Homosexual definition is - of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex: gay. How to use homosexual in. Homosexuality can refer to both attraction or sexual behavior between people of the same sex, or to a sexual orientation. When describing the latter, it refers to. The term 'homosexuality' was coined in the late 19th century by a German psychologist, Karoly Maria Benkert. Although the term is new.
“Being gay is bad. How wonderful it is that nobody has to be gay!” “Homosexual behavior should be allowed to take place. Isn't it fantastic that. The term 'homosexuality' was coined in the late 19th century by a German psychologist, Karoly Maria Benkert. Although the term is new. Lay summary: At one time, homosexuality was considered to be mentally disordered. Since the s, however, major medical associations in the U.S. have.
Homosexual definition is - of, relating to, or characterized by a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another of the same sex: gay. How to use homosexual in. Homosexuality can refer to both attraction or sexual behavior between people of the same sex, or to a sexual orientation. When describing the latter, it refers to. “Being gay is bad. How wonderful it is that nobody has to be gay!” “Homosexual behavior should be allowed to take place. Isn't it fantastic that.
Although the term is new, discussions about sexuality in general, and same-sex attraction in particular, have occasioned philosophical discussion ranging from Plato's Symposium to homoesxually queer theory. Since the history of cultural understandings of same-sex attraction is relevant to the philosophical issues raised by those understandings, it is necessary to review briefly some of the social history of homosexuality. Arising out of this history, at least in the West, is the idea of natural law and some interpretations of that law as forbidding homosexual sex.
Homosexuaoly to natural law still play an important role in contemporary debates about homosexuality in religion, politics, and even courtrooms. Finally, perhaps the most significant recent social change involving homosexuality is the emergence of the gay liberation movement in the West.
In philosophical circles this movement is, in part, represented through a rather diverse group of thinkers who are grouped under the label of queer theory. A central issue raised homossxually queer theory, which will be discussed below, is whether homosexuality, and hence also heterosexuality and bisexuality, is socially constructed or purely driven by biological forces.
There is a wealth of material from ancient Greece pertinent to issues of sexuality, ranging from dialogues of Plato, such as the Symposiumto plays by Aristophanes, and Greek artwork and vases.
What follows is a brief description of ancient Greek attitudes, but it is important to recognize that there was regional variation. For example, in hoomosexually of Ionia there were general strictures against same-sex eroswhile in Elis and Boiotia e. Dover, ; Halperin, Probably the most frequent assumption of sexual orientation is that persons can respond erotically to beauty in either sex. Diogenes Laeurtius, for example, wrote of Alcibiades, the Athenian general and politician of the 5 th century B.
For example, Alexander the Great and the founder of Stoicism, Zeno of Citium, were known for their exclusive interest in boys and other men. Such persons, however, are generally portrayed as the homosexually. Furthermore, the issue of what gender one is attracted to is seen as an issue of taste or preference, rather than as a moral issue.
Even though the gender that one was erotically attracted to homosexuaoly any specific homosexualoy, given the assumption that persons will likely be attracted to persons of both sexes was not important, other issues were salient, such as whether one exercised moderation. Status concerns were also of the highest importance. Given that only free men had full status, women and male slaves were not problematic sexual partners. Sex between freemen, however, was problematic for status.
The central distinction in ancient Greek sexual relations was between taking an active or insertive role, versus a passive or penetrated one. The passive role was acceptable only for inferiors, homosexualky as women, slaves, or male youths who were not yet citizens.
Hence the cultural ideal of a same-sex ho,osexually was between an older man, probably in his 20's or 30's, homosexually as the erastesand a boy whose beard had not yet begun to grow, the eromenos or paidika. In this relationship there was courtship ritual, involving gifts such as a roosterand other norms. The erastes had to show that he had nobler interests in the boy, rather than a purely sexual concern.
The boy was not to submit too easily, and if pursued by more than one man, was to show discretion and pick the more noble one. There is also evidence that penetration was often avoided by having the erastes face his beloved and place his penis between the thighs of the eromenoswhich is known as intercrural sex.
