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← Why and when did homosexuality become such an issue?

Why and when did homosexuality become such an issue? - Comments

Andrew B.'s Avatar Comment 10 by Andrew B.

I suspect it might depend partly on the increasing visibility of homosexuals in society. Colleagues like your co-worker will just have to get used to it.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:27:20 UTC | #634859

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 11 by TheRationalizer

I know how it would have gone with me.

Her: I saw those disgusting photos on your facebook profile

Me: Oh well, you can always just fuck off.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:42:12 UTC | #634878

Cartomancer's Avatar Comment 12 by Cartomancer

Well, the good news is that its less of a problem now, at least in Europe and America, than it was even 20 and certainly 40 years ago.

But the answer, in terms of the Western cultural context, has a lot to do with two intermingling sources - the sexual hang-ups of strict Roman conservatives in the late republic and early empire and, more prominently, the fervent opposition of the early christian church to homosexuality, given voice by Saul of Tarsus, which they derived in large part from jewish hang-ups developed throughout the previous millennium.

The conservative Roman view was that (especially passive) homosexuality was effeminate and unmanly and inappropriate for free-born Roman citizens. It was the sort of thing those suspicious, dissolute and immoral Greeks and Persians got up to, a behaviour fit for slaves. Around this a whole panoply of quirks grew up, such as that giving oral sex polluted the mouth and impaired one's oratorical ability. Roman culture was very influential even in non-Roman Europe throughout the first 400 years of the common era.

Then Augustine, himself deeply steeped in classical Roman culture, got hold of christianity and started trying to make it intellectually respectable by grafting on neoplatonic ideas. From Augustine's own homophobic sexual hang-ups and profound sense of piety the whole tone of the christian approach to sexuality was sealed. 150 odd years after that Justinian enshrined the death penalty in his corpus iuris civilis for male homosexual activity, from which most of the legal systems of mainland Europe in the middle ages (and, ultimately today) derive. 250 years later Charlemagne made a strict opposition to (especially clerical) homosexuality a pillar of his moral programme. Church councils from the Lateran in 1215 onward confirmed this as the orthodoxy of christian thought ever since.

Which is not to say that there wasn't some homophobic sentiment in pre-Roman cultures. There are homophobic threads even in classical Athens (the prosecution speech of Aeschines against Timarchus, appealing to popular anti-elite homophobia, is perhaps the most prominent source we have for such views). Ancient Egypt was generally very tolerant, but there are verses in the Book of the Dead which call homosexual behaviour a significant sin. The point is that these cultures had pro- and anti- gay threads all mixed in together, which is what we would expect without any firm centralised authority to mandate bigotry or tolerance. It was only with the ascendancy of powerful moralising authorities that homophobia could find political and legal sanction.

And, predictably, the gains made by right-thinking, tolerant people over the last 70 odd years have sparked more outrage and noise from the homophobes than they made when state-sanctioned homophobia was the unquestioned status quo. Which can give the deceptive impression that they're more concerned about it now, when in fact they're just not getting it all their own way anymore, and whine like petulant children.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:45:07 UTC | #634880

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 13 by DocWebster

Sex in general is a problem these days. Some things have gotten better like being able to control fertility and such but the number of people who feel it's their right to tell us how they feel is growing. When I was a kid in the 70's it was not considered polite to offer an opinion unsolicited, sometimes violently so. My grandad actually harangued a guy for 10 minutes, in the middle of a store, for offering his opinion on how I was comporting my self when I asked my grandad why my mom was taking so long trying on clothes. Now you can be assaulted by people on a nearly daily basis because they feel it's your job to entertain them or something. I was listening to my MP3 player on the bus and some moron actually taps me on the shoulder, twice, to ask me why I felt it necessary to block out the world. He got real huffy when I had the bus driver stop to expel him, he ran when she reached for her radio to have the office send a cop. He was amazed I would consider being touched in an unwanted fashion assault, and more amazed that we would call the cops to see if they agreed. It's just the same with people complaining about homosexuals. They haven't been raised right and it falls on all of us smack them into line, hard, because they won't stop without a good, swift kick in the ass.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 18:59:37 UTC | #634893

skiles1's Avatar Comment 14 by skiles1

Arthur Schopenhauer defended homosexuality, on the grounds that it can be beneficial essentially as a means of birth control in areas that are overpopulated or without enough food. Anyway, homosexuality only becomes disdainful if you are trying to grow a religion, in that case you need to pair people up man to woman and have them reproduce. If you want them to pair up quickly, tell them sex before marriage is evil, and then watch how quickly they take a spouse. Next, tell them condoms are evil.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:05:31 UTC | #634899

