The term gay is frequently used as a synonym for homosexual; female homosexuality is often referred to as lesbianism. At different times and in different cultures , homosexual behaviour has been variously approved of, tolerated, punished, and banned. 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.
Some scholars, such as Michel Foucaulthave regarded this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to Gay form times,  though other scholars challenge this. Before Homosexuality in the Arab-Islamic World, — Sexual orientations Asexual Bisexual Heterosexual Homosexual. Columbia University Press. These exceptions lead Office hunks to conclude that while genes and hormones may, like male birth order, predispose a person to a particular sexual orientation, they Gay form not determine it. Along with bisexuality and heterosexualityhomosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual—homosexual continuum. AGy is the practice of publicly revealing the sexual orientation of a closeted person.
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These attitudes tend to be due to forms of homophobia and heterosexism negative attitudesbias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and Gay form. For other uses, see Poof Gay form. Retrieved 18 February Archived from the original on 1 December There are a variety of non-penetrative sex practices. Recommended Channels See Donna marie cole. The American Psychologist. Reliable data as to the size of the gay and lesbian population are of value in informing public policy. Gay commonloose, dissipated; a " gay woman" fodm " gay girl," a prostitute. Retrieved 13 November Business Insider.
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W hy are scientists so preoccupied with what causes homosexuality, to the near-total exclusion of the factors that lead to heterosexuality? I don't object to research into sexual orientation. It is the one-sided obsession that bugs me. The presumption seems to be that straightness is normal and therefore does not need explanation; whereas queerdom is a deviation from the norm and this requires investigation and answers.
The latest theory of why gays are gay suggests that birth order influences male sexual orientation. According to new research by Anthony Bogaert, a psychologist at Brock University in Canada, gay men tend to have older brothers. Indeed, the more biological older brothers a man has, the greater his likelihood of being gay. This leads Bogaert to conclude that a man's sexual orientation is influenced by the conditions in his mother's womb when he was a foetus; with successive male children triggering changes in the mother's body that increase the chances that subsequent male children will be gay.
This so-called fraternal gay birth effect creates a prenatal environment that fosters homosexuality in younger sons. Nice theory, shame about the exceptions. Oh well, never mind. There are bound to be exceptions. Just because I don't personally fit his theory doesn't automatically invalidate it.
If Bogaert is saying that birth order may be a factor that influences sexual orientation, I have no problem with that. His research does, indeed, suggest that the order of male birth may impact on whether a man is gay or not. But impacting or influencing sexuality is not the same as causing or determining it. Something as complex and pivotal as human emotional and sexual life is bound to evolve from a multiplicity of factors, rather than from any single, simple origin.
Bogaert's research is the latest in a long line of theses that argue people are "born gay". They posit sexuality as being a biological given. Other biological determinist models of gayness suggest that same-sex attraction is largely or entirely determined by our genes and hormonal influences in the womb.
It is an innate desire, fixed at birth. Forget Freudian theory and all the other psycho-babble. Biology is destiny. Their book is easily the best summary of evidence from dozens of biological studies into the causes and correlates of homosexuality.
They conclude that sexual orientation is overwhelmingly innate. Social or family influences have little or no impact. Blaming parents and childhood upbringing for a child's gayness is mistaken and unfair. The idea that people become gay by seduction or choice is, they say, not supported by scientific research and empirical evidence.
I agree. No one sits down one day and decides to be gay - or straight. Most lesbians and gays say they felt "different" from a very young age, long before they had any awareness of sexual desire. While this suggests that sexuality is formed unconsciously by early childhood at the latest, it does not necessarily mean we are born with a pre-fixed sexual orientation. The authors are right to say that biological factors play a role. It suggests a significant genetic component in the causality of homosexuality - and, presumably, in the origins of heterosexuality as well.
Wilson and Rahman argue the other determinant of sexual orientation is hormonal exposure during pregnancy. They document studies showing differences between gay and straight people with respect to a number of physiological traits that are associated with hormonal influences.
These include physique, hearing, brain structure, finger lengths, penis size gay men tend to be better endowed than straight men , and the age of puberty on average lesbians mature later than straight women, and gay men earlier than heterosexual men. This is convincing stuff, but not entirely so. If genes determine our sexual orientation we would expect that in cases of identical twins where one was gay the other would be gay too - in every case.
But, in fact, in only just over half the cases are both twins gay. The same lack of complete concordance is found in hormone-associated physical attributes. Not all gay men, for example, have a larger than average penis. These exceptions lead me to conclude that while genes and hormones may, like male birth order, predispose a person to a particular sexual orientation, they do not determine it.
They are significant influences, not the sole cause. Other factors are also at work. Social expectations, cultural values and peer pressure, for instance, help push many of us towards heterosexuality. Without these pro-straight influences, more people might be lesbian, gay or bisexual. Wilson and Rahman's biological determinist thesis has another major flaw. If we are all born either gay or straight, how do they explain people who switch in mid-life from fulfilled heterosexuality to fulfilled homosexuality and vice versa?
