Homophobia’s American History

Homophobia may seem like a new fangled trend, but it apparently has quite an American history.

In a piece over at the Sun-Times, Thomas A. Foster informs readers that a group of Boston politicos once employed gay-baiting to get back at the Freemasons:

A bit of doggerel in a Massachusetts newspaper implied that the Freemasons, that venerable but secretive fraternity, were engaged in homoerotic intimacy. The satire, with a graphic engraving, appeared on the front page of the Boston Evening Post in 1751. Both image and poem mocked the Freemasons in an early version of gay-baiting. The image depicted two smiling men, one bent over receiving a trunnel, or wooden spike, the other, with a hammer raised overhead, ready to strike. It was designed to shock, as were these lines:

I’m sure our TRUNNELS look’d as clean
As if they ne’re up A–se had been;
For when we use ’em, we take care
To wash ’em well, and give ’em Air,
Then lock ’em up in our own Chamber,
Ready to TRUNNEL the next Member.

We wish someone would hammer our trunnel, if you know what we mean…

Mason, a professor at DePaul University, goes on to urge Congress and President Bush to sign the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Act, which will help local authorities investigate – and hopefully solve – hate crimes of all varieties. Not only will modern day politicos protect their constituents, but will strike a potentially fatal blow to America’s historical anti-gay culture.