DocWebster's Avatar Comment 15 by DocWebster

The sex before marriage thing only really applies to women. The thought is that you want your inheritors to be yours and not some school chum's or some such. Boys aren't really shunned from sex unless they're into some rich guys wife or daughter.

Mon, 06 Jun 2011 19:16:54 UTC | #634906

Lapithes's Avatar Comment 16 by Lapithes

My guess is this:

  • In agricultural communities offspring --> $$$ + survival
  • therefore offspring = good; no offspring = bad
  • homosexuality --> no offspring
  • therefore homosexuality = bad.
  • .

    And for a wobbly encore:

  • Female pregnant outside tribe --> tribe loses female + tribe loses female's children
  • male makes female pregnant outside tribe --> tribe gains female + tribe gains female's children
  • therefore female promiscuity = bad; male promiscuity = good.
  • .

    And the whole condom-hating, virgin-loving, masturbation-loathing, giant-family-encouraging perverted religious mindset logically follows.

    Mon, 06 Jun 2011 20:23:07 UTC | #634953

    Stevehill's Avatar Comment 17 by Stevehill

    Just de-friend her. No need to apologise or explain. She probably won't even notice for a few weeks.

    I cull Facebook a couple of times a year. It's essential!

    Mon, 06 Jun 2011 20:34:11 UTC | #634961

    snail-12's Avatar Comment 18 by snail-12

    Religions don't like homosexuality as homosexuals have less children to indoctrinate into that religion.

    I found the idea in Susan Blackmore's Meme machine interesting: If homosexuality has a genetic element to it then supressing homosexuality by religous opression leads to increased survival of the genes for homosexuality (by encourageing/forcing heterosexual relationships on homosexuals). Thus religions help to increase the number of homosexual people. Free societies where homosexuality is permited may lead to a reduction in the gene frequency/s for homosexuality by reducing the number of ofspring from homosexual people.

    Mon, 06 Jun 2011 21:07:52 UTC | #634983

    keymaker's Avatar Comment 19 by keymaker

    Yeah, I mean it's probably a misdirected instinct in the animal cases or in some way an indirect benefit towards mating success. Given the low incidence of homosexuality in humans it's probably best viewed as an acquired affliction in that it offers no benefits to the individual over heterosexuality but does incur several disbenefits... that's the main argument against discrimination, in fact.

    km

    Mon, 06 Jun 2011 21:37:14 UTC | #635005

    El Bastardo's Avatar Comment 20 by El Bastardo

    Something similar happened to me, though with a Hindu, not a Muslim lady.

    She said "It's not natural".

    I replied "You know what's not natural? Wearing clothes. Sleeping on a bed. See that computer you're sitting in front of? Yeah. The thing is homo-sexuality is very natural."

    It was a long time before she spoke to me again. Which wasn't a bad thing.

    Mon, 06 Jun 2011 23:54:21 UTC | #635078

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 21 by Schrodinger's Cat

    I remember, back when I was in the church, the loathsome phrase ' God hates the sin but loves the sinner'. It struck me as being nonsensical bullshit even as a believer.....as you cannot really seperate sin and sinner.

    But it's a great excuse for all those pompous, self righteous, moralistic saved people I used to associate with to pretend that they are real nice people who don't mind gays........it's just God who has a little problem with it. Such people would never come right out and say ' I personally detest homosexuality'........it's always expressed more as ' I have this real close friend that I value and his opinions really matter and HE hates gay people '.

