Examples of Homosexuality in History and Religion

The annals of history are full of fascinating stories, riveting civilizations, and iconic figures that have shaped the present world, and some other individuals with not a pristine legacy. People that have often achieved (or destroyed) something during their life-time have been immortalized within biographies, studies and historical texts. There has also been a lot of speculation on the subject of famous leaders in history, who also seem to have been gay. Homosexuality in history and religion is not something new. There is even talk about Leonardo DaVinci being gay, since he was arrested at the age of 24 for sodomy (for having sexual relations with a seventeen-year-old boy), or about Jesus, who according to Matt Johns, the author of “Was Jesus Gay?” wasn’t all he was supposed to be. It seems that he had actually had close relationships with men. Scholarly or sacrilegious? It is up to you to decide. One thing is for certain: homosexuality has always been a reality, no matter the time or place. Let’s take a look at a few different cultures and their attitude towards homosexual behavior:

1. Ancient Greece


Considering that in the past decade society has become strangely open to gay couples (especially considering that almost every movie or TV series seems to have some gay couple in it), it is hard to believe that people in ancient times also accepted the concept so openly. Greeks were actually totally cool and accepting towards homosexuality. It was actually believed that relationships between a man and a boy were the purest form of love that existed. According to mythology, the term lesbian also comes from the Island of Lesbos, the birthplace of Sappho, a priestess of feminine love. Also, Spartans, which were probably the manliest of men, also indulged in homosexual activity. It was consider a part of their military training, to have an older lover to train them in the arts of war. Last but not least, Alexander the Great and Hephaiston are without a doubt one of the most popular ancient couples that are suggested to have been an intimate couple.

Other Greek Men Suspected to have been Gay: Socrates, Plato, Euripedes, Sophocles, Anacrean

2. The Bible

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The bible is probably the last place where you would be looking for traces of homosexuality, right? As it turns out, it is actually a really good place to start. The most evident traces of homosexuality can be found between David and Jonathon. In Samuel 20:41, there is a mention of David raising out of Jonathon’s place while kissing and weeping together. There is a particular quote in Samuel 1:25-26 that might sound a bit, strange:

“I grieve for thee, my brother Jonathan: exceeding beautiful, and amiable to me above the love of women. As the mother loveth her only son, so did I love thee.”

While there may have been many people who argued that the two were brothers, and that the Bible says that a man will never be able to lie with a man as with a women, but many things that we would deem unjust now, have been condoned in the Old Testament (a few examples: animal sacrifices, slavery, polygamy, women as property etc.). So the question is, should we take everything that is written in the Bible for granted? Of course, the subject of homosexuality in history and religion is a debatable one, but it at least deserves a thought.

3. Ancient Rome

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Number three on our ancient civilizations that had an interesting view on homosexuality is, obviously, Ancient Rome. Needless to say, Romans were open to this concept until Christianity came along. Julius Caesar, one of the most prominent figures in history was said to be every women’s husband, and every man’s wife. Stories also talk about Emperor Hadrian, and Antinous Pius, who were supposedly lovers, and many people actually compared their love to that of Zeus and Ganymede. As far as this story is concerned, there is no need for too much speculation: Hadrian went into a period of intense mourning and grief (that altered the entire continent) after Antinous’s death.

Other Roman Men Suspected to have Been Gay: Horace, Ovid, Virgil (who actually admitted his infatuation for Augustus in a poem), and Seneca.

We hope you liked this article about Homosexuality in history and religion, and we encourage you to share your thoughts. There are many more pieces of information that we could have added to the list, and might continue with a -part 2-.

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