Title: Hanging around in bogs Credit: Craig Young Comment Wednesday 9th June 2004 - 12:00pm1086739200 Article: 280 Rights
What light can contemporary LGBT paleontology and archaeology shed on current relationship equality debates? In this article, I'll explore four cases of relationship equality in prehistoric times and antiquity. Firstly, there's an historical fragment about a choral competition that may interest our lesbian readers. In 620 BC, Hagesichora led a female choral team that sang about the beauty of Agido, one of their number, as well as their conductor, Hagesichora. They also flirted with women in the other choral group, but Hagesichora trumped all of them, regardless of the merits of Aenesimbrota, Astaphis, Phillyla, Damareta and Wianthemis. According to this piece of Spartan musical lore, Ortheia was also worshipped as a goddess of female same-sex love in that Greek city-state. As for men, Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep conformed to more traditional gay male occupational roles- they seem to be the earliest recorded gay male couple, and served as manicurists to King Niuserre of the Fifth Dynasty. These two were found in the Pyramid of Unas in Saqqara, Egypt back in 1964, complete with images of an affectionate embrace. Moreover, it is not new to find gay men hanging around in bogs, albeit ones of the peat variety, noted for preservative qualities. Like Niankhkhnum and Khnumhotep, the Weerdinge couple were found in an affectionate embrace, but better preserved, in a Netherlands peat bog named Bourtangermoor. According to science journalist Heather Pringle, these two "mummy boys" were thought to be hets, but upon closer examination, they were found to be queens of the Bronze Age. Okay, they may have been a male same-sex warrior male couple, and they weren't all that unique. A gay druid sacrificed himself to obstruct the advancing Roman hordes near Mersey in 60 BC. We should not assume that these burials were neccessarily acts of human sacrifice, or that if it was, that such acts were involuntary. They need to be seen in historical context. And contrary to Bishop Vercoe's recent uninformed announcements, there is evidence to support an elastic interpretation of pre-colonial Hawaiian family structures, which included respect for same-sex individuals and relationships. Or so said Na Mamo O Hawaii, an indigenous Hawaiian lesbian and gay group when it made a friends of the court (amicus curiae) presentation on behalf of the Baehr v Miike same-sex marriage case in 1996. As one can see, lesbians and gay men have been cruising the bogs and byways of history for some time. Who needs Sodom and Gomorrah when we've got our very own historical romances? Recommended Reading: [The aforementioned Spartan lesbian love songs] [Is this the oldest recorded European gay male couple?] [Meanwhile, in the Netherland bogs, these two were found in a romantic clinch with one another...] [And Boudicca wasn't the only Celtic warrior queen...] [Amicus Curiae brief of Na Mamo O Hawaii, an indigenous Hawaiian lesbian and gay rights group, arguing that discrimination against same-sex marriage amounted to racist disregard for traditional pluralist models of Hawaiian family structure.] Robert Morgan "Configuring the Bo(u)nds of Marriage: The Implications of Hawaiian Culture and Values for the Debate about Homogamy" Yale Journal of the Law and Humanities: 8:1: (1996): 132-157. [Na Mamo O Hawaii cited this in their amicus curiae brief. Unfortunately, this article itself isn't available online]. Craig Young - 9th June 2004    
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