12,000 B. C.
Near the end of the Upper Paleolithic Era, human beings have left artifacts and works of art suggesting an appreciation of homo eroticism. Examples include a few cave paintings and hundreds of phallic "batons" among which is a graphically carved double dildo from Gorge d'Enfer (in present-day France) that seems to have been crafted for two women to use together.
c. 5000 B.C.
Examples Of homo eroticism in European Mesolithic art include a rock engraving found in Addaura, Sicily, in which men and women dance around two cavorting male figures, both of whom have erections.
c. 2600 B.C.
Fifth Dynasty Egypt: The tomb of two men who worked as manicurists and hairdressers for King Niuserre features a bas-relief of the two men embracing, a rare pose in Egyptian art even in depiction's of male-female couples.
c. 2500 B.C.
Sumer, in the Middle East: An unknown poet begins composing the Epic of Gilgamesh. The world's oldest surviving epic includes literature's first homoerotic love story, the death-defying friendship of the sexually insatiable Gilgamesh and the wild man Enkidu.
c. 2200 B.C.
Sixth Dynasty Egypt: A chronicler suggests that King Neferkare and General Sisene, a high-ranking official, have had a secret affair.
Egypt: A book about women's dreams includes references to two women having sex with each other.
c. 1750 B.C.
Babylonia: The Code of Hammurabi mentions girsequ male palace servants who provide sexual services for men in the ruling class.
Greece: The Middle East, and South Asia, chroniclers and geographers leave accounts of battles with nations of Amazons, women warriors who live in matriarchal societies.
c. 700 B.C.
China: The Shi Jing ("Classic of Songs/Poetry"), the oldest surviving Chinese anthology, contains verse expressing admiration and affection for strong, handsome men. This and other sources suggest that Chinese traditions of homo eroticism go back at least as far as the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty (1 122-256 B.C.)
Greece: The poet Alcman writes a hymn for a chorus of virgins in celebration of the marriage of two young women, Agido and Hagesichora. United in love, the couple become part of a community of young women called a thiasos and vow to remain impervious to the charms of the other desirable young women who surround them.
Sparta: Greece men and women lead largely separate lives. Ruling-class women as well as men are expected to have romantic mentoring relationships with younger members of their own sex.
c. 600 B.C.
Greece: Men leave inscriptions on a rock wall on the island of Thera recording the sex they have there with boys (paides), perhaps as part of an initiation ritual. One example: "Here Krimon and his boy, Bathykles' brother, had anal intercourse."
Greece: Island of Lesbos: Sappho composes the most praised love poetry of the ancient world. The head of a thiasos-a community of women in which girls study music, dance, and other arts-Sappho immortalizes the desire and passion she and other women in the thiasos feel for one another.
594 B. C.
Athens, Greece: A law code attributed to Solon includes strict regulations meant to protect freeborn boys from the sexual advances of inappropriate-as opposed to appropriately aristocratic-male adults.
c. 570 B.C.
Greece: Homo eroticism becomes one of the most popular themes for decorating vases and other pieces of pottery. Ranging from tender to grotesque, the painted scenes feature men, youths, boys, lusty satyrs, and an occasional god. One (or possibly two) shows seductive behavior between women.
c. 520 B.C.
Greece: A poem by the lyric poet Anacreon is the earliest recorded instance of a writer using "Lesbos" in a sense that may suggest sexual orientation: Anacreon addresses a "girl from Lesbos" who rejects the white-haired poet and "gapes at another girl" instead.
Athens, Greece: Hipparchus, the ruling tyrant's brother, becomes jealous and insulting when a handsome young man named Harmodius rejects his advances. Harmodius and his lover Aristogiton kill him in revenge but fall in their attempt to assassinate his brother. Arrested and executed, the couple is immortalized by later generations of Greeks as heroes in the struggle for democracy and emblems of the positive potential power of love relationships between men.
c. 500 B.C.
China: Duke Ling of Wei lavishes attention on a male courtier named Mizi Xia, then spurns him when his looks fade. Mizi Xia remains loyal, however, and his name becomes part of the Chinese language: for more than 2,000 years a "mizi xia" will suggest a man who loves men.
c. 450 B.C.
Palestine: The Holiness Code of Leviticus becomes part of the laws of Judaism. Leviticus 20:13 reads: "If a man also lie with mankind as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death." Bible scholars and jurists will dispute the exact meaning of these 9 words over the next 2,500 years; most, however, interpret the passage to mandate the death penalty for male-male sex acts.
c. 400 B.C.
Greece: On the island of Telos, a poet named Erinna writes a long poem lamenting the loss of her beloved Baucis to marriage and death. Erinna, who later dies at the age of 19, is one of several Greek women poets whose work, now mostly lost but widely acclaimed in ancient times, is thought to have included elements of homo eroticism.
Athens, Greece: Plato's Symposium includes a speech by a man named Aristophanes, who suggests what is probably the world's first recorded theory of sexual orientation: All human beings were originally similar to Siamese twins. After the gods split them apart, each yearned for his or her "lost half." Those who had been male/female thus sought the opposite sex; those who had been male/male or female/female desired the same sex.
Athens, Greece: a prominent citizen named Timarchus is successfully prosecuted and barred from politics, largely for having prostituted himself to men in his youth. The verdict is evidence of the Athenian bias against male citizens-as opposed to women, foreigners, and slaves-who allow themselves to be penetrated during sex.
