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How were homosexuals treated before the 21st century


Time line History

In Greek society same-sex love among its male and female members was normal. Ancient Greeks honoured Gay relations, Lambda warriors, an army of homosexual male soldiers, successfully conquered neighbouring lands. Many of the Greek Gods and Goddesses worshiped during that time embodied homosexual tendencies, such as Zeus with Ganymede and Apollo with his numerous male lovers. Lesbians of that era included the Goddesses Diana and Camilla, and Sappho, (a poet living on the island of Lesbos). Transgendered beings also were represented during this period of Greek history: "...a bearded Venus was worshiped by male and female transvestites."

In 1274, St. Thomas Aquinas' made the statement that same sex relations is part of one's physiology and feels natural to that person.

14th century. The Arabs, who had previously been fine with same sex relations, wrote "God has no respect for a man who has slept with a man, nor a woman who has slept with a woman."

15th century, Joan of Arc was born. During her adolescent years, she was reportedly sexually intimate with La Rousse, an innkeeper, and Hauviette, another female friend. She was burned at the stake in 1431 for witchcraft, blasphemy, dressing and acting as a man, and sodomy. Five hundred years later, the church that murdered Joan of Arc canonized her as a saint.

1476, Da Vinci was acquitted of homosexual acts with Jacopo Saltarelli.

Michelangelo, while painting the Last Judgment on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, wrote sonnets to Tommasso Cavalieri.

Ficino's translation of Plato's dialogues (which include discussions of gay love) appeared in Italy.

Pope Innocent VII's Papal Bull condoned the murder of at least nine million gays and witches.

Circa 1540, Conquistador Pedro de Cieza de Leon wrote about cross-dressing Indians on Peru's island of Puna and the same sex love lives among those conquered by the Incas.

In 1548, Queen Mary of England revoked the anti-homosexual law.

1565, Queen Elizabeth I, reintroduced the act.



The 17th century marked the dawn of the modern world. At the turn of the century, James VI of Scotland became the "Queen of England". Elizabeth I was commonly referred to as "King Elizabeth." James did almost nothing to hide his homosexuality. In 1615, he actually confessed to being a homosexual and took George Villiers, future Earl of Buckingham, as his long-time companion.

1600, In Asia, women were banned from Japanese Kabuki theatres. Instead, all-male performers took their places and were commonly known to grant sexual favours to male patrons. However In 1648, the Shogunate banned Kabuki plays.

William Shakespeare. Shakespeare regularly created love triangles involving two men and a woman. Most scholars agree that his sonnets were dedicated to a man

1648, Sara Norman and Mary Hammon were cited for sharing a bed in the sexual sense. Eight years later, lesbianism was added to the list of sodomy statutes punishable by death.

In the 1700s, ominous changes were coming over Great Britain for gay men. While noblemen of the time had previously been able to avoid most of the public abuse and severe penalties given to convicted "sodomites" of the lower class, in the 18th century only extreme wealth could save them from public censure.

Late 1700s. Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby essentially eloped and made a home in Wales, where they spent the rest of their lives together. Despite their isolated location, the "Ladies of Llangollen" were known throughout European society. Not only were they approved of, but it became fashionable to travel to visit them. Despite referring to each other in intensely romantic terms and never spending a day apart, there was no hint of sexual activity in their lives, and in fact they were offended when a newspaper column in 1790 suggested it. (This probably saved them from persecution).


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Between 1800 and 1834, At least 80 men were hung in Great Britain for committing sodomy.

In 1804, France recodifies the Code of 1791 (renamed Code Napoleon), decriminalizing all private sexual acts between consenting adults.

In 1869, Karl Maria Kertbeny coined the term "homosexuality." Homosexuality was first used in an anonymously published pamphlet, in which Kertbeny advocated the repeal of Prussia's sodomy laws.

In the 1860’s, society’s view of homosexuals changed from the person being a sinner to them being a ‘social deviant’ or ‘pervert.’

In 1895 Oscar Wilde was charged and tried for sodomy and indecent behaviour. Wilde was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison and hard labour. He died penniless in 1900.

1922, Freud argued that homosexuals are not social deviants and to separate them from society is wrong.

