Adverts

Open Access Articles- Top Results for Homosexuality

Homosexuality

This article is about homosexuality in humans. For homosexuality in other animals, see Homosexual behavior in animals.

Homosexuality (from grc ὁμός, meaning "same", and lat sexus, meaning "sex") is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" primarily or exclusively to people of the same sex. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions."[1][2]

Along with bisexuality and heterosexuality, homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual–homosexual continuum.[1] There is no consensus among scientists about why a person develops a particular sexual orientation.[1] Many scientists think that nature and nurture – a combination of genetic, hormonal, and environmental influences – factor into the cause of sexual orientation.[1][3] They favor biologically-based theories,[3] which point to genetic factors, the early uterine environment, both, or the inclusion of genetic and social factors.[4][5] There is no substantive evidence which suggests parenting or early childhood experiences play a role when it comes to sexual orientation;[4] when it comes to same-sex sexual behavior, shared or familial environment plays no role for men and minor role for women.[5] While some people hold the view that homosexual activity is unnatural,[6] scientific research has shown that homosexuality is an example of a normal and natural variation in human sexuality and is not in and of itself a source of negative psychological effects.[1][7] Most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation,[1] and there is insufficient evidence to support the use of psychological interventions to change sexual orientation.[8]

The most common terms for homosexual people are lesbian for females and gay for males, though gay is also used to refer generally to both homosexual males and females. The number of people who identify as gay or lesbian and the proportion of people who have same-sex sexual experiences are difficult for researchers to estimate reliably for a variety of reasons, including many gay or lesbian people not openly identifying as such due to homophobia and heterosexist discrimination.[9] Homosexual behavior has also been documented and is observed in many non-human animal species.[10][11][12][13][14]

Many gay and lesbian people are in committed same-sex relationships, though only recently have census forms and political conditions facilitated their visibility and enumeration.[15] These relationships are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential psychological respects.[2] Homosexual relationships and acts have been admired, as well as condemned, throughout recorded history, depending on the form they took and the culture in which they occurred.[16] Since the end of the 19th century, there has been a global movement towards increased visibility, recognition, and legal rights for homosexual people, including the rights to marriage and civil unions, adoption and parenting, employment, military service, equal access to health care, and the introduction of anti-bullying legislation to protect gay minors.

Etymology

The word homosexual is a Greek and Latin hybrid, with the first element derived from Greek ὁμός homos, "same"(not related to the Latin homo, "man", as in Homo sapiens), thus connoting sexual acts and affections between members of the same sex, including lesbianism.[17][18] The first known appearance of homosexual in print is found in an 1869 German pamphlet by the Austrian-born novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny, published anonymously,[19] arguing against a Prussian anti-sodomy law.[19][20] In 1886, Richard von Krafft-Ebing used the terms homosexual and heterosexual in his book Psychopathia Sexualis. Krafft-Ebing's book was so popular among both laymen and doctors that the terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" became the most widely accepted terms for sexual orientation.[21][22] As such, the current use of the term has its roots in the broader 19th-century tradition of personality taxonomy.

Many modern style guides in the U.S. recommend against using homosexual as a noun, instead using gay man or lesbian.[23] Similarly, some recommend completely avoiding usage of homosexual as it has a negative, clinical history and because the word only refers to one's sexual behavior (as opposed to romantic feelings) and thus it has a negative connotation.[23] Gay and lesbian are the most common alternatives. The first letters are frequently combined to create the initialism LGBT (sometimes written as GLBT), in which B and T refer to bisexual and transgender people.

Gay generally refers to male homosexuality,[citation needed] but may be used in a broader sense to refer to all LGBT people. In the context of sexuality, lesbian refers only to female homosexuality. The word "lesbian" is derived from the name of the Greek island Lesbos, where the poet Sappho wrote largely about her emotional relationships with young women.[24][25]

Although early writers also used the adjective homosexual to refer to any single-sex context (such as an all-girls school), today the term is used exclusively in reference to sexual attraction, activity, and orientation. The term homosocial is now used to describe single-sex contexts that are not specifically sexual. There is also a word referring to same-sex love, homophilia.

Some synonyms for same-sex attraction or sexual activity include men who have sex with men or MSM (used in the medical community when specifically discussing sexual activity) and homoerotic (referring to works of art).[26][27] Pejorative terms in English include queer, faggot, fairy, poof, and homo.[28][29][30][31] Beginning in the 1990s, some of these have been reclaimed as positive words by gay men and lesbians, as in the usage of queer studies, queer theory, and even the popular American television program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.[32] The word homo occurs in many other languages without the pejorative connotations it has in English.[33] As with ethnic slurs and racial slurs, however, the misuse of these terms can still be highly offensive; the range of acceptable use depends on the context and speaker.[34] Conversely, gay, a word originally embraced by homosexual men and women as a positive, affirmative term (as in gay liberation and gay rights),[35] has come into widespread pejorative use among young people.[36]

The U.S. organization GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) advises the media to avoid using the term homosexual.[37]

History

Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships have varied over time and place, from expecting all males to engage in same-sex relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, and to proscribing it under penalty of death.