Greece: The military heroism and fighting spirit of the Sacred Band of Thebes, a corps of 150 male couples, impresses Philip of Macedon, the leader of the army that slaughters all 300 of the lovers.
c. 200 B.C.
Peru: the Moche people achieve a standard of perfection in ceramic sculpture seldom equaled since. Many of their imaginative, often humorous creations are erotic, with depictions of female-female sexual activity alongside male-male and male-female figures. Same-sex eroticism remains common among many peoples in the region until the Inca era. In India, the epic Ramayana includes a brief but evocative scene of female-female eroticism.
c. 185 B.C.
India: Brahman philosophers compile the highly influential Laws of Manu. Believing that all erotic thought and behavior weakens the mind and character, they prescribe ritual bathing to wash away the "pollution" of same-sex acts.
c. 55 B.C.
Rome: Catullus writes poetry, much of which is inspired by his lively and varied sex life, that will be praised and imitated for generations to come. Besides describing an Ill-fated affair with a woman he calls Lesbia, Catullus addresses eight poems to his young male lover Juventius.
c. 40 B.C.
The Greek geographer and historian Strabo writes of communities of Celtic women living in Gaul (in present-day France) and the sacred sexual rituals they perform with one another.
c. 30 B.C.
Rome: the poets Virgil and Horace celebrate the amorous attractions of both young men and women. Virgil's second Eclogue, a monologue relating the shepherd Corydon's unrequited love for a slave boy called Alexis, becomes the most famous Roman homoerotic poem.
China: Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty attempts on his deathbed to name his lover Dong Xian as his successor. Other forces prevail, and Dong Xian is forced to commit suicide. As with Mizi Xia, however, their relationship achieves a kind of immortality: the tale of the Emperor's cutting his sleeve off so as not to disturb Dong Xian, who had fallen asleep on it, inspires subsequent generations to call eroticism between men duanxiu ("cut sleeve") love.
Philo, an influential Greco-Jewish philosopher who synthesizes elements of Plato with Judaism, is among the first to condemn all forms of sex not leading to procreation, in particular same-sex eroticism.
Rome: Claudius distinguishes himself by being the only emperor reigning in the first two centuries of the empire who is thought not to have sexual relationships with men.
Roman Empire: Dorotheos of Sidon is one of several writers on the science of astrology who makes reference to birth charts that cause both men and women to experience sexual desire for members of their own sex.
St. Paul writes "epistles" to communities of early Christians living in Rome and Corinth. Although the exact meaning of Paul's pronouncements will be disputed, Romans 1:26-27 and, to a lesser extent, 1 Corinthians 6:9 lay the New Testament foundation for condemning same-sex acts between women as well as men. In rome, Petronius Arbiter writes a comic novel called The Satyricon in which he evokes the attitudes, lifestyles, and bisexuality of libertines of his day.
Martial publishes the first of more than a dozen books of his scabrous but witty epigrams. Several hundred describe the love lives and sexual practices of people the poet knows in Rome, including men who make love to boys, men who make love to other men, and, in several poems, women who make love to other women.
A Jewish historian writing for a broad Greco-Roman audience, Flavius Joseph's helps popularize the idea that the sin for which Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed was homosexuality, rather than simply unconscionable behavior toward strangers. Via his and other writings, the word "sodomy" passes into Greek and Latin.
Plutarch's highly influential biographies and essays written in Greek influence later attitudes toward same-sex eroticism through passages describing, among other relevant topics, man-boy and adult male-male love in the lives of famous men in Greece and Rome, woman-girl love in Sparta, and the supposed "fact" that same-sex acts are unknown among animals.
On the other hand, the even more popular Physiologist, a "bestiary" recently translated from Greek into Latin (from which it will be translated and adapted over the next 1,200 years into all the European languages), explains that the hyena is despised because it spontaneously changes from male to female, not unlike some men "who are unchaste with other men.
Juvenal's scathing satires target men in same-sex marriages, gigolos who pretend to be "effeminate" to gain access to their lovers' wives, upper-class women who shamelessly and semipublicly consort with each other, and a host of other types the poet finds all too common in Rome.
Rome: Emperor Hadrian mourns the drowning of his lover Antinous, founding a city and erecting temples and statues over the entire empire in his honor. Annual memorial games are celebrated for the next 200 years.
The author Lucian provides a rare hint of the life and love styles considered typical for "tribades" in Rome and elsewhere. In the fifth of his Dialogues o the Courtesans, a musician/ courtesan tells how she was seduced by a wealthy female couple, who have what is perhaps the earliest example of a butch-femme relationship. Lucian also makes reference to "masculine-looking" hetairistrial on the Isle of Lesbos who have sex only with other women.
Palestine: Rabbi Judah the Prince compiles the Mishna, the codification of three centuries of rabbinical debates, including decisions that fix stoning to death as the penalty for male intercourse. As part of the Talmud (Learning), the Mishna becomes one of the fundamental texts of Judaism.
In China, documents, including Records of the Han, allude to the existence of passionate relationships between women living in the Han Emperor's palace.
Upper Egypt: a spell cast to make a woman named Sarapias fall in love with another named Herais is one of several recorded on papyrus fragments. The spells are among the few surviving proofs of the existence of homo eroticism between women in the Roman Empire.
