Published on August 21st, 2013 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles
Being Gay is Not Strictly a Sexual Life
by George M. Akerley
Being gay is not strictly a sexual life. Though vitally important to any gay man, sex is but a portion of our makeup. In order to fully understand what it is to be a gay man, what it may have been like for others who’ve gone before us, and how best to take advantage of all that life provides, it’s smart to invest and dig deep into the past to learn about our gay ancestors. They were a creative, brave, strong (dare we say “macho”) aggregate of what might be called “the best and the brightest.”
There is much history to be mined. Contrary to what we’ve long been told, gay men have been around since time began. It is a worthwhile endeavor to learn about these brave, stout and sexy men who came before us. The history of any people is fascinating, enlightening and valuable, and the history of gay men is a rich one, replete with heroes, sportsmen, artisans, and a myriad of other wonderful souls.
Dig deeply into the history of your gay heritage, and you will better understand yourself. We all recognize that internalized homophobia is one of the reasons many of us stay in denial about our sexuality for years. Some men never come to grips with their need for the love of other men. But to know that the men you’ve read about in your history books had the same natural desires, the same needs, will strengthen your resolve to live your life to the fullest, and to be the gay man you were born to be.
The internet has revolutionized our lives. History is at our fingertips, and all the resources we need are handy. The things we were never taught in school, that has been taboo even in the home and kept in secret places all our lives are now readily accessible. Take heart as you journey on the world wide web and discover what antiquity has in store for you.
Here are some informative websites that will entertain, enlighten and enchant you. There is a wealth of information available, all of which will make your gay journey that much more enjoyable.
The World History of Gay Love (search under “gay-art-history”) tells us that “the male love instinct is a universal constant,” and that “male love was part of the social and religious fabric” throughout history. Did you know that William Shakespeare’s greatest sonnets were written to his young male lover? Or that Alexander the Great was smitten with his lover, Hephaestion? The Roman Emperor Hadrian loved a Greek youth names Antinous.
But of course, that’s not all the news fit to print on the site. Among the other features are homosexual traditions throughout the ancient world; a contemporary gay art gallery along with a European gay art gallery from, predominantly, the 19th century; a section on gay mythology. In short, a comprehensive and fascinating look at how we loved each other over the centuries.
The GLBT Encyclopedia is “the world’s largest encyclopedia of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture.” Sections on literature, the arts, social sciences and more will provide you with a wealth of history, covering a truly encyclopedic variety. Wandering around the site, you can’t help but be thrilled to learn of all those who’ve gone before. Putting a face on the gays of the past helps us so much in dealing with our current lives. The site tracks birth dates of our famed brethren, highlights a sideshow on the symbols of gay pride, and affords us the ability to research through its archives to reap from the past.
The Equity Archives has a wonderful collection of gay studies, including photographs, slides, videos, personal papers; mostly related to gay life in Connecticut. The archivist is, in fact, Central Connecticut State University, and a Google search for the Equity Archives should bring you where you wish to be.
The Outweek Internet Archive (search hint: “outweek”) contains every issue (105 in all) of OutWeek Magazine, which was published in New York City from June of 1989 until April of 1991. OutWeek was an activist publication and their input was critical in those days of activism and rallying around issues pertaining to AIDS and Gay Rights.
Out History (search hint: “out history”) is an interactive site that contains historical exhibits, Colonial American history concerning the sexual activity of the era and the concurrent punishment wielded, and a wide variety of photo exhibits, art exhibits, and a smattering of stories of gay life (actually LGBTQ life) throughout the ages.
The history of gay love is a fascinating one. Learning about the love the men of antiquity had for one another, about the great literati of the past whose gay love affairs were hidden in their writings, how great warriors had male lovers; all these examples and so many more are available to us. For those who have struggled with their feelings of inadequacy because of their gay needs and desires, and for those questioning their desire for other men, sites such as those noted above are critical to the acceptance of one’s sexuality.
Yes, we’re advised by society at large that homosexual love is unnatural, obscene and a pox on the people; but we aren’t driven by lust but by our natural inclinations. Men loving men is natural, part of the genetic makeup, and to learn the history of gay men throughout history is validation for those who struggle. For those on the verge of coming out, those who are terrified at the thought of coming out, and for those who’ve readily accepted themselves, there is fascinating information at hand, valuable and fun all at once.
George M. Akerley is a well-traveled and enlightened gay man, with a fervent desire to help his fellow travelers through the processes of recognition, acceptance, enjoyment and fulfillment as gay. He has struggled in his own life with acceptance of being gay, and knows that others suffer in dreadful ways. By sharing concepts and precepts, he hopes to have a powerful and important impact on others in similar situations.