In a detailed compilation of historical and ethnographic materials of Preindustrial Cultures, "strong disapproval of homosexuality was reported for 41% of 42 cultures; it was accepted or ignored by 21%, and 12% reported no such concept. Of 70 ethnographies, 59% reported homosexuality absent or rare in frequency and 41% reported it present or not uncommon."[38]

In cultures influenced by Abrahamic religions, the law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature. The condemnation of anal sex between males, however, predates Christian belief. It was frequent in ancient Greece; "unnatural" can be traced back to Plato.[39]

Many historical figures, including Socrates, Lord Byron, Edward II, and Hadrian,[40] have had terms such as gay or bisexual applied to them; some scholars, such as Michel Foucault, have regarded this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to their times,[41] though others challenge this.[42]

In social science, there has been a dispute between "essentialist" and "constructionist" views of homosexuality. The debate divides those who believe that terms such as "gay" and "straight" refer to objective, culturally invariant properties of persons from those who believe that the experiences they name are artifacts of unique cultural and social processes. "Essentialists" typically believe that sexual preferences are determined by biological forces, while "constructionists" assume that sexual desires are learned.[43] Philosopher of science Michael Ruse has stated that the social constructionist approach, which is influenced by Foucault, is based on a selective reading of the historical record that confuses the existence of homosexual people with how they are labelled or treated.[44]

Africa

The first record of possible homosexual couple in history is commonly regarded as Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, an ancient Egyptian male couple, who lived around 2400 BCE. The pair are portrayed in a nose-kissing position, the most intimate pose in Egyptian art, surrounded by what appear to be their heirs. Anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe reported that women in Lesotho engaged in socially sanctioned "long term, erotic relationships" called motsoalle.[45] E. E. Evans-Pritchard also recorded that male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely took on young male lovers between the ages of twelve and twenty, who helped with household tasks and participated in intercrural sex with their older husbands.[46]

Americas

File:Catlin - Dance to the berdache.jpg
Dance to the Berdache
Sac and Fox Nation ceremonial dance to celebrate the two-spirit person. George Catlin (1796–1872); Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC

Among indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to European colonization, a common form of same-sex sexuality centered around the figure of the Two-Spirit individual. Typically this individual was recognized early in life, given a choice by the parents to follow the path and, if the child accepted the role, 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 was with the ordinary tribe members of the same sex.

Homosexual and transgender individuals were also common among other pre-conquest civilizations in Latin America, such as the Aztecs, Mayans, Quechuas, Moches, Zapotecs, and the Tupinambá of Brazil.[47][48]

The Spanish conquerors were horrified to discover sodomy openly practiced among native peoples, and attempted to crush it out by subjecting the berdaches (as the Spanish called them) under their rule to severe penalties, including public execution, burning and being torn to pieces by dogs.[49]

In 1986, The United States Supreme Court ruled in Bowers v. Hardwick that a state could criminalize sodomy. This court overturned this decision in 2003.[50]

In 1998, the state of Hawaii passed a constitutional amendment against gay marriage.[51] In 2013 a ruling, by the state attorney general on this amendment, allowed the government to pass a statute legalizing gay marriage.[52]

East Asia

File:Woman spying on male lovers.jpg
A woman spying on a pair of male lovers. China, Qing Dynasty.

In East Asia, same-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history.

Homosexuality in China, known as the passions of the cut peach and various other euphemisms has been recorded since approximately 600 BCE. Homosexuality was mentioned in many famous works of Chinese literature. The instances of same-sex affection and sexual interactions described in the classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber seem as familiar to observers in the present as do equivalent stories of romances between heterosexual people during the same period. Confucianism, being primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Ming Dynasty literature, such as Bian Er Chai (弁而釵/弁而钗), portray homosexual relationships between men as more enjoyable and more "harmonious" than heterosexual relationships.[53] Writings from the Liu Song Dynasty by Wang Shunu claimed that homosexuality was as common as heterosexuality in the late 3rd century.[54]

Opposition to homosexuality in China originates in the medieval Tang Dynasty (618–907), attributed to the rising influence of Christian and Islamic values,[55] but did not become fully established until the Westernization efforts of the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China.[56]

Southeast Asia

Singapore

In June 2014, 20,000 supporters demonstrated in favor of gay rights.

On October 29, 2014 Singapore High Court dismissed a constitutional challenge against a statute against sodomy. The statute provides a sentence of up to 2 years in jail.[57]

South Asia

The Laws of Manu, the foundational work of Hindu law, mentions a "third sex", members of which may engage in nontraditional gender expression and homosexual activities.[58]

Europe

Classical period

The earliest Western documents (in the form of literary works, art objects, and mythographic materials) concerning same-sex relationships are derived from ancient Greece.

In regard to male homosexuality such documents depict a world in which relationships with women and relationships with youths were the essential foundation of a normal man's love life. Same-sex relationships were a social institution variously constructed over time and from one city to another. The formal practice, an erotic yet often restrained relationship between a free adult male and a free adolescent, was valued for its pedagogic benefits and as a means of population control, though occasionally blamed for causing disorder. Plato praised its benefits in his early writings[59] but in his late works proposed its prohibition.[60] Aristotle, in the Politics, dismissed Plato's ideas about abolishing homosexuality (2.4); he explains that barbarians like the Celts accorded it a special honor (2.6.6), while the Cretans used it to regulate the population (2.7.5).[61]

File:Lafond Sappho and Homer.jpg
Female youths are depicted surrounding Sappho in this painting of Lafond "Sappho sings for Homer", 1824.

Little is known of female homosexuality in antiquity. Sappho, born on the island of Lesbos, was included by later Greeks in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. The adjectives deriving from her name and place of birth (Sapphic and Lesbian) came to be applied to female homosexuality beginning in the 19th century.[62][63] Sappho's poetry centers on passion and love for various personages and both genders. The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love (sometimes requited, sometimes not) for various females, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate.[64][65]

File:NAMA Sappho lisant.jpg
Sappho reading to her companions on an Attic vase of c. 435 BC.

