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Gender, Male Homosexuality, and Power in Colonial Yucatn Author(s): Pete Sigal Source: Latin American Perspectives, Vol.

29, No. 2, Gender, Sexuality, and Same-Sex Desire in Latin America (Mar., 2002), pp. 24-40 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3185125 Accessed: 01/09/2010 14:14
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Gender,Male Homosexuality, and Powerin ColonialYucatan

by Pete Sigal Scholars have been studying the history of homosexuality for two decades,butonly rarelyhavethey ventured beyondthe studyof homosexualin modernEuropeand the United States. In the past severalyears, others ity have begun to challenge the Eurocentricbiases of these works. One set of issues often overlookedby both LatinAmericanhistoriansand historiansof homosexualityin general is the connection between homoeroticism,colonialism, and discourseamong the Maya of Yucatan. Examiningthe colonial one can establisha varietyof powerdynamicsat work.The Spaniards years, assertedtheirown powerin an attemptto createan effective laborforce made up primarilyof YucatecMaya (see Patch, 1993), while Maya nobles maintained power over the populations under their control (see Roys, 1943; Quezada,1993: 125-138;Restall, 1997). I suggest thatgenderandhomosexuality were centralto power dynamics in the colonial situation. The few majorworks on homosexualityin colonial Latin America have focused on the buildingof community,the berdachein indigenoussocieties, andthe use of discourse(see Sigal, 2002). Historianshavefoundthat,in colonial Brazil and Mexico, men found othermen who wantedto have sex with them. In urbanenvironmentsthese men engaged in a wide varietyof sexual activities and even formed their own subcultureswith their own rules of engagement (see Gruzinski, 1985; Mott, 1989). The berdache, a crossfor dressing Native Americanfigure, has intriguedanthropologists the past century.While most of the scholarshiphas related to nineteenth-century North America (see Roscoe, 1998), many academicshave assumedthatthe berdacheexisted in colonial and preconquestLatin American indigenous societies. Indeed, such a cross-dressingfigure does appearto have existed, buthis meaningis in dispute(see Trexler,1995;Horswell,2002). Earlymodern Europeansengaged in some discussion of homosexuality,and scholars havebegunto analyzethis discourse.This articleexpandson this scholarship by attemptingto understand indigenousdiscourse as well.
Pete Sigal is an associateprofessorof historyat CaliforniaStateUniversity,Los Angeles, anda coordinatingeditor of LatinAmericanPerspectives.
LATINAMERICANPERSPECTIVES, Issue 123, Vol. 29 No. 2, March2002 24-40 ? 2002 Latin AmericanPerspectives 24



sexual identityin the colonial Homosexualitywas not an undifferentiated era. The distinctionbetween the "active"and the "passive"was particularly the stronglymarked,andthereexisted a varietyof theoriesregarding putative itself defined in an impreciseand seemingly obscure "causes"of "sodomy," manner(see Bleys, 1995; Sigal, 2002). Elites in Hispanicsocieties used concepts of male passivity to structurea gendered discourse of warfare(see Bleys, 1995; Trexler,1995: 38-63). To discredittheirenemies, they charged them with sodomitic passivity.Some of this discourse assumedcommoners guilty of endemic sodomy. Alternatively,commonerswere seen as lacking sodomy precisely because they were not as corruptas the elite. Whichever view was taken,the sexualethos asserteda markedsexualdifferencebetween elites and commoners. Elites among the Maya considered passivity in males feminine and viewed the vanquishedwarrioras symbolically if not actually passive. The Maya nobles, lords, and priestsat the time of the Spanishconquestused this notion of activityandpassivityto asserttheirabilityto harnessthe powersof the gods for communitywell-being. They ritualisticallyrapedthe gods, thus assertingthemselves as the active partnersto the passive gods. The Maya appearto have viewed this act as a way to harnesssacredpower.Maya elite discourse did not place commoners in the realm of endemic sodomy but viewed themas blindfollowers of the nobles. Thus,when the elites were corrupt, sodomy reigned throughoutsociety. When "good" nobles came to power, sodomy was curtailed, perhaps to nonexistence. This discourse assertedthatthe commonerswere followers of the nobles andthatthe central issue was not commonersexuality but noble control.1 In boththe Spanishandthe Mayacase, notionsof same-sex sexualdesires andbehaviorswere constructedin a gendereduniverseto assertthe superiority of one elite faction over another.What was at stake in this discoursewas of nothingless thanthe establishment a hegemonicideology.This articleanaof lyzes the place thathomosexualdesiresandacts were given in the literature both the Maya and the Spaniardsin colonial Yucatan.