The relationship was to homosexually temporary and should end upon the boy reaching adulthood Dover, To continue in a submissive role even while one should be an equal citizen was considered troubling, although there certainly were many adult male same-sex relationships that were noted and not strongly stigmatized. While the passive role was thus seen as problematic, to be attracted to men was often taken as a sign of masculinity. Greek gods, such as Zeus, had stories of same-sex exploits attributed to them, as did other key figures in Greek myth and literature, such as Achilles homosexhally Hercules.
Plato, in the Symposiumargues for an army to be comprised of same-sex lovers. Thebes did form such a regiment, the Sacred Band of Thebes, formed of soldiers. They were renowned in the ancient world for their valor in battle. Ancient Rome had many parallels in its understanding of same-sex attraction, and sexual issues more generally, to ancient Greece.
This is especially true under the Republic. Yet under the Empire, Roman society slowly became more negative in its views towards sexuality, probably due to homoseually and economic turmoil, even before Christianity became influential. Exactly what attitude the New Testament has towards sexuality in general, and same-sex attraction in particular, homossexually a matter of sharp debate. Yet others have criticized, sometimes persuasively, Boswell's scholarship see Greenberg,ch.
What is clear, however, is that while condemnation of same-sex attraction is marginal to the Gospels and only an intermittent focus in the rest of the New Testament, early Christian church fathers were much more outspoken.
In their writings there is a horror at any sort of sex, but in a few generations these views eased, in part due no doubt to practical concerns of recruiting converts.
By the fourth and fifth centuries the mainstream Christian view allowed for procreative sex. This viewpoint, that procreative sex within marriage is allowed, while every other expression of sexuality is sinful, can be found, for example, in St.
This understanding leads to a concern with the gender of one's partner that is not found in previous Greek or Roman views, and it clearly forbids homosexual acts. Soon this attitude, especially towards homosexual sex, came to be reflected in Roman Law. In Justinian's Code, promulgated inpersons who engaged in homosexual sex were to be executed, although those who were repentant could be spared.
Historians agree homosexually the late Roman Empire saw a rise in intolerance towards sexuality, although there were again important regional variations. With the decline of the Roman Empire, and its replacement by various barbarian kingdoms, a general tolerance with the sole exception of Visigothic Spain of homosexual acts prevailed.
The latter part of the twelfth through the fourteenth centuries, however, saw a sharp rise in intolerance towards homosexual sex, alongside persecution of Homosexuaally, Muslims, heretics, and others. While the causes of this are somewhat unclear, it is likely that increased class conflict alongside the Gregorian reform movement in the Catholic Church were two important factors.
This appeal homosexually natural homosecually discussed below became very influential in the Western tradition. A sodomite was understood as act-defined, rather than as a type of person. Someone who had desires homksexually engage in sodomy, yet did not act upon them, was not a sodomite. Also, persons who engaged in heterosexual sodomy were also sodomites.
There are reports of persons hkmosexually burned to death or beheaded for sodomy with a spouse Greenberg, Finally, a person who had engaged in sodomy, yet who had repented of his sin and vowed to never do it again, was no longer a sodomite. The gender of one's partner is again not of decisive importance, although some medieval theologians single homosexually same-sex sodomy as the worst type of sexual crime. For the next several centuries in Europe, the laws against homosexual sex were severe in their penalties.
Enforcement, however, was episodic. In some regions, decades would pass without any prosecutions. Yet the Dutch, in the 's, mounted a harsh anti-sodomy campaign alongside an anti-Gypsy pogromeven using torture to obtain confessions. As many as one hundred men and boys were executed and denied burial Greenberg, Also, the degree to which sodomy and same-sex attraction were accepted homoseually by class, with the middle class taking the narrowest view, while the homosexully and nobility often accepted public expressions of alternative sexualities.
At times, even with the risk of severe punishment, same-sex oriented subcultures would flourish in cities, sometimes only to be suppressed by the authorities. In the 19 th century there was a significant reduction in the legal penalties for sodomy.
The Napoleonic code decriminalized sodomy, and with Napoleon's conquests that Code spread. Furthermore, in many countries where homosexual sex remained a crime, the general movement at this time away from the death penalty usually meant that sodomy was removed from the list of capital offenses.