In Ancient Rome the young male body remained a focus of male sexual attention, but relationships were between older free men and slaves or freed youths who took the receptive role in sex. All the emperors with the exception of Claudius took male lovers. The Hellenophile emperor Hadrian is renowned for his relationship with Antinous, but the Christian emperor Theodosius I decreed a law on 6 August 390, condemning passive males to be burned at the stake. Justinian, towards the end of his reign, expanded the proscription to the active partner as well (in 558), warning that such conduct can lead to the destruction of cities through the "wrath of God". Notwithstanding these regulations, taxes on brothels of boys available for homosexual sex continued to be collected until the end of the reign of Anastasius I in 518.

Renaissance

During the Renaissance, wealthy cities in northern ItalyFlorence and Venice in particular — were renowned for their widespread practice of same-sex love, engaged in by a considerable part of the male population and constructed along the classical pattern of Greece and Rome.[66][67] But even as many of the male population were 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.

From the second half of the 13th century, death was the punishment for male homosexuality in most of Europe.[68] The eclipse of this period of relative artistic and erotic freedom was precipitated by the rise to power of the moralizing monk Girolamo Savonarola. In northern Europe the artistic discourse on sodomy was turned against its proponents by artists such as 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.

The relationships of socially prominent figures, such as King James I and the Duke of Buckingham, served to highlight the issue, including in anonymously authored street pamphlets: "The world is chang'd I know not how, For men Kiss Men, not Women now;...Of J. the First and Buckingham: He, true it is, his Wives Embraces fled, To slabber his lov'd Ganimede" (Mundus Foppensis, or The Fop Display'd, 1691).

Modern period

Love Letters Between a Certain Late Nobleman and the Famous Mr. Wilson was published in 1723 in England and was presumed by some modern scholars to be a novel. The 1749 edition of John Cleland's popular novel Fanny Hill includes a homosexual scene, but this was removed in its 1750 edition. Also in 1749, the earliest extended and serious defense of homosexuality in English, Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplified, written by Thomas Cannon, was published, but was suppressed almost immediately. It includes the passage, "Unnatural Desire is a Contradiction in Terms; downright Nonsense. Desire is an amatory Impulse of the inmost human Parts."[69] Around 1785 Jeremy Bentham wrote another defense, but this was not published until 1978.[70] Executions for sodomy continued in the Netherlands until 1803, and in England until 1835.

Between 1864 and 1880 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published a series of twelve tracts, which he collectively titled Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love. In 1867, he became the first self-proclaimed homosexual person to speak out publicly in defense of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws.[9] Sexual Inversion by Havelock Ellis, published in 1896, challenged theories that homosexuality was abnormal, as well as stereotypes, and insisted on the ubiquity of homosexuality and its association with intellectual and artistic achievement.[71]

Although medical texts like these (written partly in Latin to obscure the sexual details) were not widely read by the general public, they did lead to the rise of Magnus Hirschfeld's Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, which campaigned from 1897 to 1933 against anti-sodomy laws in Germany, as well as a much more informal, unpublicized movement among British intellectuals and writers, led by such figures as Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds. Beginning in 1894 with Homogenic Love, Socialist activist and poet Edward Carpenter wrote a string of pro-homosexual articles and pamphlets, and "came out" in 1916 in his book My Days and Dreams. In 1900, Elisar von Kupffer published an anthology of homosexual literature from antiquity to his own time, Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur.

Middle East

Further information: LGBT in Islam, LGBT rights in Israel
File:Shah Abbas and Wine Boy.jpg
Shah Abbas I of Persia with a boy. By Muhammad Qasim (1627).[72]

There are a handful of accounts by Arab travelers to Europe during the mid-1800s. Two of these travelers, Rifa'ah al-Tahtawi and Muhammad as-Saffar, show their surprise that the French sometimes deliberately mistranslated love poetry about a young boy, instead referring to a young female, to maintain their social norms and morals.[73]

Israel is considered the most tolerant country in the Middle East and Asia to homosexuals[74] with Tel Aviv being named "the gay capital of the Middle East",[75] and is considered one of the most gay friendly cities in the world.[76] The annual Pride Parade in support of homosexuality takes place in Tel Aviv.[77]

On the other hand, many governments in the Middle East often ignore, deny the existence of, or criminalize homosexuality. Homosexuality is illegal in almost all Muslim countries.[78] Same-sex intercourse officially carries the death penalty in several Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.[79] Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, during his 2007 speech at Columbia University, asserted that there were no gay people in Iran. However, the probable reason is that they keep their sexuality a secret for fear of government sanction or rejection by their families.[80]

Pre-Islamic period

In ancient Assyria, homosexuality was present and common; it was also not prohibited, condemned, nor looked upon as immoral or disordered. Some religious texts contain prayers for divine blessings on homosexual relationships.[81][82] The Almanac of Incantations contained prayers favoring on an equal basis the love of a man for a woman, of a woman for a man, and of a man for man.[83]

In Greater Iran, homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were tolerated in numerous public places, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, bathhouses, and coffee houses. In the early Safavid dynasty (1501–1723), male houses of prostitution (amrad khane) were legally recognized and paid taxes.