THE SETTING Yucatain not an ideal place for a Spaniard live. Lackingin the minwas to eral wealth of Peru or the extensive tributemechanismsof centralMexico, the Yucatecan settled economy left muchto be desired.Still, manySpaniards in the cities of Merida,Campeche,andValladolidand attempted establish to



themselves as overlordsto the Maya who lived there.But this was not to be. Relatively low numbersof Spanish immigrants,economic pressures,periof odic Mayaresistance,and,perhapsmost important, Mayaunderstandings Europeanideas within a Maya cultural frameworkprevented them from establishinghegemony over Yucatan(see Farriss, 1984; Clendinnen,1987; Jones, 1989). Nonetheless, while no real culturalconquest seems to have takenplace, the SpaniardsinfluencedMaya culturethroughvast changes in the systems of meaningthatthe Maya used to make sense of the world.2As indigenous culture and religion took on Spanish and Christianelements, Mayaritualsallowed for the survivalof a mixed traditionat least throughthe middleof the nineteenthcentury(see Bricker,1981).3Thuswhathappenedto be the Maya may moreappropriately called the developmentof a hybridculture after some centuriesof strugglesfor hegemony. When discussing a topic such as the sexual cultureof the Maya people, one may be temptedto ignorecolonial rule and Spanishinfluence,assuming that the Spaniardswere not as concernedwith sexual cultureas they were with economics andreligion. But colonialism always necessitatedsome culturalchanges on the partof the colonized peoples. Many of these changes were gradual,influencedby contactbetween individualsfrom differentculturalgroups (see, e.g., Farriss,1984: 286-351; Restall, 1997). The changes among the Maya influenced the meaningsplaced on sexual behaviors.The the Spanishintroduced conceptof sin, changingthe ways in which the Maya may have definedcertainsexual acts (Sigal, 2000: 53-61). At the same time, the Maya influenced the new hybridculture,often not by actively resisting Spanishintrusioninto this spherebutby continuingto engage in manytraditionalpracticeseven as these practiceswere being reconceivedin a Hispanic Even the most traditionalpractices were changed, Catholic framework.4 however,and more customs were inscribedwith new meaning.5 Colonialism influenced homosexual practices and desires by reconfiguringthe culturalmatrix within which those practices and desires were formulated.To the Maya, Spanishcolonizationmeant slow and subtle Maya and Spanish change leading to a hybridculturethatmixed traditional concepts (see especially Farriss,1984; Clendinnen,1987; and,on the meanVattimo,1988: 153-162). The hybriditychangedmeaning ing of"hybridity," by, for example,assertingthatsodomywas bothsinfulandacceptedas partof contradiction colonial Maya ritual,the apparent being resolved by the ritual itself. Colonialism produceda new and differentculture within which the homosexualacts and desires. Maya could assertmeanings and understand