With Hitler's rise to power, German gay men were considered one of the "degenerate" groups targeted during the World War II Holocaust. This was where the pink triangle first appeared as a visible sign of homosexuality, it has now been reclaimed as an empowering symbol of both gay identity and remembrance of atrocities suffered. This is a couple of them - Gays were sent to death camps, many were gassed or their frontal lobes were removed in experimental operations.

1960’s and 1970’s homosexuality was considered both a criminal act and a mental disorder. Clitoridectomy’s were at one point a proper “cure” for lesbianism. Electric shock aversion therapy was common or chemical treatment was used to reduce libido. Males may be neutered to “cure” them. In 2003 a study of some of the participants in these “cures” concluded - "The definition of same sex attraction as an illness and the development of treatments to eradicate such attraction have had a negative long term impact on individuals".



June 28, 1969, was when the Stonewall Riot happened. A police shakedown at the Stonewall Inn in New York City turned into the beginnings of the Gay rights movement. Gays, Lesbians, Hippies and Drag Queens were singled out for ID inspection, the police were being rather brutal with them and soon patrons and passers-by alike started to turn on the police, first verbally then it intensified to resistance and even violence. For three hours, the mob ruled the streets of Greenwich Village. The next year on the anniversary of the stonewall riots thousands of people marched in Los Angeles and New York. These marches were to become the gay pride festivals.

1980 was the start of the spread of the illness which is now well known as AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).

1992, Clinton, set up the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy for gays in the military.

1992 Homosexuality was removed from ICD-10 (international classification of diseases, 10th revision)

In 1999 Ellen DeGeneres made news by being the first major television star to come out as a lesbian.



From the info that I've found it seems that throughout history the pendulum has swayed back and forth in regard to Gay, Lesbian, Transgender and Transsexual acceptance. It wasn't only the ancient Romans that accepted all people.

Back at the beginning of my timeline and before all cultures accepted Gays, Lesbians, Transgender, Transsexuals Queens and Bisexual people as normal people who could and did marry whomever they wished to marry.

As the Christian church moved to take over the world they enforced differing views on whether or not it was okay to be in a same sex relationship. If the Pope was Gay then those who were Gay in society were considered “normal” for example during Pope Julius III reign who was openly Gay and had an affair with a teenage waif, Innocenzo, who reportedly had “skin as flawless as alabaster”. Innocenzo was ordained as a cardinal.

Most of this information can be found in encyclopaedias and through search tools



Ibis Suau from Florida on May 11, 2012:

Yea you are right! It is very sad that we advance so much in science and technology and other things we are like in caverns times!

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on May 10, 2012:

Ibis Suau I totally agree with you. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we treated eveyone as equals and did what we could for those that need help who cross our paths.

Ibis Suau from Florida on May 08, 2012:

Very interesting this hub. When we focuse in the differences among us instead of our similirarities, we divide, separate and violence and suffering takes place. When we separate ourselves from others because race, religion, politic views or sexual prefferences we generate pain and lots of problems and we fall into a vicious cycle. Very brave of you to post this and make people think.

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on May 07, 2012:

thanks Brandon

Catherine ... Thanks and good luck with your project.

Catherine on May 06, 2012:

I'm doing an activist project on the Stonewall riots and history on homosexuality-this article has given me more than enough information! thanks a bunch! :)

Brandon on May 04, 2012:

Awesome work

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on May 03, 2012:

Your very welcome Monica. Good luck on your assessment.

Monica on May 03, 2012:

Thank you so much, i'm doing a school assessment on homosexuality amongst teenagers and this has helped me a load. Thank you so much!

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on November 23, 2011:

I am very pleased that you found my hub interesting xethonxq ... I'm just glad that it has got people on both sides of the fence talking and thinking.

I am even more pleased that no-one so far has been rude or abusive so I have been able to approve all the comments. Lets hope that trend continues for a long time.

xethonxq on November 16, 2011:

Very, very interesting. Thank you for the history lesson...I loved it.

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on September 17, 2011:

Epigramman ~ It is always a pleasure to have you visit one of my pages. Thank you for your kind words. You honour me by placing the link to this on your facebook page.

