Medieval Gays Got Unions

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MadelynIris said:
BTW, Irvine, this article supports what I would hope we can achieve one day. It is right in line with my hope for all people who want to join in a union.

given your track record, i remain suspicious of your motives, but we can also disagree here. i think there is worth in recognizing a union between two people who are romantically in love with one another and, more often than not, will seek to raise a family together. gay or straight shouldn't matter. it's the willingness to make a commitment to someone else, in front of friends and family and in the eyes of hte law, that should be celebrated.

should the protection of other relationships be explored? sure. but that's not my issue right now, and it's not one i'm interested in fighting for politically until my issue is settled. i'm open to discussion, but i dont' have the investment.

now, as for gays and history. it seems clear to me that homosexual people have been around forever, and the treatment of these people varied widely from culture to culture, epoch to epoch, and had more often than not to do with however the powers-that-be chose to interpret their various religious texts, once again underscoring the utter subjectivity of even reading "homosexuality" into certain Biblical passages. what is certain is the continued existence of same-sex love, and due to it's minority status, it's acceptance was predicated upon the majority's attitude towards it.

it seems clear that, in this article, we had some medieval societies who fully understood the immutability of same-sex love, and sought to incorporate these people into the folds of their respective societies. and, really, that's all gay people are asking for right now.

if you want to talk about temple prostitutes and pagan ceremonies as "homosexuality," you've succeeded in demonstrating a lack of understanding of what we mean when we say homosexual, a homosexual, homosexuality, and gay.

it's like sex and gender. sex is what your parts determine, gender is your identity. you can be a homosexual and not be gay. in fact, this is part of a big problem in black/latino communites where homophobia is so rampant, some men find being gay inconceivable despite their same-sex attraction. so they are homosexual, they can't change that. but they refuse to self-identify as a homosexual person, which we understand as a gay person. likewise, you could introduce another sex partner into your marriage. perhaps you and this man might perform sex acts on one another as your wife watches. those would be homosexual sex acts -- fellatio, anal sex -- but that does not make you a homosexual, let alone gay.

likewise, a homosexual act performed in the midst of some ceremony doesn't mean that the people involved were homosexual, let alone gay.

so, in sum, it's all a lot more complicated than we'd like to think.

i'm sure Melon can give us a more nuanced history, but you'll have to look at various societies and see that Thailand is very different from, say, Russia. why? not just the presence of the church, but specifically how the church chose to wield it's influence over society. look at Native American societies. there was a clear gay identity -- those who were refered to as having "two-spirits."

the point is, what we've come to understand as homosexuality has been around forever, but a gay identity, and more specifically, a gay identity that posits the same worth and value as a straight identity, is a modern concept, and what we now recognizes as the cultural semiotics of a gay identity -- shoes, clothes, words, unspoken messages, saying it without saying it, etc. -- probably originated in London in the late 19th century and becoming most visible with Oscar Wilde.
Just sitting here watching the show "The New Adventures of the Old Christine" and she actually said "people that go to church hate gay people". CBS Primetime, and somehow, that categorization is ok.

MadelynIris said:
Just sitting here watching the show "The New Adventures of the Old Christine" and she actually said "people that go to church hate gay people". CBS Primetime, and somehow, that categorization is ok.


they did in southeastern Ohio in 2004.

i'm sorry, but it really is the right wing evangelical Christinan community that has placed opposition to gay people right alongside abortion as their all-encompassing social agenda. no one forced them to do that.
if you want to talk about temple prostitutes and pagan ceremonies as "homosexuality," you've succeeded in demonstrating a lack of understanding of what we mean when we say homosexual, a homosexual, homosexuality, and gay

No, I don't want to talk about that. I haven't succeeded in demonstrating a lack of understanding. I don't believe that stuff has anything to do with homosexuality.
MadelynIris said:

No, I don't want to talk about that. I haven't succeeded in demonstrating a lack of understanding. I don't believe that stuff has anything to do with homosexuality.

you're right. it doesn't.

so we can agree, then, that people who interpret Paul as condemning gay people as being immoral are totally full of shit, then? that Melon is right, those who read the Bible and see said passages from Romans and Leveticus are simply exercising their own prejudices?

good. :)
oy -- years ago right? I admit extending it beyond 2 people gets tricky, and yeah, I don't exactly get how that would work. But there are definitely people who feel that to be inclusive of all relationship would include more than two people.

so we can agree, then, that people who interpret Paul as condemning gay people as being immoral are totally full of shit, then?

No. It's a valid argument, but not rock solid.
Look, I dig the article. It makes sense to me.

Be suspicious all you want, but I've repeatedly posted a change of position for a couple of years now.

Do you treat most people who move from right to left on these issues like this? I feel like you are overly combative, but maybe its just the written word that's coming through like this.
MadelynIris said:
Do you treat most people who move from right to left on these issues like this? I feel like you are overly combative, but maybe its just the written word that's coming through like this.

on this issue, i am more sensitive than most, and i get particularly prickly on the whole bestiality/man-on-dog arguments that were put forth a few years ago. it's so insulting, on so many levels, and i've put up with it so long, that it's hard not to get irritable.

i also know you're smart enough to argue with subtext, and to argue an opposite-seeming point of view in order to lead a discussion that you'll direct to reaffirm your orignial intent.

however, if you tell me you've sincerely moved forward, then i will sincerely believe you.

