Saturday, April 9, 2011

Homo: Sapien

It  is  hard to imagine how it was  like to be gay when people identified themselves with the tribe, kingdom and city-state they belong. Sure, the ones in-hiding  inside the closet have existed and so were the confused-but-forced-to-marry-and-have-children abound. But to love and grow old with a male companion was unheard of, and to flaunt a guy's effeminate behavior by dancing in women's clothes was totally impermissible. Authorities saw it an abomination; a denial of human nature, and for the longest time the people believed.

The canon of human history has long been tampered by the ones in power. Some call it revision, while others  dismiss it as propaganda. Events and customs that  were deem contrary to the accepted norms were taken out of context. Some were even left to wander in the realms of myths. Only very recently did we learn to review the facts and write our stories without hesitation.  The subjects  we missed or deliberately scratched off  begin to come to light, and our story - as homosexuals -  slowly trickles from just being mere legends to becoming recognizable part of our past.

The Native Americans have a word for it - niizh manidoowag - two spirits.  They were people who can exhibit both characteristics of a man and a woman.  The niizh manidoowag had an important role to play in society. They were the witch doctors, shamans and astrologers who decode the message of the stars. They accompanied the tribal chiefs in battles, and was consulted for advise in times of domestic need. What the niizh manidoowag didn't see was their slow disappearance from history. With the coming of Europeans, they vanished from a land memory has forgotten.

The Sacred Band of Thebes was an army of gay men.  They were known for their ferocity and honor. Seldom did they flee  from their ranks, and often, fought until their last breath. The band was composed of  male couples handpicked from one of Greece's city states.  Housed and trained  to become  foot soldiers, they were an elite group of soldiers who swore eternity to their beloved and defense of their homeland..   

Their defeat  came in the hands of Philip, King of Macedon.  In the cover of spears and arrows, other army groups had fled but the band refused. Serving as the last line of cover so that the heteros could retreat, their death meant the survival of  the city-state. In the heap of their corpses Alexander the Great once stood. Many years after the prince became a king, he too would have a lover, a male companion who fought alongside with him in all his greatest battles. 


The ancient times were replete with homosexual records that never appeared in our history books. After all, experts-in-robes deem homosexuality a crazy disease just over 50 years ago. They never knew the hijras were excellent and trusted administrators in the court of Mughal Emperors of India. The Japanese had nanshokus to keep their masters and teachers appeased. Even the Arabs had wine boys in their joyous merriment.  I  wonder how the practice endured at the risk of beheading.  They say even the Sufi Teachers deflowered their male students too.  

It was only in the Middle Ages that homosexuality faced its darkest moments. In a place where war and famine takes a toll on the population, survival mandates constant procreation. The kings and priests of the time saw how the social fabric would collapse. Aided by a religion they found in the desert, new values were introduced. Fearing eternal damnation and earthly persecution, echoed constantly from the churches,  male love was wiped out from human psyche.

Times have changed after information has become freely available. The loud voices raising questions about our existence has now become but a whimper in the pond of human epoch. While empowerment is still an ongoing struggle for many people like us, we are still fortunate to live in a time when the option  to come out is met with open arms and heartfelt recognition.  

History  is written for us to remember.  So that in war and peace and in the confusion within our estranged self, we may find solace from the triumphs of those before us.  When in doubt, remember: male dolphins and penguins are known to form bonds with the same gender. If you believe in Charles Darwin, you will find that there's a connection.

And in the dawn of our presence, another revelation was revealed. 

Kamila Remisova Vesinova and her team of researchers from the Czech Archeological Society believe they have unearthed the remains of an early homosexual man. The remains date from around 2900-2500 B.C., on the outskirts of Prague.

That claim stems from the fact the 5,000-year old skeleton was buried in a manner reserved for women in the Corded Ware culture: its head was pointed east rather than west, and its remains were surrounded by domestic jugs rather than by hammers, flint knives and weapons that typically accompany male remains.

 Time Magazine

Long before we were born in tribes and kingdoms.  Ante-dating our first empires and nations. We discover that our nature precedes us.  

We have been homo-sapiens all along.


Nanay B said...

Interesting history lesson, J. Good research! I can't imagine how you did it even as you were writing 5,000 words somewhere else! LOL Amazing.

Louie said...

The first that I have been introduced with homosexuality in history was James I's personal relationships. Never I thought that there were more accounts of such being found with one entry. You're amazing!

Thank you for your comment Sir Joms. Surely, this entry will reinforce my becoming.

Muli, maraming salamat!

Spiral Prince said...

I have a draft sitting in blogger called 'Thebes.' It was supposed to be a literary mini-something dedicated to the Sacred Band of Thebes. But yeah, thanks for sharing these things here, kuya mugen! :)

orally said...

Wow Mugen research kung research. Powerful talaga ang religion no?

claudiopoi said...


i actually read that TIME articles, and i thought the same thing.

beautiful narration here. officially, idol na talaga kita! :P

peripheralviews said...

this is so informative, nahiya naman ang undergrad degree ko sa article na ito... clap! clap!

you may also want to check the etoro tribe of papua new guinea which is popularly known as the semen warriors...

"the Etoro of the Papuan Plateau -- claim that semen does not even exist in boys until it is orally or anally "planted."



dark_knight said...

panalo to papa joms sa history...

who would have thought..

Yj said...

i read this article on yahoo news yesterday.... sa isip isip ko, diyosang siyosa siguro si bakler sa tribu nila... :))

Looking for Vince said...

very good read.

green breaker said...

nice storytelling, it was very informative. i just need to follow this page. :)

Xall Percé said...

I'm not being preachy or religious about this but If I am not mistaken, there also accounts in the Bible where men tried to rape or sleep with the two angels who visited Lot.

datu/the wilted prune said...

^and that is why homosexuality is unanimously condemned in all three monotheistic religions. :(

Kiks said...

you do have a unique approach to such issues. you had your signature zing on this one, something i like (mala-American Idol comment ba? lol)

but seriously, it was only in the age of capitalism that slowly the issue of homosexuality was eroded, ostracized and almost ultimately destroyed.

sadly, we all have that tendency. even Vladimir Lenin said so.

Aldrin said...

Great post, Kuya J!

The history of what-we-currently-label as "homosexuality" (same-sex loving) is a long, complicated one. It's also often confused with transgender history (two-spirits, hijra, kathoey, binabae, etc) which is a different topic, really.

We honour the Sacred Band of Thebes once a year in our religious festivals. They are a mighty band of men that deserve great honour. I wouldn't call them "gay", though -- since the concept didn't exist back then -- but I understand it's difficult to describe them without a label.

Also, it's interesting to note that early Christianity (or christianities) was not so hostile to homosexuality as it was in the Middle Ages. After all, Jesus never condemned (never even mentioned) the topic in the scriptures we have.