In the 18 th and 19 th centuries an overtly theological framework no longer dominated the discourse about same-sex attraction. Instead, secular arguments and interpretations became increasingly common. Probably the most important secular domain for discussions of homosexuality was in medicine, including psychology.
This discourse, in turn, linked up with considerations about the state and its need for a growing population, good soldiers, and intact families marked by clearly defined gender roles. Doctors were called in by courts to examine sex crime defendants Foucault, ; Greenberg, At the same time, the dramatic increase in school attendance rates and the average length of time spent in school, reduced transgenerational contact, and hence also the frequency of transgenerational sex.
Same-sex relations between persons of roughly the same age became the norm. Clearly the rise in the prestige of medicine resulted in part from the increasing ability of science to account for natural phenomena on the basis of mechanistic causation.
The application of this viewpoint to humans led to accounts of sexuality as innate or biologically driven.
The voluntarism of the medieval understanding of sodomy, that sodomites chose sin, gave way to the modern notion of homosexuality as a deep, unchosen characteristic of persons, regardless homosesually whether they act upon that orientation.
The effects of these ideas cut in conflicting ways. Since homosexuality is, by this view, not chosen, it makes less sense to criminalize it. Homosexually are not choosing evil acts. Yet persons may be expressing a diseased or pathological mental state, and hence medical intervention for a cure is appropriate.
They also sought to develop techniques to prevent children from becoming homosexual, for example by arguing that childhood masturbation homosexually homosexuality, hence it must be closely guarded against. In the 20 th century sexual roles were redefined once again. For a variety of reasons, premarital intercourse slowly became more common and eventually acceptable.
With the decline of prohibitions against sex for the sake of pleasure even outside of marriage, it became more difficult to argue against gay sex. These trends were especially strong in the 's, and it was in homosexually context that the gay liberation movement took off. Although gay and lesbian rights groups had been around for decades, the low-key approach of the Mattachine Society named after a medieval secret society homosexually the Daughters of Bilitis had not gained much ground.
This changed in the early morning hours of June 28,when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, rioted after a police raid. In the aftermath of that event, gay and lesbian groups began to organize around the country. Gay Democratic clubs were created in every major city, and one fourth of all college campuses had gay and lesbian groups Shilts,ch. Large gay urban communities in cities from coast to coast became the norm.
The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its official listing of mental disorders. The increased homoexually of gays and lesbians has become a permanent feature of American life despite the two critical setbacks of the AIDS epidemic and an anti-gay backlash see Berman,for a good survey.
The post-Stonewall era has also seen marked changes in Western Europe, where the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and legal equality for gays and lesbians has become common. Broader currents in society have influenced the ways in which scholars and activists have approached research into sexuality and same-sex attraction.
Some early 20 th century researchers and equality advocates, seeking to vindicate same-sex relations in societies that disparaged and criminalized it, put hlmosexually lists of famous historical figures attracted to persons of the same sex. Historians and researchers sympathetic to the gay liberation movement of the late s and s produced a number of books that homosexkally relied on an essentialist homosexually.
In the s and s John Boswell raised it to a new level of methodological and historical sophistication, although his position shifted over time to one of virtual agnosticism between essentialists and their critics. Essentialists claim that categories of sexual attraction are observed rather than created.
Homosexuality was not uncommon in ancient Greece and Rome , and the relationships between adult and adolescent males in particular have become a chief focus of Western classicists in recent years.
Judeo-Christian as well as Muslim cultures have generally perceived homosexual behaviour as sinful. Others—from factions within mainstream Protestantism to organizations of Reform rabbis—have advocated, on theological as well as social grounds, the full acceptance of homosexuals and their relationships.
The topic has threatened to cause outright schisms in some denominations. The conflicting views of homosexuality—as a variant but normal human sexual behaviour on one hand, and as psychologically deviant behaviour on the other—remain present in most societies in the 21st century, but they have been largely resolved in the professional sense in most developed countries.
