Homosexuality (rarely homophilia) is a sexual orientation or orientations characterized by romantic or sexual desire for, or sexual attraction toward, members of the same sex. The termusually implies an exclusive or predominant sexual orientation toward persons of the same sex, and is distinguished from bisexuality as well as heterosexuality. In addition to referring to a sexualorientation, the term homosexuality is also used for sexual behavior between people of the same sex.
In women, romantic or sexual desire for other women is also called lesbianism(lesbian, noun and adjective). The term gay is used to refer to homosexual persons of either gender, although it is mostly used to refer to males (hence the expression gays and lesbians or gay men andlesbians). Persons with the sexual orientation of homosexuality are sometimes called homosexual (noun and adjective). Many people regard the term homosexual as derogatory or clinical because of its cold,antiseptic connotation, particularly when applied to a person, and because 'homosexual' was used as a description of a pathologial state, before same-sex attraction was removed from the AmericanPsychiatric Association's list of mental disorders. Most western people who regard themselves as having a homosexual orientation prefer the term gay, lesbian, or, less frequently, queer (sometimescapitalized as Queer) or 'same-gender loving'.
The term homosexuality was coined in 1869 by Karl Maria Kertbeny in an anonymous pamphlet advocating the repeal of Prussia's sodomy laws. It was listed in 1886in Richard von Krafft-Ebing's detailed study on deviant sexual practices, Psychopathia Sexualis. The word homosexual translates literally as "of the same sex," being a hybrid of the Greek prefixmeaning "same" and the Latin root meaning "sex." Although some early writers used the adjective homosexual to refer to any single-sex context (such as the Roman Catholic clergy or an all-girls' school),...