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.

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3 Responses to Aphrodite and the gay and transgendered

  1. Liz Tetu says:

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

    • 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. 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.

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