Those of us who follow the Hellenic tradition or Hellenismos have met people on the internet and in real life who ask us about our position on homosexuality, and others even asked us to condemn homosexuality or seemed highly offended by our answers. So, what is the position of the Hellenic religion on homosexuality? Does it even have a position regarding this matter? What do we answer?
In general, we can say that Greek religion has no such position, because it simply does not deal with the sexual preferences or sexual orientation of its practitioners. This does not mean that there are no ethnic Hellenes or Hellenists who have an opinion on homosexuality or bisexuality, but any position or point of view about homosexuality reflects only a personal opinion and not that of Hellenic religion. If someone has a problem with homosexuality, it is their problem and not something that concerns Hellenic religion as a whole.
If you want to be a Hellenist, is not enough to study Hellenic culture. You also must try to understand Hellenism. And this can only work if you look at this particular tradition through Hellenic eyes, without projecting your own stereotypes, clichés or ideologies that have been implanted by the current dominant culture and Christianity onto the Hellenes. We Hellenes respect humans‘ existence, sexuality and self-determination. We do not discriminate against social minorities or people with a different sexual orientation, way of life or thinking. We do not reduce humans to their sexuality. Homosexuals can freely honor the gods, represent the community and have the right to vote. (Besides, people are not the sum of their sexual practices.) They are equal members of our community and their alterity is totally respected. And yet there seem to be irrelevant third parties or people who are trying pass, if not impose, on our tradition from the outside. These people are essentially turning against the natural order. Their views are not based on or shaped by reality or science, but by an ideological moralism whose adherents ignore nature and decide arbitrarily what is “healthy” or “sick”, “right” or “wrong”, how man should and should not be according to their respective ideology. That is why they are indifferent to the findings of biology, anthropology, or psychology, that is, the tools to measure reality, with which ideologists are at war. The theories they use on the other side, are too simplistic to explain the causes of homosexual orientation. Thanks to science, we know that homosexuality is a complex phenomenon. It is not that easy to explain.
Nature, however, does not care about the sensitivities and morals of mortals; we are simply called upon to respect her. Nature exists, and we have to comply with her laws and not project our view of point onto her. Otherwise, we do not see reality, but only our obsessions. Many homophobes, usually people with conservative views, are not so much hostile towards homosexuals but more to the unconscious homosexual tendencies in their own souls that scare their conscious “ego”. These are the tendencies, which they need to suppress. They project these tendencies, their discomfort or fear onto homosexual people and they try to get rid of it; they fight against these tendencies by fighting homosexuals, as the psychotherapist Udo Rauchfleisch pointed out. They are probably dealing with their own internalized homophobia. In any case, the homophobic problem is a source of misery for homosexuals, as it isolates and stigmatizes them. If we look at things closely, however, we realize that homosexuality is ultimately about homosexuals, all about their sexuality. Therefore, it should not concern others. But this is hard to be understood by those who disprize what is different to themselves, manly because they are unable to see things from a different perspective.
Nature, however, is not subjected to man-made ideologies or to how people should behave according to the principles of ideologies that ignore the criteria that really matter: Biology and psychology. Science. From a biological point of view, we can say that homosexuality is a normal form of human sexuality (but aside from that, it must be remembered that the rectum is an erogenous zone and that other animals also show homosexual behaviour), can be found all over the biosphere, in a number of mammals, not only in human societies.
The psychoanalyst Eugene Monick explains from a psychological point of view why homosexuality is not a behaviour disorder or an infantile adaptation pattern: “How a man [respective woman] deals with his sexuality, is where pathology enters the picture … Sexuality, in itself, including the omnipresent homosexual radical in men, is not, and never has been, pathological.” (Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine, p. 116, Toronto 1987). Abraham Brill, Fritz Morgenthaler and Udo Rauchfleisch express similar conclusions or observations (U. Rauchfleisch: Schwule, Lesben, Bisexuelle: Lebensweisen, Vorurteile, Einsichten, 4th ed., p. 52, Göttingen 2011). Most modern scientists agree that homosexuality itself is not a mental disorder. It seems, it is not homosexuality itself that is abnormal or wrong, but people’s understanding or view of it. Homophobia, hatred of homosexuals, is an irrational hatred and therefore harmful to reason. Consequently, the conclusions drawn from it are equally irrational, especially when they are based on very subjective criteria.
