PRIDE! teaches history lesson

Bryan Wroten

Christopher Taylor, president of PRIDE!Kent, holds up a picture of a painting of the Greek god Apollo and his lover, Cyparissus, during a presentation about homosexuality in ancient mythology. The presentation, led by PRIDE!Kent secretary Sean Szymecki, w

Credit: Ben Breier

Alexander the Great was gay. So was Julius Caesar. Hercules, Greek hero and son of Zeus, had a male lover.

Don’t expect to find this kind of information in the average history book, PRIDE!Kent secretary Sean Szymecki said. During the Middle Ages, Christianity covered up this and other aspects of ancient homosexuality.

Szymecki made his presentation titled “Ancient Views on Homosexuality” during the normal PRIDE!Kent meeting time. He explained how homosexuality wasn’t seen as a perversion before Christianity became so widespread.

“A lot of homosexual people were considered to have both male and female spirits, so they were put into high positions, such as priests,” he said.

Before the Middle Ages in Europe, homosexuality was seen as something normal. In Christian areas, it wasn’t tolerable, he said, but because there were so many other religions around, it still existed.

However, once Christianity came into power in Europe, Szymecki said it took over the pagan religions in existence then. The acceptance of homosexuality therefore disappeared.

He showed artwork from the Renaissance to illustrate how homosexual themes still existed even while Christianity reigned. He said this happened because the artists were all at least bisexual. Finding their inspiration in Greek mythology, artists created artwork such as Zeus capturing his male lover Ganymede and the death of Hyacinth, lover of Apollo, Szymecki said.

This also showed a discrepancy in what Christianity was trying to tell people, he said. The mistranslation of ancient texts showed homosexuality as immoral, he said, but artwork and recent translations now say otherwise.

“If they gave heroes and gods these traits, then they could not have thought it is so bad,” he said.

During the meeting, PRIDE!Kent president Christopher Taylor discussed the protest at the Board of Trustees meeting on Wednesday. He explained what happened during the protest and what happened after meeting with Steve Michael, vice provost of the office of diversity and academic initiatives.

Following the meeting, members attended a candlelight vigil for the 7th annual Transgender Day of Remembrance near the Centennial residence halls. Jae Lerer, PRIDE!Kent community service and financial liaison, said there were 225 markers for transgendered men and women killed in hate crimes since 1976. He said many of their identities are still unknown.

“That’s why it is so significant that we remember them,” he said.

The actual day of remembrance is Sunday, Taylor said, but they felt more would attend if the vigil were part of the meeting.

For those interested in learning more about the Transgender Day of Remembrance, the Web site address is

Contact religion and minority affairs reporter Bryan Wroten at [email protected].