Some scholars argue that there are examples of homosexual love in ancient literature, like in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh as well as in the Biblical story of David and Jonathan. In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the relationship between the main protagonist Gilgamesh and the character Enkidu has been seen by some to be homosexual in nature.[84][85][86][87] Similarly, David's love for Jonathan is "greater than the love of women."[88]

South Pacific

In many societies of Melanesia, especially in Papua New Guinea, same-sex relationships were an integral part of the culture until the middle of the last century. The Etoro and Marind-anim for example, even viewed heterosexuality as sinful and celebrated homosexuality instead. In many traditional Melanesian cultures a prepubertal boy would be paired with an older adolescent who would become his mentor and who would "inseminate" him (orally, anally, or topically, depending on the tribe) over a number of years in order for the younger to also reach puberty. Many Melanesian societies, however, have become hostile towards same-sex relationships since the introduction of Christianity by European missionaries.[89]

Sexuality and identity

Kinsey scale

The Kinsey scale, also called the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale,[90] attempts to describe a person's sexual history or episodes of his or her sexual activity at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. In both the Male and Female volumes of the Kinsey Reports, an additional grade, listed as "X", was used for asexuality.[91][92]

Orientation and behavior

The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers identify sexual orientation as "not merely a personal characteristic that can be defined in isolation. Rather, one's sexual orientation defines the universe of persons with whom one is likely to find the satisfying and fulfilling relationships":[2]

Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual, like biological sex, gender identity, or age. This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is always defined in relational terms and necessarily involves relationships with other individuals. Sexual acts and romantic attractions are categorized as homosexual or heterosexual according to the biological sex of the individuals involved in them, relative to each other. Indeed, it is by acting—or desiring to act—with another person that individuals express their heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. This includes actions as simple as holding hands with or kissing another person. Thus, sexual orientation is integrally linked to the intimate personal relationships that human beings form with others to meet their deeply felt needs for love, attachment, and intimacy. In addition to sexual behavior, these bonds encompass nonsexual physical affection between partners, shared goals and values, mutual support, and ongoing commitment.[2]

Coming out of the closet

Main article: Coming out

Coming out (of the closet) is a phrase referring to one's disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and is described and experienced variously as a psychological process or journey.[94] Generally, coming out is described in three phases. The first phase is that of "knowing oneself", and the realization emerges that one is open to same-sex relations.[95] This is often described as an internal coming out. The second phase involves one's decision to come out to others, e.g. family, friends, or colleagues. The third phase more generally involves living openly as an LGBT person.[96] In the United States today, people often come out during high school or college age. At this age, they may not trust or ask for help from others, especially when their orientation is not accepted in society. Sometimes their own families are not even informed.

According to Rosario, Schrimshaw, Hunter, Braun (2006), "the development of a lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB) sexual identity is a complex and often difficult process. Unlike members of other minority groups (e.g., ethnic and racial minorities), most LGB individuals are not raised in a community of similar others from whom they learn about their identity and who reinforce and support that identity. Rather, LGB individuals are often raised in communities that are either ignorant of or openly hostile toward homosexuality."[97]

Outing is the practice of publicly revealing the sexual orientation of a closeted person.[98] Notable politicians, celebrities, military service people, and clergy members have been outed, with motives ranging from malice to political or moral beliefs. Many commentators oppose the practice altogether,[99] while some encourage outing public figures who use their positions of influence to harm other gay people.[100]

Gender identity

Early 20th-century writers on a homosexual orientation usually understood it to be intrinsically linked to the subject's own sex. For example, it was thought that a typical female-bodied person who is attracted to female-bodied persons would have masculine attributes, and vice versa.[101] However, this understanding as sexual inversion was disputed at the time, and through the second half of the 20th century, gender identity came to be increasingly seen as a phenomenon distinct from sexual orientation.

Transgender and cisgender people may be attracted to men, women or both, although the prevalence of different sexual orientations is quite different in these two populations (see sexual orientation of transwomen). An individual homosexual, heterosexual or bisexual person may be masculine, feminine, or androgynous, and in addition, many members and supporters of lesbian and gay communities now see the "gender-conforming heterosexual" and the "gender-nonconforming homosexual" as negative stereotypes. However, studies by J. Michael Bailey and K.J. Zucker have found that a majority of gay men and lesbians report being gender-nonconforming during their childhood years.[102]

Same-sex relationships

Main article: Same-sex relationship
File:Male homosexuality symbol.svg
Male homosexuality symbol

People with a homosexual orientation can express their sexuality in a variety of ways, and may or may not express it in their behaviors.[1] Many have sexual relationships predominately with people of their own gender identity, though some have sexual relationships with those of the opposite gender, bisexual relationships, or none at all (celibate).[1] The Kinsey scale attempts to describe a person's sexual history or episodes of their sexual activity at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexual, to 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. It is based on actual sexual behavior surveys. Research indicates that many lesbians and gay men want, and succeed in having, committed and durable relationships. For example, survey data indicate that between 40% and 60% of gay men and between 45% and 80% of lesbians are currently involved in a romantic relationship.[103] Survey data also indicate that between 18% and 28% of gay couples and between 8% and 21% of lesbian couples in the U.S. have lived together ten or more years.[103] Studies have found same-sex and opposite-sex couples to be equivalent to each other in measures of satisfaction and commitment in relationships, that age and gender are more reliable than sexual orientation as a predictor of satisfaction and commitment to a relationship, and that people who are heterosexual or homosexual share comparable expectations and ideals with regard to romantic relationships.[104][105][106]

Demographics

File:Jason Collins 2012 B.jpg
Jason Collins became the first active male professional athlete in major American professional sports leagues to publicly come out as gay.[107]
File:Tim Cook 2009 cropped.jpg
In October 2014, Apple CEO Tim Cook became the first CEO of a Fortune 500 company to publicly identify as gay.[108]

Reliable data as to the size of the gay and lesbian population are of value in informing public policy.[109] For example, demographics would help in calculating the costs and benefits of domestic partnership benefits, of the impact of legalizing gay adoption, and of the impact of the U.S. military's Don't Ask Don't Tell policy.[109] Further, knowledge of the size of the "gay and lesbian population holds promise for helping social scientists understand a wide array of important questions—questions about the general nature of labor market choices, accumulation of human capital, specialization within households, discrimination, and decisions about geographic location."[109]