COLONIAL POWER When the Spaniardscolonized Yucatanin the sixteenthcentury,they did not effectively penetratemuch of the countryside.The ruralareasremained, Evenby the middleof the ninefor the time being, essentiallyMayaterritory. teenth century,much of the peninsularemainedin Maya hands, despite the presence of a few creoles and mestizos (see Rugeley, 1996: 1-32). The rural economy,with a few exceptions, simply was not strongenoughto attractsignificantnumbersof non-Mayapeople. The Hispanicpopulationcenteredin the threemaincities. The early Spanishsettlerswantedto make the Maya an as effective laborforce andto attract manyEuropeans possible, for a larger as would enhancetheir statusby giving them "seniority" Europeanpopulation over later arrivals.It is in this context thatthe documentsdiscussing homosexual acts must be read. In contemporarystories about Mayans, literateearly moder Spaniards readthatBernalDfaz del Castillo (1989: 7-8) had found many idols of men late committingsodomy with each other.Diaz, writingfromGuatemala in his Herando Cort6s's self-presentalife, intendedhis work to counterbalance tion as the greathero of the conquest.He wantedthe crown and the Spanish had publicto know thathe andthe otherconquerors distinguishedthemselves in battle (see Brading, 1991: 46-54). Attempting to correct a perceived wrong,he insistedthathis accountof the conquestwas accurate,andthe idols that he found (and smashed)were details thatlegitimatedhis narrative. Contemporaries may also have read the Relaciones HistoricoGeogrdficas.These documents-surveys that,from 1579 to 1581, were sent by the crown to local Spaniards-were of varyingdegrees of accuracy,but most of them agreedthat sodomy did not exist among the Maya of Yucatan. AntonioGasparChi providedmuchof the testimonyon Mayamorality(De la Garzaet al., 1983: 165), and, apparently wantingto be acceptedin Spanish to society,he attempted makethe Mayaacceptableto Spanisheyes (Jakeman, 1952: 38-39; Clendinnen,1987: 94). He told a story of a time when sodomy had existed, only to be destroyedby the lord TutulXiu (De la Garzaet al., 1983: 165):
These nativesdid not eat humanflesh, nordid they know the nefarioussin as in otherpartsof the Indies. It is said thatin the time of a Xiu lord, they had punished this sin by castingthose found guilty in a burningfurnace,andthattoday this furnaceexists in the ancientcity of Mayapan... where the said TutulXiu lived and commandedthe land.



The narrativesuggested to the Spaniardsthat the Maya system of morality was not too differentfrom their own; sodomy, connected with cannibalism, was punishedby death. Chi, a relativelyHispanicizedMaya (see Jakeman, consideredsod1952:38-39; Clendinnen,1987:94), knewthatthe Spaniards sinful andthereforepresentedthe preconquest in such a way as to omy Maya increasetheirprestige.In doing so he supported own position as a legitihis mate leader of a society that, he would have argued,the Spaniardsshould have seen as noble. A similarexample, writtenover a centurylater,exists in the writings of Diego L6pez de Cogolludo (1954), often consideredthe primaryearlyhistorianof Yucatan. Cogolludowroteextensivelyof the conquestandearlysettlement of Yucatan had little to say aboutMaya sexual behavior.Like other but he was more interestedin economics, politics, andreligion. early historians, When he did providesuch descriptions,however,he tendedto presentthem as the authoritative word on the Maya. He balancedDiaz del Castillo's findon sodomy with the assertionof the Spaniard Ger6nimode Aguilar,who ings had lived for eight years as a Maya captive, thatthe "nefarioussin" did not exist in Maya society (Cogolludo, 1954: 329). This strategy-balancing one againstanother-was an attemptto convince readersof the objec"expert" of his account.For Cogolludo what was important was his own expertivity laws andcustoms,andhe did not find any laws thatpertainedto tise on Maya sodomy (see Cogolludo, 1954: 331, on the laws regardingadultery). In each case people were using their understanding colonial Spanish of sexual norms to suggest a similarity with or difference from Maya preconquestsexualityin orderto gain powerin the colonial system. Foreach writer,the hegemonic power to create sexual definitions was an important point of the narrative. The nineteenth-century traveler/anthropologist Charles Etienne Brasseurde Bourbourg(1857-1859: 67, 77, 173, cited in that Bleys, 1995: 122) reported sodomy was presentin the foundingmythsof several of the Mayanpeoples, where it was said to belong to outsidersor to the realmof ritual.Long beforethe Spanishconquest,he said, the Olmecs, in conqueringthe Quiche Maya of Guatemala,had demandedthat the people give themtwo young men for the purposeof sodomy,andthe people had had no choice but to give in to this demand. In Yucatanduringthe same time period,therewas a strongassociationbetweenritualandhomosexualbehavto ior,andwhen the Toltecsarrived conquerthe regiontheyhadbroughtmore sodomy and public sex of all kinds. A Maya-languagetext contextualizedby a series of Spanish-language texts fromthe Inquisitionalso shows how storiesof homosexualdesire were used to assert colonial power. This document,which reachedthe offices of

