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A.D. 1

China: Emperor Ai of the Han Dynasty attempts on his deathbed to name his lover Dong Xian as his successor. Other forces prevail, and Dong Xian is forced to commit suicide. As with Mizi Xia, however, their relationship achieves a kind of immortality: the tale of the Emperor's cutting his sleeve off so as not to disturb Dong Xian, who had fallen asleep on it, inspires subsequent generations to call eroticism between men duanxiu ("cut sleeve") love.

c. 40

Philo, an influential Greco-Jewish philosopher who synthesizes elements of Plato with Judaism, is among the first to condemn all forms of sex not leading to procreation, in particular same-sex eroticism.

41

Rome: Claudius distinguishes himself by being the only emperor reigning in the first two centuries of the empire who is thought not to have sexual relationships with men.

c. 50

Roman Empire: Dorotheos of Sidon is one of several writers on the science of astrology who makes reference to birth charts that cause both men and women to experience sexual desire for members of their own sex.

c. 60

St. Paul writes "epistles" to communities of early Christians living in Rome and Corinth. Although the exact meaning of Paul's pronouncements will be disputed, Romans 1:26-27 and, to a lesser extent, 1 Corinthians 6:9 lay the New Testament foundation for condemning same-sex acts between women as well as men. In rome, Petronius Arbiter writes a comic novel called The Satyricon in which he evokes the attitudes, lifestyles, and bisexuality of libertines of his day.

c. 85

Martial publishes the first of more than a dozen books of his scabrous but witty epigrams. Several hundred describe the love lives and sexual practices of people the poet knows in Rome, including men who make love to boys, men who make love to other men, and, in several poems, women who make love to other women.

91

A Jewish historian writing for a broad Greco-Roman audience, Flavius Joseph's helps popularize the idea that the sin for which Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed was homosexuality, rather than simply unconscionable behavior toward strangers. Via his and other writings, the word "sodomy" passes into Greek and Latin.

c. 100

Plutarch's highly influential biographies and essays written in Greek influence later attitudes toward same-sex eroticism through passages describing, among other relevant topics, man-boy and adult male-male love in the lives of famous men in Greece and Rome, woman-girl love in Sparta, and the supposed "fact" that same-sex acts are unknown among animals.

On the other hand, the even more popular Physiologist, a "bestiary" recently translated from Greek into Latin (from which it will be translated and adapted over the next 1,200 years into all the European languages), explains that the hyena is despised because it spontaneously changes from male to female, not unlike some men "who are unchaste with other men.

c. 120

Juvenal's scathing satires target men in same-sex marriages, gigolos who pretend to be "effeminate" to gain access to their lovers' wives, upper-class women who shamelessly and semipublicly consort with each other, and a host of other types the poet finds all too common in Rome.

October 130

Rome: Emperor Hadrian mourns the drowning of his lover Antinous, founding a city and erecting temples and statues over the entire empire in his honor. Annual memorial games are celebrated for the next 200 years.

c. 160

The author Lucian provides a rare hint of the life and love styles considered typical for "tribades" in Rome and elsewhere. In the fifth of his Dialogues o the Courtesans, a musician/ courtesan tells how she was seduced by a wealthy female couple, who have what is perhaps the earliest example of a butch-femme relationship. Lucian also makes reference to "masculine-looking" hetairistrial on the Isle of Lesbos who have sex only with other women.

193

Palestine: Rabbi Judah the Prince compiles the Mishna, the codification of three centuries of rabbinical debates, including decisions that fix stoning to death as the penalty for male intercourse. As part of the Talmud (Learning), the Mishna becomes one of the fundamental texts of Judaism.

In China, documents, including Records of the Han, allude to the existence of passionate relationships between women living in the Han Emperor's palace.

c. 200

Upper Egypt: a spell cast to make a woman named Sarapias fall in love with another named Herais is one of several recorded on papyrus fragments. The spells are among the few surviving proofs of the existence of homo eroticism between women in the Roman Empire.