    Thus I don't think that most Christians are inherently homophobic in themselves. It's more a case of just blindly going along with doctrine and avoiding any thoughts or associations that might prompt the dreaded 'eternal damnation' from their 'close friend' in the sky. A better known description of this is moral cowardice.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:12:04 UTC | #635084

    nykos's Avatar Comment 22 by nykos

    Tell her it's equally disgusting for you that there are people out there who subscribe to a holy book that encourages its adherents to murder non-believers wherever they are found.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:28:57 UTC | #635086

    Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 23 by Steve Zara

    Homosexuality has become an issue because of population increase. Not many people know this, but marriage is a limited resource, or so I have concluded. There is only so much marriageness available to go round. It's hard enough anyway for people to keep marriages together, but what with all the new generations who will grow up and insist upon it, things are going to get worse.

    This is why gay marriage and gay relationships are such a problem. They use up limited resource of marriageness. All over the world good Christians and Muslims will turn up at their church or mosque in preparation for a ceremony that will bond them for eternity only to encounter closed doors and a notice about stock problems. Couples who have been married for many, many years will face each other over the breakfast table and realise that they are just not married enough for things to continue. There will be a world-wide crisis, especially for those who produce Bridal magazines, a major part of the publishing industry as anyone who has recently visited a newsagent will know.

    When people complain that homosexuality threatens traditional marriage, they are speaking the truth, poor dears. At least, that is the only conclusion I can come to after having listened to such complaints for years. Unless, of course, anyone has any better ideas?

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:34:25 UTC | #635088

    Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 24 by Steve Zara

    comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

    If there was still a way to rank comments as 'Excellent', I would surely use it here. It's wonderful to see that others can see the sheer nastiness of the supposedly moderate 'hate the sin' principle.

    Thank you for this comment. As a gay man it helps me to realise how decent others can be in a world in which we face so much unpleasantness even from the supposedly moderate mainstream faiths.

    It is indeed moral cowardice, as you say.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:39:22 UTC | #635089

    jesusdiedLOL's Avatar Comment 25 by jesusdiedLOL

    I'm not sure the rational explanations for why religious people hate gays applies. I think they use their religion to justify their hatred. I understand in modern times it may be socially constructed, but dislike of gays is not restricted to religious people. I myself will always argue for homosexual rights but still am uncomfortable with the whole thing, despite my understanding that this is totally irrational and mean. The militancy of gays is counter-productive. The big "gay parades" flamboyantly display what people fear, a bizarre sexualised "counter-culture" insistant on ramming it down mainstream societies throats. I also think the media portrayal of gay men as behaving like "stupid women" in shows like the Top Model series and other fashion shows is bad for gay PR.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:45:24 UTC | #635090

    Ignorant Amos's Avatar Comment 26 by Ignorant Amos

    Jump to comment 12 by Schrodinger's Cat

    It's more a case of just blindly going along with doctrine and avoiding any thoughts or associations that might prompt the dreaded 'eternal damnation' from their 'close friend' in the sky. A better known description of this is moral cowardice.

    Does that not epitomise a classic description of bigotry of any type?

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:47:16 UTC | #635092

    Zelig's Avatar Comment 27 by Zelig

    Comment 3 by Cartomancer :

    Then Augustine, himself deeply steeped in classical Roman culture, got hold of christianity and started trying to make it intellectually respectable by grafting on neoplatonic ideas. From Augustine's own homophobic sexual hang-ups and profound sense of piety the whole tone of the christian approach to sexuality was sealed. 150 odd years after that Justinian enshrined the death penalty in his corpus iuris civilis for male homosexual activity, from which most of the legal systems of mainland Europe in the middle ages (and, ultimately today) derive. 250 years later Charlemagne made a strict opposition to (especially clerical) homosexuality a pillar of his moral programme. Church councils from the Lateran in 1215 onward confirmed this as the orthodoxy of christian thought ever since.

    Which "Napoleonic ideas" are you thinking of? And what reason(s) are you offering for, in this case, Christianity's hostility?