/ INCOLONIAL YUCATAN 29 Sigal HOMOSEXUALITY the Inquisition in 1774, used extraordinarily explicit sexual language in and them with Mayapeople accusingfourpriestsof improprieties contrasted (Archivo General de la Naci6n, Mexico (Inquisici6n) [hereafterAGN-I], 1187, 2, 59-62): are to without much aword so as about Ifa it. Onlythepriests allowed fornicate does him But goodcommoner that,thepriestalwayspunishes immediately. lookatthepriests' excessive their on fornication, putting hands thesewhores' evensayingmasslikethis.Godwilling,whentheEnglish comemay vaginas, whoonlylackcarnal with acts theynotbe foricatorsequalto thesepriests, men'sanuses.God willingthatsmallpox rubbed theirpenisheads. be into Amen. the of I, father, informer thetruth.6 This text as a whole represented attackon the priests,its authorturningthe an rulesof Christianity of againstthe representatives the church(see Restalland Sigal, 1992;Restall, 1997; Sigal, 2000: 63-73). The Inquisitioncase of which this documentis partinvolved a Franciscanfriar,Fray Manuel Antonio de The four priests disRivas, who had been accused of variousimproprieties. cussed in the petition were actively involved in the case against the friar. Rivas was accused of making"hereticalpropositions." was also accused He of the "nefarioussin,"but this accusationdisappeared early in the case. The documentin questionwas partof the defense case, andit is likely thatits production was influenced by Rivas. The argumentwas used to defend Rivas, and the petition was received soon after he was chargedwith sodomy. The anonymousauthorof the text seems to have decidedthathe could not charge the four priests with homosexual sodomy, perhapsbecause that chargewas being used againsthis sponsorand would have seemed fabricatedunderthe circumstances. Takenat face value, the claim revealsthe author's jealousy. He wantedthe priests brought back inside the community. There was a symbolically homoerotic/homosocial desire,howeverunconscious,on the partof the male membersof the community.The priestshadbecome outsidersto the community, and the petitioner wanted them to regain their status as insiders. He wantedthemto penetratethe communityandhis own heart-to give him the attentiongiven to the women. Of course,the conscious motivationfor the petitionwas to defenda particular friar.The charge of homosexual sodomy was used on both sides of the argument,in both cases in order to assert power and gain prestige. In an accompanying note, an Inquisition official in Merida called the charges and againstthe priests "audacious" "unfounded" (AGN-I, 1187, 2, 62). The



fact that some Maya people involved themselves in power struggles where the resultswould probablyhave little effect on them highlightsthe displacement strategyof colonialism. By gettingthe Maya involvedin these types of disputes, supposedly to curb abuses against them, the Spaniardsdisplaced much anticolonialfervor.The colonial authoritiesremaineduncriticizedas the Mayaengagedin a battlethatwas largelyirrelevant colonial ruleandto to their lives (see also Stem, 1982: 115-119; Kellogg, 1995: 214-215). All of these documentsrepresentSpanishattemptsto writehistoryon the basis of materialdesires and constraintsthat have much more to do with Spanishsociety thanwith the Maya.They show the ways in which colonialism made use of a particular sexual paradigm.Homosexualdesires and acts were used to assertpower in the Spanishcolonial political system.

ETHNICITY Maya society at the time of the Spanishconquestwas organizedin terms of the cah, a largelyindependent city-stateusuallyin alliancewith othersuch states (see Restall, 1997). Many centuriesbefore the conquest, the various Mayan peoples were organizedinto kingdoms dominatedby a few central cities (see Fash, 1991;McAnany,1995). The Mayaleft most of the pyramids them aboutA.D.900 (see Hammond,1982; Coe, and the cities surrounding 1987). By the time the Spaniardsarrived,all these attemptshad failed, and Maya ethnic identification was closely aligned with the city-state (see Quezada, 1993: 32-38; Restall, 1997). However,therewere some hints of a broaderperceptionof ethnicity.The Books of ChilamBalam discuss the differencesbetween the Itza andthe Xiu in detail (see Edmonson1982: xvi-xx). The Itza were most often considered despised outsiders,membersof a differentethnic group heavily influenced by central Mexico (Coe, 1987: 144). Large parts of the Books of Chilam Balam were diatribesagainstthe Itza.7 A centralrole was reservedfor sexual insults against them. In one case they were said to have stolen the anuses of childrenand committedsodomy with them (FontesRerumMexicanarum,1980: 6r;Edmonson,1982: 84). In other cases homosexual sodomy, divided into active and passive roles, was used to assert the difference between the perceived Maya "self' and the seen as someone with a Nahuatlname, thus influenced by central "other," era Mexico andlikely of Itzadescent.A certainpreconquest was said to have ended because of the misdeeds of two lords, Kak u pacal and Tecuilu (Gordon,1913: 6r;Barrera VasquezandRend6n, 1948:72; Roys, 1967:141; 1986: 61). Kak u pacal was translatedas "fiery glance," and Edmonson,