Measuring the prevalence of homosexuality presents difficulties. It is necessary to consider the measuring criteria that is used, the cutoff point and the time span taken to define a sexual orientation.[9] Many people, despite having same-sex attractions, may be reluctant to identify themselves as gay or bisexual. The research must measure some characteristic that may or may not be defining of sexual orientation. The number of people with same-sex desires may be larger than the number of people who act on those desires, which in turn may be larger than the number of people who self-identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual.[109]

In 1948 and 1953, Alfred Kinsey reported that nearly 46% of the male subjects had "reacted" sexually to persons of both sexes in the course of their adult lives, and 37% had had at least one homosexual experience.[110][111] Kinsey's methodology was criticized by John Tukey for using convenience samples and not random samples.[112][113] A later study tried to eliminate the sample bias, but still reached similar conclusions.[114] LeVay cites these Kinsey results as an example of the caution needed to interpret demographic studies, as they may give quite differing numbers depending on what criteria are used to conduct them, in spite of using sound scientific methods.[9]

According to major studies, 2% to 11% of people have had some form of same-sex sexual contact within their lifetime;[115][116][117][118][119][120][121][122][123][124] this percentage rises to 16–21% when either or both same-sex attraction and behavior are reported.[124] In a 2006 study, 20% of respondents anonymously reported some homosexual feelings, although only 2–3% identified themselves as homosexual.[125] A 1992 study reported that 6.1% of males in Britain have had a homosexual experience, while in France the number was reported at 4.1%.[126]

In the United States, according to a The Williams Institute report in April 2011, only 3.5% or approximately 9 million of the adult population are lesbian, gay, or bisexual.[127][128] According to the 2000 United States Census, there were about 601,209 same-sex unmarried partner households.[129]

Polling

According to a 2008 poll, 13% of Britons have had some form of same-sex sexual contact while only 6% of Britons identify themselves as either homosexual or bisexual.[130] In contrast, a survey by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) in 2010 found that 95% of Britons identified as heterosexual, 1.5% of Britons identified themselves as homosexual or bisexual, and the last 3.5% gave more vague answers such as "don't know," "other," or did not respond to the question.[111][131]

An October 2012 Gallup poll provided unprecedented demographic information about those who identify as LGBT, arriving at the conclusion that 3.4%, with a margin of error of ±1%, of all U.S. adults identify as LGBT.[132] The study is the nation's largest in counting LGBT.[133] Gallup found that those 18-29 are about twice as likely as those 30-49 to identify as LGBT in the United States (6.4% to 3.2%, ±1%) and about three times as likely as those ages 65 or older. (6.4% to 1.9% ±1%) Among 18- to 29-year-olds, women were found to be almost twice as likely to identify as LGBT than men, 8.3% to 4.6%, ±1%; overall, there was no significant difference between the sexes, with 3.6% of women and 3.3% of men identifying as LGBT, ±1%.[132]

Age/Gender Yes No Don't Know
Refused
18-29 6.4% 90.1% 3.5%
30-49 3.2% 93.6% 3.2%
50-64 2.6% 93.1% 4.3%
65+ 1.9% 91.5% 6.5%
18-29, Women 8.3% 88.0% 3.8%
18-29, Men 4.6% 92.1% 3.3%

Psychology

Psychology was one of the first disciplines to study a homosexual orientation as a discrete phenomenon.[citation needed] The first attempts to classify homosexuality as a disease were made by the fledgling European sexologist movement in the late 19th century. In 1886 noted sexologist Richard von Krafft-Ebing listed homosexuality along with 200 other case studies of deviant sexual practices in his definitive work, Psychopathia Sexualis. Krafft-Ebing proposed that homosexuality was caused by either "congenital [during birth] inversion" or an "acquired inversion". In the last two decades of the 19th century, a different view began to predominate in medical and psychiatric circles, judging such behavior as indicative of a type of person with a defined and relatively stable sexual orientation. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, pathological models of homosexuality were standard.

The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers state:

[4] The longstanding consensus of research and clinical literature demonstrates that same-sex sexual and romantic attractions, feelings, and behaviors are normal and positive variations of human sexuality.[135] There is now a large body of research evidence that indicates that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment.[4] The World Health Organization's ICD-9 (1977) listed homosexuality as a mental illness; it was removed from the ICD-10, endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly on 17 May 1990.[136][137][138] Like the DSM-II, the ICD-10 added ego-dystonic sexual orientation to the list, which refers to people who want to change their gender identities or sexual orientation because of a psychological or behavioral disorder (F66.1). The Chinese Society of Psychiatry removed homosexuality from its Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders in 2001 after five years of study by the association.[139] According to the Royal College of Psychiatrists "This unfortunate history demonstrates how marginalisation of a group of people who have a particular personality feature (in this case homosexuality) can lead to harmful medical practice and a basis for discrimination in society.[4] There is now a large body of research evidence that indicates that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment. However, the experiences of discrimination in society and possible rejection by friends, families and others, such as employers, means that some LGB people experience a greater than expected prevalence of mental health difficulties and substance misuse problems. Although there have been claims by conservative political groups in the USA that this higher prevalence of mental health difficulties is confirmation that homosexuality is itself a mental disorder, there is no evidence whatever to substantiate such a claim."[140]

Most lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who seek psychotherapy do so for the same reasons as heterosexual people (stress, relationship difficulties, difficulty adjusting to social or work situations, etc.); their sexual orientation may be of primary, incidental, or no importance to their issues and treatment. Whatever the issue, there is a high risk for anti-gay bias in psychotherapy with lesbian, gay, and bisexual clients.[141] Psychological research in this area has been relevant to counteracting prejudicial ("homophobic") attitudes and actions, and to the LGBT rights movement generally.[142]

