September 12, 2008

Olde Gaye Pilgrims!


Plimoth Plantation is holding some special programs for gay families this Saturday, September 13. The museum's historians will discuss what life was like for gays in ye olde dayes (hint: unpleasant), and a member of the Lakota tribe will talk about Two-Spirits, gender and sexuality among Native Americans. Sounds interesting! Naturally, the day ends with a big Thanksgiving style feast.

Hearing about this program piqued my interest, so I pulled out our copy of Improper Bostonians. This handy tome, compiled by the History Project, details the mostly forgotten history of gays and lesbians in Massachusetts since the 17th century.

Not much is known about homosexuality among the Algonquians living in New England in the 17th century. Their population had already been decimated by European diseases when the Pilgrims and Puritans arrived, and war and social disruption soon followed. Improper Bostonians does show some risque ithyphallic rock carvings from the Kennebec River, but those could be interpreted in many ways.

We do know how Puritans and the Pilgrims viewed homosexuality - they didn't like it! Two men were executed for the crime of sodomy in 17th century Massachusetts. Puritan clergy preached against sodomy, fearing it would bring down God's wrath on the colony. Happily, no one is being executed for sodomy these days, though Pat Robertson has warned Disneyworld that God will destroy them with a hurricane for hosting gay events, and other right-wing preachers have blamed New Orleans' inundation by Hurrican Katrina on gays.

Let's send some good vibes to Plimoth Plantation and hope they have good weather this Saturday.

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