Last week we discussed the nine types of creation myth. This week, lets take a look at some stand out gay gods in history.
Keep in mind that what we know about these deities came to us through the lense of following civilisations, who weren’t always big fans of homosexuality. The result is sometimes we have to read between the lines.
However, next time someone tries to tell you heterosexuality is the way its always been, you can tell them about these ancient deities
You may not have heard of Antinous. He was a Greek youth who was the lover of Emperor Hadrian around the 1st century AD. Antinous drowned while on a boat trip on the Nile, and Hadrian deified him post-humously.
Hadrian had his lover set among the gods as a form of Osiris due to the manner of his death. The city of Antinopolis was founded in his honour at the sight of his death. It continued to be occupied until the 10th century.
Antinous’ worship was popular for centuries. Sadly, many of his temples were destroyed when the Roman Empire Christianized. His worship declined from then on. Today it is kept alive by LGBT pagans and polytheists.
Apollo is the most famous of the gods on this list. Best known for his tragic romances, many of them with men. His lovers included Adonis and Hymenaois. However, the two most famous are the tragedies of Hyacinthus and Kyparissos.
Hyacinthus was a beautiful Spartan prince whom Apollo was deeply in love with. However the wind gods Zephyrus and Boreas, and the mortal Thamyris also desired Hyacinthus. Hyacinthus chose Apollo over them all, and Apollo taught him all his crafts and showed him all his sacred temples.
However while Apollo and Hyacinthus played quoit, Zephyrus blew a breeze that made Apollo’s discus hit Hyacinthus. Hyacinthus died in Apollo’s arms, and though Apollo attempted to make him a god by giving him ambrosia, the Fates had willed that it was his time.
The story of Kyparissos is a shorter, but no less tragic tale. Kyparissos was given a pet stag by Apollo, which while hunting he accidentally killed. He was so over taken by grief he begged to be transformed into a tree, the cypress.
Chin was a deity of the Mayans, who today is very little known. Most of our records of the god come from the Conquistadors. He was one of four minor deities who had some relation with the Becab, gods of death.
The Mayan practiced a form of homosexuality where a noble’s son would take a lower class boy as his lover. The records from the Spanish of course portrayed this very negatively. We have to take any of these claims by the Spanish conquistadors with a grain of salt. Chin was patron of this practice, and remaining depictions show him embracing a male creature as a lover.
Xōchipilli was the Aztec god of flowers, songs, dance, beauty, art and games. With his twin sister Xōchiquetzal, he represented the male gender, while she represented female fertility. However, Xōchipilli was also patron god of homosexuals and male prostitutes. We don’t know enough about Aztec religion to know much more about him.
Tu Shen (or Tu’er Shen), the Rabbit God, is the Chinese patron of god of homosexuals. He was created by Yuan Mei for the work What the Master Wouldn’t Discuss. It tells the story of Hu Tianbao, who was enamored with a handsome imperial inspector. He spied on the man when he was bathing, and then admitted his love to him. The inspector had Hu beaten to death. The underworld, seeing his only crime being that of love, restored him as the Rabbit God.
Tu Shen got a cult of his own in the 18th century, from the popularity of Yuan’s writing. He continues to be worshiped to this day. One of Tu Shen’s last temples is found in Taiwan in the Yonghe District of New Taipei City.
Header image: Death of Hyacinth by Alexander Kiselev c.1884. Public Domain