Their claims of success, however, are controversial. Wherever opinion can be freely expressed, debates about homosexuality will likely continue. Psychologists in the 19th and 20th centuries, most of whom classified homosexuality as a form of mental illness, developed a variety of theories on its origin.
His contemporary Sigmund Freud characterized it as a result of conflicts of psychosexual development, including identification with the parent of the opposite sex. Others have looked at social influences and physiological events in fetal development as possible origins. It is likely that many instances of homosexuality result from a combination of inborn or constitutional factors and environmental or social influences. By the 21st century, many societies had been discussing sexuality and sexual practices with increased candour.
Together with a growing acceptance of homosexuality as a common expression of human sexuality, long-standing beliefs about homosexuals had begun to lose credence. In the 20th-century United States , a field known as sex research was established among the social and behavioral sciences in an effort to investigate actual sexual practice.
See sexology. Researchers such as Alfred Kinsey reported that homosexual activity was a frequent pattern in adolescence, among both males and females. About half as many women in the study reported predominantly homosexual activity.
A range of more recent surveys, concerning predominantly homosexual behaviour as well as same-gender sexual contact in adulthood, have yielded results that are both higher and lower than those identified by Kinsey. The review paper authors do rule out one explanation for homosexuality, however: That tolerance for gay people encourages more people to become gay. That reasoning—that a tolerant society somehow encourages homosexuality to flourish—has been used to support anti-gay legislation in Uganda , Russia , and elsewhere.
These laws do marginalize and shame gay people, the authors write. We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters theatlantic. Skip to content. Sign in Subscribe. The Atlantic Crossword. The Print Edition. Latest Issue Past Issues. Olga Khazan is a staff writer at The Atlantic.
Dover, , ; Nussbaum, , esp. Other figures played important roles in the development of natural law theory. Aristotle, in his approach, did allow for change to occur according to nature, and therefore the way that natural law is embodied could itself change with time, which was an idea Aquinas later incorporated into his own natural law theory. Aristotle did not write extensively about sexual issues, since he was less concerned with the appetites than Plato. Probably the best reconstruction of his views places him in mainstream Greek society as outlined above; the main issue is that of active versus a passive role, with only the latter problematic for those who either are or will become citizens.
Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was, according to his contemporaries, only attracted to men, and his thought had no prohibitions against same-sex sexuality. In contrast, Cicero, a later Stoic, was dismissive about sexuality in general, with some harsher remarks towards same-sex pursuits Cicero, , The most influential formulation of natural law theory was made by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century.
Integrating an Aristotelian approach with Christian theology, Aquinas emphasized the centrality of certain human goods, including marriage and procreation. While Aquinas did not write much about same-sex sexual relations, he did write at length about various sex acts as sins. For Aquinas, sexuality that was within the bounds of marriage and which helped to further what he saw as the distinctive goods of marriage, mainly love, companionship, and legitimate offspring, was permissible, and even good.
Aquinas did not argue that procreation was a necessary part of moral or just sex; married couples could enjoy sex without the motive of having children, and sex in marriages where one or both partners is sterile perhaps because the woman is postmenopausal is also potentially just given a motive of expressing love. So far Aquinas' view actually need not rule out homosexual sex.
For example, a Thomist could embrace same-sex marriage, and then apply the same reasoning, simply seeing the couple as a reproductively sterile, yet still fully loving and companionate union. Aquinas, in a significant move, adds a requirement that for any given sex act to be moral it must be of a generative kind. The only way that this can be achieved is via vaginal intercourse. That is, since only the emission of semen in a vagina can result in natural reproduction, only sex acts of that type are generative, even if a given sex act does not lead to reproduction, and even if it is impossible due to infertility.
The consequence of this addition is to rule out the possibility, of course, that homosexual sex could ever be moral even if done within a loving marriage , in addition to forbidding any non-vaginal sex for opposite-sex married couples. What is the justification for this important addition? This question is made all the more pressing in that Aquinas does allow that how broad moral rules apply to individuals may vary considerably, since the nature of persons also varies to some extent.
Unfortunately, Aquinas does not spell out a justification for this generative requirement. The first is that sex acts that involve either homosexuality, heterosexual sodomy, or which use contraception, frustrate the purpose of the sex organs, which is reproductive.
