Homosexuality in Ancient Greece and Crete

Lovely Dovile Gibson

In my book The Preacher’s Daughters, one of my main characters is gay. Dovile Gibson is best friends with Kathleen Sanderson, the heroine of my novel. Not long ago, homosexuals were beat up or imprisoned for being gay. In Illinois during the 1880s, homosexual acts were called “sodomy” or “crimes against nature.” If convicted, you would be incarcerated for one to three years respectively.  However, homosexuality was not only practiced by homosexuals throughout history, but by heterosexuals as well. (Read my post on “Romantic Friendships.”)

This brings me to Ancient Greece and Crete, where homosexuality was practiced among well-to-do heterosexual men, especially if you wanted to get ahead in society. It was common for a man “of the world” to mentor an adolescent boy. Homosexual attachments often occurred at Greek symposiums or “drinking parties.” These relationships were usually short-term affairs; to be continued long-term was frowned upon.

In Ancient Crete, an adolescent boy was taken from his home to be raised and educated by a man of the world. In turn, the boy would be generous with his “favors.” Later the boy would be returned home to his family. The Minoan culture wasn’t Greek. They had their roots in modern-day Turkey, but the Greeks had invaded Crete and obviously brought their culture with them, but some sources state that King Minos had already introduced pederasty as a means of population control. Is this the reason St. Paul said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons?” (NIV). We know Paul had encountered a pagan world he wasn’t welcomed in, and he suffered greatly for it.

Finally, the Roman emperor Hadrian had a wife and a youthful Greek “lover” named Antonius.

Now the West has same-sex marriage. This is something I never encountered in my historical research, but history is dynamic. Nothing ever stays the same.


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