Philip the Arab attempts to outlaw male prostitution in the Roman Empire. The law is widely ignored: a special tax on male prostitutes continues to be collected in many parts of the empire for years to come.
China: Official history: it is common for men at the Western Jin (Tsin) Dynasty court to be as attracted to each other as to women.
Drawing on teachings of the early Church fathers, the Council of Ancyra is the first to condemn sodomy along with a host of other sex-related sins.
The Emperors Constans I and Constantius 11 establish what is probably the first law in the Roman Empire directed against consensual sex acts between men. Reflecting the Roman abhorrence of adult citizens who allow themselves to be penetrated during sex, the edict specifies capital punishment for men who nubit in feminam ("mate as if a woman").
Lamenting the ineffectiveness of previous legislation and attacking the spread of male effeminacy in the Roman Empire, the Emperor Theodosius I issues a new edict prescribing public burning for offenders. Vaguely worded, the edict seems to apply mainly to transgender prostitutes.
Thessalonica: An outpost of the Roman Empire, the commander of the local militia arrests a popular charioteer famous for his effeminacy on charges probably related to the edict described above. An uprising ensues, and the militia slaughters more than 3,000 people in seven hours.
India: the Kama Sutra describes harem lesbianism.
Theodosius 11 amends the Roman Empire laws regulating sex between men to specify burning at the stake for all men who make a practice of "condemning their male body" to be used "as a wino's."
Byzantine Empire: Justinian I blames men who lust after other men for natural disasters that threaten the state. He orders castration as punishment for sodomy.
In the territory that is to become Portugal and Spain, the Visigothic Code is the first in post-Roman Western Europe to make sex between men a crime. Castration is the prescribed punishment.
The canonical text of the Koran, the foundation Of Islam, is established, containing several negative references to sex between men as practiced by "the people of Lut [Lot]," the Sodomites and Gomorrhans of the Christian tradition. No punishment, however, is explicitly mandated.
"Penitentials refined in Wales and Ireland over the past two centuries, now become common throughout Western Europe. Containing lists of sins and recommended penances, penitentials are handy guides for priests, who have begun to hear private confessions. Sex between men is usually among the sins mentioned; starting about this year some penitentials also list sexual acts between women. In general, same-sex sin is not treated much more harshly than heterosexual adultery.
One of the first books written in Japan, the Nihon Shoki ("Japanese Chronicles"), includes an account of two male lovers who enraged the gods by sacrilegiously being buried in the same tomb. This is probably the earliest surviving mention of same-sex love in Japan.
Male homoerotic poetry in praise of beautiful youths becomes one of the major themes of Arabic poetry during the Abbasid Caliphate, typified by the brilliant, often obscene lyrics of ABU NUWAS.
Kukai (posthumously called Kobo Daishi) returns to Japan from ChinA, bringing with him, according to Japanese tradition, the "Chinese custom" of male-male love along with Shingon ("true word") Buddhism.
The Synod of Paris blames Moorish and Hungarian invasions and Viking raids on same-sex eroticism, bestiality, and residual paganism.
Byzantine Empire: Michael III joins in a same-sex union with Basil the Macedonian. The next year Basil murders Michael and usurps the throne.
Byzantine Empire: A commentator adds a marginal note to a text of the second-century Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria, explaining that by "women who act like men" Clement means those women who are "abominable tribades hetairistriai, or Lcsbiai." This is the earliest recorded usage of "lesbian" in a context that clearly refers to same-sex acts.
China: The Song (Sung) Dynasty capital of Kaifeng is said to have thousands of male prostitutes.
Peter Damian writes liber Gomorrhianus, urging Pope Leo IX to deal more harshly with sins against nature in the Church. The Pope, however, stresses the value of mercy in his reply.
Pope Gregory VII orders Sappho's works, the world's oldest poetry of love between women, destroyed in public bonfires in Rome and Constantinople.
China: The empire's first law forbidding male prostitution is promulgated. Part of a campaign to control both female and male prostitution, the law is never strenuously enforced and passes into oblivion with the end of the Song (Sung) Dynasty.
In southern France and northern Spain, troubadours travel from court to court, singing Provencal songs of courtly love that sometimes describe love between men and between women.
In Flanders, The Life of Saint Godelive, the story of a martyred 12th-century noble-woman who was later named patroness of the country, mentions in an aside that women are by nature prone to almost uncontrollable lusts and that they most frequently satisfy these lusts with one another, especially when sleeping together in the same bed.
The Council of Paris, a local church body, forbids nuns from sleeping in the same bed and mandates that a lamp be left burning through the night in convent sleeping quarters.
The first recorded legislation against male sodomy in scandinavia is The Norwegian law of the Gulathing. Men found guilty are banished from civilized communities as permanent "outlaws."
Thomas Aquinas, One of the Roman Catholic Church's most influential theologians, begins teaching at the University of Paris. He synthesizes 1,200 years of sex-negative Christian writings into one unified system of sexual morality, including same-sex eroticism among sexual acts that are "against nature."
In Japan, Tachibana Narisue compiles the Kokon Chomonju ("Collection of Stories Heard from Writers Old and New"), which includes a number of romantic tales of the monk-boy love prevalent in Japanese Buddhism.
Spain: Alfonso X of Castile issues Las Siete Partidas, one of the first Civil law codes in Europe to make "sins against nature," including sodomy, capital crimes. The punishment for sodomy is castration followed by stoning to death.