The appropriate application of affirmative psychotherapy is based on the following scientific facts:[135]

  • Same-sex sexual attractions, behavior, and orientations per se are normal and positive variants of human sexuality; in other words, they are not indicators of mental or developmental disorders.
  • Homosexuality and bisexuality are stigmatized, and this stigma can have a variety of negative consequences (e.g., Minority Stress) throughout the life span (D'Augelli & Patterson, 1995; DiPlacido, 1998; Herek & Garnets, 2007; Meyer, 1995, 2003).
  • Same-sex sexual attractions and behavior can occur in the context of a variety of sexual orientations and sexual orientation identities (Diamond, 2006; Hoburg et al., 2004; Rust, 1996; Savin-Williams, 2005).
  • Gay men, lesbians, and bisexual individuals can live satisfying lives as well as form stable, committed relationships and families that are equivalent to heterosexual relationships in essential respects (APA, 2005c; Kurdek, 2001, 2003, 2004; Peplau & Fingerhut, 2007).
  • There are no empirical studies or peer-reviewed research that support theories attributing same-sex sexual orientation to family dysfunction or trauma (Bell et al., 1981; Bene, 1965; Freund & Blanchard, 1983; Freund & Pinkava, 1961; Hooker, 1969; McCord et al., 1962; D. K. Peters & Cantrell, 1991; Siegelman, 1974, 1981; Townes et al., 1976).

Causes

General

Science has looked at the causes of homosexuality, and more generically the causes of human sexual orientation, with the general conclusions being related to biological and environmental factors. The biological factors that have been researched are genetic and hormonal, particularly during the fetal developmental period, that influence the resulting brain structure, and other characteristics such as handedness.[3][4] There are a wide range of environmental factors (sociological, psychological, or early uterine environment), and various biological factors, that may influence sexual orientation; though many researchers believe that it is caused by a complex interplay between nature and nurture, they favor biological models for the cause.[1][3]

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated in Pediatrics in 2004:

The American Psychological Association, American Psychiatric Association, and National Association of Social Workers stated in 2006:

The Royal College of Psychiatrists stated in 2014:

The American Psychological Association states "there are probably many reasons for a person's sexual orientation and the reasons may be different for different people", and says most people's sexual orientation is determined at an early age.[1] Research into how sexual orientation in males may be determined by genetic or other prenatal factors plays a role in political and social debates about homosexuality, and also raises concerns about genetic profiling and prenatal testing.[145]

Professor Michael King states: "The conclusion reached by scientists who have investigated the origins and stability of sexual orientation is that it is a human characteristic that is formed early in life, and is resistant to change. Scientific evidence on the origins of homosexuality is considered relevant to theological and social debate because it undermines suggestions that sexual orientation is a choice."[146]

Evolutionary perspectives

The authors of a 2008 study stated "there is considerable evidence that human sexual orientation is genetically influenced, so it is not known how homosexuality, which tends to lower reproductive success, is maintained in the population at a relatively high frequency". They hypothesized that "while genes predisposing to homosexuality reduce homosexuals' reproductive success, they may confer some advantage in heterosexuals who carry them". Their results suggested that "genes predisposing to homosexuality may confer a mating advantage in heterosexuals, which could help explain the evolution and maintenance of homosexuality in the population".[147] A 2009 study also suggested a significant increase in fecundity in the females related to the homosexual people from the maternal line (but not in those related from the paternal one).[148]

A review paper by Bailey and Zuk looking into studies of same-sex sexual behaviour in animals challenges the view that such behaviour lowers reproductive success, citing several hypotheses about how same-sex sexual behavior might be adaptive; these hypotheses vary greatly among different species. Bailey and Zuk also suggest future research needs to look into evolutionary consequences of same-sex sexual behaviour, rather than only looking into origins of such behaviour.[149]

Lesbian narratives and sexual orientation awareness

File:Annise Parker.JPG
Annise Parker is the openly gay mayor of Houston.[150]

Lesbians often experience their sexuality differently from gay men, and have different understandings about etiology from those derived from studies focused mostly on men. For information specific to female homosexuality, see Lesbian.

In a U.S.-based 1970s mail survey by Shere Hite, lesbians self-reported their reasons for being lesbian. This is the only major piece of research into female sexuality that has looked at how women understand being homosexual since Kinsey in 1953. The research yielded information about women's general understanding of lesbian relationships and their sexual orientation. Women gave various reasons for preferring sexual relations with women to sexual relations with men, including finding women more sensitive to other people's needs.[151]

Since Hite carried out her study she has acknowledged that some women may have chosen the political identity of a lesbian. Julie Bindel, a UK journalist, reaffirmed that "political lesbianism continues to make intrinsic sense because it reinforces the idea that sexuality is a choice, and we are not destined to a particular fate because of our chromosomes." as recently as 2009.[152]

Sexual orientation change efforts

There are no studies of adequate scientific rigor that conclude that sexual orientation change efforts work to change a person's sexual orientation. Those efforts have been controversial due to tensions between the values held by some faith-based organizations, on the one hand, and those held by LGBT rights organizations and professional and scientific organizations and other faith-based organizations, on the other.[8] The longstanding consensus of the behavioral and social sciences and the health and mental health professions is that homosexuality per se is a normal and positive variation of human sexual orientation, and therefore not a mental disorder.[8] The American Psychological Association says that "most people experience little or no sense of choice about their sexual orientation".[153] Some individuals and groups have promoted the idea of homosexuality as symptomatic of developmental defects or spiritual and moral failings and have argued that sexual orientation change efforts, including psychotherapy and religious efforts, could alter homosexual feelings and behaviors. Many of these individuals and groups appeared to be embedded within the larger context of conservative religious political movements that have supported the stigmatization of homosexuality on political or religious grounds.[8]