The singer Tom Robinson was a happy, well-adjusted gay man who, to his own surprise, one day met and fell in love with a woman. He is now equally happy and well-adjusted in his straight relationship. If he was hard-wired at birth to desire men, how can he now desire women? The authors have no credible explanation for bisexuality; claiming it barely exists.
Some research measuring sexual arousal shows that men who claim to be bisexual are predominantly turned on by other men, not women. But this is highly suspect. Swapping gossip with the girlfriend of a man who was previously my long-term lover, we agree he was definitely aroused by both the male and female form; equally delighted and sexually voracious with a cock or a cunt.
Much as I would love to go along with the fashionable "born gay" consensus it would be very politically convenient , I can't. The evidence does not support the idea that sexuality is a fixed biological given. Wilson and Rahman inadvertently reinforce my doubts. As evidence that people do not become gay by seduction, they cite the example of the Sambia tribe in New Guinea.
Cultural expectations dictate that from puberty until their late teens all young boys have sex with an unmarried male warrior as part of their rite of passage to manhood. Once their initiation into the manly arts of hunting and fishing is completed, they become warriors and initiate the next generation of male youths. Then they turn straight, find a bride and marry. If sexuality was predetermined by genes and hormones or by Bogaert's male birth order effect , it would be impossible for young Sambian males to switch to homosexuality and then back to heterosexuality with such apparent ease.
This suggests there is an element of flexibility in sexual orientation, and that cultural traditions and social mores are also influential factors. In an enlightened, gay-affirming society, more people might be inclined to explore same-sex desire. Reuse this content. Order by newest oldest recommendations. Show 25 25 50 All. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded. Loading comments… Trouble loading? Most popular.
Civiletti , F. Most Popular Tags See All. The term homosocial is now used to describe single-sex contexts that are not specifically sexual. American Sociological Review. Societal acceptance of non-heterosexual orientations such as homosexuality is lowest in Asian, African and Eastern European countries,   and is highest in Western Europe, Australia, and the Americas. Online Etymology Dictionary.
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The term gay is frequently used as a synonym for homosexual; female homosexuality is often referred to as lesbianism. At different times and in different cultures , homosexual behaviour has been variously approved of, tolerated, punished, and banned.
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.
Instead of categorizing people in absolute terms as either homosexual or heterosexual, Kinsey observed a spectrum of sexual activity, of which exclusive orientations of either type make up the extremes.
Most people can be identified at a point on either side of the midpoint of the spectrum, with bisexuals those who respond sexually to persons of either sex situated in the middle. Situational homosexual activity tends to occur in environments such as prisons , where there are no opportunities for heterosexual contact.
As mentioned above, different societies respond differently to homosexuality. In most of Africa, Asia , and Latin America , both the subject and the behaviour are considered taboo, with some slight exception made in urban areas. In Western countries, attitudes were somewhat more liberal. Although the topic of homosexuality was little discussed in the public forum during the early part of the 20th century, it became a political issue in many Western countries during the late 20th century.
This was particularly true in the United States, where the gay rights movement is often seen as a late offshoot of various civil rights movements of the s. After the Stonewall riots , in which New York City policemen raided a gay bar and met with sustained resistance, many homosexuals were emboldened to identify themselves as gay men or lesbians to friends, to relatives, and even to the public at large.
In much of North America and western Europe , the heterosexual population became aware of gay and lesbian communities for the first time. Many gay men and lesbians began to demand equal treatment in employment practices, housing, and public policy. Although conditions for gay people had generally improved in most of Europe and North America at the turn of the 21st century, elsewhere in the world violence against gay people continued.
In Ecuador a gay rights group called Quitogay received so much threatening e-mail that it was given support by Amnesty International. Even in parts of the world where physical violence is absent, intolerance of homosexuality often persists.
There are, however, some signs of change. In the late 20th century gay men and lesbians proudly revealed their sexual orientation in increasing numbers. One of the issues that loomed largest for gay men in the last two decades of the 20th century and beyond was AIDS. Elsewhere in the world AIDS was transmitted principally by heterosexual sex, but in the United States and in some European centres it was particularly prevalent in urban gay communities.
The disease also took a heavy toll on the arts communities in these centres, and virtually none of the artistic output of gay men in the late 20th century was untouched by the topic and the sense of great loss. Lesbians, especially those uninvolved with intravenous drugs and the sex trade, were probably the demographic group least affected by AIDS. However, most shared with gay men the desire to have a secure place in the world community at large, unchallenged by the fear of violence, the struggle for equal treatment under the law, the attempt to silence, and any other form of civil behaviour that imposes second-class citizenship.
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