in Tecuilucame from the Nahuatltecuilonti,meaning"theactivepartner the in act of sodomy"(Molina, 1992: 16).8The active partner the act of sodomy was given a namefromNahuatl,perhapssignifyinghis role as an outsiderand a conquerorfrom or influencedby centralMexico. was Forthe Mayathe differencebetweenthe activeandthe passivepartner central.The active partnerwas viewed symbolically as a paragonof masculinity: he was the conqueror,the victor in warfare.While he might be denigratedif he came from a hated group, his masculinitywas affirmedby his conquest.When the discoursewas relatedto warfare,the evidence of a hierarchicalactive/passivedichotomywas very strong.A ChontalMaya town is named Cuylonemiquia, "the killing of the passive partner in sodomy" (Scholes andAdams, 1938: 91). Here space was used as a markerof sodomy as well as a markerof war (Trexler, 1995: 74). In warfarethe difference to betweenthe activeandthe passive sodomitewas tantamount the difference between the winner and the loser. Thus, in the above case, Tecuilu was the winner,the conqueror,and the ChontalMaya town was perceivedsymbolically as the place where an enemy was defeated. Another place-name mentioned in the anonymous Inquisition petition certified the relationshipbetween sexual desire, stratification,and space. Pencuyut, "the fornicatingcoyote," is a Yucatecantown (AGN-I, 1187, 2, 61). This place-namemay have presentedthe coyote, a symbolic representaand tive of the Nahuas,as eitherthe activepartner thusthe winneror the passive partnerand the loser (the name, which has no grammaticalmarkers, might in fact be extendedto "wherewe fornicatedwith the coyotes").Either way the ethnic distinctionwas markedby a division between active andpassive sexual functions. In another situation, the prophet Chilam Balam stated (Gordon, 1913: 107; BarreraVasquez and Rend6n, 1948: 202-203; Roys, 1967: 168-169; Edmonson, 1986: 76):9 are of Thethreechildren yourstrength thebearers thelandof theyounger of their and of brothers. Theyhavesurrendered spirit, thehearts theflowersare thosewhoarespreaddead.Also [dead] thosewhoareoftenbackturners, are withtheflowers hiscompanions, two-two lordof the ers:Nacxit Xochitl, day of the in the ship[i.e.,brief,because theircorruption], crooked theirthrones, in Two-two peoplearetheir two-two are crooked their flowers. words, day day theirheaddresses, lustof theday,the lustof the the theirseats,theirgourds, Their necksaretwisted, theirfacesarewrinof night,themonkey theworld. in are of kled,theirmouths slobbering thelordship thelands,oh, lord. The destructionpredictedhere was the Spanish conquest (Gordon, 1913: of the 105-107). The "backturners," youngerbrothers,were representatives



the Itzai,'followers of Nacxit Xochitl, the flower people, those influencedby centralMexico. They lost the war and were degradedin Maya eyes by their perceived cowardice. They then turnedtheir backs to the Spaniardswho defeatedthem, rituallysodomizing them. The flowers here symbolized the sexual acts performedrituallybetween the Spaniardsand the backsidesof the Maya. They were an important ritual elementin Nacxit Xochitl's nameandin the Mayatext. l The youngerbrothers lost their hearts and their spirits to their older brothers(the Spaniards), who thenkilled theirflowersby symbolicallyengagingin sodomywiththem. The Maya fighters,defeatedand sodomized,were effectively feminized in a discoursethatmasculinizedthe winningwarriors, Spaniards. the ArchaeolohavefoundfigurinesshowingItzamen engagedin activitiesrepresented gists by this final statement-slobbering, effeminate,lunatic. Sexual insults, often related to sodomy, presented and supportedthe themeof social deathanddestruction.Warfare linkedto sexual desire in was an attemptto stipulate difference between ethnic "self' and "other." Like warfarein earlymodem Europe,Mayawarwas often aboutthe protectionof the integrityof the community against perceived invasions from outsiders (see Bleys, 1995; Trexler,1995). This protectionwas based on the notion of ethnicityconstructedthroughsexual desire.

