The History Of Queer Rights Essay

2701 words - 11 pages

After reading the script, the Greek government decided to let the movie open. There were riots and protests against it. Alexander the Great was too masculine, too good of a commander, too heroic and important to Greek history to be bisexual, protesters claimed (Esfandiari).
Queer erasure, the act of editing a historical figure’s sexuality out of a textbook or censoring it in other ways, has been very harmful to the LGBTQ+ community and has significantly hindered their fight for acceptance.
The existence of sexualities other than “straight”, has been known and understood since the beginning of human history. From B.C.E to modern times, humans have known of the existence of sexual acts and ...view middle of the document...

As a society, much of the world has become less tolerant than it was in the Ancient and Early Modern periods, especially Eastern countries who have come to view homosexual acceptance as a symbol of Western culture and, in rejecting Western culture, have rejected LGBTQ+ rights as a part of that culture (Morello).
In order to fully understand the consequences of queer erasure in history, one must have a full context of Queer history. I will try to provide as full a history as possible, as well as several case studies to further understand the impact queer people have had.
Ancient Egypt has stories of sordid affairs between a Pharaoh and his best General, as well as a tomb that depicts a homosexual couple in the most intimate position allowed on temple walls (touching noses) (Vasiljevic 369). In Ancient Greece, homosexuality was well-documented, although the Greeks had no word for it. In fact, it was considered odd to not engage in a pederastic (between an adolescent boy and a man in his late twenties/early thirties - the most common form of homosexuality in Greece) relationship, and considered to betray a lack of character. The only social stigma against homosexuality was against that of the partner who took a more “submissive” role. The Greeks were not homophobic. They were simply sexist. If a man took on what the Greeks believed to be a feminine role, that was not socially acceptable. Greek literature glorifies male love, but in a masculine way (Crompton). The case study for this period is Alexander the Great and his likely-lover Hephaestion. Alexander the Great and Hephaestion were the closest of friends, and very likely sexually involved. In a striking anecdote, the ancient historian Flavius Arrianus describes a scene after Alexander had conquered a territory, and was going to the tent of the captured royals to do with them as he wished. The King’s mother, seeing both Alexander and Hephaestion enter, fell at the feet of Hephaestion, mistaking him for Alexander and begging for mercy. When Alexander rectified her mistake, the woman was terrified at her error, but Alexander reconciled her by telling her not to worry, as “this man too is Alexander” (119). It is evident in his statement that he considered Hephaestion and himself one in mind, if not in body. Another compelling piece of evidence is Alexander’s reaction to Hephaestion’s death. When Hephaestion died, Alexander was inconsolable. He ordered his troops to display outward signs of mourning and arranged for temples to be built in Hephaestion’s honor, asked that he be worshipped as a demigod, and gave him a funeral that, at most conservative estimates, cost 10,000 talents - 1,500,000 £ in today’s economy (2,045,247.14 USD at the current exchange rate) (Crompton 78). Even more striking is the length to which Alexander sought to preserve Hephaestion’s memory, offering full pardon for a war criminal’s past and future crimes if he would name three or more landmarks after Hephaestion in his...

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