Wednesday, September 16, 2015

THIS GLASS INTAGLIO OF ANTINOUS
FOUND AT A FRONTIER FORT IN TEXAS



A lovely way to spend your lunch hour in the San Francisco Bay Area today would be to attend a lecture Lecture at Berkeley on the worship of Antinous the Gay God ... by cavalry soldiers at a frontier fort in Texas.

The lecture is based on the discovery of this 19th Century glass intaglio of Antinous ... at a fort in Texas where soldiers battled Apaches when they weren't standing at attention on the parade grounds ... or hanging out in the town saloon ... with painted ladies.

Or it would appear that some of the soldiers ... a few at least ... had a secret hankering for members of his own sex.

We know that sculptures, coins, medallions ... and cameo intaglios such as this ... have been used throughout history by homosexuals as a code to other homosexuals.

In the 18th Century, European aristocrats ... and even monarchs such as Frederick the Great ... avidly collected statues of Antinous.

In the 19th Century, when same-sex activities were punishable by imprisonment or worse, a mere mention of Antinous would be a subtle clue to a young man's sexual interests.

Oscar Wilde, for example, wrote poems about Antinous, as did a number of early homosexual rights activists.

Some soldier assigned to a lonely outpost on the Texas plains cherished a glass intaglio of Antinous.

Or perhaps it was simply a family heirloom ... or a gift from a sweetheart back east who didn't quite understand the symbolism of the gift.

Or perhaps ... just perhaps ... the sweetheart back east was a young man.

These are the questions Dr. Laurie Wilkie is raising during her lecture today. 

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