This essay focuses on a 1604 document from Morelia's criminal archive dealing initially with the prosecution of two Purépecha men accused of committing sodomy in a temascal. Attention is paid to individual testimonies and details surrounding sexual acts between the men in the temascal and between other Purépecha men from Uruapan, Tzintzuntzan, and surrounding pueblos. This criminal case offers strong evidence that sodomitical subcultures—social networks of men who knew when and where to seek out sex with other men—existed outside of urban areas in colonial Mexico. The document further demonstrates how Spaniards conceptualized sodomy in the highly gendered terms of activity and passivity that suggested domination and submission, and how this model of male-male sexual relations is inadequate and problematic for understanding historical realities.

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