(Redirected from Homosexual
Homosexuality may refer to:
Homosexuality is usually contrasted with heterosexuality and sometimes bisexuality.
These definitions are complicated by the fact that there are several different biological and psychosocial components to sex and gender, and a given person may not cleanly fit into a particular category. Some people even find the notion of distinct genders (and distinct sexual orientations based upon them) to be offensive. The complexities of sex and gender are explained in the article on sex. Further complexities are explained in the article Homosexuality and transgender.
The boundary-drawing problem between homosexuality and bisexuality is discussed in the article sexual orientation.
Main article: Terminology of homosexuality
The word homosexual translates literally as "of the same sex," being a hybrid of the Greek prefix homo- meaning "same" and the Latin root sex- meaning "sex."
The first known appearance of the term homosexual
in print is found in an anonymously published 1869
German pamphlet written by Karl-Maria Kertbeny
Usage and related terms
Although some early writers used the adjective homosexual to refer to any single-gender context (such as an all-girls' school), today the term implies a sexual aspect. The term homosocial is now used to describe single-sex contexts that are not specifically sexual.
Derogatory terms include fag or faggot, which generally refer to gay men; poofter, used mostly in the United Kingdom; queer, generally inclusive of anyone who is not exclusively heterosexual, but also reclaimed as a "pride" word by many gays and academics; homo; and dyke, which refers to lesbians. See Homophobia
The term homosexual can be used as a noun or adjective to describe persons as well as their sexual orientation, sexual history, or self-identification. However, many recommend that the term homosexual be avoided, for its use can cause offence. When referring to a person (as opposed to a sexual behavior), gay man or lesbian are preferred.
Homosexual places emphasis on sexuality and is to be avoided when not describing such. Some people also feel the term is too clinical and thus somewhat dehumanising. Another pejorative term, although falling out of use since the 1930s is 'Turner' . There are two theories as to the origins of this slang word for homosexual: 1. Late 19th century east London slang in homosexual circles, signifying an ostensibly heterosexual young man who may be induced to experiment with homoeroticism and ultimately to ‘turn’ (i.e. to become a fully-fledged practising homosexual). This usage appears in Dickens’s ‘Pickwick Papers’ , when Tupman explains to Snodgrass, ‘It is said he will not bend, though you may find, sir, that he may yet be a turner’.
2. A more discreet version of the slang pejorative ‘bender’, signifying a homosexual male. ‘Turn’ here signifies ‘turning around’, or ‘turning one’s back’ in order to receive phallic penetration.
The term "gay" may refer to all homosexual people, or only to homosexual men, which is why "gay man" may be preferred. Some people find the use of the term "gay" when used to refer to both men and women as offensive. "Lesbian" refers to homosexual women.
Given how confusing and overloaded these various terms can be, when specificity is important, new terms are starting to be pressed into service. For example, Men who have sex with men, or MSM for short, is sometimes used in the medical community when specifically discussing sexual behavior (regardless of orientation or self-identification).
Main articles: Sexual Behavior in the Human Male & Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.
Many studies, most notably the Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and the Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953) by Alfred Kinsey have found that the majority of humans have had homosexual experiences and are bisexual. Only a minority of people were found (5-10%) to be exclusively heterosexual or homosexual. Conversely, an even smaller minority of people appear to have had equal sexual experiences with both genders indicating an attraction scale or continuum. Other studies have suggested these reports exaggerated the occurrence of bisexuality and homosexuality in human populations. However, his idea of a sexuality continuum still enjoys wide acceptance today and is supported by findings in the human and animal kingdoms as well as biological studies of structural brain differences between those belonging to different sexual orientations. Many argue that the discrepancies between public and private admissions regarding sexual orientation are due to negative societal attitudes regarding same-sex intercourse.
See Genetics and sexual orientation.
Researchers in the McFadden and Breedlove studies have found evidence correlating pre-natal hormones to both female and male homosexuality. They have found that females and males exposed to high levels of the sexual hormone androgen as fetuses are pre-dominantly homosexual. This may provide explanation of gay men having a greater number of lifetime sexual partners as well as their larger penis sizes when contrasted to heterosexual males. Auditory systems and fingerprints, both related to androgen levels have also had such results when distinguishing homosexuals from heterosexuals.
Homosexuality on an evolutionary scale consists chiefly of two theories. Scientists interpreting the possibility of male homosexuality being inherited in abnormally fertile females have theorized this may be a biological response to rapid overpopulation through making younger offspring more likely to be homosexual and thus not reproducing. Georgetown University explaining the widespread homosexuality and attractions in adolescence has theorized this may be an integral part of bonding to reduce inter-species aggression later in life when many become bisexual.
