Greek Culture

 Before the Roman Empire took over, the Greek culture was known for its reverence of gay male love. This adoration of the male body was evident in things such as the plentiful statues of naked men of that time. This type of respect and admiration is different than how it was like for thousands of years afterwards; when the Roman Empire conquered the Greeks around the height of their civilization, they took elements they liked about classical Greek to the Roman Empire. At this time, the Roman Empire ended up with many gods and goddesses, some of which were altered to their Roman counterparts. For instance, Aphrodite became Venus.

What was really significant in terms of LGBT history, however, and helps us understand where homophobia came from is that the Roman Empire was both very homophobic and incredibly misogynistic. Unfortunately, the homophobic and misogynistic aspects of the culture came together such that the Roman Empire viewed anything that was passive or anything that was the receiver (sexually or psychologically) as inferior.

What this meant for the Roman culture was that women, as sexual receivers, were inferior and men who were bottoms, also sexual receivers, were devalued. In this way, both women and effeminate men were incredibly demonized and devalued, revealing a severe shift in Western civilization’s view of gay men and women. This shift in the way society viewed gay men and women became very damaging to the LGBT community and the consequences carry over even today.