    I think part of the explanation is that the Abrahamic God is a chastising, angry, and jealous God. This God doesn't like the idea of humans being happy, joyful, attaining ecstasy, without his involvement in the equation. Heterosexual sex (and love), if enjoyed too much, is a form of blasphemy. If it attains such peaks without a sense of dependency on God it is a sin, for it loves God's creation at the expense of the Creator, what Augustine called "fornication against God".

    Given the conditions of our entry into the world, and the benefits to the community and the faith of more children (i.e. more believers) an uneasy accommodation had to be reached with heterosexuality. Homosexuality doesn't have these ascetic and functional guises.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 00:56:42 UTC | #635096

    Steve Zara's Avatar Comment 28 by Steve Zara

    The militancy of gays is counter-productive. The big "gay parades" flamboyantly display what people fear, a bizarre sexualised "counter-culture" insistant on ramming it down mainstream societies throats.

    That shows how essential militancy is. As for ramming a culture down society's throat, it's not doing that at all. Heterosexuality is such a fixture in almost every aspect of our lives it's easy to forget that it's even there. Just about every story involves a heterosexual relationship. Almost all advertising, almost all marketing, is about man/woman relatioships. Almost all popular music is about heterosexual love. It's everywhere, but we usually don't notice it, just like a fish doesn't notice water, because we swim in it.

    To call the occasional parade or militancy forcing anything on anyone is utterly absurd by comparison.

    What's needed is far more visibility of homosexuality, so that people recognise that far from being bizarre, it's a normal healthy part of life. Incindentally, one of the nastiest words about homosexuality is 'tolerance'. People talk of 'toleration' as if it's some kind of kindly act of generosity. Well, I'm not going to put up with being merely 'tolerated'.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 01:00:47 UTC | #635099

    mmurray's Avatar Comment 29 by mmurray

    Comment 16 by jesusdiedLOL :

    I'm not sure the rational explanations for why religious people hate gays applies. I think they use their religion to justify their hatred. I understand in modern times it may be socially constructed, but dislike of gays is not restricted to religious people. I myself will always argue for homosexual rights but still am uncomfortable with the whole thing, despite my understanding that this is totally irrational and mean.

    It is a pity you didn't stop your post here instead of going on to demonstrate your irrationality and meanness.

    The militancy of gays is counter-productive. The big "gay parades" flamboyantly display what people fear, a bizarre sexualised "counter-culture" insistant on ramming it down mainstream societies throats. I also think the media portrayal of gay men as behaving like "stupid women" in shows like the Top Model series and other fashion shows is bad for gay PR.

    Obviously gay men make you feel uncomfortable. That isn't their problem. Get a therapist.

    Michael

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 01:45:11 UTC | #635114

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 30 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 20 by vanhellslinger

    God is a Holy Astronaut King, a Annunaki God, the final stage that humans can evolve into

    But he's no match for a good dose of anti-psychotic drugs.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 01:51:17 UTC | #635116

    Net's Avatar Comment 31 by Net

    So that's my question really: if many species (giraffes, dolphins etc) partake in homosexual activity and even humans did as little as 3000 years ago, why is it such a problem now?

    Homosexuality is not a problem. People's perceptions are the problem. And when perceptions are mediated through unexamined life-denying ideologies such as religion, and Islam is no exception, they are going to see anything non-mainstream as a problem; particularly when it comes to the sorts of things we do with our bodies: sex (making love), eating, bodily parts, hair, etc, etc.

    Granted homosexual acts exist in the non-human world, and this probably has something of value to say to us, but this says little, if anything, about the non-physical dimensions of sexuality such as, for example, love. This is something that all religions bleat about but never actually practise; yet another problem.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 01:54:20 UTC | #635117

    ShesTheBeth's Avatar Comment 32 by ShesTheBeth

    Obviously gay men make you feel uncomfortable. That isn't their problem. Get a therapist.

