So eunuchs were basically men who were anatomically able to procreate, but had a sexual aversion to or were impotent with women, and they were commonly known to have sex with other men. Quod erat demonstrandum: Eunuchs were gay men. It follows then that gay men who are not attracted to or who are impotent with women are what used to be called eunuchs, and more specifically born or natural eunuchs. So the ancients concurred with those who say that gay people are born gay.
The understanding that gay men are eunuchs has some far-reaching ramifications.
For example, the search for a "gay gene" must be a search for a gene that blocks heterosexual attraction, not one that causes homosexual attraction. Moreover, homosexuality is probably the result of two different genetic phenomena in men versus women. If most people are naturally wired to feel sexual excitement with both men and women, due to two independent neurological mechanisms, then it is the failure to feel attraction to one of the sexes that requires explanation. Maybe in lesbian women, the mechanism causing lust for men is blocked. In gay men, a separate mechanism causing lust for women is blocked. Two different mechanisms, blocked by different genes.
Here is one example of a mind-blowing ramification: Since eunuchs are gay men, the number of gay men identified as such in the Bible skyrockets. Potiphar, the gay Egyptian official who bought Joseph as a slave; the killers of Jezebel; the black gay court official Ebedmelech, who saved the prophet Jeremiah from the dungeon; the gay court officials of Nebuchadnezzar who raised Daniel; the gay servants who plotted against Esther's father and the other gay servants who exposed the plot; the gay court official from Ethiopia whom Philip baptized; not to mention gay military leaders from Israel, Judah, Assyria, and Babylonia.
Furthermore, historians can finally identify the historical figures who were truly gay and not just bisexual: the Byzantine general Narses who defeated the Goths, the Byzantine court official and Arian proponent Eusebius, the various Persian eunuchs named Bagoas, the imposter who pretended to be the Persian Smerdis, to name just a few. And they can argue intelligently about the status of others, like Alexander the Great, who are not called eunuchs in available historical records, but are described as lacking lust for women.
There is a pervasive association at all times in the ancient world between eunuchs, women and religion, as mentioned in this essay. In the Bible, this linkage is reflected in the mentions of "the holy ones," who, in addition to being called holy, are also called "sodomites" and "whores" in the King James translation and "temple prostitutes" in recent versions. The demand for celibacy of the clergy under the Roman Catholic system reflects the same association. People expect their priests to have no children because childless gay men and lesbians were the original chaste, holy priests. Moreover, gay people mirror in themselves the divine union of maleness and femaleness that is traditionally thought to be the image of the Creator. After all, the image of the Creator is male and female, according to Genesis 1:28.
Straight people, who suffer from a gender imbalance, marry one another in order to bring the male and female sides together. But gay people are closer to having both sides in balance within themselves. Transgendered and intersexed persons are even closer to that holy state.
While studying the possible connections between circumcision and queer holiness, I ran across an example of homosexual ritual leadership in Africa in this century. Joseph Towles reported that in the ambembe, a women's ritual occurring during the Nkumbi initiation of boys in the Mbo tribe of Zaire,
among the circle of dancers there was one woman who wore a mulumba,
loincloth, in the manner of men, with the flaps hanging out of the front and
back. I was told that this was intentional; symbolically, the loincloth
represented the presence of men and made one of the aims of the rites
explicit: the contradiction and resolution of the role of man and woman.
In this same ambembe, the ritual synthesized
the contradiction and resolution
of the role of man and woman through the presence of a homosexual. This
man wore a cloth in the style of women, folded in at the waist without the
(male) overhanging flaps in back and front. This man was tall and dominated
the dance. He was at the head of the circle of women, for sometimes they broke
the circle and danced out of the baraza and back again to the fire, where they
formed a circle. The homosexual led them whenever they danced away or varied
the dance step.
Homosexuals, who are rare among the Mbo, are called mangaiko
to go back and forth). Another term also defines this role: akengike, from a, a
prefix implying power attributes, kenge, the okapi, and ike, a female suffix, has
the meaning of timidness and is charged with feminine power: "feet-birth" is said
to be the way of okapi's live birth.
I was told that this man had no wife and disregarded all manly behavior.
said that he tested the women's role. Although he wore a traditional male hat, the
igayi, with injo feathers as well as parrot feathers, he took a full part in the rites.
This homosexual was a twin, I was told, giving him a structural role which,
added to his homosexuality, was of immense importance. Twins ordinarily are
thought to be imbued with great ritual powers, such as being able to curse people,
to call all the snakes out of the forest and to divine the future; these powers were
made doubly potent by the homosexual attribute.
(Joseph A. Towles, Nkumbi Initiation: Ritual and Structure Among the
Mbo of Zaire,
Annales des Sciences Humaines, vol. 137, Tervuren, Belgium: Musee Royale de
l'Afrique Centrale, 1993, p. 57.)
Our failure to understand that some men and
women are not meant to procreate, because they are born gay, is one of
the major points of distinction that separate modern European culture from
ancient Mediterranean culture and many precolonial global cultures.
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