Orleans, France: a new law code mandates punishments for both men and women who commit same-sex acts: removal of the testicles or the clitoris, respectively, for a first offense; removal of the penis or breasts for a second offense; and burning at the stake for a third offense.
France: New laws enacted by St. Louis (Louis IX) make bougerie ("anal intercourse") a capital crime punishable by burning at the stake. Although civil authorities enforce the law, cases are still tried before a bishop.
September 28, 1292
Ghent (in present-day Belgium): John, a knife maker, is sentenced to be burned at the stake for having sex with another man. This is the first documented execution for sodomy in Western Europe.
Philip IV of France orders the arrest of all Knights Templar on charges of heresy and sodomy as a pretext for confiscating the knights' extensive wealth. The leaders of the religious order are burned at the stake in 1314.
France: Arnold of Verniolle, a Franciscan sub deacon is convicted of sodomy and heresy. The court records provide an account of how someone like Arnold, who is attracted to young men, goes about finding sexual partners in rural France. Arnold is sentenced to live the remainder of his life imprisoned in chains and with nothing but bread and water for sustenance.
England: Known for his male lovers, Edward 11, loses out in a power struggle with his estranged wife and a cabal of the country's barons. His assassins, rumor has it, execute him by ramming a red-hot poker into his rectum.
Two women and fifteen men are arrested and tried on charges of sodomy in Mechelen (in present-day Belgium). Only one man is executed.
April 9, 1424
Florence: Bernardino of Siena (canonized in 1450) brings a three-day series of sermons against sodomy and other forms of lust to a climax with a spectacular bonfire of "vanities"-cosmetics, wigs, and lewd attire. The preachings of Bernardino and others strengthen public opinion against same-sex relations and influence authorities to take more stringent action to suppress them.
The Mexica Aztecs (in present-day Mexico) establish dominion over surrounding peoples. Aztec law mandates marriage and punishes both male and female same-sex acts with death.
Florence becomes the first European city to set up a special authority to prosecute crimes of sodomy. Called the Uffiziali di Notte (Officers of the Night), this special court prosecutes more than 10,000 men and boys over the next 70 years. About 2,000 are believed to have been convicted. Most avoid further punishment by paying fines.
Pope Nicholas V authorizes the papal Inquisition to prosecute male sodomy.
In present-day Peru, the Inca emperor Capac Yupanqui, according to word-of-mouth accounts chronicled a century later, energetically persecutes men who have sex with other men, burning them alive in public squares and destroying their homes. Most of those persecuted are members of recently subjugated peoples.
Leonardo Da Vinci is twice anonymously denounced to Florentine authorities for alleged acts of sodomy. He is acquitted of the charges for lack of witnesses.
November 1. 1494
Florence: The fanatical monk Savonarola blasts citizens for their "abominable vice," commanding them to renounce their mistresses and "beardless youths."
Florence: Savonarola's campaign against vice, including sodomy, is resisted by the Compagnacci, a group of young men, many of whose leaders have been convicted on sodomy charges. The youths jeer and harass the preacher's followers in the streets and squares of the city.
Spain: King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella amend the sodomy laws. Henceforth, those found guilty of the crime will 'II be burned at the stake and have their property confiscated instead of being castrated and stoned to death.
Spain: Fernando de Rojas writes his tragicomic masterpiece, La Celestina. The title character is a wily old woman whose debaucheries have included sex with other women.
Florence: A large group of young men converge on the government palace to protest the current crackdown on sodomy and to demand the release of men recently arrested.
October 5, 1513
Spanish conquistador Vasco Nunez de Balboa discovers a community Of cross-dressing, males in present-day Panama and, according to eyewitnesses, feeds at least 40 of them to his dogs.
Authorities in Florence, influenced by youth protests, decrease the fines for sodomy convictions levied on men aged 18 through 25. Studies of contemporary municipal court and population records indicate that as many as one Florentine man in twelve would be charged with sodomy at some point in his youth.
Martin Luther accuses Catholic clergy and monks of being sodomites in his Warning to His Beloved Germans.
Netherlands: New statutes make "unnatural vice" a capital crime.
Charles V promulgates a law as part of the Constitutio of the Holy Roman Empire that specifically forbids female same-sex relations as well as male.
England: Henry VIII's government transfers authority for prosecuting "buggery" from the Church to civil courts. The new law makes anal intercourse punishable by hanging.
Japan: Takeda Shingen, a 22-year-old daimyo (warlord), signs a contract with Kasuga Gensuke, his 16-year-old lover, vowing that he has never had-and has no intention of ever having-sex with a certain Yashichiro, and pledging his fidelity to Kasuga on penalty of divine retribution.
Francis Xavier begins his mission in Japan. Writing to a Jesuit colleague, he reports that the Japanese have only one major fault: no one finds the "sin against nature ... abnormal or abominable."
Portuguese missionary Father Pero Correia, writing from Brazil, asserts that same-sex eroticism among indigenous women is quite common, in fact as widespread as in Africa, where he was previously stationed. Native Brazilian women, he observes, carry weapons and even form same-sex marriages.
Calvinist Geneva: Officials begin to pay closer attention to the sin of sodomy, especially among the city's burgeoning foreign population. Records through 1670 list one beheading, one hanging, six drownings, six banishments, and four whippings, all for sodomy.
