Homosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation, along with bisexuality and heterosexuality.
Currently the most common adjectives in use are lesbian for women and gay for men, though gay can refer to either men or women.
The number of people who identify as gay or lesbian aredifficult for researchers to estimate reliably for a variety of reasons.
A 2006 study suggested that 20% of the population anonymously reported some homosexual feelings, although relatively few participants in the study identified themselves as homosexual.
Homosexual behavior in animals is also widely encountered.
Many gay and lesbian people are in a committed same-sex relationship. In theiressential psychological respects, these relationships are equivalent to heterosexual relationships.
The end of the 1800s, there has been a 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, and equal access to health care.
Many people who feelattracted to members of their own sex have a so-called "coming out" at some point in their lives. Generally, coming out is described in three phases. The first phase is the phase of "knowing oneself," and the realization or decision emerges that one is open to same-sex relations. 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, and/or colleagues. The third phase more generally involves living openly as an LGBT person. 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.
Outing is the practice ofpublicly revealing the sexual orientation of a closeted person. 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, while some encourage outing public figures who use their positions of influence to harm other gay people.
Gender identityTransgender 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.
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.Richard C. Friedman, in Male Homosexuality published in 1990, writing from a psychoanalytic perspective, argues that sexual desire begins later than the writings of SigmundFreud indicate, not in infancy but between the ages of 5 and 10 and is not focused on a parent figure but on peers. As a consequence, he reasons, homosexual men are not abnormal, never having been sexually attracted to their mothers anyway.
Same-sex romance and relationships
People with a homosexual orientation can express their sexuality in a variety of ways, and may or may not express it intheir behaviors.Some have sexual relationships predominately with people of their own gender identity, another gender, bisexual relationships or they can be celibate.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...