The Animal Kingdom
Main article: Homosexuality in animals
Homosexuality is common in the Animal Kingdom, especially in species closer to humans on the evolutionary scale, such as the great apes. Some believe that this behavior has its origin in male social organization and social dominance. However others reject that theory citing homosexuality in species that mate for life and female homosexuality.
- Gay male Penguin couples have been documented to mate for life, build nests together, and use a stone to replace sitting on an egg in the nest. In 2004 the Central Park Zoo in the United States replaced one gay male couple's stone with a fertile egg which they then raised as their own offspring . A German zoo has also reported homosexuality among its penguins.
- Courtship, mounting, and full anal penetration between bulls is common among American bison. The Mandan nation Okipa festival concludes with a ceremonial enactment of this behavior, to "ensure the return of the buffalo in the coming season."
- Homosexuality in male sheep (found in 6% - 10% of rams) is associated with variations in cerebral mass distribution and chemical activity. They concluded that biological factors are at play. This study replicated similar findings in humans that approximately 10% of males are homosexual as well as the brains of homosexual males are different. .
Main articles: Causes of sexual orientation & Homosexuality & Medical Science
Considerable debate continues over what determines a person's sexual orientation with regard to genetic vs. hormonal factors. A much smaller dialogue remains on whether that orientation is discretionary. Accordingly to the widely accepted views of Kinsey's sexual continuum most agree that only minorities of humans are "truly" homosexual or heterosexual and that the majority are bisexual. The presently held mainstream view is that regardless of your specific sexual orientation it cannot be changed and those who have had "success" are more appropriately bisexual.
The great majority of workers in medicine and the sciences, as well as LGB organizations, claim that sexual orientation is innate, fixed and unchangeable, and that it is impossible to change homosexuality into heterosexuality, or vice-versa. They hold that the innate factors that in the majority of cases direct male sexual arousal to females (and vice-versa), in the case of the LGB minority direct arousal toward those of the same gender.
To support this argument, they point to the many reports of both straight and LGB-identified individuals who claim having discovered their orientation at an early age (often in pre-adolescence). In the case of queer youth, many report initial distress in response to this realization. Their claims are consistent with statistics showing that LGB-identified youth are several times more likely than non-gay youth to attempt suicide .
Some scientific studies suggest gay men's anatomical brain structure is similar to that of heterosexual women and different from their heterosexual male counterparts. Other studies such as the March 2000 Breedlove finger length report  and the July 2000 University of Texas study of neurological auditory response  suggest that while lesbians show characteristics intermediate between heterosexual men and women gay men are "hyper-masculinized". Some researchers have found that if one of a set of identical twins self-identifies as a gay man or lesbian, the chance of the other identifying as gay is increased to 50%, although other researchers' twin studies have found widely differing percentages.
Attempts to modify sexual orientation (known as "conversion therapies" and so far targeted only at LGB-identified individuals) have been condemned by numerous professional organizations in the scientific field for causing depression - sometimes leading to suicide - and being of little value. In 2001 Dr. Robert Spitzer, professor of psychiatry at Columbia University announced a study indicating that reparative therapy has a failure rate on the order of 99.98%. The American Psychological Association in 1997 passed a resolution declaring therapists in these groups engaged in such conversion therapies to be following unethical and unhealthy practice.
The American Academy of Pediatrics, American Counseling Association , American Association of School Administrators , American Federation of Teachers, American Psychological Association, American School Health Association , Interfaith Alliance Foundation , National Association of School Psychologists , National Association of Social Workers, and National Education Association developed and endorsed a statement in 1999 reading:
- "The most important fact about 'reparative therapy,' also sometimes known as 'conversion therapy,' is that it is based on an understanding of homosexuality that has been rejected by all the major health and mental health professions. The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Counseling Association , the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the National Association of School Psychologists , and the National Association of Social Workers, together representing more than 477,000 health and mental health professionals, have all taken the position that homosexuality is not a mental disorder and thus there is no need for a 'cure.' ...health and mental health professional organizations do not support efforts to change young people's sexual orientation through 'reparative therapy' and have raised serious concerns about its potential to do harm."
Various psychologists, anthropologists and sociologists including Sigmund Freud, Margaret Mead, and Michael Foucault have held that neither exclusive heterosexuality nor exclusive homosexuality are innate and only exist due to the effects of outside societal or developmental influences on the individual. In the same vein writer Gore Vidal once remarked that "there is no such thing as a homosexual or heterosexual person. There are only homo- or heterosexual acts. Most people are a mixture of impulses if not practices, and what anyone does with a willing partner is of no social or cosmic significance". The lesbian-feminist movement has historically held the position that sexual orientation is socially and psychologically created and openly encouraged women to choose lesbianism over "compulsory heterosexuality"(as Adrienne Rich put it in her 1980 essay "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existance") for the sake of women's liberation.