Pope Pius IV begin s a campaign in Rome to rid the city of "Sodomites."
Geneva: A woman charged with fornication with a man confesses that she also had sex with a woman four years ago. She is drowned.
Oda Nobunaga, one of the most revered and feared warlords in the history of Japan, dies, ambushed by a confederate. At Nobunaga's side, faithful to the end, is his adolescent lover, Mori Panmaru.
Christopher Marlowe's tragedy Edward II is probably the first play written in English to portray a male couple's love relationship sympathetically.
Francis Cabral, a Catholic missionary, informs the Vatican in a letter that the casual attitude toward same-sex relations he sees everywhere in Japan is a major barrier to Japanese acceptance Of Christianity.
The word "tribade" (from a Greek root meaning "to rub") emerges in Western Europe as a term describing women who enjoy each other sexually.
Jesuit emissary to china, Matteo Ricci, is one of many Europeans who are shocked to find that "unnatural vice" is not only legal and widespread among the Chinese, it is even discussed in public.
May 24, 1610
The Virginia Colony passes the first anti sodomy law of the American colonial period.
Michelangelo's grandnephew publishes the first printed edition of the artist's poems, substituting female pronouns for male in the love verse. The originals are not made available in printed form until 1863.
November 30, 1624
In the Virginia Colony, Richard Cornish is hanged for allegedly making advances on a ship's steward. His conviction and execution, angrily contested by his brother and others, is the first to be recorded in the American colonies.
China: The Classified Brief History of Love contains a detailed chapter on duanxiu ("cut sleeve"-see A.D. 1) love, with anecdotes recounting two millennia of male-male relationships.
England: The Earl of Castlehaven is convicted on sodomy charges brought by his son, who fears that the male servant his father favors may inherit part of the Earl's property. The Earl is beheaded.
November 11, 1634
Ireland: "An Act for the Punishment for the Vice of Buggery" is passed by the Irish House of Commons, making anal intercourse punishable by hanging. The primary advocate of the act is Anglican Bishop John Atherton.
November 15, 1636
The Plymouth Colony (in present-day Massachusetts) issues the first complete legal code in the colonies. "Sodomy, rapes, buggery" constitute one of eight categories of crimes punishable by death.
Thomas Bartholin's revision of his father's Institutiones Anatomicae, the most influential European anatomy text of the century, provides authoritative support for the theory that an enlarged clitoris is the cause of lesbian desire.
December 5. 1641
The second man to be hanged for the "vice of buggery" in Ireland is Bishop John Atherton.
December 5, 1642
A Massachusetts Bay servant is sentenced to be whipped for "unseemly practices" with another woman in the first documented example of legal prosecution in North America for same-sex relations between women.
Brazil: Portuguese colonial authorities extend laws forbidding same-sex relations to include women as well as men. The punishment is burning at the stake.
March 6, 1649
Plymouth, Massachusetts: Ttwo married women are charged with "lewd behavior each with other upon a bed." Charges are dropped against Mary Hammon, at 15 the younger of the two, but the older woman, Sara Norman, is forced to confess her "unchaste behavior" in public.
China: A novelist and short story writer Li Yu amuses readers with tall tales and adventure stories that include accounts of same-sex relations.
Japan: Authorities declare a ban on all-boy troupes of kabuki actors in an attempt to fight the current craze for man-boy love. Before long, troupes of older males take their place.
Portugal: Francisco Correa Netto, a cathedral sacristan, writes a series of love letters to a guitarist and musical instrument maker named Manuel Viegas. The oldest surviving openly homoerotic letters in a modern European language, Netto's writings tell a tale of seduction, passionate lovemaking, and, ultimately, betrayal: Viegas deserts Netto to marry a woman and turns the letters over to Church authorities for possible prosecution by the Portuguese Inquisition.
March 1, 1656
Connecticut: the New Haven law code is the first in the American colonies to make same-sex acts between women punishable by the death penalty. The code quotes Romans 1:26 ("if any woman change the natural use into that which is against nature") as the basis for the law.
Japan: Ihara Saikaku's Life of air Amorous Woman includes a brief account of sex between the book's heroine and a female employer.
Japan: Ihara Saikaku publishes The Great Mirror of Male Love, 40 tales of love between older and younger men. Half the stories describe samurai affairs; the other half spotlight kabuki actors and their admirers.
England: Aphra Behn, considered by many to be the first professional woman writer, writes "To the Fair Clarinda, Who Made Love to Me, Imagined More than Woman," in which she teasingly defends her sexual attraction to a young woman.
China: Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty Emperor Kang,xi has three of his son's servants executed when he learns that they have been procuring male youths for themselves and his son.
Russia: Peter the Great criminalizes sex between men in the Military. Male-male sex remains legal and, according to contemporary accounts, widespread among civilians.
Customers at a London "molly house" fight off a police raid in what is perhaps the first documented example of a gay male protest against Law enforcement.
Paris is the home of some 20,000 "sodomites," according to police Lieutenant General Lenoir. About 50 men are arrested each year for the crime. Although sodomy remains a capital crime, most of those arrested are imprisoned, often for life.
Paris: Benjamin Deschauffours is burned at the stake in the Place de Greve. Although accused of other crimes including rape and murder, many contemporaries believe he has been unjustly punished for being guilty of sodomy. One publishes an anonymous tract in protest.
