Continuing to talk about western civilization and how its formation is related to heterosexism is important in understanding LGBT history. The formation of western civilization is very much tied to phobias such as homophobia, biphobia, and lesbianphobia, as well as the internalization of those phobias. In this way, knowing the history of western civilization helps us understand its byproduct, which is today’s society that is oppressive and shaming for LGBT individuals.
Moreover, understanding this important piece of history and where today’s phobias and shaming originated can help us realize that we’ve been internalizing these negative messages all along, and that we need to shed the messages. It can help us realize that these internalizations come from ideologies that people developed to have power and control over subjugated peoples – for instance, women and the LGBT culture. This need to dominate these groups of society corroborated the heterosexist viewpoints of the time and is in part responsible for the effects we feel today from phobias and the internalization of negative messages.
In order to understand the trajectory of this negativity and phobia, we can go back to its origin in the Roman Empire and advent of Christianity. Around the time of the Roman Empire, when Constantine strived to make Christianity the official religion, there were other Christian forefathers whose goal was to make Christianity more well known and reach further to more civilizations. One of these forefathers was Saint Paul, who had met Jesus on the road to Damascus and became a Christian, after which he began to spread the gospel as he saw it.
As Saint Paul was spreading the gospel, he did so in a hurried manner; he believed the world was ending soon, and so he rushed to save and convert as many people as possible before the end came. He did so by spreading his beliefs, an important one of which was that Jesus was celibate; thus, for Saint Paul, one of the most significant components of being a Christian was to promote and practice celibacy, for it was the noblest way to live. After becoming celibate himself, Saint Paul took to others to spread the idea of celibacy because he strongly believed that relationships and sex obstructed one’s relationship with God.
When Saint Paul began spreading the message that sexuality got in the way of one’s relationship with God is when we began to see the repression of sexuality. Furthermore, Saint Paul contributed to the notion that homosexuality was a bad thing, because he told men that if they were to break their celibacy, they should only be having relations with their wives and they shouldn’t enjoy it. We can then see that during the advent of Christianity is when people got it in their heads that lust and sexuality – and homosexuality in particular – weren’t good for their character or relationship with God, and this is an important message that began to infiltrate into western civilization.