Conservative religious congregations maintain that being gay is a self-indulgent transgressive choice, like being a fast driver, and state it is learned behavior. Thus it is their position that all homosexuality is of a preferential nature. Some of the organizations that believe homosexuality is a choice and a violation of their religious creeds offer "conversion therapies" for lesbians and gay men in an attempt to change their sexual orientation.
Utilizing a secular approach, the American National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, and some non-Western organizations, also maintain that "conversion therapy" can change sexual orientation. They claim that sexual orientation is not genetic, that it is changeable, and to regard sexual orientation as permanent is incorrect. The implications of this view on the construction of heterosexuality have not been fully explored.
Apart from the issue of the changeability of one's basic orientation, the manifestation of one's sexual orientation seems to be liable to a great amount of variability. Thus it is common for homosexual individuals in hetero-normative societies to love, marry, and have children with individuals of the opposite sex, a practice done for social reasons in intolerant environments, as a cover for one's orientation (such relationships are known as a "beards.")
The opposite situation seems to obtain in homo-normative societies, where men whose primary attraction may be to the opposite sex nonetheless engage in - and enjoy - the homosexual practices prescribed by their respective culture. Both of these adaptations are forms of situational sexual behavior.
Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships have varied over the centuries, from requiring all males to engage in relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, to proscribing it under penalty of death. See Violence against gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and the transgendered
Main article: Demographics of sexual orientation.
Estimates of the modern prevalence of homosexuality vary considerably. They are complicated by differing or even ambiguous definitions of homosexuality, and by fluctuations over time and according to location. Recent estimates in Western countries range from 1% to 10%.
Historically, however, in areas where same-sex relationships were integrated in the culture, such as Ancient Greece, parts of Melanesia, Renaissance Florence, and pre-modern Japan, romantic relationships were engaged in by a majority of the male population.
A number of researchers into the social construction of same-sex love and sexuality have suggested that it is not correct to speak about homosexuality. Instead they point out that same-sex relations have been constructed in various ways by different societies. These classifications are grouped by anthropologist Stephen O. Murray into three different categories:
- Egalitarian, exemplified by modern forms of relationship between partners of similar age and gender. See Sexual minority cultures
- Age structured, exemplified by the erotic apprenticeship enaged in by novice samurai with the more experienced warriors. See shudo
- Gender structured, exemplified by shamanic gender-changing practices seen in native societies. See Two-Spirit
Though in any society one particular form of homosexuality usually predominates, other forms are likely to co-exist. As historian Rictor Norton points out in his Intergenerational and Egalitarian Models, in Ancient Greece egalitarian relationships co-existed (though to some extent "in the closet") with the institution of pederasty; and a fascination with adolescent youths continues to be a part of modern queer culture, just as a fascination with adolescent girls continues to concentrate the minds of straight men.
See Anthropological classification of homosexuality.
Main article: Anti-gay slogan
Same-sex love practices have been the subject of a continuing debate dating back at least to Classical Greece. In antiquity, and in countries not under the sway of Abrahamic beliefs, the debates usually took the form of debating which love is best, the love of women or the love of boys, unlike more recent discussions which frame the question in terms of "right" and "wrong." Recent advances in sociological studies and other discourse such as queer theory have brought a measure of scientific rigor to what had been mostly a philosophical debate.
- "Same-sex love is against nature" This charge dates back to Classical Greece, where it was first articulated by Plato in his "Laws."
- "It is condemned by God." Expressed by early Christian exegetes (claimed to be the moral of the Sodom and Gomorrah story), and by Muhammad in the Qur'an.
- "It leads to plagues and natural disasters." Advanced by Christian authorities in Renaissance Italy.
- "It is abuse of the young." Encountered in "Erotes," a dialogue of the early Christian era by "Lucian."
- "It is a dissipation of one's vital force." Also in Lucian.
- "It is commonplace in nature." Based on zoologists' observations of many different species (see Bagemihl in References).
- "Suppressing it alters the balance of nature." A Melanesian belief documented by Bagemihl.
- "It foments close friendships and independent thinking." Also in Lucian
- "The male form is superior to the female form." Medieval Arabic text included in the Arabian Nights (The Debate Between the Wise Woman and the Sage).