The Netherlands: an unprecedented severe campaign against Sodomy begins, focusing in some cities on orphanages and in others on public cruising areas. By 1731, courts throughout the country have found some 250 men and boys guilty of the crime. Approximately one tenth are strangled and burned at the stake. Most of the rest are whipped or banished.
Faan, a small village in northern Holland: 22 young men are strangled and burned at the stake despite protests from relatives and neighbors. Most had confessed to engaging in mutual masturbation with each other.
Ireland: William King publishes the first edition of The Toast, a vicious poetic satire on a group of women in Dublin. In one section, The Toast uses the term "lesbian loves," making it one of the earliest surviving examples in English of the word "lesbian" in a same-sex context.
China: the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty enacts the first Chinese law forbidding consensual sodomy between adult males. Offenders are to spend one month wearing a cangue around their neck and receive 100 blows. The statute, however, is rarely enforced.
Two workers named Bruno Lenoir and Jean Diot are burned at the stake after being caught having sex on a Paris street. They are the last - and the first in 25 years-to be executed ill France solely for the crime of sodomy.
Besides reminding the European reading public of the dangers of masturbation, Dr. Tissot's Onanisme lends additional support to a by now widespread belief: same-sex passions among women are caused by unusually large clitorides. Tissot considers this condition, akin to "hermaphroditism," disturbingly common. Over the next few decades, the Swiss physician's work- is widely translated and republished.
Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique includes an article on "l'amour, nomme socratique," complete with a listing of historical figures who were devotees of same-sex eroticism.
In Les Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau describes his terror and revulsion when a "self-styled African" attempted to seduce him, but then relates a friend's defense of the seduction attempt. This is perhaps the first plea for tolerance of same-sex love in modern European literature.
Two Irish cousins, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, elope to Wales to become the celebrated Ladies of Llangollen. Their romantic friendship, almost certainly sexual, becomes one of the most talked-about relationships of the age.
February 23, 1778
Prussian military genius Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in the company of a handsome 17-year-old secretary. Fearing prosecution for alleged indiscretions with young men back in Prussia, Steuben has signed on to train George Washington's ragtag Continental Army. Most historians consider his success at this task a major factor in the American victory.
March 11, 1778
Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin becomes the first American to be discharged from the military on an attempted sodomy charge.
Johann Friedel's Letters on the Gallantries of Berlin is the first book to describe male-male street cruising and prostitution in this German city.
France: Friar Pascal is the last person to be burned at the stake for Sodomy. The punishment is unusually harsh for Enlightenment France: Pascal had compounded his crime by murdering a boy he was trying to rape. All but eight of those convicted of sodomy since 1715 have been imprisoned rather than executed.
October 25, 1783
West Point, New York: Deborah Sampson is honorably discharged from the Massachusetts Regiment. Wounded in one of several battles in which she fought, Sampson had escaped discovery for almost a year and a half until falling sick with a fever. One of the earliest American examples of a passing woman, Sampson formed several attachments with women while dressed as a man. She later marries and receives a military pension.
Japan: popular prints by Kitagawa Utamaro and other artists depict erotic encounters between women and between men as well as heterosexual situations.
England: Mary Wollstonecraft publishes Mary: A Fiction, drawing on her own life to chronicle the devotion of one woman to another. The type of romantic friendship described in the novel will become a common theme of fiction as well as actual women's lives in the 19th century.
France: Groups of militant "sodomite-citizens" demand freedom and recognition in petitions addressed to the National Assembly, the governing body of the French Revolution.
Germany: The Magazine of Experimental Psychical Studies publishes what is considered the first attempt at a scientific article on gay men.
September 25, 1791
France: The new law code, enacted as part of the French Revolution, effectively decriminalizes sodomy by including no mention of sex between consenting adults.
France: the Marquis de Sade publishes Philosophy in the Boudoir, complete with almost every variety of sex imaginable. The book is suppressed two decades later, but remains widely available as an underground classic until it is openly republished in the 1960s.
France: encyclopedist Denis Diderot's posthumously published La Religieuse includes a decadent and libidinous Mother Superior who tries to seduce the young nun of the novel's title. His characterization of a woman attracted to other women as emotionally depraved will become common in 19th-century French novels.
Mederic Louis-Elie Moreau de St. Mery, a French lawyer and politician, leaves Philadelphia, where he later writes that he was shocked to observe women enjoying "unnatural pleasures" with each other-even though, like most Americans, such women are, compared with the French, "not affectionate."
Halet Efendi, the Turkish ambassador to France, is shocked at the number and flagrancy of boy prostitutes working around the Palais Royal market. Europeans consider all Muslims sodomites, he writes, but no place in the Muslim world is as scandalous as Paris.
China: Scholar Shen Fu's autobiography hints at ways cloistered upper-class Chinese women may have arranged love relationships with other women. When his wife, Shen Yun, falls in love with a singing girl, she attempts to obtain the girl as Shen Fu's concubine. Thwarted by her husband's family, Shen Yun sickens and dies after the girl is forced to marry another man.
London: The police raid the White Swan pub on Vere Street. One of the first "gay bars," the White Swan is patronized by a variety of men, most of whom contemporaries describe as effeminate but also including "Fanny, an athletic bargeman,' and "Lucy, a Herculean coal-heaver."
France: The Napoleonic Code takes effect, leaving consensual sex between adults decriminalized. Many Western European countries conquered by Napoleon, as well as their colonies around the world, adopt this code.