I have sincerely moved forward. I don't buy some of the biblical arguments completely, but I've completely bought into love, rights, and freedom for all, especially those who have been wronged, like yourself.

I wish for you, the same rights, love, life to fullest possible.
MadelynIris said:
I mean what it is... Melon will argue that it was considered a psychosis, but I hardly think the greeks and romans thought that.

There were established relationships between the same sexes. I just don't get what is so hard to believe about that.

I was reading this thread while at work, and since I think it sets a bad precedent to post things from work, I found myself sitting there thinking of all the misconceptions I was going to have to clear up as time went on...heh.

First off, this article doesn't change anything...because what this article offers is nothing new at all. The late American historian, John Boswell, wrote a book called "Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe" (1994), arguing that the existence of such unions--which occurred in both the West and Eastern remnants of the Roman Empire--meant tacit acceptance of same-sex unions....

...Well, the thing is, even Boswell mentions that these rites were of a "spiritual," not "carnal" nature. The rite in the Greek Orthodox Church, adelphopoiesis, literally means "brother-making." And what do we have here? Affrèrement, meaning "brotherment," which implies that they are similar rites. The Greek Orthodox Church, in particular, took great issue with Boswell's research, claiming that the rite was one of "familial adoption," not what we, in modern times, would define a "same sex union."

Logically speaking, the Greek Orthodox Church is probably correct. Same-sex relations, prior to Sigmund Freud, are filled with what you'd call "Victorian naïveté." That is, there is distinct evidence of men forming very close friendships that are filled with intellectual and emotional passion, but no evidence of such relationships extending beyond that, for the most part. This is most comparable, perhaps, to how women today can have friendships that are very close and emotionally intimate, and most people would never think of close female friends as being "lesbians."

And, indeed, adelphopoiesis-style ceremonies still exist today, as they have been observed in some Orthodox Christian communities in the Levant. As observed even today, these ceremonies are performed strictly with the intent of "friendship."

As I have maintained from the beginning, what we define as "modern homosexuality" did not truly exist in any form before the 19th century, with the advent of psychology. That "Victorian naïveté" that I mentioned before regarding male friendships? Well, that died a quick death with the advent of Sigmund Freud, who labeled such friendships as being "homosexual," which quickly put an end to them. Like we see today even, most heterosexual men do not bond with other men beyond superficial chatter, even if they do happen to enjoy their company greatly.

The status of homosexuality being a "psychosis" was not, as you incorrectly paraphrased me as saying, a belief that Greco-Roman society maintained; that was, again, a direct result of 19th century Freudian psychology. In the Greco-Roman era--and as observed in some African and Pacific Islander tribes even today--"modern homosexuality" did not apply. It was most strictly in the form of "pederasty," which meant an older married man with a younger, teenage man. Such a relationship was likely similar to an "apprenticeship," where the younger man was supposed to be "instructed" on the ways of being a good lover and future husband. Was it sexual? Most definitely, and such practices and justifications have been also observed in those aforementioned African and Pacific Islander tribes. Once the younger male reached "adulthood," the pederast relationship ceased, where the "apprentice" would then marry a woman and start a family. Of course, then he'd eventually get an "apprentice" of his own to "instruct."

What you need to take away from this was that Greco-Roman society had no concept of "sexual orientation," and, as such, if you must put a label on it, everyone was "heterosexual." Likewise, as St. Paul condemned the Greco-Roman sexual practices of temple prostitution orgies (arsenokoitai in 1 Corinthians, falsely translated as "homosexuality") and pederasty (malakos in the same verse, falsely translated as "effeminate" or "boy prostitute"), he would have seen it in the exact same mindset: these are all heterosexuals. As such, these "heterosexuals" were consumed with both idolatrous (temple prostitution orgies ) and adulterous (pederasty) lust, which were, thus, "immoral."

With the Christianization of the Roman Empire by the 4th century A.D., all of these now-archaic sexual practices died a very quick death. All pagan temples were closed, with the accompanying temple prostitution outlawed. Likewise, pederastic relationships were also outlawed. Thus, from this point to the 19th century, all same-sex acts were viewed with the same lens: acts performed by heterosexuals.

At least in the first millennium A.D., however, the Pauline revulsion against pederasty and temple prostitution were interpreted narrowly, and there is ample evidence of "same-sex sex" occurring in monasteries and nunneries up to the 11th century. For reasons that are not altogether clear, this was seen as acceptable behavior. This all changed with St. Peter Damian's book, Liber Gomorrhianus (1050), which was a scathing attack on what he saw as "clerical vices"--homosexual practices, mutual masturbation, copulation between the thighs, anal copulation and solitary masturbation, as subversive disruptions against the moral order occasioned by the madness associated with an excess of lust (he was also fiercely opposed to married clergy, which was banned very soon after this; the excuse about the ban on married priests as preventing church property from being passed down to their heirs is likely a lie to cover up this fact). As further evidence, this book was considered "scandalous" and was greatly criticized by then-Pope Leo IX.