No major mental health professional organization has sanctioned efforts to change sexual orientation and virtually all of them have adopted policy statements cautioning the profession and the public about treatments that purport to change sexual orientation. These include the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, American Counseling Association, National Association of Social Workers in the USA,[154] the Royal College of Psychiatrists,[155] and the Australian Psychological Society.[156] The American Psychological Association and the Royal College of Psychiatrists expressed concerns that the positions espoused by NARTH are not supported by the science and create an environment in which prejudice and discrimination can flourish.[155][157]

The American Psychological Association "encourages mental health professionals to avoid misrepresenting the efficacy of sexual orientation change efforts by promoting or promising change in sexual orientation when providing assistance to individuals distressed by their own or others' sexual orientation and concludes that the benefits reported by participants in sexual orientation change efforts can be gained through approaches that do not attempt to change sexual orientation".[8]

Fluidity of orientation

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has stated "some people believe that sexual orientation is innate and fixed; however, sexual orientation develops across a person's lifetime".[158] A report from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health states: "For some people, sexual orientation is continuous and fixed throughout their lives. For others, sexual orientation may be fluid and change over time".[159] One study has suggested "considerable fluidity in bisexual, unlabeled, and lesbian women's attractions, behaviors, and identities".[160][161]

A 2012 study found that 2% of a sample of 2,560 adult participants reported a change of sexual orientation identity after a 10-year period. For men, a change occurred in 0.78% of those who had identified as heterosexual, 9.52% of homosexuals, and 47% of bisexuals. For women, a change occurred in 1.36% of heterosexuals, 63.6% of lesbians, and 64.7% of bisexuals. The researchers suggested that heterosexuality may be a more stable identity because of its normative status.[162]

A 2-year study by Lisa M. Diamond on a sample of 80 non-heterosexual female adolescents (age 16-23) reported that half of the participants had changed sexual-minority identities more than once, one third of them during the 2-year follow-up. Diamond concluded that "although sexual attractions appear fairly stable, sexual identities and behaviors are more fluid."[163]

In a 2004 study, the female subjects (both gay and straight women) became sexually aroused when they viewed heterosexual as well as lesbian erotic films. Among the male subjects, however, the straight men were turned on only by erotic films with women, the gay ones by those with men. The study's senior researcher said that women's sexual desire is less rigidly directed toward a particular sex, as compared with men's, and it is more changeable over time.[164]

Parenting

Main article: LGBT parenting

Scientific research has been generally consistent in showing that lesbian and gay parents are as fit and capable as heterosexual parents, and their children are as psychologically healthy and well-adjusted as children reared by heterosexual parents.[165][166][167] According to scientific literature reviews, there is no evidence to the contrary.[2][168][169][170][171]

A review study suggested that the children with lesbian or gay parents appear less traditionally gender-typed and are more likely to be open to homoerotic relationships, partly due to genetic (80% of the children being raised by same-sex couples in the US are not adopted and most are the result of heterosexual marriages)[172]) and family socialization processes (children grow up in relatively more tolerant school, neighborhood, and social contexts, which are less heterosexist), even though majority of children raised by same-sex couples identify as heterosexual.[173] A 2005 review by Charlotte J. Patterson for the American Psychological Association found that the available data did not suggest higher rates of homosexuality among the children of lesbian or gay parents.[174] One study suggested that children of gay and lesbian parents were more likely to adopt non-heterosexual identities, especially daughters of lesbian parents (inter-generational transfer was not significant in some analyses for sons).[175]

Health

Further information: Men who have sex with men and Lesbian#Health

Physical

File:MSM Blood Donation Map.svg
Blood donation policies for men who have sex with men
  Men who have sex with men may donate blood; No deferral
  Men who have sex with men may donate blood; Temporary deferral
  Men who have sex with men may not donate blood; Permanent deferral1
  No Data
1No restriction in Israel and the United States of America if last MSM activity was before 1977.

The terms "Men who have sex with men" (MSM) and "women who have sex with women" (WSW) refer to people who engage in sexual activity with others of the same sex regardless of how they identify themselves—as many choose not to accept social identities as lesbian, gay and bisexual.[176][177][178][179][180] These terms are often used in medical literature and social research to describe such groups for study, without needing to consider the issues of sexual self-identity. The terms are seen as problematic, however, because they "obscure social dimensions of sexuality; undermine the self-labeling of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people; and do not sufficiently describe variations in sexual behavior".[181] MSM and WSW are sexually active with each other for a variety of reasons with the main ones arguably sexual pleasure, intimacy and bonding. In contrast to its benefits, sexual behavior can be a disease vector. Safe sex is a relevant harm reduction philosophy.[182] The United States currently prohibits men who have sex with men from donating blood "because they are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion." Many European countries have the same prohibition.[183]

Public health

These safer sex recommendations are agreed upon by public health officials for women who have sex with women to avoid sexually transmitted infections (STIs):

  • Avoid contact with a partner's menstrual blood and with any visible genital lesions.
  • Cover sex toys that penetrate more than one person's vagina or anus with a new condom for each person; consider using different toys for each person.
  • Use a barrier (e.g., latex sheet, dental dam, cut-open condom, plastic wrap) during oral sex.
  • Use latex or vinyl gloves and lubricant for any manual sex that might cause bleeding.[184]

These safer sex recommendations are agreed upon by public health officials for men who have sex with men to avoid sexually transmitted infections:

