Abhorrence Toward Homosexuality is a Relatively New Idea
March 24, 2011 | ~4 mins read time.

This post exists in light of the recent tug-o-war between Exodus International (an organization that was "helping" homosexuals and heterosexuals eschew their sexuality in favour of being "holy"; website is dead, link removed) and Truth Wins Out (an organization dedicated to spreading the idea that homosexuality just is and to help society "get over it") over an iOS app (link dead; removed).

The gay and lesbian community has gotten over a hundred thousand signatures in support of a petition to have the app removed from the iTunes store. Apple hasn't responded yet (and who knows if they will), but the controversy is causing dialogue. Although, I suppose "dialogue" may not be the right word. The "anti-gay" or "ex-gay" movement isn't really open to discourse, because they either feel that homosexuality is chosen or because they feel that sexuality should be ignored all together in favour of faith. The gay "movement" isn't exactly open to conceding any of their points on orientation, and I agree that they shouldn't have to.

If you go back far enough through history, you'll quickly find that anti-homosexuality thought was almost always limited to religious views. In Asian countries from Japan west to the Middle East, homosexuality was often a part of monastic life, the daily life of commoners, and even the lives of the ruling classes. Hell, even the Samurai tradition holds a special place for homosexuality.

It was only once oppressive religions spread throughout these that something seen as normal suddently wasn't. It didn't go away though. It simply was dropped from accepted social mores.

European history shows a similar path, as do Africa, North America, Central America, South America, and so on. When we come west from Asia and all the way to the Americas, we find that Christianity and Islam are largely responsible for making homosexuality a "bad" thing.

North American tribes had the idea of the "two-spirit" person who could be straight, homosexual, or bi-sexual and from childhood they were encouraged to be what they would be. In many places in Africa, up until Europeans brought with them strict Christian beliefs, both men and women had homosexual traditions in various forms.

The two largest, Western historical examples of homosexuality being perfectly okay are Ancient Roman and Ancient Greek cultures. These were also known for a strong population of bisexuals. In both cultures, a man would often have a wife for procreation, political gain, and financial gain. If he was inclined, he would take a male lover as well. Women also took lovers of their own sex, as well.

Marriage between a man and a woman during this period and up to the early 1900s was often a product of families allying themselves with one another from the lowest born people up to the very wealthy. "You are forbidden from marrying him - he's from the wrong side of the tracks" is, by and large, identical to "You cannot wed with the youngest son of the house of Julian - your dowry is worth at least a first or second son!" Less money and property exchanging hands, if any at all, but the same principle applies.

It wasn't until Christianity and Islam gained popularity that the ideas of marriage as a "holy institution" and homosexuality as a sin punishable by death came into mainstream societal view. Much of this was confined to Europe and the Middle East. Then the Europeans went exploring the deepest reaches of Africa and the Americas, and in doing so, they sort of wrecked these areas for tolerance. Outside Europe and the Middle East, up until about two or three hundred years ago, homosexuality doesn't seem to have been much of an issue. A couple of hundred of years versus several millenniums. Wow. Our memories are SHORT!

It is quite obvious clear that sexual orientation, whatever a person's is, is not something one chooses. It has been shown that it is probable that almost no one is firmly homosexual or firmly heterosexual, but rather somewhere in between. The issue with sexual orientation is that it is not something religion gets to say is right or wrong. It just is. Belief has no place in this discussion. We shouldn't even have to discuss it.

We went from "who cares who you're attracted to, who cares what you believe, and who cares what colour you are as long as you pay unto Caesar what is Caesar's due" to a thousand years of religious oppression drilling into worldwide culture that anything other than heterosexualiy was an abomination, wars started over minute differences in belief systems, and fueling the idea that if you weren't white, you were subhuman. Technology has progressed, but we certainly managed to regress socially and culturally.