From a biological viewpoint we can say that homosexuality is natural and healthy, for it helps regulating overpopulation (besides that the anus is an erogenous zone and other animals can also have a homosexual orientation). Eugene Monick (1987: p. 15) explains, from a psychological point of view, that: “How a man [respective woman] deals with his sexuality, is where pathology enters the picture … Sexuality, in itself, including the omnipresent homosexual radical in men, is not, and never has been, pathological.” (Phallos: Sacred Image of the Masculine, p. 116, Toronto 1987). Abraham Brill, Fritz Morgenthaler and Udo Rauchfleisch express similar conclusions, made similar observations (U. Rauchfleisch: Schwule, Lesben, Bisexuelle: Lebensweisen, Vorurteile, Einsichten, 4th ed., p. 52, Göttingen 2011) It seems, it is not homosexuality itself that is abnormal or unnatural, but people’s understanding or view of it. But it is not nature that has to be in line with human phantasies or ideologies. It is man who has to get in line with nature.
Homosexuality is neither “good” nor “bad”. It just is. And it is not the task or duty of Hellenismos to “defend”, “justify”, “challenge” or “condemn” homosexuality. It simply is not an issue for Hellenismos. Period. So when people ask us about our position on homosexuality, we can only answer with the Supreme Council of ethnic Hellenes (YSEE): “As mentioned earlier, all decent religions accept people who turn to them, regardless of their individual political, nutritional, sexual, aesthetic or other personal choices. No decent religion can be concerned with how adults express their sexuality with other consenting adults.” (YSEE: What is your stance vis-a-vis homosexuality?, in: YSEE English, Frequently Asked Questions about the Hellenic ethnic religion and tradition, No. 37.) Vlassis G. Rassias, general secretary of the YSEE, comments: “… finally, my PERSONAL opinion: EVERYTHING IS OK in sex, as long as both sides agree (i.e. minors, and mentally retarded people are excluded from this). Furthermore, homosexuals are born and not made, as claimed by world-correctors, whether they are Fascists or Bolsheviks. Their FIXED percentage in the societies ‘grows’ only seemingly as freedom grows and they don’t get persecuted … I am OPENLY in favor of freedom, the affirmation of life and joy exuded by sexually relaxed people.”
With these words, he expresses his respect for reality, which some people want to replace with their ideolog, degrading her to a disease and “upgrading” their ideology to the status of a law of nature. They require nature, and now Hellenismos, to submit to their ideas, indifferent to the functioning, its importance regarding overpopulation etc., and, finally, indifferent to man itself, who according to Freud is born bisexual (“Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality”, 1905). It is not nature that has to be in line with human phantasies or ideologies. It is man who has to get in line with nature. So, when ideologies replace nature by some kind of fake-nature, when they degrade real nature or think of her as a disease that has to be cured, then they become very dangerous. You can not cure what is not ill. But you can make it ill.
The Greek religion, therefore, does not “condemn” nor “reward” homosexuality and homoerotic relations. It takes note of its existence and its place in nature, but it does not “support” or “reject” it. Of course, things could not have been different in Hellenismos, since it aims at human perfection. And this can be achieved only in “agreement with nature”. The Stoics said: “Nature leads the willing.” She sends out a clear message, Hellenists as we are, respect this message as we always respected the natural diversity of the bio- and ethnosphere and the pluralism of worldviews, cultures, ethnicities and now sexual orientations. We obay to nature’s laws. But modern political and ideological “camps” that position themselves, either positively or negatively, in relation to homosexuality, often involve ancient Greece and its religion in their (impregnated with the modern spirit) arguments for or against homosexuality. One group presents ancient Greece as the Elysian Fields of homosexuality, the other group as deadly hostile to homosexuals. They ideologize a vague “Ancient Greece” to legitimize their inadequately differentiated positions and intentions. They always remember a saying, a story, or an event that took place in ancient Greece to give “weight” to their beliefs and claims.
2000 years after the start of the Christian era, some people try to project their attitudes and positions onto ancient Greece, i.e. on a different culture with another religion, another ethos, other values, turning the ancients into modern or Neo-Greeks. What we call homosexuality today or our understanding of sexual orientations did not exist in ancient Greece. The Greeks did not identify themselves as either homosexual or heterosexual. They, or many of them, just fell in love with beauty regardless of gender. Now, the Greek states or cities distinguished between natural law and human law, nature and convention, with the latter restricting or even prohibiting sometimes sexual intercourse between men. They desperately needed and wanted children for several reasons, especially Sparta, where women had children from different men. Men were expected to marry and have children, to start a family. The motives behind the legislation and law were embedded in the social policy, had specific social conditions, very specific reasons and they were not the waste products of any kind of moralism.