CLASS When the Spaniardsarrivedin Yucatan,they found a society that they believed could be comparedwith theirown. The Maya had a stratifiedsocial with nobles considereda separategroupfromcommoners(Farriss, hierarchy 1984: 227-255; Patch, 1993: 68-81; Restall, 1997). While therewere opportunitiesfor advancement, most commonersremainedsuch all theirlives. The wealthof the nobles was farfromimpressivecomparedwith Spanishwealth, but they had a wide variety of advantagesover the commoners (see Hunt, 1974; Patch, 1993: 230). Nobility was a centralcomponentof Maya life, as the nobles were markedas those who could tracetheirlineage throughgenerations.This relationshipexisted most stronglyin the Mayahistoricalchronicles, which stressed noble privileges but also pointed to divisions among nobles (see Maya Society, 1935; Barrera Vasquez, 1984). Commonerswere markedas those who were dependentsof the nobles in patron-client relationthat ships (Farriss,1984: 174). Nobles and commonersexisted in a structure was represented culturallyas a system of debt. Commonersowed the nobles theirbodies and lives and paid this debt by workingfor them and providing



them with tribute.The nobles owed the commonersprotection,andthey paid this debtby invokingthe sacredworldandleadingthe people into battle.The for colonial years reducedthe opportunities the nobles to meet the debt they owed to commoners. It was the Spanish clergy that invoked the sacred. Because the threatof war was not immediatelyapparent,protectionin this spherewas not seen as needed.The commonersdid need protectionfromthe or but Spaniards, the nobles were oftenuseless in preventingan encomendero hacienda owner from abusingthem (Farriss,1984: 175-177). Nobles who had held political office before the conquestcontinuedto do Those who had so (see Quezada, 1993; Restall, 1997; Thompson, 1999).12 in spiritual pursuits, however, had difficulty maintaining their engaged power. They were ineligible to be Catholic clergy, and Maya priests recognized by the Spaniardswere barredfrom any formaloffice in the church.At the centerof colonial rule,nobles receivedpositionsin the local church,leading them to mix preconquestsacredritualswith Christianity(Farriss,1984: 310-314). On the margins,they continuedto invokethe traditional gods, thus their privileges (Clendinnen, 1987: 129-207; Scholes and maintaining Adams, 1938). ElsewhereI havedescribedin detailthe relationship betweenMayapolitical leadership and pederastic homosexual desires and acts (Sigal, 1997). noble male youthsin the artof leadMayaregionalpoliticalchiefs instructed ership, symbolically representedas an exchange of knowledge regarding blood and semen. While it is unclearif sexual acts took place, the symbols the to represented idea thatthe leaderswere required teachnoble male youths their sexual duties. These pederastic rituals allowed the leaders to assert poweroverthe othernobles of the community.This dynamicwas intendedto controlnobles and their sexual behaviors,but also to manipulatecommoner desires. These were representedas tests of noble knowledge in which only the legitimate were able to answer the questions posed. This exchange of knowledge and (symbolically) of semen protectedthe people from illegitimate leaders. In the prophecy of Chilam Balam quoted above, the leaders lost their offices to the Spaniardsbecause of both their role as the symbolically constructedpassive partners theirlust. Theirsexual desires were out of conand trol, and the Spaniardswere able to defeat them. ChilamBalam arguedthat nobles needed to controltheir sexual desires, for if they did not, they would not knowtheirancestorsandotherswouldcome andrituallysodomizethem. The symbolic sexual regulationsfor nobles extended to attemptsat the marginsof colonial rule to harnessthe power of the sacred.In orderto gain this power,shamansandcurersassertedtheircontrolover the gods by raping



