Homosexuality, being gay or lesbian, has been unacceptable to many in the past centuries, but the acceptance of open homosexuality in the societies has grown in the past decades. In fact, there are now countries with laws that allow same sex marriage. In many societies, though there is no law that allows same sex marriage, there are couples of same sexes that live together – some with the acceptance of the society, some without. The earliest probable records about gay or homosexual actions may be traced from the Bible in the book of Genesis chapter 19, verses 1-9.
Two angels came to Lot to warn him about the disaster that God would bring to Sodom and Gomorrah. When the men of the city saw the angels, they demanded Lot to hand the angels over to them. Though Lot offered his daughters to them, they insisted on having intercourse with those that they thought were mortal men. Hence, the term sodomy has been coined because of the homosexual actions of the men of Sodom . History also tells us that in ancient Greece, especially in Athens, homosexual relationships among men were tolerated by the society. The most common among these relationships are those between the teacher and the student.
Yet, the law also provided that the homosexual relationship had to stop the moment one of them got married . Dover and Halperin in Picket’s article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy revealed that in some places in Greece, homosexual relationship was not just accepted but celebrated as a variation. Well, in fact, Alexander the Great was one man noted by historians as a same-sex lover. Yet, what may be a stronger foundation of homosexual origins in Greeke culture was the involvement of Zeus, the foremost Greek god, in same-sex exploits .
Even in literature, there are rumors that Shakespeare was gay. Lost of the sonnets thought to be about love for a woman were actually written for a male friend. Whether Shakespeare is gay or not is another story, but the fact that he has been rumored to be gay and still holds his position in world literature reveals the societies’ growing tolerance for homosexual relationships. There is also Oscar Wilde, whose homosexuality has been open to the public. Again, in Greek literature and mythology, two of the greatest heroes, Achilles and Hercules had been shown to have intimate relations with a male friend .
It, must however, be noted that as women had to fight for their right for suffrage in 1920, gays and lesbians also had to fight for their rights to gender equity. It was only at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century that gays and lesbians’ voices came to be heard. It was only then that they gathered up the strength to come to the open and fight for their rights as legitimate members of the society as citizens paying taxes, and taking part in the labor force. In the early 1900s there were psychologists that had very negative views regarding homosexuality.
Sigmund Freud, for example, theorized in 1905 that homosexuality must be a result of an accumulation of certain childhood experiences . Because of his influence brought by his success in curing hysteria, two followers, Irving Bieber and Edmund Bergler, used his theory to label homosexuals as mentally sick . Wikholm further tells us that the homophile and gay liberation movements expended much energy in attempts to refute the psychoanalysts’ homophobia and ultimately succeeded in 1974 when the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its official list of mental diseases.
Finding a place to call their own was a struggle for the homosexuals even up to the 1920s. Gerber was able to register a Society for Human Rights, which was actually a society for gays, in 1924. He had state in the registration that it was an organization for people with mental disorders. We can see at this point how low the public looks upon homosexuals then. This facet of medical history reveals how oppression has united the homosexuals to move as one and they succeeded. This must have been a major achievement in the development of gay and lesbian culture – the culture of unity in fighting for their rights.
We can trace similar patters of unity in records of history, when the oppressed or those in danger of oppression unite to fight for a common goal just like the Greek city states when they were threatened by Persia. However, a more important note on gay and lesbian culture must have been brought by the liberation of heterosexuals in premarital sex. According to the Pickett in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, the decline of prohibitions of premarital sex in the 20th century, weakened the stand against homosexual intercourse.
He further adds that these trends were usually strong in the 1960s and it was at this point where gay liberation took off. Although homosexual intercourse was nothing new to the Greeks, it was different in the 1960s. During the time of the Greeks, homosexual intercourse was allowed only when one of the men were till adolescent. It had to stop when the boy reaches adulthood . In the 1900s, homosexual intercourse went beyond adolescent period. Adults had homosexual relationships and went against the norms of the general public.
A very significant and perhaps the most significant event that led to gay and lesbian liberation was probably the Stonewall incident of 1969 when the police raided Stonewall Inn, a gay bar. News reported four policemen got hurt when the patrons of the bar hurled bottle against them. This has seemed to be an exclamatory answer to oppression to homosexuals by the public. Seldom does it happen when in a raid, the ones being raided fight back, except of course if they are armed. But in this case, the patrons of the gay bar were armed only with bottles.
They knew they could be arrested for heavier crimes, yet they assaulted the police officers anyway. A news item in The New York Times on June 29, 1969 had it that there were 400 men that gathered at the square and threw bricks, pennies, and garbage. It took some 45 minutes to finally get hold of the crowd. This has marked a loud cry for a revolution in treating homosexuals and a demand for equality in privileges. True enough, their voices were heard in the following decade. And when their voices started to be heard, a new era of a liberated generation of gays and lesbians started to emerge.
Logical arguments may be made to justify the demands of gays and lesbians. Straight men and women have their own places to stay like bars and other hangouts. Why then would a hangout for gays be raided? Premarital sex used to be strictly detested by the public. If it cannot be stopped anymore, why then should authorities take so much effort in keeping homosexuals from enjoying what straight men and women enjoy outside matrimony. Why would authorities not arrest heterosexuals for premarital sex, which is immorality in Christian norms, and arrest homosexuals for the same offense?