    Michael

    Michael is right. It's YOUR problem that you are uncomfortable. If I look at you and feel uncomfortable because you have a big, ugly facial scar that makes me feel squeamish (not that I'm comparing homosexuality to something that makes people feel squeamish), isn't it my problem that I can't see past the superficial to know what a great person you are - in spite of how repulsive you make me feel when first encountering you? It's only a derivative of fear that I'd be feeling, and I can overcome that by applying reason. You can too. Unless you're a bible-pounder, in which case you would have no ability for reasoning on which to rely.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 02:22:54 UTC | #635123

    Schrodinger's Cat's Avatar Comment 33 by Schrodinger's Cat

    Comment 16 by jesusdiedLOL

    The militancy of gays is counter-productive.

    I think the point at which militancy passes it's 'sell by' date it can be counter-productive, but the fact is that few of the civil rights movements have truly reached their goals despite legislation. There is still racism, sexism, homophobia, etc in society despite the undoubted fact that society has itself generally become 'more liberal'. Thus the militancy should remain......it will automatically die out once people feel social equality has genuinely been achieved. That's the point at which you can yawn at any remaining militants.

    The big "gay parades" flamboyantly display what people fear, a bizarre sexualised "counter-culture" insistant on ramming it down mainstream societies throats.

    But that's the whole issue here. What is so wrong with people's bizarre sexuality ? I think some people have this irrational fear that they are going to wake up one day and find that they are the only person left in the entire world having heterosexual sex in the missionary position with the lights off......and they'll walk outside and the bizarre neighbours will all point at them and emit a screeching sound like at the end of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers.

    I also think the media portrayal of gay men as behaving like "stupid women" in shows like the Top Model series and other fashion shows is bad for gay PR.

    I think there's some truth that the media does tend to over-portray the 'effeminite' gay and the 'butch' lesbian and miss the huge spectrum that actually exists. Likewise bisexuals, a larger group, barely get a mention at all.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 03:51:33 UTC | #635142

    debonnesnouvelles's Avatar Comment 34 by debonnesnouvelles

    "... So that's my question really: if many species (giraffes, dolphins etc) partake in homosexual activity and even humans did as little as 3000 years ago, why is it such a problem now?"

    I am surprised that you were only "a little annoyed" at the comment. I would have been furious with rage. Good for you that you kept you cool!

    Do most of you have a memory of your childhood of being disgusted at the thought of sex? I don't know how old children are when they go through that phase, but I believe it is pretty normal. That disgust seems to also mix with curiosity and a wish to understand what it is all about, which as a child you have no experience of. (That is to say if you have a protected childhood without abuse as every child deserves to have.)

    I can imagine that in the process of growing up, some individuals never entirely get rid of a certain dose of that disgust or fear of sex.

    And what is emotionally more convenient than projecting your bad feelings onto other people? "Oh I am totally ok and normal, nothing wrong with me, but look at those weird homos with their sexual preferences. It is disgusting."

    I associate certain manifestations of homophobia with this kind immaturity of a person. The whole religious input only serves to strengthen it.

    Now to comment 16:

    Comment 16 by jesusdiedLOL :

    ...I myself will always argue for homosexual rights but still am uncomfortable with the whole thing, despite my understanding that this is totally irrational and mean. The militancy of gays is counter-productive...

    jesusdiedLOL,

    do you have gay friends? If not, find some!!! It makes all the difference. I grew up in a family and an environment where gay people were literally unheard of. That all changed in my teens where I met so many gay people amongst fellow musicians. They were great friends and any fears I might have had otherwise of the "unknown" did not stand a chance.

    Who cares how anything gets portrayed in the media? What does it matter to you personally if some TV shows seem to paint an unfavorable picture?

    If you have a mix of friends hetero and homo that you meet regularly, then your own experience is so much more interesting and important to you than what anybody else says.

    I hope this does not sound patronising. If so, apologies.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 04:50:04 UTC | #635148

    jesusdiedLOL's Avatar Comment 35 by jesusdiedLOL

    I wasn't trying to have a dig at gays. I have no gay friends (but happily would) but know of many that are really great people that act just like everybody else. I don't think being gay necessarily changes your personality.