them.The shaman(suggestedin these cases to be male) madedemandsof the male god (El ritual de los Bacabes manuscript, 122; Roys, 1965: 42; ArzapaloMarin, 1987: 357-358):13 I casta spellto forcibly andpound lustof creation thelustof the cut the and The night. bodyof woodandstonedoesnotsleep,doesnotcurlup.As I hurl stonesat you, as I slapyou witha log anda staff,you fourgods,you four I am bacabs, signis submerged. submerging/penetratingwiththegenimy you and You tals of yourmother the genitalsof yourfather. arethe lust of the the Amen. women's children, lustof themen'schildren. and Penetrating rapingthe god in this way, he harnessedthe immensepower of the sacredfor himself (see Sigal, 2000: 150-182). The discourse and the performanceof the ritual(which may or may not have includedthe performance of sexual acts) allowed the shamanto show that he was in control. structural elementhereis the conceptof penePerhapsthe most important which was closely associatedwith ritualsrelatedto warfare,disease, tration, human sacrifice, and penis piercing. The same-sex rape representedin this text was connectedrituallywith penis piercingandhumansacrifice.The penetrationshown laterin the documentinvolvedthe termpudz, usually used to describethe knife the Maya used in ritualsacrifice (Barrera Vasquezet al., 1991: 678-679). Noble desireswere linkedto the sacredandto politicalpower.Commoner in sexualdesiresandacts were less important these texts andin Maya society as a whole. Commonerswere often perceivedas sexual agentswho could not control themselves (see Sigal, 2000: 227-232). Maya sexual discourse stresseddifferencesin class and status.

RAPE, GENDER, AND HOMOSEXUAL DESIRE If a male noble could rapea male god, whatdoes this say aboutnormative of understandings rapeandhomosexualacts? It certainlydoes not allow one to conjecturethatthe Maya approvedof homosexualityand rape. It is common knowledgetodaythatrapeis an act investedwith power.Forthe colonial Maya,this was certainlytrue,butin a differentway. Rapeof a god was a way of harnessingthe power of the sacredsphere.It was also a way of symbolizand irrationality, omnipotenceof the sacred,for if ing the unpredictability, the parentsof a god could help in the act of rapeagainsttheir son, then they of could do anything.It was this "irrationality" the sacred that allowed the the nobles to understand worldin which they lived. No doubtthis could have



served a functional purpose, since in times of misery the nobles blamed sacred forces and thus perhaps prevented rebellion. However, the Maya would not have understoodsuch functionalism.Both nobles andcommoners imagineda world in which the sacredhad an orderthatthey could not comprehend.It was only the priests and shamans,steeped in ritualas they were, who could havebegunto comprehend sacredorder.But even these priests the could not understand entire sacredsphere.The gods developed a system the thatcould not be seen with any clarityand thatrequiredacts thatwere unacceptablein normalhumanaffairs(see Farriss,1984;Clendinnen,1987; 1991; Sigal, 2000). These sacredrituals,along with the political rites designed to maintainnoble status, had been major public events before the conquest. Throughthe colonial years,they would become shroudedin mystery,hidden from the Spaniardsand thus from most of the Maya. Ethnic statuschangedthroughout preconquestand colonial years but the remainedan important marker. Difference in sexual statusstood as a sign of these divisions.While the signs were neverso clearas to say thatethnicinsiders played the "active"role while the outsidersplayed the "passive"role, it was clear thatthe texts markeddifferencebased on an active/passivedivide. These signs were used to separateItza from Xiu in the Maya historicaltexts, but complaining about the Itza would not have sufficed to separate"self' from "other"duringcolonial times. Ethnicityduringcolonial years became morelocalized, andthe writtendocumentsdo not marka reflectivediscourse on such localization. of Throughthis structure markeddifference,the nobles retainedsome of their statusthroughout colonial period.To maintainpower,they focused the theirattentionon colonial mechanisms.Identifyingwith colonial powergave them some separationbetween themselves and commoners. Most of the documentscited here were late colonial productionsandthus representeda hybrid colonial order. Maya cultural discourse mixed with Spanish cultureto producevarious hierarchiesof difference. We see these discursiveshifts as elements of a complex culturalmatrix:colonial power in Yucatanis markedby signs and symbols of homosexual acts and desires. NOTES
1. On the importance the sexual behaviorsof the nobles, see the Books of ChilamBalam, of the especially the threemost accessible andmost important: Chumayel(Roys, 1967;Edmonson, 1986), the Mani(CraineandReindorp,1979), andtheTizimin(Edmonson,1982). On the rapeof gods, see Roys (1965) and below.



