Jamestown Settlement, founded 1607, America's "First Homosexual Community"?

Discussion in 'Politics' started by D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse, May 20, 2009.

  1. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    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.
     
  2. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Kramer needs a LOT more evidence to back his claim. I want to see the records and diaries and any other evidence before I'll even consider homosexuality to be openly acceptable in someplace like colonial Jamestown.
     
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  3. houtx48

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    and i thought it was fire island. learn something new everyday.
     
  4. D_Jerry_Atric

    D_Jerry_Atric Account Disabled

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    Likewise. Let's also keep in mind that labels like homosexual and bisexual were not even around until the 19th Century.

    Larry Kramer is pretty much a professional complainer nowadays, there's nothing shocking or outrageous about him.
     
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  5. slurper_la

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    willtom - I'd like to pair off with you

    :tongue:
     
  6. dreamer20

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    I should hope those scholars would always remember America's first "homosexual community" was present before the Europeans came to establish colonies, kill and enslave indigenous persons and repressed homosexuality::cool:

    PRIDE AND PREJUDICE: Homosexuality - NI 201 - What your dreams make you

    From: Rae Trewartha's What your dreams make you:

    Native Americans not only accepted lesbian and gay people, they also respected them as
    prophets, hunters or healers...

    For the colonizing forces the prevalence of homosexuality only served to reinforce their belief that they had a divine right to destroy Native American culture and its peoples. Only tribes which have had little or no contact with European civilization have been able to retain their sexual diversity...
     
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  7. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    Jason, I don't think anyone could argue that homosexuality was openly accepted in early Jamestown. Kramer, in his weirdly provocative way, is being outrageous. He's not trying to paint a picture of a Jamestown colony comparable to San Francisco's Castro District in the early 1970's.

    Sodomy laws were on the books in England. Homosexuality was no doubt unspeakable & despised.

    I think some authors are just speculating (with good reason) that what might have happened in the early 17th-century in all-male Jamestown is what might have happened between a shipful of sailors on a 6-month voyage.

    No flags and marches and leather. Just guilty, furtive (commonplace) sex between men... between the occasional indian woman. I'm not sure how much of this secret activity might have been committed to letters or diaries.

    (Near the late 1800's, a lot of Oscar Wilde's homosexual escapades were committed to letters and diaries, but, London seemed to have a secret deeply underground homosexual community of artists by then)
     
  8. B_Nick8

    B_Nick8 New Member

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    Happy 1,000th post, Will. This isn't quite your usual pithy style, but it's fun.
     
  9. Bbucko

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    But the behavior antedated the label, of course.

    Same-sex attraction has been around longer than Homo Sapiens Sapiens; it's an essential part of our makeup. There's been a body of research that shows that Lincoln had a sexual relationship with another man when he was young. Calling it an "affair" is a matter of cultural perspective, for sure, but whatever it's called now can't diminish what it was then, nor what it meant to Honest Abe and his bed buddy.

    I'm intrigued by this topic. Thanks for posting it, WT.
     
  10. MarkLondon

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    Presumeably the original settlers were aware there would be no (european) women there, so there may have been some self-selection going on?
     
  11. midlifebear

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    I think Kramer needs to investigate how many sheep were kept by the fine gentlefolk of Jamestown. You can do more with sheep than just card yarn and make sweaters. :smile:
     
  12. D_Ireonsyd_Colonrinse

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    For many years gay activists have been claiming Alexander the Great as one of "our own". Gay activists have been claiming David Bowie and Mick Jagger and Cary Grant and Johnny Weismuller and Marlon Brando and even Al Pacino as one of "our own".

    As Bbucko noted, many gay activist/authors are now claiming Abraham Lincoln as "our own" (along with a couple founding fathers). And Michelangelo Buonarroti and Da Vinci as "our own".

    Now, in this attempt to further uncover any gay activity that's been camouflaged by history, Larry Kramer is now claiming the early years of the Jamestown Settlement as "our own".
     
