Middle Eastern Literature
Perhaps no other book has been more influential--for better or worse--in determining the construction of gay and lesbian identity in the modern world, as well as social attitudes toward homosexuality, than the Bible.
Erotic and pornographic works have been written in many cultures since ancient times and recently have flourished with the relaxation of censorship.
Two of the seven chapters in Ghazali's sixteenth-century pornographic allegorical work "The Repellers of Troubles and the Remover of Anxieties" extol homosexual anal intercourse.
The ancient Sumerian poem Gilgamesh is structured around the love that the heroic male couple Gilgamesh and Enkidu have for each other.
Much of the sexuality in the lyrics of the great Persian poet Hafiz is homoerotic and infused with a homosexual mysticism.
The expression of male homoerotic sentiment is one of the dominant themes in classical Arabic literature from the ninth century to the nineteenth.
Over a period of two millennia, sodomy has been by turns condemned and celebrated in Persian literature.
Critics use the term male romantic friendship to describe strong attachments between men in works ranging from ancient epics and medieval romances to Renaissance plays, Gothic novels, westerns, and war movies.
The Persian poet Rumi, who originated the "whirling dervish" order of Sufis, developed passionate relationships with other men and mixed spirituality with eroticism in his love poetry.
The thirteenth-century Persian known as Sa'di wrote prose and poetry that included passages on the passionate love between men and boys.