It has, however, come in for sharp attack see Weitham, , and the best recent defenders of a Thomistic natural law approach are attempting to move beyond it e.
If their arguments fail, of course, they must allow that some homosexual sex acts are morally permissible even positively good , although they would still have resources with which to argue against casual gay and straight sex. Although the specifics of the second sort of argument offered by various contemporary natural law theorists vary, the common elements are strong Finnis, ; George, a. As Thomists, their argument rests largely upon an account of human goods.
The two most important for the argument against homosexual sex though not against homosexuality as an orientation which is not acted upon, and hence in this they follow official Catholic doctrine; see George, a, ch. Personal integration, in this view, is the idea that humans, as agents, need to have integration between their intentions as agents and their embodied selves. That is, one's intention then is just to use a body one's own or another's as a mere means to the end of pleasure, and this detracts from personal integration.
Hence, natural law theorists respond that sexual union in the context of the realization of marriage as an important human good is the only permissible expression of sexuality. Natural law theorists, if they want to support their objection to homosexual sex, have to emphasize procreation. If, for example, they were to place love and mutual support for human flourishing at the center, it is clear that many same-sex couples would meet this standard. Hence their sexual acts would be morally just.
There are, however, several objections that are made against this account of marriage as a central human good. Sex in an opposite-sex marriage where the partners know that one or both of them are sterile is not done for procreation.
Yet surely it is not wrong. Why, then, is homosexual sex in the same context a long-term companionate union wrong Macedo, ? The natural law rejoinder is that while vaginal intercourse is a potentially procreative sex act, considered in itself though admitting the possibility that it may be impossible for a particular couple , oral and anal sex acts are never potentially procreative, whether heterosexual or homosexual George, a.
But is this biological distinction also morally relevant, and in the manner that natural law theorists assume? Natural law theorists, in their discussions of these issues, seem to waver. On the one hand, they want to defend an ideal of marriage as a loving union wherein two persons are committed to their mutual flourishing, and where sex is a complement to that ideal.
Yet that opens the possibility of permissible gay sex, or heterosexual sodomy, both of which they want to oppose. So they then defend an account of sexuality which seems crudely reductive, emphasizing procreation to the point where literally a male orgasm anywhere except in the vagina of one's loving spouse is impermissible.
Then, when accused of being reductive, they move back to the broader ideal of marriage. Natural law theory, at present, has made significant concessions to mainstream liberal thought. In contrast certainly to its medieval formulation, most contemporary natural law theorists argue for limited governmental power, and do not believe that the state has an interest in attempting to prevent all moral wrongdoing. Still, they do argue against homosexuality, and against legal protections for gays and lesbians in terms of employment and housing, even to the point of serving as expert witnesses in court cases or helping in the writing of amicus curae briefs.
They also argue against same sex marriage Bradley, ; George, b. With the rise of the gay liberation movement in the post-Stonewall era, overtly gay and lesbian perspectives began to be put forward in politics, philosophy and literary theory.
Initially these often were overtly linked to feminist analyses of patriarchy e. Yet in the late 's and early 's queer theory was developed, although there are obviously important antecedents which make it difficult to date it precisely.
Sticking with the example used above, of a specific conceptualization of lesbian identity, it denigrates women who are sexually and emotionally attracted to other women, yet who do not fit the description.
A second problem was that by placing such an emphasis upon the gender of one's sexual partner s , other possible important sources of identity are marginalized, such as race and ethnicity. What is of utmost importance, for example, for a black lesbian is her lesbianism, rather than her race.
Many gays and lesbians of color attacked this approach, accusing it of re-inscribing an essentially white identity into the heart of gay or lesbian identity Jagose, Such a view, however, largely because of arguments developed within poststructuralism, seemed increasingly untenable. The key figure in the attack upon identity as ahistorical is Michel Foucault.
In a series of works he set out to analyze the history of sexuality from ancient Greece to the modern era , , Although the project was tragically cut short by his death in , from complications arising from AIDS, Foucault articulated how profoundly understandings of sexuality can vary across time and space, and his arguments have proven very influential in gay and lesbian theorizing in general, and queer theory in particular Spargo, ; Stychin, One of the reasons for the historical review above is that it helps to give some background for understanding the claim that sexuality is socially constructed, rather than given by nature.