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on September 17, 2011:

Minnetonka Twin ~ thank you for visiting and your kind words. I agree with no-one can choose who they fall in love with and whoever that ends up being I just hope it is a lifetime love that will survive all the tests of time.

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on September 17, 2011:

Hi Sarah Schultheiss ~ Due to the fact that just sharing a bed with someone of the same sex at this time in history would be proof enough to be burned at the stake for being gay I doubt that Joan would have done this merely to stay safe from the advances of men. How much easier it would have been for her to have taken a male to her bed and received a much higher level of protection from all other men in her army because of it.

epigramman on September 17, 2011:

.......yes I will post this most essential hub to my Facebook page with a direct link back here .......this seems to be a most definite hub on the subject and thank you for taking the time for putting this all together with your research and well written text - the way I look at it - love is love - no matter what shape or form - as long as it's mutual and respectful - who cares about all of this other nonsense - a lot of great facts here too in terms of its historical context - and as for me I like pretty girls too much - to turn the other cheek so to speak - lol lol - but as I said - love is love!

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Linda Rogers from Minnesota on August 20, 2011:

I found this article very interesting and refreshing to think that history has supported people loving whoever they want to love. I am a hetero-sexual but don't understand why there is so much childishness and judgement on those that love the opposite sex. Who cares who one is attracted to and I don't think it's the governments/church place to make it their business. Thanks for your research on this. I'm going to bookmark it for friends I know who are homosexual. Peace:-)

Sarah Schultheiss from Midland, Texas on July 29, 2011:

Considering all things about Joan with out substantial proof she had her head between another girls legs, to call her a lesbian is difficult at best, she dressed like a man to protect her self, and following this sleeping with a women not sex sleeping could bear the same level of protection, so lesbian or not I caint say for sure and I admire your conviction, I give ya 5 stars

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on July 28, 2011:

Just as a note to those who think I wrote this from Wikipedia. I did in fact read and source my information from many differing places. The part regarding Joan of Arc for instance was partially from a book called ... Joan of Arc, written by John A Mooney in 1919.

There were a number of other books I sourced and read (all written in the early 1900s or earlier)

I also used the internet to search and find reference materials. I believe everything that I have written has been fully researched and is a true and accurate account.

I do appreciate that many sources on line differ in their views from those I have stated, however I believe most of them have only recently been written and they don’t have any factual historical value that I have been able to find.

Anonymous (Not THAT one...) on July 21, 2011:

As much as we all love Wikipedia, it's not a very good source... Maybe if you had said "I used wikipedia to find places to research", this would be more validated. If that's the right word...

But it was pretty neat to read. I hope Wikipedia was right.

Robert on July 20, 2011:

It depends on how technical you want to get. She was denied the legal rights afforded to her by the Church, namely, counsel and the right to appeal to the pope, so it could be said she was tried by a catholic faction. The Church later rehabilitated her shortly after her death.

She was not reportedly sexually intimate with either of those people. They shared a bed, as was common practice in the time before heating. Neither the trial nor the rehabilitation suggest she was a lesbian. Nor do serious scholars, or even wikipedia mention or believe she was. Her inclusion on this list is wishful thinking on your part and has no basis in history.

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on April 02, 2011:

Thanks for stopping by Exmoor.

It was the church that tried her as a witch and therefore burned her at the stake. In fact she was interrogated by The Cardinal of Winchester in her prison 1431 -

you can find this info in wikipedia if you wish to have a look for yourself.

Exmoor on April 01, 2011:

Have you researched? I don't think Joan of Arc belonged there. And the Catholic church wasn't the one that burned her at the stake if I remember right. It was...interesting, I guess.

Doc Snow from Camden, South Carolina on March 30, 2011:

Good work!

Nicole A. Winter from Chicago, IL on March 30, 2011:

What a wildly informative hub you've here, thank-you so much for publishing this!

Lyn.Stewart (author) from Auckland, New Zealand on March 21, 2011:

I believe this will be one of those hubs people will either love or hate. The original question did peek my interest so I decided to answer the question with a hub. Feel free to share your views as long as there not abusive.

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