The “Hawaiian Renaissance” began in the 1970’s as a rediscovery of the Islands’ native cultural heritage and a revival of the Hawaiian language, arts, and hula. And yet, all this revitalization of the past has strangely overlooked one little-known component of Hawaiian culture before European contact: its blatantly bisexual and homosexual social institutions. It’s a fascinating aside to this rich state’s unique civilization that flourished in isolation from the outside world for many centuries. And it’s something that many islanders don’t want to admit or acknowledge, even to this day.
I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii for five years while researching and publishing the first gay guidebook to the Islands, the Rainbow Handbook Hawaii. Through many interviews with scholars and much investigation, I found that Hawaii’s same-sex history was not some far-fetched revisionist notion, but as clear as the tropical sunlight that falls on the Islands.
The great explorer Captain James Cook became in 1779 the first non-Polynesian to set eyes on Hawaii