Responding to the previous year's controversial trial-and subsequent libel suit-of two Scottish schoolmistresses, Miss Pirie and Miss Woods, for "improper and criminal conduct" with each other and one of their pupils, British legal authorities engage in a debate over whether sex between two women is possible. The consensus: it is not.
Germany: Jurist Anselm von Feuerbach helps persuade Bavarian lawmakers to follow the lead of the Napoleonic Code and decriminalize sex acts between consenting adults.
London: Four members of the crew of the Africaine are hanged. Their execution is part of an intensified English campaign to punish "buggery" in the navy.
Spain's new criminal code includes no mention of sodomy.
Russia criminalizes male-male "anal contact" among civilians for the first time. The penalty is four to five years' exile in Siberia.
London: Captain Nicholas Nicholls, 50, is sentenced to death on a charge of Sodomy. His sentence is protested by the anonymous poet who is writing Don Leon, purportedly an autobiographical poem by Lord Byron but actually by some contemporary who is remarkably familiar with the late poet's love life. Don Leon is not only one of the earliest works of protest against the persecution of same-sex love; it is also cited as evidence of an emerging identity constructed around the "inborn passions" of men whose "predilection is for males":
Whence spring these inclinations, rank and strong?
And harming no one, wherefore call them wrong?
Although not technically a Berdache-she wears women's clothes and is considered attractive in a feminine way--the Crow known as Woman Chief takes a total of four wives as a sign of the elite status she has won by virtue of her bravery and skills in hunting and war.
France: Two popular novels-Honore de Balzac's The Girl with the Golden Eyes and Theophile Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin (whose eponymous heroine is among the first to refer to herself as a member of the "third sex")-introduce androgynously beautiful lesbian femmes fatales. These glamorously decadent heroines leave stereotypes that endure for more than one and a half centuries.
Switzerland: Heinrich Hoessli publishes the first volume of Eros: Die Mannerliebe der Griechen ("Eros: The Love Between Men of the Greeks"), a historical survey and defense of same-sex love and one of the first books to call for social tolerance of persons drawn to it.
Germany: The state of Hanover decriminalizes same-sex relations.
United Kingdom: The last execution for sodomy takes place. Capital punishment, however, remains possible until the legal reform of 1861.
July 20, 1845
Paris: A mob attacks a group of about 50 men arrested by police in a sweep of the Tuileries Gardens, a popular cruising area.
July 19, 1848
Elizabeth Cady Stanton and CO-organizer Lucretia Mott invite several hundred women to Seneca Falls, New York, for the first Women's Rights Convention. About 1 00 sign a "Declaration of Sentiments" modeled on the Declaration of Independence. The document marks the beginning of organized feminism in the U. S.
Yokel's Preceptor, a guide to London's unconventional attractions, lists Fleet Street and the Strand among places where one is almost certain to find men on the prowl for other men.
Prussia: Tthe most powerful of the states that will later become Germany, the government enacts the forerunner of Paragraph 175, penalizing male-male sex acts. Although less harsh than preceding legislation, the new law runs counter to a trend in other German states of decriminalizing consensual adult sex acts .
Austria makes sex between women illegal for the first time, while reducing the penalties for male-male relations. Johann Ludwig Casper, a specialist in forensic medicine, is the first in Germany to state that the tendency to be attracted to members of one's own sex is inborn.
July 4. 1855
Walt Whitman publishes the first edition of his Leaves of Grass.
France: Dr. Anibroise Tardieu publishes a highly Influential "medico-legal study" complete with a list of "symptoms" he believes are typical of a man prone to indulge in "practices against nature." These include a funnel-shaped rectum, deformed lips, and small teeth.
Walt Whitman publishes the third edition of his Leaves of Grass. Announcing his new resolve to be "the poet of comrades," the book now includes the sex-positive "Children of Adam" and the homoerotic "Calamus" poems.
The maximum sentence for sodomy in England, Ireland, and Wales is reduced from hanging to life in prison.
Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs coins the term "Urning" (Uranian) based on a passage in Plato's Symposium. In Ulrichs's usage, Uranian refers to a member of what he considers the "third sex"-a person with "a feminine soul confined in a masculine body" or vice versa. The term and concept gain currency in Europe and North America over the next few decades.
In the US, two passing women serving in the Union Army are discovered when they get drunk and nearly drown in a river in Tennessee. The two soldiers-one a teamster and the other serving as part of General Philip Sheridan's cavalry escort-had discovered each other after enlisting independently and formed, in Sheridan's words, an "Intimacy." They are discharged from the military, given women's clothing, and sent away from the front.
Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs publishes the first of 12 pamphlets of social and legal studies of "Uranian" love.
Able to support themselves by working in the booming silk-spinning industry, women in Guangdong, China, begin a "marriage resistance movement," formalizing bonds with each other and living apart from their families. The movement, which lasts until the Japanese invasion of 1937, harbors more than 100,000 women at its peak. Many of them form long-term sexual relationships.
Horatio Alger, minister at the Unitarian Church of Brewster, Massachusetts, is fired from his post for "deeds ... too revolting to relate" with two boys. He flees Brewster for New York City and a career as a popular writer of inspirational novels for boys.
Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal includes several poems that celebrate and exoticize lesbians, one of whom is Sappho. Baudelaire is one of the leaders of a mostly French trend portraying lesbianism as divinely evil decadence.
