyed due to the influence of Christianity. Yet, we have evidence that the Vikings were not so rigid as we tend to portray them. Women could live as men and were respected as men. Some were even warriors and were buried with weapons. On the other hand, men who wanted to live as women were ostracized. The Vikings were a warrior based culture, much like the Spartans, but that’s not all they did. They did, however, seem to praise masculine aspects and traits over feminine, so this maybe way it was more acceptable for a woman to want to be more masculine than a man who wished to be more feminine. Needless to say that Viking culture and mythology is very nuanced, very interesting, and also something scholars are still tackling, which is great for us.

Rainbow Kitsune (Pt. 2) | Kitsune, Cute animal drawings, Cartoon drawings  of animals
Kitsune. Courtesy of Pinterest

Kitsune as spirits and are generally depicted as foxes with 9 tails. Kitsune are still seen as being in existence in Japan, so while they are labeled under “Mythological beings”, the truth would be that they are current spiritual beliefs in Japan. Kitsune are said to be paranormal in nature and get wiser as they age. They are also known to shift genders and are bisexual in their relationships with mortal or other spirits. A Kitsune with 9 tails is seen as being very wise and very old, while one with 3 would be young and not as experienced (so, we tend to see only depictions of the with 9 tails, they can be depicted with less than 9 tails). They can be tricksters, wives, lovers, good, or evil. The ancient Gods Shinu No Hafuri and Ama No Hafuri, were said to being homosexuality to the world with their relationship. There are also Shinto Gods, who are not part of the mainstream Pantheon, who represent LGTBQ+. Shiraboyshi is a half female and half snake spirit and is worshiped by Shinto Priestesses who dance in male clothing. Oyamakui is a transgender mountain deity who protects those who are pregnant (perhaps the act of childbirth), and also industry. Inari, the Kami spirit of Rice, is depicted as male, female, young, and old, sexual/fertile and also androgynous.

St Sebastian (Rubens) - Wikipedia
St Sebastian by Reubens, circa 1614. Courtesy of Berlin State Museums & Pubic Domain.

Now we get the the three main Western Religions. Of the three, Judaism is the oldest and is the ground stone for both Christianity and Islam. In the Old Testament First Book of Samuel, there is an intense relationship between David and Jonathan which can be seen as a very intense very sexual (or romantic) homosexual relationship. Now, past interpretation also depicts this as just a very strong platonic friendship (or bromance), but the language used seems to give us a more sexual relationship than a platonic one. Ham, Noah’s son, is said to have raped his father when he found him drunk after the flood receded, as reason for his banishment (some Judaic traditions state Ham castrated his own father, so either way, Ham is not a very good person). The relationship between Ruth and Naomi is often seen as a lesbian relationship. Ruth only marries once she knows she and Naomi will be safe and secure, plus her first child is said to be Naomi’s and is seen as Naomi’s child. Of course, other say that Ruth is just a very devoted former daughter-in-law, but the relationship is clearly a very devoted one. In early Christian tradition, Saint Sergius and Saint Bacchus were said to be lovers, or form a very close brotherhood/bond. Some scholars say these two show that the early church was tolerant of homosexuality, and the close brotherhood was used to demonize homosexuality later on as it became less tolerant in the church. Saint Comos and Saint Damian have a very homoerotic relationship, which was then changed to be depicted as brothers instead of lovers. Saint Sebastian has become a gay icon starting in the 19th Century due to his expression of rapture, but also the torture of the arrows as being used as the pain of not being able to be true to ones sexual nature (being forced to live in a closet). Paul, formally known as Saul, who has a long hatred of women in his writings that become much of the New Testament, was a Roman who traveled with a much younger male companion. Historically, Romans accepted the whole dynamic of older man with younger man sexual relationship, which is a topic most Christian scholars don’t want to acknowledge that Paul was a homosexual, he had male lovers, and clearly hated women. In Islam, homosexuality and other aspects of LGTBQ+ are associated with the Jinn and most predate Islam. Jinn are known to shape-shift, can be good, can be bad, associated with planets and astrology, etc. Ali A Olomi (@aaolomi on Twitter) does excellent threads on Jinn and the Islamic folklore as there is just too much for me to cover here. However, the concept of gender-changing fountains or natural springs exists in Islamic & Arabic folklore and there as a cult that worshiped transgender or homosexual spirits/deities, which was considered a false religion/deity by the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), which is part of the rich tapestry of mythology and folklore.

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George Michael (Saint George Michael of the Faith per @GoingMedieval on Twitter). Image courtesy of Artnet.com

I hope that this small exploration into the very complex and new world of Queer History has opened u some eyes and has made other think about the role of mythology, folklore, and religion in how we see Society. Make no mistake, the LGTBQ+ community has always existed in some shape of form throughout the history of humans and humanity. It’s only through erasure and the loss of knowledge , due to colonization or other accidents (burning of the library of Alexandria comes to mind quite often), that we have to realize how little we know of our ancestors and our own history as humans. There is no one good explanation for why acceptance of all people can exist in one culture or religious beliefs, and yet be so restricted and hated in another. Sexuality and gender is an ongoing discussion in Society and is continually evolving. My hope, with this, is to just open up that doorway a little bit more and take a peak at what came before us. Plus, it as really a lot of fun to research a learn about




Encyclopedia Britannica

Kari Ellen Gade. “Homosexuality and Rape of Males in Old Norse Law and Literature.” Scandinavian Studies, Vol 58, No 2 (Spring 1986), pages 124-141.


The Mahabharata

theogony of hesiod

The Golden Ass


The Illiad

The Aenied

Bruce L. Grieg “Homosexulaity in Anceint Egypt” The Epistle (online journal)

Louis Crompton (2006) Homsexualty & Civilization

GLBTQ Encyclopedia (Archived)

Sami Rainen “Queer Vikings? Transgression of Gender and Same-Sex Encounters in Late Iron Age and Early Medieval Scandanavia.” SQS Februrary 2008.

Ovid’s Metamorpahsis