  13. Wntabigone

    Wntabigone Member

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    I have read of similar attitudes and activities within the all or mostly male camps of the California Gold Rush. Men lived together as partners while mining for gold, but also made homes together. And there are those paintings or pictures of men dancing with men (the "females" had a red scarf around the neck or somewhere to identify that they were the female dancing partner). Even though the pictures may be for humor, I read that this did happened. I think that it is reasonable to think these arrangements would have been made often in world history in many circumstances, no matter what the religious or cultural laws dictated. So, why not Jamestown?
     
  14. D_Harry_Crax

    D_Harry_Crax Account Disabled

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    Johnny Weismuller? He had five wives, at least three children, seems a bit hard to believe.
     
  15. D_Rod Staffinbone

    D_Rod Staffinbone Account Disabled

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    just thought i'd point out, with all due respect, that most of the above listed are no more gay than homer plessy (plessy vs. ferguson, u.s. supreme court, 1896) was black. those gay activists really shouldn't claim bisexuals as their "own".
    it's NOT really the same sexual orientation. i guess the old "one drop of blood" theory lives on. i hope someday society will be beyond all this. maybe it serves a purpose in the meantime, who knows?
     
    #15 D_Rod Staffinbone, May 21, 2009
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  16. B_4inches

    B_4inches New Member

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    This is the sort of stuff conservitives and republicans point to as evidence of a radical gay agenda and the fact that many things about who we are sexually aren't taken into account when someone comes out to say something like this only shows that there maybe an agenda indeed. If I were gay I would have a real problem with the gay communitties enthusiasm and willingness to paint someone as entirely gay so quickly instead of a more reasnonable explanation for the activity such as, he was a man and he got horny. The one drop of blood theory obviously has more to do with wishful thinking and a sense of righteousness perhaps than that picky little thing we call reality.
     
  17. Bbucko

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    If I lived my life in fear of what conservatives and Republicans might think of me or my actions, I wouldn't get out of bed. You're advocating that conformity to the lowest common social denominator is the best path to acceptance; I say that it's futile and only leads to a life in the closet or apologizing for who I am: no thanks.
     
  18. B_4inches

    B_4inches New Member

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    I'm sorry Bbucko I'm not sure how you got I was advocating anything really. I think going back in time and trying to point out who may have been gay is silly and quite telling. As if it matters much the sexual habits of these people. For one thing it can't be done, not in this case. We have NO idea what thier motivations may have been had any homosexual activity actually occured. My point was that to even discuss it let alone with any sort of finality calls into question for me at least the guys motives and if I were gay it isnt something I'd waste my time with. That's what I meant :)

    Hopefully that clears it up because I do have a lot of respect for you Bbucko and have no interest offending you.
     
  19. D_Rod Staffinbone

    D_Rod Staffinbone Account Disabled

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    frustrating how polarized everything is.

    it's interesting how two people can read the same words and derive different meaning
    and intent, as in the case of post #16 (by 4inches). i really don't see a call for anyone to remain in the closet. i'm sure bbucko, as a fully functioning and highly evolved human being, is calling it as he sees it.

    an attitude often from hetero and gay camps is "you're with us or against us", with bisexuals somewhere in the middle and seemingly always on the defensive. bisexuals owe a greater debt to gays for opening the doors that needed to be opened, however.

    many bisexuals eventually move toward gay identification. it's been known to happen the other way around as well, though not as often (with gay identifying bisexuals becoming hetero identifying later in life).

    marlon brando was out as having had sex with both men and women, though he may not have used the word "bisexual". michelangelo buonarroti, according to several historians, was
    homosexual (and a southpaw!), and mick jagger primarily heterosexual, i have definitive confirmation of that from sources here in los angeles. btw you can put jack nicholson in the hetero stack too. (this post is now bordering on tabloid material.)

    don't know what was going on in jamestown. sorry if i got off-topic.
     
    #19 D_Rod Staffinbone, May 21, 2009
    Last edited: May 21, 2009
  20. B_Morning_Glory

    B_Morning_Glory New Member

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    all i can say is in either case no matter if a guy was bi. gay, straight, or what ever, his sexual orientation was back then, I'm sure their was lots of blisters an callouses on many hands at James town do to no women being their for such a long time. an I'm also pretty sure they didn't get their by just work alone.
     
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