Jacques Le Moyne: "Hermaphrodites," 1564

In 1564, Le Moyne traveled to Florida as an artist with the French expedition commanded by Laudonniere. About twenty years later, in London, Le Moyne wrote a travel memoir accompanied by sketches. These pictures and descriptions are now known only by the engravings and translations made of them by Theodore de Bry first published in 1591.

Le Moyne's text reads:

Hermaphrodites, partaking of the nature of each sex, are quite common in these parts, and are considered odious by the Indians themselves, who, however, employ them, as they are strong, instead of beasts of burden. When a chief goes out to war, the hermaphrodites carry the provisions. When any Indian is dead of wounds or disease, two hermaphrodites take a couple of stout poles, fasten cross-pieces on them, and attach to these a mat woven of reeds. On this they place the deceased...Then [the hermaphrodites] take thongs of hide, three or four fingers broad, fasten the ends to the ends of the poles, and put the middle over their heads, which are remarkably hard; and in this manner they carry the deceased to the place of burial. Persons having contagious diseases are also carried to places appointed for the purpose, on the shoulders of the hermaphrodites, who supply [those ill] with food, and take care of them, until they get quite well again.[1] 


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) pg. 285-286.

  1. Jacques Le Moyne de Morgues, Narrative of Le Moyne, an Artist Who Accompanied the French Expedition to Florida under Laudonnlere; I564, trans. Frederick B. Perkins (Boston: James R. Osgood, 1875), p. 7-8.  In 1566, an allegedly treasonous and sodomitical French Lutheran was murdered by Spanish Catholics in Florida. The Lutheran had lived with the local chief's two sons, and one of these sons is said to have "loved" the Frenchman "very much" (in Gay American History see Part I, 1566: Gonzalo Soliz de Meras).