2. RobertRicard(1966) proposedthe idea of a "spiritual conquest," using the reportsof friars to show that the mendicant orders had converted the Indians and conquered their nonChristian beliefs. Manyhistorianstook Ricard'sviews to be self-evident.CharlesGibson(1952; 1964) first challenged Ricard.Since Gibson, many scholarshave shown that no such spiritual conquest took place (see particularlyBurkhart,1989; Klor de Alva, 1991; Lockhart, 1992). Farriss(1984) andClendinnen(1987) show the survivalof indigenousbeliefs amongthe Maya; Clendinnenshows the lengthsthatthe Spaniards would go to in orderto alterindigenousculture and speaks of the developmentof hybridculturalformations. 3. Bricker clearly overestimatesthe importanceof preconquestsurvivals; see Rugeley view. Rugeley points out thatmanychangestook place in Mayaculture (1996) for an alternative throughthe years.The hybridityof Europeanandindigenousnormstodaypointsto a worldthat never was thoroughlyHispanicized(see Burns, 1983; Hanks, 1990). 4. The same can be said of the Nahuasof centralMexico (see Clendinnen,1991; Lockhart, 1992: 442-446). 5. This is not to suggest thatthese traditional practiceswould not have changedbefore the Spanishconquest.Meaningsappearto changeconstantlyfor a varietyof reasons,some relatedto colonialism and some not. For the preconquestMaya, traditionalsexual meanings changed because of pre-Hispaniccolonialism and other events (see Sigal, 2000). On reinscriptionas a reactionto colonization, see Bhabha(1995). 6. "Chenbelpadresob ian u sipitolal u penob matan u than yoklalob uaca u ment utzil maceuale tusebal helelac ium cura u dzaic u tzucte hetun lae tutac u kabob yetel pel lay yaxcacbachobtumenu pen cech penob la caxuob yal misa bailo u yoli Dios ca oc inglesob uaye ix ma aci ah penob u padreilobihetunlayob lae tei huni ma u topob u yit uinicobe yoli Dios ca I haiackaktu pol cepob amenten yumil ah hahalthan." thankMatthewRestallfor alertingme to the presenceof this petition and the Inquisitionfile. 7. Even the Book of Chilam Balam of Tizimin(published in facsimile as Fontes Rerum Mexicanarum,1980), a text heavily influencedby the Itza, criticizedthe originalItza conquerors. The bulk of the anti-Itzarhetoric, however, came from the Book of Chilam Balam of Chumayel(publishedin facsimile as Gordon, 1913). 8. The passive partnerwas cuiloni. 9. "Oxal a mukilx cuch lum ydzinil dzamanyol cimen ix u puccikaltu nicteob xan ah uaua tulupoob ah ua tan cinoob nacxit xuchit tu nicte u lakob ca ca kin y ahaulilob coylac te tu dzamoobcoylac te tu nicteobca ca kinuinicil u thannobca ca kin u xecob u luchobu poocob u co kinnob u co akabu maxilob yokol cab kuy cu cal mudz cu uich pudz cu chi ti yahaulil cabob yume." 10.Trexler(1995: 81), looking at this same passage,assertsthatthe Maya"showedtheirrear ends"to the Spanishconquerors.While the implicationis correct,Trexleris relying on an older translation. 1. The nahuatl xochitl translatesas "flower." the flower as a metaphorfor sexual desire On and warfare,see Clendinnen(1991), Le6n-Portilla(1992), and Sigal (2000). 12. Of course, there were changes in the powers of those political offices. 13. "Tincan xot cuntahtin can max cuntahu col chab u cool akab ma uen ci ma coy la ci uinicil tunuinicil te tumeneltin chim tex tahlahtex tucal ual tu cal xol cex can tul ti kucex can tul ti bacabedzamtunyn uayasbaca tin dzamchektahechtu ca cobol a na tu ca cobol a yum cech u cool ale u cool mehene Amen."The componentsof dzam chektahech,"submerge," dzam and the chek,both hadsexual connotations.Dzam represented idea of impregnating someone, while chek was a word describingsome generalizedsexual activities.



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