Main article: Religion and homosexuality
Religion has played a significant role in forming a culture’s views towards homosexuality. Historically the negative perceptions have been limited to the Abrahamic religions. Groups not influenced by the Abrahamic religions have commonly regarded homosexuality sacred or neutral. In the wake of colonialism and imperialism undertaken by countries of the Abrahamic faiths some non-Abrahamic religious groups have adopted new attitudes antagonistic towards homosexuality. For example, when India became part of the British Empire sodomy laws were introduced while there was no basis for them in Hindu faith, this led to persecution of their society and religion. India still retains portions due to this past foreign influence as of 2005. This experienced was also repeated by other Abrahamic religious nations upon their acquisitions throughout Africa, Asia and the Americas.
Atheists, Agnostics or Secularists
Those who are atheist, agnostic or secularist have been consistently shown to be tolerant of homosexuality as well as supportive of gay-rights legislation. Countries with significant populations of these groups are often among the most accepting of gay citizens.
The world's three major Abrahamic religions of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism descended from the patriarch Abraham have historically been the primary sources condemning homosexuality in the world. The first recorded law against homosexuality dates to 550 BC during the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people, it is recorded in Leviticus, and it requires the death penalty for homosexuality between men. It is largely seen as a distinction between Judaism, the first Abrahamic faith, and Paganism on par with worshiping "false gods". At the time of its formulation homosexuality was incorporated into many Pagan religions. However in modern times some major denominations within these religions have accepted homosexuality comparing it to religiously sanctioned slavery and thus an anachronism of the past.
Main articles: Homosexuality and Christianity: History and Homosexuality and Christianity
The attitude of Early Christians toward homosexuality has been much debated. One side has cited denunciations of sodomy in the writings of the era, such as in the Didache and in the writings of St. Justin Martyr , Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, Eusebius, St. Basil the Great, St. John Chrysostom, St. Augustine, and in doctrinal sources such as the "Apostolic Constitutions" - for example, Eusebius of Caesarea's statement which condemns "the union of women with women and men with men". Others claim that passages have been mistranslated or they do not refer to homosexuality.
Among the prominent Christian figures known to have had same-sex relationships, Richard I of England had a relationship with King Philip II of France, Ralph Archbishop of Tours had his lover John installed as bishop of Orleans with agreement of both the King of France and Pope Urban II, and a number of popes and cardinals, especially during the Renaissance, also shared the popular tastes for handsome youths, so prevalent at the time in northern Italy.
Other Christians of the time were critical of homosexuality. St. Thomas Aquinas denounced sodomy as second only to bestiality (sex with animals) as the worst of all sexual sins, and St. Hildegard's book "Scivias", which was officially approved by Pope Eugenius III, related visions in which same-sex relations are condemned as "perverted forms".
Main article: Homosexuality and Islam
Same-sex intercourse is prohibited in Islam, which teaches that such intercourse is a violation of the natural boundaries set by Allah (the Arabic word for God). Note that homosexuality, as an attraction, is not against the Sharia, which governs the physical actions, and not the inner thoughts and feelings. It is the physical action of same-sex intercourse that is punishable under the Sharia.
Historically the punishment has been less severe compared to its Abrahamic counterparts: Judaism and Christianity. The Qur'an states that if a person commits the sin they can repent and save their life, though there are hadiths that later prescribe the death penalty. Early Islamic cultures, especially ones where homosexuality was entrenched into their culture by previous Pagan culture were renowned for their lenient attitudes towards homosexuality. They reconciled their new religion using a hadith ascribed to Muhammad, “He who loves and remains chaste and conceals his secret and dies, dies a martyr”.
The result was a religion that allowed love between those of the same gender as long as they did not have sexual intercourse. Ibn Hazm, Ibn Daud , Al-Mutamid , Abu Nuwas, and many others used this edict to write extensively and openly of love between men while proclaiming to be chaste. However, in order for the transgression to be proven, at least four men or eight women must bear witness against the accused, thus making it very difficult to persecute those who did not remain celibate in the privacy of their homes.
Main article: Homosexuality and Judaism
While sexual intercourse between men is explicitly forbidden in the Torah, which puts it on the same level as idolatry and makes it punishable by death, most Jewish movements have accepted homosexuality in the twentieth century.
Main article: Homosexuality and Buddhism
There is no definitive view in Buddhism, though different schools hold different attitudes, depending largely on whether they train the mind by reducing desires or by using the energy of desire to effect awakening experiences. It is common to see condemnation of homosexuality by Buddhists in societies within Asia largely influenced by Abrahamic religions. However, this is a recent development and has no scriptural basis. Prior to colonization by agents of Abrahamic countries, homosexuality was no less privileged than other forms of love. In Japan, the practice was "invented" by the Bodhisattva Manjusri of wisdom and the sage Kukai, while in China it is attributed to the Yellow Emperor, the father of China. Indian, Tibetan, Chinese, Southeast Asian and Japanese cultures, where Buddhism was or remains one of the chief religions, have been historically unconcerned with the gender of sexual activity or the object of desire.
