I think you are taking a phenomena of the 20th century/21st century "out of
the closet" gay scene and transporting it with little evidence to Dante's
Italy. In my limited reading so far of Robert Duncan and the other "beat"
poets of the 40's and 50's, many of whom espoused a fairly open gay life, I
know of no reference to this behavior. Much reference to the difficulty of
men loving other men but no reference to "eyeing" each other. I think you
would find that open reference to this sort of behavior starts in the late
How did sodomites act in Dante's day? Did they gather in groups and eye
each other? What is your source for this observation of sodomite behavior
in 14th century Italy? I think gender specific groups were the medieval
norm and that Chaucer's mixed group was exceptional.
Dante's objection to sodomites was not the homosexual/gay behavior as such
but rather sodomy which denied God's will. Sodomy was but one example of
the denial of God's will. Even sodomy was not evil in itself but was evil
in that it denied God's will. It was not so much a secular crime but rather
a spiritual one. Since Augustine's compromises with the ascetics of his age
the Roman Catholic church has maintained that the only proper reason for sex
was the creation of children. Any other sexual activity was evil.
Heterosexual behavior for pleasure alone was just as evil as homosexual sex.
Dante is merely using sodomy as an example of the denial by men of God's
will. Dante believed that the sperm contained the full attributes of the
child; the mother provided a nurturing receptacle only. To deposit the
sperm/child in a non-nurturing fashion was to counter the will of God for
that "child". This whole belief system is the base of the Roman Catholic
church's opposition to contraception today. To deposit sperm in a condom
or a temporarily non-fertile woman is to deny God.
I don't think Dante would have had no problem with gay non-sexual love, just
as he had no problem with his own non-sexual love for Beatrice. Sex as it
denies God's will is his only problem with sodomy.
Even in the current much publicized pedophilic behavior of a few, primarily
American, Roman Catholic clerics, the Church's initial response was to the
spiritual problem of sex for non-creative purposes and not to the secular
problem of sexual abuse. In our secular society the physical act is the
problem, in Dante's more spiritual society the spiritual denial of God was
Lastly don't forget that this is not very far down into Inferno. The very
bottom of hell is reserved for the traitors: Judas, Brutus, and Cassius.