Ok. I was skimming around the Huffington Post website today. I clicked onto an article by gay activist and author Larry Kramer. Which got me thinking. The Jamestown Settlement is usually described as "America's first colony", founded May 14, 1607, although there had been previous european attempts at colonization of the North American mainland. The founding of the Jamestown colony (originally Jamestoune Setlyement) happened 168 years prior to the start of the American War of Independence (an armed conflict running from 1775 to 1783). All of the 104 settlers who sailed up the James River in 1607 were men. The beginning decades of the Jamestown Settlement had extremely lopsided ratios of men to women (some accounts posit a 6 to 1 ratio). "The Virginia Company" is a pair of English companies (The Virginia Company of London, The Virginia Company of Plymouth) chartered by James I in 1606 with the purposes of establishing settlements on the coast of North America. The Virginia Company's decision in 1619 to recruit English women and turn their colonial outpost into a permanent English settlement helped to change this almost all-male colony into a colony where there was now 1 woman available for every 6 men. In 2007, the Jamestown Settlement celebrated its 400th anniversary. Larry Kramer wrote a letter to editor of the New Yorker magazine. He began this letter by quoting from the book "Sexual Revolution in Early America" by Richard Godbeer, associate professor at UC Riverside: -------------------- "Jamestown was initially an all-male settlement. ...in subsequent years...male colonists outnumbered women by roughly six to one in the 1620's and four to one in later decades... It is difficult to believe that a group of young and notoriously unbridled men remained celibate for an extended period of time. It seems likely that some male settlers deprived of female companionship would have turned to each other instead. "Settlers in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake often paired off to form all-male households, living and working together. ...it would be truly remarkable if all the male-only partnerships lacked a sexual ingredient... it seems reasonable to assume, that much of the sex that took place... was sodomitical." -- "Sexual Revolution in Early America" -------------------- Larry Kramer finishes his letter with: "My own research for my book, The American People, has revealed that not only were male-only partnerships quite in evidence, but services were often conducted to join the partners "under God," and that, of equal interest, was their adoption of Indian children to raise as their own. I hope it will not be too much longer before scholars will be able to deal with the fact that Jamestown was in fact not only America's first colony but its first homosexual community." -------------------- All right. Now, I do find Larry Kramer to be a bit outrageous (that's why I love reading him; however, I find his allusions to early colonial gay marriage completely hard to swallow). But, on the other hand, all-male environments, whether prisons -- or Ferdinand Magellan's 1519 voyage circumnavigating the earth, full of seamen -- tend to be alive with various forms of homo-sex. Jamestown, America's First Homosexual Community? As a predominantly gay man, I would have loved to have this alternative history of the possible sexual lives of the all-male Jamestown Settlement taught in my high school history class.... the hardships, the famine, the tobacco farming, the struggles with the Indians, the intimate nights after the sun set.... Hell, I might have suddenly snapped to attention and gotten enthusiastic about American History.