Main article: Homosexuality and Hinduism
The Indian Kama Sutra written in the third century c. e. contains passages describing hijras performing oral sex to men with tips to maximize pleasure. Prior to British colonization of India hijras were not the only homosexual activity, many engaged in a form of pederasty which was openly practiced by Muslims and Sikhs in the north while being overlooked in the south by Hindus. The terms gand-mara (anus beater), gando (ass-taker) and ganga ("anuser") were coined during this time period. During British control Hinduism became markedly antagonistic to homosexuality.
In Hinduism many divinities are androgynous with some changing sex to participate in homoerotic behavior.
Main articles: Pederasty, Mythology of same-sex love
In Greco-Roman religion same-sex love was integrated in sacred texts and rituals, understandable since most followers were open to romantic engagements with either sex. Certain surviving myths depict homosexual bonds (see History), sanctified by divinities modeling such relationships. See Zeus and Ganymede as an example.
The Sumerian religion also held homosexuality sacred. It also was incorporated into various New World religions, such as the Aztec. It is thought to have been common in shamanic practice.
Divinities who engaged in same-sex love
Main article: Mythology of same-sex love
Gilgamesh, Enkidu, Poseidon, Pelops, Zeus, Ganymede, Laius, Chrysippus, Iphis, Ianthe, Heracles, Iolaus, Hylas, Abderus, Apollo, Orpheus, Hyacinthus, Cyparisus , Pan, Daphnis, Achilles, Patroclus, Narcissus, Ameinias, Xochipilli
Main articles: Homosexuality laws of the world & Same-sex Marriage
The relationship between the moral condemnation of the gay community and its legal status is complicated. For instance, in England buggery was a crime under medieval canon law because it was banned by the Church. However, prosecutions for this offence died out. Sexual activity between those of the same sex was formally banned by Parliament in the 19th century as one of a range of sexual offences, alongside sex with under-age girls, as part of an expression of a general moral outrage related to events of that time.
State-sponsored violence against gay men and lesbians occurs largely throughout those cultures under the sway of the Christian, Judaic and (to a lesser extent) Islamic religions. One recent egregious example of genocide by a genetically based (rather than religiously-based) doctrine, was the attempted extermination of gays during the Holocaust, where the Nazis viewed same-sex attraction as a sign of eugenic moral weakness rather than as a sin.
In pre-industrial western societies same-gender sex was generally accepted by the lower classes and the upper class, less so among the bourgeoisie, though most professed to consider it immoral. However, with the rise of urbanisation and the nuclear family, same-gender sex became less tolerated and even outlawed in some cases.
By the 19th Century most areas adopting the Code Napoleon (French-based civil law) had no specific ban on same-gender sex, while many areas with British-based Common Law systems had anti-sodomy statutes and executed gay men and lesbians as late as the end of the 1800's.
Beginning in the 20th century, gay rights movements, as part of the broader civil rights movements, in concert with the development of the academic treatment of sexuality in queer studies, have led to changes in social acceptance and in the media portrayal of the gay community.
The legalization and legal equality of same-gender sex, together with legal status for same-sex marriage and non-gender-specific civil unions are major goals of the gay rights movement to protect families of gay couples.
In recent years a number of jurisdictions have relaxed or eliminated laws criminalizing same-sex sexual activity, including sodomy laws and laws preventing gay citizens from serving in their country's armed forces.
In Bulgaria gay sex between adults (over 18) was legalized in 1951, in Hungary and Czechoslovakia - in 1961. In England and Wales, gay sex was legalized in 1967, for consenting males aged over 21. Scotland followed in 1980, and Northern Ireland in 1982. The age of consent was lowered in 1994 from 21 to 18, and again in 2000 to 16 in mainland Britain and 17 in Northern Ireland. This last change gave it equal treatment with the heterosexual age of consent. However, not until 2003 were the earlier offences of buggery and gross indecency abolished so that gay sex was treated in the same way as heterosexual sex (previously it was illegal for gay sex to involve more than two people, or for anyone to watch).
The European Parliament of the European Union, which must approve applications for membership, stated in 1998 that it would not allow countries that violated the rights of lesbians and gay men to enter.
In the United States, on June 26, 2003 the landmark U.S. Supreme Court verdict Lawrence v. Texas overturned all remaining sodomy laws in the United States. The court exclaimed:
- "A law branding one class of persons as criminal solely based on the State's moral disapproval of that class and the conduct associated with that class runs contrary to the values of the Constitution and the Equal Protection Clause, under any standard of review."
In China no specific law has targeted any gay behavior, but gay men are often convicted of being "rascals," which can lead to a jail sentence or to re-education.
