At a time when religious ideas shaped the law, the European colonies of North
America set harsh penalties for homosexual activity. Yet as they settled, the
Spanish, French, and British encountered native cultures that allowed for
expressions of same-sex love. Within the colonies as well, there is evidence
of same-sex activity despite the violence of the law. In Massachusetts, a
Puritan minister named Michael Wigglesworth struggled with the conflict
between his religious beliefs and his sexuality, setting his feelings down in
the encoded pages of his diary.