  • Avoid contact with a partner's bodily fluids and with any visible genital lesions.
  • Use condoms for anal and oral sex.
  • Use a barrier (e.g., latex sheet, dental dam, cut-open condom) during anal–oral sex.
  • Cover sex toys that penetrate more than one person with a new condom for each person; consider using different toys for each person and use latex or vinyl gloves and lubricant for any sex that might cause bleeding.[185][186]

Mental

When it was first described in medical literature, homosexuality was often approached from a view that sought to find an inherent psychopathology as its root cause. Much literature on mental health and homosexual patients centered on their depression, substance abuse, and suicide. Although these issues exist among people who are non-heterosexual, discussion about their causes shifted after homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) in 1973. Instead, social ostracism, legal discrimination, internalization of negative stereotypes, and limited support structures indicate factors homosexual people face in Western societies that often adversely affect their mental health.[187] Stigma, prejudice, and discrimination stemming from negative societal attitudes toward homosexuality lead to a higher prevalence of mental health disorders among lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals compared to their heterosexual peers.[188] Evidence indicates that the liberalization of these attitudes over the past few decades is associated with a decrease in such mental health risks among younger LGBT people.[189]

Gay and lesbian youth

Gay and lesbian youth bear an increased risk of suicide, substance abuse, school problems, and isolation because of a "hostile and condemning environment, verbal and physical abuse, rejection and isolation from family and peers".[190] Further, LGBT youths are more likely to report psychological and physical abuse by parents or caretakers, and more sexual abuse. Suggested reasons for this disparity are that (1) LGBT youths may be specifically targeted on the basis of their perceived sexual orientation or gender non-conforming appearance, and (2) that "risk factors associated with sexual minority status, including discrimination, invisibility, and rejection by family members...may lead to an increase in behaviors that are associated with risk for victimization, such as substance abuse, sex with multiple partners, or running away from home as a teenager."[191] A 2008 study showed a correlation between the degree of rejecting behavior by parents of LGB adolescents and negative health problems in the teenagers studied:

Higher rates of family rejection were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes. On the basis of odds ratios, lesbian, gay, and bisexual young adults who reported higher levels of family rejection during adolescence were 8.4 times more likely to report having attempted suicide, 5.9 times more likely to report high levels of depression, 3.4 times more likely to use illegal drugs, and 3.4 times more likely to report having engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse compared with peers from families that reported no or low levels of family rejection.[192]

Crisis centers in larger cities and information sites on the Internet have arisen to help youth and adults.[193] The Trevor Helpline, a suicide prevention helpline for gay youth, was established following the 1998 airing on HBO of the Academy Award winning short film Trevor.[citation needed]

Law and politics

Legality

File:World laws pertaining to homosexual relationships and expression.svg
Worldwide laws regarding homosexual
relationships and expression
     Marriage      Restricted freedom of expression
     Other type of partnership or unregistered cohabitation      Unenforced penalty
     Marriage recognized but not performed      Imprisonment
     Marriage recognized federally but not performed      Up to life in prison
     Same-sex unions not recognized      Death penalty
Click on map to view an enlarged version where rings in various locations become visible. These indicate places with local or case-by-case applications of law.
File:Decriminalization of Homosexuality by country or territory.svg
Decriminalization of same-sex sexual activity by country or territory
  1790–1799
  1800–1829
  1830–1839
  1840–1859
  1860–1869
  1870–1879
  1880–1889
  1890–1929
  1930–1939
  1940–19491
  1950–1959
  1960–1969
  1970–1979
  1980–1989
  1990–19992
  2000–2009
  2010-present
  Same-sex sexual activity legal3
  Male same-sex sexual activity illegal
  Same-sex sexual activity illegal
1During World War II, Nazi Germany annexed territory or established reichskommissariats which extended Germany's laws against same-sex sexual activity to those territories and reichskommissariats. Same-sex sexual activity was previously legalized in the following countries or territories before German annexation or establishment of reichskommissariats: Bas-Rhin (legal in 1791), Belgium (legal in 1795), Belluno (legal in 1890), Friuli-Venezia Giulia (legal in 1890), Haut-Rhin (legal in 1791), Luxembourg (legal in 1795), Moselle (legal in 1791), Netherlands (legal in 1811), Nord (legal in 1791), Pas-de-Calais (legal in 1791), Poland (legal in 1932), and Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol (legal in 1890). All countries and territories listed that where annexed or established into reichskommissariats by Nazi Germany during World War II where restored as independent countries or reincorporated into their previous countries during or after the war and thus re-legalized same-sex sexual activity in those areas.
2In May 1973, the Libyan Arab Republic annexed the Aouzou Strip from Chad. Libya's laws against same-sex sexual activity where thus extended to the annexed Aouzou Strip. In August 1987, during the Toyota War between the Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya and Chad, Aouzou fell to the Chadian forces, only to be repelled by an overwhelming Libyan counter-offensive. The Aouzou dispute was concluded on February 3, 1994, when the judges of the International Court of Justice by a majority of 16 to 1 decided that the Aouzou Strip belonged to Chad. Monitored by international observers, the withdrawal of Libyan troops from the Strip began on April 15, 1994, and was completed by May 10, 1994. The formal and final transfer of the Aouzou Strip from Libya to Chad took place on May 30, 1994, when the sides signed a joint declaration stating that the Libyan withdrawal had been effected.
3Same-sex sexual activity was never criminalized in the following countries and territories: Benin, Burkina Faso, Cambodia Central African Republic, Chad (excluding Aouzou Strip), Clipperton Island, Republic of the Congo, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, French Polynesia, French Southern and Antarctic Lands, Gabon, Laos, Madagascar, Mali, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Niger, North Korea, Rwanda, South Korea, Vietnam, and Wallis and Futuna. Same-sex sexual activity had also never been criminalized in continent of Antarctica.