August 19, 1867
Munich,Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is jeered when he attempts to persuade a conclave of jurists that same-sex love should be tolerated rather than persecuted. He is probably the first to come Out publicly in defense of what he calls "Uranism" (homosexuality).
May 6. 1868
In a draft of a letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Karoly Maria Kertbeny, a Hungarian-German doctor who is an early sympathizer of Ulrichs, uses both "homosexual" and "heterosexual," terms Kertbeny has recently coined.
In an open letter to the Prussian minister of justice advocating the decriminalization of male-male sex relations, Karoly Maria Kertbeny uses the word "homosexual" in a public forum for the first time.
German physician Dr. Karl Friedrich Otto von Westphal publishes an article in a scholarly journal that is one of the first works to look at homosexuality (which he calls "contrary sexual feeling") through the sights of the infant science of psychiatry. In terms that suggest homosexuality is a mental illness rather than a moral failing, he recommends that governments decriminalize same-sex acts so that homosexuals will be more likely to seek medical treatment.
Rome: A group of American women Henry James called "the white, marmorean flock" create some of the most-praised sculptures of their time. This women-identified network, which revolves around the actress Charlotte Cushman, includes Emma Stebbins, Anne Whitney, and Mary Edmonia Lewis, several of whom are in Boston Marriages.
Despite protests, the new legal code for a unified Germany includes Paragraph 175, which makes sex acts between men punishable by a prison sentence of three to ten years.
Japan: As part of a campaign of "modernization" and national revitalization, the Meiji government makes consensual sex between men illegal for the first time in Japanese history. The penalty is ninety days' imprisonment.
June 1, 1880
The United States Census finds 63 men in 22 states incarcerated for "crimes against nature."
The government of Japan reverses itself and decriminalizes consensual sex between men 16 or older.
England: The Labouchere Amendment is passed, reducing the maximum prison sentence for sodomy from life to two years but also broadening the scope of the LAW to include any "gross indecency" between two men.
Germany: Richard Von Krafft-Ebing publishes his enormously influential Psychopathia Sexualis. The book promotes a medical/psychiatric theory of homosexuality, which is described as a form of degeneracy.
Paris: The Guide des Plaisirs directs readers to a Montmartre restaurant frequented by lesbians.
The maximum sentence for sodomy in Scotland is reduced from hanging to a prison sentence.
Italy decriminalizes consensual same-sex acts between adults.
London: Newspapers accuse the government of a cover-up in a scandal that broke out the previous year involving a male brothel on Cleveland Street, telegraph messenger boys, and prominent aristocrats. Reaction to the scandal reflects growing awareness of London's gay male subculture as well as an increase in social intolerance of homosexuality.
January 26, 1892
Newspapers across the US report on the murder of 17-year-old Freda Ward by her lover, 19-year-old Alice Mitchell. Both members of upper-class Memphis society, the two women had vowed never to separate. When Ward's family refused to allow Mitchell to have contact with her, Mitchell waylaid Ward on a train and slashed her throat. Besides being one of the first times lesbianism is discussed in the nation's media, the Mitchell-Ward case becomes a frequently cited example of the dangerous 11 pathology" of same-sex love. Mitchell is later found insane and committed to an asylum.
France: Pierre Louys publishes Les Chansons de Bilitis (The Songs of Bilitis), including lesbian love poetry written in the voice of Bilitis, a fictitious character described as living on Lesbos at the time of Sappho.
Brazil: Adolfo Caminha publishes Bom-Crioulo, a naturalistic novel about the sexual and romantic obsession of a virile black sailor for a 15-year-old cabin boy.
England: Edward Carpenter quietly publishes a pamphlet entitled "Homogenic Love and Its Place in a Free Society," one of the first documents to assert that same-sex love and the men and women who practice it make a positive contribution to society.
May 25, 1895
England: Oscar Wilde is found guilty of gross indecency and is sentenced to two years' hard labor. The international publicity given his trial brings awareness of the existence of homosexuality to a new high.
Germany: the first successful gay periodical, Adolf Brand's Der Eigene ("One's Own" or "The Special"), makes its debut on Staten Island, New York, Alice Austen begins to create a photographic record of the lives of her small group of women friends and her lover, Gertrude Tate.
May 14, 1897
Germany: Magnus Hirschfeld organizes the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, considered by many historians to be the first formal group to advocate civil rights for lesbians and gay men. The group launches a petition drive urging the repeal of Paragraph 175.
May 19, 1897
Oscar Wilde is released from prison. A short time later, he leaves England to spend the remaining three years of his life in self-imposed exile in France and Italy.
January 13, 1898
Germany: The Reichstag debates a petition urging the revocation of Paragraph 175. Promoted by Magnus Hirschfeld and signed by dozens of prominent German opinion leaders, the motion is supported by only one political party in the Reichstag, the Social Democratic Party led by August Bebel. The Reichstag votes against reform.
Germany: Magnus Hirschfeld publishes the first of 23 volumes of the Jahrbuch fur Sexuelle Zwischenstufen ("Yearbook for Sexual Intermediate Types"), a compendium of scholarly articles and an annual comprehensive bibliography relating to the study of male and female homosexuality.
Arthur J. Cohen publishes A Marriage Below Zero, the first American novel to discuss sex between two men openly.