    This is the point I was trying to make, it must be hard on regular gay people when there are groups of other gays running around acting like the flamboyant ones, who get the most attention. Especially with the emphasis on liberal sexuality (no, I don't think this is bad in itself).

    This just feeds the idiotic perception that they are "different" to regular humans and therefore (from the bigots point of view) are not worthy of the same rights.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 05:39:20 UTC | #635160

    Mee Peestevone's Avatar Comment 36 by Mee Peestevone

    With Catholic groups like this that think that educating kids about homophobia and heterosexism is forcing moral beliefs on students, it's no wonder why homosexuality becomes an issue in a place where it is usually not an issue.

    http://communities.canada.com/vancouversun/blogs/reportcard/archive/2011/06/06/catholics-say-burnaby-s-gay-friendly-policy-would-impose-moral-beliefs-on-students.aspx

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 05:48:17 UTC | #635162

    keymaker's Avatar Comment 37 by keymaker

    She said "It's not natural".

    What they usually mean is that homosexuality is detached from reproduction.

    You know what's not natural? Wearing clothes. Sleeping on a bed. See that computer you're sitting in front of? Yeah.

    No, I mean keeping warm, even appearance and fashion to attract members of the opposite sex, sleeping as an act of survival, so yeah, making beds, computers for communication - that's all natural.

    The thing is homo-sexuality is very natural

    Well, it's an abnormality in being confined to such a small percentage of the population - were it natural in a literal sense one would expect an even distribution of heterosexuals and homosexuals.

    km

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 06:24:43 UTC | #635173

    Munski's Avatar Comment 38 by Munski

    Well, as an artist, I have to say that I did have to learn an appreciation to be able to look at nudity in a way that doesn't discriminate. It's easy to look at a human body in magazines that are perfectly manicured, waxed, and tanned to perfection . . . even male ones, as a hetrosexual man, doesn't particularily bother me. What did make me wince was having to look at ugly bodies, but that was cured with about 6 months of life-drawing that had some 40 dollar a nite models to sketch, not the sort that you create statues of David out of.

    And actually, you do get used to it. Three nites a week of staring at some wrinkled, gnarly old sack or a pair of deflated breast with or without hair, really does desensitize you to the whole thing, and open up a whole different world of acceptance. And, it made me a better artist as well! It was win-win!

    Perhaps that's what religious folks just need to do . . . watch a lot of gay television shows, work up to BrokeBack Mountain . . . and then if desired, soft-core gay porn because the childhood fearful indoctrination of bullshit might have created repressed sexual issues that could be solved with some simple acts of denying denial. And, with some alone time with the aforementioned dvds, one might even deal with any guilt over the masturbation thing as well, killing two religious bugaboos with one stone! It's a win-win time two!

    But yeah . . . it's just indoctrination into an unnatural world that creates that homophobic stuff, and truth be told, I believe that it's just as much about the fact that a person doesn't want to face the fact that they might be wrong, but also have to face the fact that something they worship has flaws, which creates cracks in faith, which is why they fight it so hard.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 07:16:15 UTC | #635184

    foundationist's Avatar Comment 39 by foundationist

    Comment 3 by Cartomancer :

    Thank you once again for an informative and instructive insight into the historical development of this issue. I always love reading these posts of yours, it is rare in a forum to find a post where you can actually say you have learned something new after reading it, but I have often learned new things from your posts. Thanks for that.

    Comment 19 by Steve Zara :

    Almost all advertising, almost all marketing, is about man/woman relatioships.

    Some years back, around the end of the nineties there was a minor affair here in Germany about an advertisement for Sparkasse, a german bank. The ad showed a picture of a man and a woman standing fully clothed in a lake and kissing each other. The woman was viewed from behind, she had short hair and her figure was not very curvy, so it was possible to imagine that there were two men kissing on this picture. After complaints in conservative Bavaria the advertisement agency photoshoped a ponytail on the head of the woman in all ads to appear in Bavaria. Because long hair = woman = no yucky gays. One hardly knows wether to laugh or weep.

    Tue, 07 Jun 2011 07:33:23 UTC | #635192