Aphrodite and the gay and transgendered

At first glance Aphrodite may seem to be a singly straight Goddess. It is true her own attraction is only for men, for through her children she is connected to and affirms homosexual attraction and GLBT experience. Eros, her son by Ares, had affairs with men as well as women. So did nearly all the Olympian gods, Ares and Hades being the only ones who never took a male lover. Actually, in those days, there was no concept of sexual orientation. You just attracted to beautiful people, and yes some people liked one gender better then the other, but it was considered no different then liking a certain kind of food better then another.

The next myth is an interesting way to explain the existence of hermaphrodites and transgender individuals. This myth may be seen as merely entertaining, but the fact that it exists shows an acceptance of such unique people that might shock and surprise some.

Aphrodite once had an affair with Hermes, and bore him a son, whose name is a combination of this parents’ names: Hermaphroditos. He was a very handsome young God, but he did not take after his mother. He was very shy, and was uninterested in taking a lover. He preferred to spend his days traveling and hunting in the woods. One day, hot and thirsty from his wanderings, he stopped at a pool to refresh himself. The nymph of the pool, Salmakis, gazed up at him and instantly fell in love with him. She jumped up and immediately declared her undying love for the extremely startled boy, and asked him to marry her, or if he was already married to take her as his mistress.

Poor Hermaphroditos was completely blindsided! He wasn’t interested in marriage at all, and he certainly wasn’t about to marry this strange nymph who he had just barely met. He told her as much, but Salmakis was not about to take no for an answer. She threw her arms around him and prayed loudly that they would never be separated. Some unknown God answered her prayer. But it didn’t work out quite as she wanted. Their bodies fused, and they became neither male nor female, but the first hermaphrodite, possessing both the physical aspects and the souls of both genders.

The poor boy was shocked at what he had become, so he prayed to his parents. S/he didn’t want to be the only such person in the world, so Aphrodite cursed the pool of Salmakis, making the same thing happen to anyone who bathed in it. She also gave him wings, and and an honored place in the ranks of the Erotes.

  5 comments for “Aphrodite and the gay and transgendered

  1. Liz Tetu
    August 6, 2016 at 10:04 am

    Enlightening article! I have a problem with the use of the term “transgendered,” but besides that I am glad that these connections were revealed.

    • August 8, 2016 at 9:49 am

      Yeah, I actually agree with you. Intersex would be a much better term. But when I first wrote this essay, I wasn’t as educated about the difference between the sections of the LGBT community as I am now. When my book comes out, I’ll change this section in it. I’ve thought about editing this post, but in general I don’t like to go back and change things except for spelling or grammar errors.

  2. July 15, 2018 at 5:25 pm

    In this story hermaphrodite is correct since Salmakis was truly an equal combination of male and female and the characters are divine. In our human realm this never occurs. A person may be born with some sexual characteristics of the other gender. At the start of gestation all are female and male characteristics don’t assert themselves until some weeks into the pregnancy. When things get mixed up a person may be born intersex. Transgendered is grammatically incorrect. Transgender is an adjective, trangendered is a verb in the past tense. I’m transgender and thank you for answering a question that had been on my mind.

  3. Robbie
    August 24, 2020 at 1:28 am

    In today’s world, if a babe is born a hermaphrodite, the parents usually choose which gender they would like the child to be. I do believe it is usually a girl. But recently, I have read that the parents would not make that decision. They wanted to wait until the child grew up and made up his or her mind which gender he/she want to be. I don’t know how I feel about that because that child would eventually be known to have both female and male parts and I am sure would be bullied to death. I do think the parents should have made the choice. I don’t think it happens very often. And… it has nothing to do with transgender.

    • August 24, 2020 at 1:50 pm

      You are correct, but if you notice this was written 10 years ago, from a cisgender woman’s pov. Additionally, the ancients didn’t have a concept of transgender in the same way that we have today. They had many forms of gender transgressive actions and attempts to understand sexuality and gender in their terms and world – their culture was different than ours. So this was imperfectly written, and I acknowledge that. I have considered editing or deleting it but decided against it as it was my understanding or musings at the time.

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