Thus, due to St. Peter Damian's efforts, what started out as a narrow Pauline prohibition against pagan temple prostitution and pederasty became a wide prohibition against all same-sex acts. Again, with the mindset of everyone being "heterosexual" and with Christian scholarship during this time rediscovering Greek stoic philosophy from Islamic scholars in Al-Andalus (Moorish Spain), this was a climate that proclaimed all emotions--happiness, sadness, arousal, etc.--to be "evil." Sex, as such, being perceived as such a strong and useless emotion, was seen as "especially evil." Thus, same-sex acts of any kind were seen as being nothing but acts of "lust."

On a different subject, when we think of the Middle Ages, we often think of a monolithic society dominated by a series of cookie-cutter monarchs and an overbearing Christian church dominating all aspects of medieval life. Much of that, however, would depend on the individual monarch and/or pope. For example, with the Spanish Reconquista, as Christians took over former Muslim territories, that did not mean automatic expulsion of the Jews and Muslims who lived there. In fact, Spanish Christians understood the value of their arts, scholarship, and architecture, so many of them were left to continue their works to rebuild "Christian Spain." This is all in spite of the fact that, officially, both the Jews and Muslims were banned and hated by the Vatican.

Many European monarchs understood the mitigating circumstances of their populace, and, as such, would create laws and institutions to accommodate their needs and requests. This is likely the origin of the apparently secular "Affrèrement" ritual, which likely took note that "marriage," besides having a spiritual basis to it, also had legal protections to it. As such, what you see here is the equivalent of modern "domestic partnerships," where two men could form a binding legal contract to tie their affairs together. And obviously, there are many non-sexual reasons that you could want to create such an institution, such as dealing with the "non-nuclear households" that the original article describes. Knowing the attitudes of the Middle Ages after the 11th century A.D., that would have been all that it was intended to be--a legal institution. Since the Roman Catholic Church would have had supreme moral authority during this time, and there is no tradition of same-sex rites of any kind (unlike the Greek Orthodox Church), there is no evidence that this would have been anything beyond a legal institution.

Of course, when the Vatican wanted something gone, they got it. Although many Spanish monarchs were accepting of the Jews and Muslims in their kingdoms, with the arrival of the Crusades and the Ottoman destruction of the Christian Byzantine Empire, successive popes flat out ordered the expulsion of all Jews and Muslims who refused to convert to Christianity, and with the Spanish conquest of Granada in 1492, the Vatican's anti-Semitic and anti-Islamic dictates got full sway. Likewise, we're not told when or why this "Affrèrement" ritual ended, but it very possibly had to do with either a change in monarch, who was less secular and more religious, or a direct Vatican edict against it.

Fast forward back to the 19th century, as I have maintained before, "modern homosexuality" did not exist until then. It was during this time that "homosexuality," the word, was coined (1874, in Germany), and it was considered a great scandal to state that "homosexuals" could exist separate from "heterosexuals." Before this, any and all same-sex acts were long seen as the result of heterosexuals consciously choosing to rebel against God and nature.

With this change of status, however, "homosexuality" was now seen as a "disorder" that could be "cured." As such, from this time up to the early 1970s, we see all sorts of attempts to cure it, with bizarre "aversion therapy" practices of all kinds. By the 1970s, though, it became apparent through research that the view of it being a "psychosis" was wrong, and, as such, we have our modern understanding of homosexuality as part of nature. All credible research since then has only affirmed this status. As for those who still insist that homosexuality is evil, you'll notice that both of the past views on homosexuality are represented by them; religious organizations have merely meshed the idea that "it's a choice by heterosexuals" and "it's a psychosis" into one syncretic ideology. And, frankly, there's no way around it: they are grossly wrong.

Back to the article, my problems with these articles are that they are often "overeager" or are poorly paraphrased by the media eager to generate scandal, and, thus, more readers. Hopefully, from my long-winded essay here, though, you'll understand why the longer and more nuanced answer, however, makes the most sense.

As such, I shall repeat it again: "modern homosexuality," as understood today, did not exist in any form until at least the 19th century.
MadelynIris said:
Copying and pasting from your book again Melon?


I wrote this here on the spot from memory, actually (and my fingers hurt now from all that typing!).

It goes with my philosophy: a long, detailed answer that takes care to explain as much nuance as possible is preferable to a short answer that could lead to misunderstandings.
MadelynIris said:
You guys are funny to think that the only homosexuality that existed before 600AD was temple orgies and such.

Ok, so maybe caring, monogomous homosexual relationships may have started in 300AD? Splitting the difference. ;)

No, I simply stated that I think homosexuality has existed in all of history and ancient times, and I don't buy the argument that people did not realize it existed or understood what it is/was or the nature of two people of the same sex loving each other as a man and a woman would.

I said they almost absolutely did, and that there was a lack of understanding of them. Still, many people don't understand. Understanding only began growing in much more recent times.
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