Homosexuality and Culture

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by sdg475, May 18, 2007.

  1. sdg475

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    The other day in my sociology class, we were debating homosexuality and the gender continuum. During the discussion the professor made the point that homosexuality is actually revered in Native American and various other cultures. Obviously homosexuality is not the status quo in Western Society, and is still looked down upon by some, so the idea that a culture would widely accept and celebrate it really sparked my interest. For example, in Native American Culture homosexuals and lesbians were looked at as a third gender, a mix of the two sexes. Believing that homosexuals were "other worldly" since they were not confined to a gender, they were often spiritual leaders and highly respected members of society.

    Here's a link if your interested in more information: Theory of Gender Continuum -Native American Perspective

    I would love to hear everyone elses opinions and any more information. Which cultural perspective would you like to see as our own? Is Western Society really as advanced as it would like us to think? I want to hear your thoughts! :biggrin1:
     
  2. Sergeant_Torpedo

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    In pre Christian Celtic culture all were expected to marry and produce children. However divorce was freely available to those who provided for spouses and offspring. These divorced people were free to have homosexual relations even partnerships and I am told that even warrior Celts might have male partners - it was tolerated but not considered ideal. In modern day Samoa and Cook Islands they accept the concept of a third gender.
     
  3. Altairion

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    I'd always known that Native Americans had been very tolerant in the past, but I hadn't known how much that had permeated through their culture. It's even more cool now to claim my small percentage of Native American Heritage :cool:
     
  4. Freddie53

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    I found the article thought provoking and wonder how many other documents are out there to show that homosexuality was accepted in other cultures and how that acceptance worked in everyday living.
     
  5. cumluvr999

    cumluvr999 New Member

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    I have know for a long time now about the Native American view of homosexuals. They were definitely thought to have special mystical powers. It has been common in other cultures such as early Greek and Spartan cultures. In Greece it was widely accepted that young males (I am assuming early puberty but don't know the cut off age) would be taken under the wing of an older male patron. It was a homosexual relationship until a certain age or once the younger male got married (at which time he moved into the patron role). It has also been documented that many Spartan warriors took on partnerships with other warriors to satisfy sexual needs because they were often away from home more than at home.

    There have been many well documented great leaders who have also been or had homosexual relationships. Alexander the Great is probably one of the most well known of these.

    Personally I think that acceptance or more accurately condemnation of homosexuality is primarly continued by modern religions, Christian faiths being the worst of the lot. The goal of most modern religions is to brainwash the masses into accepting the central beliefs of a core administrative group. They use the Bible as weapon against anything they do not understand or fear.

    Just my two cents.
     
  6. fortiesfun

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    While I agree with the general concept if what you wrote, homosexuality as we know it was not well-thought of in ancient Greece. Sophocles, the playwright, was widely ridiculed because he could not give up his young protégés when they came of age as was expected. Even Alexander the Great was a scandal because of his bisexuality. Adult male-male sexuality between lovers was widely known, but not venerated as it was in some, not all, Native American cultures.

    And while most Christian sects still have much to answer for about homosexuality, I urge you to bear in mind that homosexuality is punishable by death in many of the more radical Islamic cultures to this day, and such executions are regularly carried out. I do not defend any Christian denomination that denounces homosexuals or homosexuality, but I think your position that they are the worst ignores the persecutions many gay and lesbian people experience under other religions in other parts of the world.


     
  7. Gillette

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    Good point, and interesting from a historical perspective as arabic cultures were not unfamiliar with this practice before the rise of Islam.
     
  8. sdg475

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    More about Greece: I think Plato's theory on sexuality/homosexuality, while unfounded, is pretty interesting. He thought that before modern man people were round, walked on 4 legs, had 4 hands, etc. In order for men to serve the gods better Zeus seperated people into two sexes. The seperation, according to Plato, is why we fall in love and seek relationships. Relationships were a longing to be whole, as in the ancient times.
     
  9. viking1

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    I think this is the main point. Most of our modern societies ideals came from Christianity. Most of us have had these ideals pounded into our heads for many years. It will take a long time for attitudes to change. Other than radical fundamentalists Muslim countries, I think the USA will be the last one of the truly free countries to change.
     
  10. NCbear

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    Yes, "...a longing to be whole..." Absolutely correct, I sometimes think. That's the same idea as "finding your soulmate."

    I think what's also interesting is looking carefully at gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/queer cultural influences on mainstream culture, as well as influences from other minority cultures. You'd be shocked to know how much "WASP" culture depends on other cultures for many of its most interesting elements.

    NCbear (who loves talking about history and the cultures that created it)
     
  11. CPearl

    CPearl New Member

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    This can get tricky. Many tribes (certainly not all) did allow certain transgender individuals to live as the opposite sex. This was a gender issue, often addressed before sexual maturity.

    When one missionary encountered a man living as a woman, he was horrified. 'She was born that way', he was told by tribe members, as if it was the most natural thing in the world. Spanish priests were especially mortified, and executed many of these individuals by siccing packs of dogs on them.

    I remember reading some anthropoligical studies about this many years ago. It was considered good luck to have a 'Winkte' in the family and bad luck to make fun of one. Apparently, some tribes expected a Winkte to start teaching her sisters' toddlers, as 'Sis' was often already busy with another baby. In one tribe, a Winkte would go along on war parties, cooking and caring for the braves. I also read a quote from a 19th century missionary, who commented that the Winkte's had the nicest teepees in the village and did the best beadwork!

    However, an American Indian friend of mine told me that the issue has been somewhat sugar-coated by White academics. According to her, there was acceptance and sometimes spiritual reverence of gender-variant individuals in some tribes, but that these people were still sometimes expected to live (literally) on the outskirts of the tribe and to keep to themselves.

    Remember, the present day Hijra of India may be considered living vehicles for the power of the goddess Buhuchara Mata, their blessings valued and their curses feared, but they are relatively despised in day-to-day life.
     
  12. sdg475

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    Hooray tolerance!
     
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