In Japan there are no laws against same-sex sexual activity.
Homosexuality has at times been used as a scapegoat by governments facing problems. Some examples would be Nazi Germany’s Holocaust of gay men based on the understanding that they were a threat to masculinity as well as contaminating the Aryan Race with a “gay” gene. Another is the burning of 6,000 books of homoerotic poetry of 8th c. Persian-Arab poet Abu Nuwas by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture in January 2001, to placate Islamic fundamentalists.
Capitalism with its business structures having a great degree of autonomy from a government have often been of the forefront in treating gay men and women equally. The level of equal parity is much more common in business structures than governments. As of 2005 approximately 45% of companies within the Fortune 500 offered domestic partner benefits and nine of the top ten companies include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies.
Main article: Homosexuality and the military
Homosexuality since ancient times has been documented to be more common in militaries with their strict sex-separation contrasted to society at large. Official attitudes towards this form of sexuality have varied, reflecting their culture’s views. Ancient Greece among others, as well as pre-modern Japan’s military traditions openly encouraged them as a form of male bonding. Many modern countries (such as the United Kingdom) welcome homosexuals in the armed services. Others, such as the United States systematically purge them from the force in the belief that they are a threat. This negative attitude was common in the European Middle Ages when the Medieval Templars, a prominent Christian brotherhood of knights during the Crusades was destroyed on accusations of homosexuality.
The Scouts, a group of paramilitary youth organizations, often emulate the attitude of their home country's military. Thus the Boy Scouts in the US reject gay members, while the Scout Association in the UK welcomes them both as members and as leaders.
Militaries have been known to use sexuality in abusive manners such as rape, frequently based on sexist variant of homophobia. Romans who viewed masculinity based on the penetrative sexual position regardless of the sex of the passive partner used it as a form of dominance, including a means to “conquer” an enemy. T. E. Lawrence, during World War I, claimed to have been raped in a homosexual context by his Ottoman captors.
Art and literature
Main article: Homoeroticism & Same-sex love (visual arts)
One of the primary social manifestations of same-sex love has been through the medium of literature and art. The aspects of these expressions range across the gamut of the main artistic disciplines. Homoerotic sensibilities are at the foundation of art in the west, to the extent that those roots can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Homer’s Iliad – one of the foundations of the Greco-Roman faith – was regarded to contain a homosexual relationship by many of its contemporaries.
The European tradition was continued throughout the ages in the works of William Shakespeare, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci. In Arab populations it was present in figures such as Abu Nuwas. The Tale of Genji –called the “world’s first real novel”, fostered this tradition in Asian societies.
Icons such as Madonna and Elton John have followed this tradition in modern times. Presently Asian anime commonly features the theme. Artistic nudes have prominently displayed lesbianism. Playwrights have penned popular works such as Angels In America. These sentiments have been pervaded in many movies. A popular television series exploited these perceptions with Queer Eye For The Straight Guy equating gay men with the ancient Greek Muses.
Main articles: History of sexuality & History of the Gay Community
Sexual customs vary greatly over time, and those shifts, as well as the orientation of particular pre-modern figures are the subject of ongoing study. However, modern Western gay culture as it is currently understood is largely a product of 19th century psychology as well as the years of post-Stonewall gay liberation. It is generally not applicable as a standard when investigating same-gender sex and people's views in past ages.
It may be accepted, for example, that the sex lives of historical figures such as Alexander the Great, Hadrian, Virgil, Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, Plato, Christopher Marlowe (who coined the term 'quean') and William Shakespeare included or were centred upon relationships with people of their own gender. Terms such as "gay" or "bisexual" might be applied to them in that sense. But many regard this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a modern social construction of sexuality sub-culture that is foreign to their times. For example, their societies might have focused upon the sexual role one took in these encounters, namely active, passive, both, or neither, as a key social marker. This particular system of designation is currently the norm in many areas of Latin America.
It could be noted, on the other hand, that when evidence that a particular historical figure's sexuality pointed exclusively toward an attraction to people of an opposite gender describing them as having a heterosexual orientation rarely evokes such controversy. This tendency among Western historians, to view heterosexuality as an acceptable norm while regarding arguments that a particular historical figure may have had been gay controversial or requiring more evidence than a claim of opposite-sex attraction might warrant, is often attributed to homophobia on the part of historians and is referred to within queer studies as heteronormativity.
Though denied or ignored by early explorers, homosexual expression in native Africa was widespread and common, and took a variety of forms. Representative examples:
Anthropologists Murray and Roscoe report that women in Lesotho traditionally have enaged in socially sanctioned and celebrated "long term, loving and erotic relationships" named motsoalle.