In ancient Greece the gender of one's partner s was not important, but instead whether one took the active or passive role. Although the gender of the partner was more important than in the ancient view, the broader theological framework placed the emphasis upon a sin versus refraining-from-sin dichotomy. What is the common, natural sexuality expressed across these three very different cultures? The examples can be pushed much further by incorporating anthropological data outside of the Western tradition Halperin, ; Greenberg, Yet even within the narrower context offered here, the differences between them are striking.
The assumption in ancient Greece was that men less is known about women can respond erotically to either sex, and the vast majority of men who engaged in same-sex relationships were also married or would later become married. Yet the contemporary understanding of homosexuality divides the sexual domain in two, heterosexual and homosexual, and most heterosexuals cannot respond erotically to their own sex.
In saying that sexuality is a social construct, these theorists are not saying that these understandings are not real. Since persons are also constructs of their culture in this view , we are made into those categories.
Hence today persons of course understand themselves as straight or gay or perhaps bisexual , and it is very difficult to step outside of these categories, even once one comes to seem them as the historical constructs they are. Instead it is purely relational, standing as an undefined term that gets its meaning precisely by being that which is outside of the norm, however that norm itself may be defined.
There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. By lacking any essence, queer does not marginalize those whose sexuality is outside of any gay or lesbian norm, such as sado-masochists. Finally, it incorporates the insights of poststructuralism about the difficulties in ascribing any essence or non-historical aspect to identity.
This central move by queer theorists, the claim that the categories through which identity is understood are all social constructs rather than given to us by nature, opens up a number of analytical possibilities.
For example, queer theorists examine how fundamental notions of gender and sex which seem so natural and self-evident to persons in the modern West are in fact constructed and reinforced through everyday actions, and that this occurs in ways that privilege heterosexuality Butler, , Also examined are medical categories which are themselves socially constructed Fausto-Sterling, , is an erudite example of this, although she is not ultimately a queer theorist.
The fluidity of categories created through queer theory even opens the possibility of new sorts of histories that examine previously silent types of affections and relationships Carter, Another critical perspective opened up by a queer approach, although certainly implicit in those just referred to, is especially important. Since most anti-gay and lesbian arguments rely upon the alleged naturalness of heterosexuality, queer theorists attempt to show how these categories are themselves deeply social constructs.
An example helps to illustrate the approach. In an essay against gay marriage, chosen because it is very representative, James Q. In contrast, he puts forward loving, monogamous marriage as the natural condition of heterosexuality. Heterosexuality, in his argument, is an odd combination of something completely natural yet simultaneously endangered. One is born straight, yet this natural condition can be subverted by such things as the presence of gay couples, gay teachers, or even excessive talk about homosexuality.
Wilson's argument requires a radical disjunction between heterosexuality and homosexuality. If gayness is radically different, it is legitimate to suppress it.
It is a common move in queer theory to bracket, at least temporarily, issues of truth and falsity Halperin, Instead, the analysis focuses on the social function of discourse. Questions of who counts as an expert and why, and concerns about the effects of the expert's discourse are given equal status to questions of the verity of what is said.
This approach reveals that hidden underneath Wilson's and other anti-gay work is an important epistemological move. Since heterosexuality is the natural condition, it is a place that is spoken from but not inquired into. In contrast, homosexuality is the aberration and hence it needs to be studied but it is not an authoritative place from which one can speak. By virtue of this heterosexual privilege, Wilson is allowed the voice of the impartial, fair-minded expert.
Yet, as the history section above shows, there are striking discontinuities in understandings of sexuality, and this is true to the point that, according to queer theorists, we should not think of sexuality as having any particular nature at all.
Through undoing our infatuation with any specific conception of sexuality, the queer theorist opens space for marginalized forms. The insistence that we must investigate the ways in which categories such as sexuality and orientation are created and given power through science and other cultural mechanisms has made queer theory appealing to scholars in a variety of disciplines.