Homosexuals, queer, and transgender people have been widely persecuted throughout much of history, particularly after the founding of the Abrahamic religions. Penalties have ranged from castration to death by burning at the stake. England hung homosexual men into the 19th century. The United States is still working to bar homosexual couples from adopting children.
However, there are bright spots in history where queer sexuality and transgenderism have been celebrated as a natural part of the human experience. Most of these periods are from eras in non-Western cultures and took place before colonization and Christianization, both of which are forces that almost exclusively led to anti-homosexual beliefs in the colonized and Christianized populations.
15. Mykonos, Greece in the 1990s
Greece has an incredibly long history of embracing homosexuality, at least in most forms. They did have a complex view of men who were penetrated in same-sex relationships, although this likely stemmed from misogyny more than homophobia. The Isle of Lesbos and its leader Sappho are where many of our terms for female homosexuality originate. The Spartan culture of Greece is noted for its valuing of homosexual relationships, particularly within its military. Unfortunately, the introduction of Eastern Orthodox Christianity put a swift and violent end to those practices through torture, execution, and the destruction of art and literature depicting homosexual relationships. Gay sex was only decriminalized in Greece in 1951, bringing the country closer to back in line with their historical roots.
After same-sex relationships were decriminalized, queer tourists began to return to Greece. A popular destination was the town of Mykonos on the island of the same name. After Jackie Kennedy, Brigitte Bardot, Jean Paul Gaultier, and other gay icons began to frequent the island it became a party central for gay tourists. The heyday of the party scene was the 1990s, and while the island has lost some of its steam in favor of other gay-friendly destinations like Spain, it is still famous and often listed as a gay-friendly tourist destination.