When the Europeans arrived in America at the end of the 15th century and began to have contact with the indigenous people, they were horrified by various practices and rituals that the aborigines carried, prohibiting the practices, punishing those who practiced them.
Through numerous ceramics and handicrafts found, as well as by documentation of European colonizers, we can realize that before the arrival of the white man, Native Americans had a great respect and tolerance for people of different sexual orientations, both for the men and women, considering them as special, magical beings, endowed with supernatural powers whose presence was considered a good luck augury.
In the Amerindian people of North America, there are communities with members of “two spirits”, with both sexualities integrated among them. These people were seen as special because they were able to challenge nature. The strong distinctions of gender were not marked, so that each individual could flow according to their sexual feelings. In fact, many other indigenous cultures in North America said that there were up to 5 sexual genders: woman, man, woman of two spirits, man of two spirits, and transgender. There is references about a transsexual Sioux warrior, that liked to wear women’s clothing even though he was married to a woman, and that he was very successful in the struggles against the settlers.
The Mayans organized parties that included homosexual acts, and even considered homosexuality as a favorable act for premarital sex, so the nobles got sex slaves for their children.
Within the Aztec society, there was also a tolerance towards homosexuality, according to several public rituals that have been analyzed. It is known that they worshiped the god Xochiquetzal, who under his masculine aspect was called Xochipilli. It is believed that Xochipilli was the patron of male homosexuality, giving the idea that there might have been homoerotic rituals, including priesthood and even homosexual liturgy.
People who define themselves as heterosexual or of a single gender, could be paired with a person of “two spirits” without it being a homosexual behavior, since this person is attracted to the feminine or masculine part.
Today, in the locality of Oaxaca, Mexico, you can find the Muxe community, who are considered part of a third sex. This community is made up of men who wear traditional dresses and hairstyles from the region (very much like Frida Khalo). Traditionally, some Muxes had the role of initiating young people in their sexual life, to preserve the virginity of young women in the community for marriage. Today, having a child Muxe within the family is a reason for happiness, celebration and honor, since they are the ones that fulfill the task of helping the oldest of the family in difficult times. For mothers they are considered the “best son” since it represents economic and moral support. In some cases, when there are missing daughters and the male son does not show the “natural male aggressiveness”, the mother raises the child favoring “feminine behavior”.
In South America, according to anthropological studies, Ecuador had both male and female deities. Within their beliefs, to be a shaman of a tribe, it was absolutely necessary to be homosexual or bisexual. To represent the feminine and the masculine in a single being. In the center and south of the Inca Empire, homosexuality was not accepted, but in the north, homosexual practices were tolerated. Normally associated with a religious character. Unlike the male homosexuality that was little accepted, the Incas had a special consideration with the feminine homosexuality, giving it more acceptance within their society.
In Venezuela, the inclusion of transsexual men was common among the Warao ethnic group known as tida winas. They are men who dress as women and help their wives in the home. They also share the bed with other men without falling into rivalries with women. Today, they are subject to discrimination and violence, thanks to homophobia instilled by contact with the West and the arrival of AIDS in the community.
The indigenous worldview within homosexuality (in its majority), before the conquest, accepted this type of relationship as natural. It was after the arrival of the conquerors, when these practices began to do prohibition and satanisadas, assuming them as sin. It is ironic that these groups of “savages” could live in harmony for decades with problems that we can not overcome in the 21st century.