Queer Eye for the Ascetic Guy? Homoeroticism, Children, and the Making of Monks in Late Antique Egypt
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
A famous instruction about children in monasteries reads: "Do not bring young boys here. Four churches in Scetis are deserted because of boys." Taken from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers, this apophthegm exposes the presence of homoeroticism and anxieties about the homoerotic, especially erotic encounters with children, in early Christian ascetic communities. This essay examines the construction of male sexuality in early Egyptian monasticism, focusing on the Sayings and the rules of the monastic leader Shenoute of Atripe It argues that the masculine ascetic ideal builds upon certain classical ideals of masculinity, especially the control of the passions, but purports to eschew classical models of eroticism in which the adolescent male represents the ideal sexual partner. However, these sources are designed to be recited or retold as edifying texts; despite their overt disavowal of sexual contact between men and boys, their retelling and rereading keeps homoeroticism and the representation of boys as sexually desirable objects alive in the ascetic imagination.
Schroeder, C. T.
Queer Eye for the Ascetic Guy? Homoeroticism, Children, and the Making of Monks in Late Antique Egypt.
Journal of the American Academy of Religion, 77(2), 333–347.