E. E. Evans-Pritchard reported that Azande warriors (in the northern Congo) routinely married youths who functioned as temporary wives. The practice had died out in the early 20th century but was recounted to him by the elders.
In North American Native society, the most common form of same-sex sexuality seems to center around the figure of the two-spirit individual. Such persons seem to have been recognized by the majority of tribes, each of which had its particular term for the role. Typically the two-spirit individual was recognized early in life, was given a choice by the parents to follow the path, and if the child accepted the role then it was raised in the appropriate manner, learning the customs of the gender it had chosen. Two-spirit individuals were commonly shamans and were revered as having powers beyond those of ordinary shamans. Their sexual life would be with the ordinary tribe members of the opposite gender. Male two-spirit people were prized as wives because of their greater strength and abvility to work. See Two-spirit
In Asia same-sex love has been a central feature of everyday life since the dawn of history. Early western travelers were taken aback by its widespread acceptance and open display.
In China, known as the pleasures of the bitten peach, the cut sleeve, or The southern custom, same-sex relations have been recorded since at least 600 BCE. These euphemistis terms were used to describe behaviors, but not identities. The relationships were marked by differences in age and social position. However, the instances of same-sex affection and sexual interactions described in the Hong Lou Meng (Dream of the Red Chamber, or Story of the Stone) seem as familiar to observers in the present as do equivalent stories of romances between heterosexuals during the same period. For more information see Homosexuality in China
In Japan, the practice, variously known as shudo or nanshoku, terms influenced by Chinese literature, has been documented for over one thousand years and was an integral part of Buddhist monastic life and the samurai tradition. This same-sex love culture gave rise to strong traditions of painting and literature documenting and celebrating such relationships. For more information see Homosexuality in Japan
Similarly, Thailand had no concept of homosexuality until the late 20th century. Kathoey or ladyboys have been a feature of Thai society for many centuries. They were men who dressed as women. They were generally accepted by society without much question, although a family was often disappointed if one of their sons became a Kathoey. The teachings of Buddhism, dominant in Thai society was accepting of a third gender designation.
Homosexual acts are also not illegal in Taiwan, Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Kampuchea and only remain so in Singapore (see Homosexuality in Singapore and Singapore gay movement), Malaysia, Myanmar and the Indian subcontinent as an archaic remnant of Victorian colonialism.
The earliest western documents (in the form of literary works, art objects, as well as mythographic materials) concerning same-sex relationships are derived from Ancient Greece, where same-sex relationships were a social institution variously constructed over time and from one city to another. (See Pederasty) The practice, a system of relationships between an adult male and an adolescent coming of age, was often valued for its pedagogic benefits and as a means of population control, and occasionally blamed for causing disorder. Plato praised its benefits in his early writings, but in his late works proposed its prohibition, laying out a strategy which uncannily predicts the path by which same-sex love was eventually driven underground. (See Philosophy of pederasty)
During the Renaissance, cities in northern Italy, Florence and Venice in particular, were renowned for their widespread practice of same-sex love, engaged in by a majority of the male population and constructed along the classical pattern of Greece and Rome (Ruggiero, 1985; Rocke, 1996). But even as the majority of the male population was engaging in same-sex relationships, the authorities, under the aegis of the Officers of the Night court, were prosecuting, fining and imprisoning a good portion of that population. The eclipse of this period of relative artistic and erotic freedom was precipitated by the rise to power of the moralizing monk Girolamo Savonarola. Throughout all of Europe, fierce conflicts, dating back to the early Middle Ages, raged between proponents and opponents of same sex love. In northern Europe the artistic discourse on sodomy was turned against its proponents by artists like Rembrandt who in his "Rape of Ganymede" no longer depicted Ganymede as a willing youth, but as a squalling baby attacked by a rapacious bird of prey.
Continuing the ancient tradition of male love in which Ganymede, cup-boy to the gods, symbolized the ideal boyfriend, Muslim - primarily Sufi - poets in medieval Arab lands and in Persia wrote odes to the beautiful wine boys who served them in the taverns and shared their beds at night. Among some Muslim cultures the practice of pederasty was widespread, if not universal (as documented by Richard Francis Burton, André Gide and many others), and has survived into modern times. It continues to surface despite efforts to keep it quiet, as it did after the American invasion of Afghanistan, when the same-sex love customs of Kandahar, in which adult men take on adolescent lovers, became widely known.
In Central Asia, on the Silk Route, the two traditions of the east and the west met, and gave rise to a strong local culture of same-sex love. This was centered around the bachá (a Turkik Uzbeki term etymologically realted to the Persian bachcheh, catamite), typically an adolescent male entertainer and sex worker who donned resplendent attire and makeup and sang and danced erotic songs. These Muslim bachás were trained from childhood and carried on their trade until their beard began to grow. Though the tradition eventually succumbed to Stalinist repression and western morality, early Russian explorers were able to document the practice.