249

Philip the Arab attempts to outlaw male prostitution in the Roman Empire. The law is widely ignored: a special tax on male prostitutes continues to be collected in many parts of the empire for years to come.

c. 275

China: Official history: it is common for men at the Western Jin (Tsin) Dynasty court to be as attracted to each other as to women.

314

Drawing on teachings of the early Church fathers, the Council of Ancyra is the first to condemn sodomy along with a host of other sex-related sins.

342

The Emperors Constans I and Constantius 11 establish what is probably the first law in the Roman Empire directed against consensual sex acts between men. Reflecting the Roman abhorrence of adult citizens who allow themselves to be penetrated during sex, the edict specifies capital punishment for men who nubit in feminam ("mate as if a woman").

390

Lamenting the ineffectiveness of previous legislation and attacking the spread of male effeminacy in the Roman Empire, the Emperor Theodosius I issues a new edict prescribing public burning for offenders. Vaguely worded, the edict seems to apply mainly to transgender prostitutes.

Thessalonica: An outpost of the Roman Empire, the commander of the local militia arrests a popular charioteer famous for his effeminacy on charges probably related to the edict described above. An uprising ensues, and the militia slaughters more than 3,000 people in seven hours.

c. 400

India: the Kama Sutra describes harem lesbianism.

438

Theodosius 11 amends the Roman Empire laws regulating sex between men to specify burning at the stake for all men who make a practice of "condemning their male body" to be used "as a wino's."

533

Byzantine Empire: Justinian I blames men who lust after other men for natural disasters that threaten the state. He orders castration as punishment for sodomy.

c. 650

In the territory that is to become Portugal and Spain, the Visigothic Code is the first in post-Roman Western Europe to make sex between men a crime. Castration is the prescribed punishment.

651

The canonical text of the Koran, the foundation Of Islam, is established, containing several negative references to sex between men as practiced by "the people of Lut [Lot]," the Sodomites and Gomorrhans of the Christian tradition. No punishment, however, is explicitly mandated.

700

"Penitentials refined in Wales and Ireland over the past two centuries, now become common throughout Western Europe. Containing lists of sins and recommended penances, penitentials are handy guides for priests, who have begun to hear private confessions. Sex between men is usually among the sins mentioned; starting about this year some penitentials also list sexual acts between women. In general, same-sex sin is not treated much more harshly than heterosexual adultery.

720

One of the first books written in Japan, the Nihon Shoki ("Japanese Chronicles"), includes an account of two male lovers who enraged the gods by sacrilegiously being buried in the same tomb. This is probably the earliest surviving mention of same-sex love in Japan.

c. 800

Male homoerotic poetry in praise of beautiful youths becomes one of the major themes of Arabic poetry during the Abbasid Caliphate, typified by the brilliant, often obscene lyrics of ABU NUWAS.

806

Kukai (posthumously called Kobo Daishi) returns to Japan from ChinA, bringing with him, according to Japanese tradition, the "Chinese custom" of male-male love along with Shingon ("true word") Buddhism.

829

The Synod of Paris blames Moorish and Hungarian invasions and Viking raids on same-sex eroticism, bestiality, and residual paganism.

866

Byzantine Empire: Michael III joins in a same-sex union with Basil the Macedonian. The next year Basil murders Michael and usurps the throne.

914

Byzantine Empire: A commentator adds a marginal note to a text of the second-century Christian theologian Clement of Alexandria, explaining that by "women who act like men" Clement means those women who are "abominable tribades hetairistriai, or Lcsbiai." This is the earliest recorded usage of "lesbian" in a context that clearly refers to same-sex acts.

960

China: The Song (Sung) Dynasty capital of Kaifeng is said to have thousands of male prostitutes.

1051

Peter Damian writes liber Gomorrhianus, urging Pope Leo IX to deal more harshly with sins against nature in the Church. The Pope, however, stresses the value of mercy in his reply.

1073

Pope Gregory VII orders Sappho's works, the world's oldest poetry of love between women, destroyed in public bonfires in Rome and Constantinople.

c. 1115

China: The empire's first law forbidding male prostitution is promulgated. Part of a campaign to control both female and male prostitution, the law is never strenuously enforced and passes into oblivion with the end of the Song (Sung) Dynasty.