With all the progress that the LGBTQ civil rights movement has made in recent years, it’s easy to see acceptance as the way of the future and homophobia as a marker of the past. The problem with this is that it paints all historical people with the same intolerant brush, when, in fact, homophobia is really more of a temporary fad – a violent, oppressive, and surprisingly tenacious fad, but a passing one none the less – and one not shared by all ancient societies. While it’s true that queer people through the course of history have been marginalized and oppressed in many cultures, there were many places and times in history when being gay was celebrated – or at least understood as a normal part of life.
The history of homosexuality is actually rather short; the binary of “straight” and “gay” is a relatively new concept, globally speaking, and before the introduction of intolerant religious moral codes, most pre-colonial societies had more fluid concepts of gender and sex roles. As long as there have been humans, there have been same-sex relationships; some societies have just been better about embracing that fact than others. Here’s a quick lesson on homosexuality in history.
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