In many societies of Melanesia same-sex relationships are an integral part of the culture. In some tribes of Papua New Guinea, for example, it is considered a normal ritual responsibility for a boy to have a relationship as a part of his ascent into manhood. Many Melanesian societies, however, have become antagonistic towards same-sex relationships since the introduction of Christianity by European missionaries.
In 1973, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Manual of Psychiatric Disorders (DSM) removed homosexuality as a mental disorder from the manual.
During the last few decades, in part due to their history of shared oppression, gays in the West have developed a shared culture, although not all gays participate in it, and many gay men and women specifically decline to do so. The various approaches to the question of what queer culture should be are exemplified by the gay pride and the gay shame movements. Gay pride aims at equality and social and economic integration. Opposition to this comes from the gay shame movement, which holds that being gay can lead to liberation from restrictive social constructs.
Shortly after World War II the gay community began to make advancements in civil rights throughout much of the Western World. With the advent of the AIDS outbreak; organizational structures of these groups became much more sophisticated. At the start of the 21st Century four countries had granted access to civil-marriages and many more countries; the majority of Europe had established similar legal arrangements. Gay men and women had risen to numerous posts of power within many governments that had only a few decades ago previously imprisoned or even in some cases exterminated them.
The overall trend of greater acceptance of gay men and women in the latter part of the 20th Century was not limited to secular institutions; it was also seen in many religious institutions. Reform Judaism, the largest branch of Judaism outside Israel had begun to facilitate religious weddings for gay adherents in their synagogues. The Anglican Communion, the world’s second largest Christian Church in terms of members had nearly fractured due to the Churches in the Western World ordaining gay clergy and blessing same-sex unions against the wishes of those in the developing world, where a morality first adopted in colonial times still predominates. (See Post-colonialism) Other Churches such as the Methodist Church had experienced trials of gay clergy who some claimed were a violation of religious principles resulting in mixed verdicts dependent on geography.
Organizations active for gay rights
Organizations that offer support to gay youth
- CampWEHO - message boards
- Mogenic - magazine consisting of various articles, as well as profiles and chat
- XY - magazine including articles, chat, and profiles
Organizations that offer support to lesbians and gay men
Organizations that offer support to lesbian and gay families
- Christopher Bagley and Pierre Tremblay, (1998), "On the Prevalence of Homosexuality and Bisexuality, in a Random Community Survey of 750 Men Aged 18 to 27", Journal of Homosexuality, Volume 36, Number 2, pages 1-18.
- Lester G. Brown, Two Spirit People, 1997, Harrington Park Press, ISBN 1-56023-089-4
- Kenneth J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality, 1979, Gerald Duckworth & Co. Ltd., London, ISBN 0674362616 (o.p. hardcover), ISBN 0674362705 (pbk.).
- Bret Hinsch, Passions of the Cut Sleeve: The Male Homosexual Tradition in China, The University of California Press, 1990, ISBN 0-520-06720-7.
- Norman Roth. The care and feeding of gazelles - Medieval Arabic and Hebrew love poetry. IN: Lazar & Lacy. Poetics of Love in the Middle Ages. George Mason University Press, 1989.
- Arno Schmitt & Jehoeda Sofer (eds). Sexuality and Eroticism Among Males in Moslem Societies. Haworth Press, 1992.
- Alfred C. Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948, ISBN 0721654452 (o.p.), ISBN 0253334128 (reprint).
- Alfred C. Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953, ISBN 0721654509 (o.p.), ISBN 0671786156 (o.p. pbk.), ISBN 025333411X (reprint).
- LeVay, S., Science, 1991, 253, 1034?1037.
- Stephen O. Murray and Will Roscoe, Boy Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities, 1998, ISBN 031221216X.
- Rocke, Michael, (1996), Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and male Culture in Renaissance Florence, ISBN 0-91-512292-5
- Ruggiero, Guido, (1985), The Boundaries of Eros, ISBN 0-91-505696-5
- Smith, T.W. (1991). Adult sexual behavior in 1989: Number of partners, frequency of intercourse and risk of AIDS. Family Planning Perspectives 23(3), 102-107.
- Bullough et al. (eds.) (1996). Handbook of Medieval Sexuality. Garland Publishing. ISBN 0815312873.
- Foucault, Michel (1990). The History of Sexuality vol. 1: An Introduction, p.43. Trans. Robert Hurley. New York: Vintage.
- Genetics of homosexuality
- Brain structure in homosexual sheep
- Fingerprints Study
- Androgen Link