In 1637, two male colonist at Plymouth faced conviction for a serious moral crime, a crime that could have led to their execution. Thomas Roberts and John Alexander were in love; caught expressing their love in a sexual relationship was their only crime.
Plymouth was still a small English colony; they all knew each other and so the judge was hesitant to impose the maximum sentence of death. However, the judge did not go lightly on either of them. Neither man was sentenced to death for being gay, but Alexander, labeled the “seducer”, was branded with a hot iron and banished from the colony. Roberts, the slightly less “guilty” of the two, was forbidden to own land or vote. Roberts was eventually considered “reformed” and his rights were re-instated, probably to encourage him to stay. The small colony needed very strong pair of hands it could get to survive.
Author Paul Monett once wrote that most of gay history “lies in shallow bachelors’ graves.”
Be grateful on this Thanksgiving day, we've come along way from 1637.