Pareja's "Confessional", 1593-1613

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The Spanish-born Pareja went to Florida as a Franciscan missionary to the Indians in 1595. He served at San Juan del Puerto (the area of modern Jacksonville) until 1616. Pareja was by report a man of great sanctity and incredible zeal, with expert knowledge of Timucuan, the language of the Timucua natives, who lived on the Atlantic coast in the area between modern Georgia and Florida. Pareja's Confessionario (Confessional) details those questions a priest should ask his penitents, translating these questions from Spanish to Timucuan. As the editors of Pareja's Confessionario say, he probably asked about that behavior he had observed, or had good cause to think existed; his questions suggest that among the Timucuans "both female and male homosexuality occurred, with some special emphasis on boyish pederasty.

Pareja's work also contains an early reference to Native American lesbianism. Under questions "For Married and Single Women" Pareja includes: "Mujer con mujer, has tenido acto, como si fuero hombre?" literally translated this reads: "Woman with woman, have you acted as if you were a man?" Pareja's recent editors translate this as: "By chance, have you had intercourse as if you were a man?

Pareja's questions continue:

For Sodomites

Have you had intercourse with another man? Or have you gone around trying out or making fun in order to do that?

For Boys That Are in the Custom of Doing This

Has someone been investigating you from behind?

Did you consummate the act?" [1]


Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976) pg. 286-287.

  1. Francisco Parejas' Confesionario: A Documentary Source for Timucuan Ethnography, ed. Jerald T. Milanich and William C. Sturtevant, trans, Emilio F. Moran (Tallahassee, Fla.: Division of Archives ... Florida Dept. of State, 1972), p. 39, 43,48, 75. 76. I wish to thank Stephen W. Foster for informing me of this document, Juan de Torquemada's Monarchia Indiana, which he began in 1609, refers to male Indians of Florida marrying each other. These Natives he calls mariones (effeminate men), and says that they dress like and do the work of women. He compares these Indian customs to those of the French and Greeks (Los veinte y un libros rttuoies y Monarchia Indiana, ed. A. Gonzalez de Barcia Carballido y Zufiiga, 3 vols, [Madrid: N. Rodriguez Franco, 1723], vol. 2, p. 427); other transvestite references: vol. I, p. 166, 307,318,330; vol. 2, p. 12, 13.287,380.386.392.393.394.417. Francisco Coreal's Voyages during the years 1666-97 included observations of the Natives of Florida, among whom he found much sodomy. He speaks of a large group of effeminate boys who take the women's role in various tribal activities, and who are allegedly held in contempt by the other Natives (Voyages de Francois Cereal aux Indes occidentales ... 3 vols. [Amsterdam: F. Frederick Bernard, 1722], vol. I, p. 33-34). This is a French translation of the original Spanish.