David Jaffe (and TSA, to a lesser extent) are on my shit list. They are on my shit list because of this: "God of War’s Kratos revealed to be bisexual as a joke." You might not know who David Jaffe is, and you might never have played God of War. I haven't. You don't have to in order to be....annoyed. Let's call it that.

Short version: David Jaffe is the director of God of War, a mythology-based action-adventure video game franchise. The story is about Kratos, a Spartan warrior tricked into killing his wife and daughter by his former master, the Greek God of War Ares. Kratos seeks to rid himself of the nightmares by serving the other Olympian gods, but soon finds himself in confrontation with them due to their machinations.

Now, it's pride month, which is historically my least favorite month because it's the month straight people go all "We want a straight pride month too!" and idiots like Jaffe open their mouth and put their foot in it. He tweeted:

"Not to get all JK Rowling but when I was working on the origins of Kratos for the first games I knew he was a raging bi-sexual until he settled down with his wife. So Kratos is officially bi. Oh and the Oracle from GOW1? Lesbian, straight up! Boom!"

Only, he isn't:
Then Jaffe got annoyed because he's being accused of queer bating and generally sucking for both forced representation and what actually is queer bating. ( Definition: When a politician, pundit, or other public figure brings up the completely irrelevant detail about a person's sexuality, true or untrue, as a way of subtly channeling homophobia to attack them.). It's 2019, can we stop doing this already?

TSA seems annoyed about the whole thing, which makes me happy, but then they (and many news outlets picking up the story) throw in a bunch of untrue "facts" about ancient Hellenic society that are now doing their round across the interwebz, namely that being homosexual in ancient Hellas was completely accepted and blah, blah, blah.

Here are some facts.

Homosexuality is defined as: 'of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex', or 'of, relating to, or involving sexual activity between persons of the same sex'.

All three of the greatest Hellenic philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, regarded homosexual conduct intrinsically immoral. Plato went so far as to deny that homosexual behavior occured in nature and thus considered the practice of men (very few of the ancient philosophers ever considered or wrote about women) as especially unnatural. He actively criticised any man who looked at the male form not just as something aesthetically pleasing but sexually arousing. These believes were founded upon the following three theses:

- the commitment of a man and a woman to each other in the sexual union of marriage is intrinsically good and reasonable, and is incompatible with sexual relations outside of marriage
- homosexual acts are radically and peculiarly non-martial, and for that reason intrinsically unreasonable and unnatural.
- homosexual acts have a special similarity to solitary masturbation, and both types of radically non-martial act are manifestly unworthy of the human being and immoral

Hellenic society revolved around the household, and the household was founded upon the husband and wife. The ancient Hellenes knew of no other household foundation as this combination alone produced children. As many children died of illness, accidents and war and the continuation of the family line was one of the--if not the--most important desire and responsibility of every citizen. This was also why adultery was frowned upon so greatly: birth control was available in ancient Hellas, but rarely applied. To bring an illegitimate child into the household was a terrible offense, and one for which the male was blamed. that said, a man could only commit legally punishable adultery if he had sex with a married woman, and even then she had to be a citizen for the full punishment to be enacted upon them--often death. Husbands were free to find pleasure with any woman who was not married. As such, prostitution (with women, male prostitution was actually punishable by death) was common and men tended to have concubines. Some even lived at the house. Plato, Socrates and Aristotle were against this practice, too.

Now, the ancient Hellenes seemed to have viewed all social interactions (so male-male, female-female and even male-female interactions) not only through a gender filter but also through a power filter. Male citizens had more power than slaves, for example, and female citizens had more power than male slaves, even though women were bound by other social structures than any man was. Older men had more power than younger men and the same held true for women. Married people even had more power than unmarried people. Gender was, if you will, merely a factor in the equation of who had more power during the exchange.

The one with more power was the active party and he (or she) was to be obeyed. When it came to the law, this partner was punished less severely for a crime both partook of (like adultery)--the complete opposite of how we'd view it today. The passive party was usually younger, a slave or a woman. This power equation also dictated sexual relations. The ancient Hellenes viewed male-female relationships not solely as defined by gender that but as a relationship of active vs passive and applied that theorum to male-male (and most likely female-female) relationships as well. One partner was always the clear submissive and became, through that, the 'female' while the other always assumed the active role and through that became the 'male'. They equated any relationship that applied these roles and rejected (heavily!) any that did not. And they did not consider these relationships true relationships in a marriage sense because, as I said above, a household could not be formed around it as the union could not provide children--which was the main function of a marriage.

So if that was the case, what's with all the artwork of men giving each other gifts and having sexual intercourse? They portray a very specific type of relationship known as pederasty. Pederasty was a socially acknowledged but illegal erotic relationship between an adult male and a younger male usually in his teens, which was practiced mostly in the Archaic and Classical ages of Hellenic history. Due to the age difference and the societal function the practice served, this type of relationship was accepted and not considered homosexual. The younger partner was always the passive party and performed to role of 'woman' in the exchange, thus making it a heterosexual relationship between two men (as contradictory as that may sound).

In ancient Hellas, what mattered was the role you played in bed. The males, especially when older or higher up in the hierarchy, were supposed to be the dominant ones, the active ones, while the women, the young and those lower in the hierarchy, the passive ones. Because of the age difference and the difference in social standing, the young male assuming a passive role was permitted in pederasty, but a grown man assuming that role was a social and sexual taboo. A wife who took charge in the bedroom would have been frowned upon as well. Especially within the marriage, sex served to make babies, nothing more. Prostitutes and concubines were still supposed to assume a passive, female, role, even if they were male. Prostitutes were lower in power than citizen women, though, and they performed the lowliest and most frowned upon of sexual acts--like fellatio--that even wives were not allowed (or required) to perform. For a husband to force his wife to perform these acts would have been considered extremely shameful upon the husband.

So, to conclude this very long and complicated post: yes, men had sex with men. In that way homosexuality existed. But there were strict social and even legal rules against it and it was only barely condoned--and only under very specific circumstances. It was not an accepted practice at all. Sadly, I suppose, but not surprisingly: even today homosexuality is only barely accepted socially, let alone legally.

I'm gay. I've been with the same woman, very happily so, for over 14 years now and as far as I am concerned, this is the woman I'll die with. She is my oikos, my definition of home. I'm an advocate for LGBTQI+ rights and I take responsibility in speaking up for the hundreds of thousands of people who can't speak up for themselves because they are surrounded by hate. As such, representation matters to me. A lot. Every year, thousands of LGBTI+ people are murdered simply because they chose to come out for their personal truth. If you take the piss or play along with ridiculing or harming LGBTQI+ people, or if you downplay the very real struggle the community faces on a daily basis, then you are complicit in those deaths. LGBTQI+ issues are not a joke, they are a matter of life and death. Don't be an asshole about them.