Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The Huffington Post
No, there was no right word for it that you wanted to use for it if you were doing it. Buggery and sodomy connoted anal penetration and thus were, in many places, punishable by death.
That does not mean that men did not know they were gay (to use today's word), know what to do with their cocks, know when they were smitten with other men, know where to go to find them, know what it meant to get violently rejected, or the reverse, find a friend, in other words, the whole gestalt, to use another of today's terms. A penis has never been something that you pick up and put down and put away idly without consideration.
When both US News and the New Yorker ran pieces on the 400th anniversary of Jamestown in 2007, they were both so annoyingly ignorant of the fact that almost all of its inhabitants were men that I submitted my thoughts to both magazines. US News, which appeared first, of course said No, (they never have liked gays very much), but the New Yorker, which ran their Commemorative Piece a few months later, published the following from my letter to the editor:
"Jamestown was initially an all-male settlement. ...in subsequent years...male colonists outnumbered women by roughly six to one in the 1620's and four to one in later decades... It is difficult to believe that a group of young and notoriously unbridled men remained celibate for an extended period of time. It seems likely that some male settlers deprived of female companionship would have turned to each other instead.(Click to remainder.)
"Settlers in the seventeenth-century Chesapeake often paired off to form all-male households, living and working together. ...it would be truly remarkable if all the male-only partnerships lacked a sexual ingredient... IT SEEMS REASONABLE TO ASSUME, [my caps and bold], that much of the sex that took place... was sodomitical."
These words are from Sexual Revolution in Early America, by Richard Godbeer an associate professor at UC Riverside and published by Johns Hopkins.
My own research for my book, The American People, has revealed that not only were male-only partnerships quite in evidence, but services were often conducted to join the partners "under God," and that, of equal interest, was their adoption of Indian children to raise as their own.
I hope it will not be too much longer before scholars will be able to deal with the fact that Jamestown was in fact not only America's first colony but its first homosexual community.