What is a Homosexual?
Let us begin by stating that the term ‘homosexual’ is pretty problematic in light of today’s society. This has less to do with the word itself, as the actual meaning is quite accurate and benign, but more to do with how the term has been used in the past.
For the longest time, the term ‘homosexual’ was used in a derogatory manner. It was used to single out and alienate a vulnerable population. Unfortunately, this has led to a negative connotation.
The preferred terms are: ‘gay’, ‘gay man’, ‘lesbian’, or ‘gay person/gay people’. So from now on in this article, we will be using preferred terms as far as possible to describe people attracted to the same gender as their own.
Even entities such as the American Psychiatric Association places restrictions on the use of this term along with variations such as: “homosexual lifestyle”, “homosexual sex”, “homosexual relationship”, “homosexual couple” and more aggressive forms like: “admitted homosexual”, and “avowed homosexual”. These are all terms that anti-gay extremists used in aggressive formats in the past.
Furthermore, several press outlets also restrict the usage of offensive terms. For example, the New York Times and Washington Post restrict the use of words listed above along with a lot more terms that are seen as extremely offensive to the LGBT+ Community.
In today’s community, it is an outdated term considered derogatory. In addition, it is associated with a time when homosexuality was seen as a psychological disorder, and the LGBT+ Community was readily labeled as mentally ill.
Sexual Orientation (same sex?)
As with many of our blogs, we separate sexual orientation and gender identity as the two are distinctly different concepts. Sexual orientation refers to what an individual is attracted to in another person, either romantically or sexually.
Practically speaking, this is the oldest recognized sexual orientation of the whole spectrum.
In the past, we openly referred to a gay lifestyle as someone attracted to the same sex for a long time. However, it might be better to instead refer to the same gender, instead of the same sex, attraction unless you specifically differentiate between romantic attraction and sexual attraction.
Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation because gender identity refers to the gender that you identify with within yourself and does not have anything to do with what you are attracted to in another person. You can therefore belong to any one gender identity and still find yourself anywhere on the sexual orientation spectrum as well. There are countless options and combinations, which speaks to the beautiful complexity of what it means to be human.
Can I be gay as a transgender person?
Because transgender is a gender identity, you can definitely identify as transgender and still be gay. One’s gender identity is separate from one’s sexual orientation.
Do we still talk about ‘opposite sex’?
The short answer is no.
We now have a much better understanding of gender identity and sexual orientation. Because of this, understanding has become clear that using binary terms like ‘opposite sex’ is not appropriate or accurate anymore.
Suppose you look at terms like ‘heterosexual’. In that case, the hetero part comes from a Greek word that means ‘the other’ or ‘another’ or ‘different’, so there is not that much reason to hang on to the binary statement of being attracted to the opposite sex.
In so far as there is nothing wrong with being heterosexual, we still need to be respectful of the terminology we use to describe sexuality as a whole. For example, googling the word heterosexual gives one an extended definition that clearly states a sexual attraction to the opposite sex. But this definition, in light of what we know to be true today, seems pretty narrow.
Heterosexuality refers to an attraction to someone of a different sex than your own. Usually, you would also only be attracted to a single-sex that is different from your own.
Brief Overview of the Gay Community in Context
Gender expression has been a point of contention for a very long time. Gender identity and sexual orientation are historically loaded topics, and gender expression has been at the wrong end of societal expectations for most of history. It has been so problematic that LGBT+ people have been identified as having a mental disorder. There is an unfortunately long and negative clinical history connected to gender expression.
Today, however, the LGBTQ+ community can find many of its well-established and respected roots from people who were brave enough to live as openly gay or openly lesbian when it was dangerous to do so.
We had moved from a time when sexual abuse of gay people was less frowned upon than actually being gay to a place today where a person’s sexual orientation is a fundamental human right, and gay people are free to be proud of who they are.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can trans women be lesbian?
Yes, absolutely. If a person identifies as a woman but is still attracted to other women (either cisgender or transgender), they are referred to as ‘lesbian’. However, if they are attracted to more than just other females, they become part of the bisexual community.
Are gay men more prone to risky sexual behavior than other groups?
Not in today’s society. Because society has become more accepting of sexual orientation, there is less need to hide one’s sexual preference, which means more same-sex couples tend to engage in safe sexual behavior. In addition, because sexual preference and sex are no longer taboo, it is easier for lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender people to access preventative measures and protect themselves and their partners from sexually transmitted infections.
A same-sex couple is no longer persecuted for their sexual identity. Even terms used to describe people of different sexual orientations evolve and become more sensitive to help society respect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.
If I experience sexual attraction to more than one gender, but not the same as mine, can I say I am gay?
It would be best not to. However, in this case, you might need to look at a different moniker used to describe your sexual orientation.
My biological sex does not feel right; what can I do?
If you are not identifying with your biological sex characteristics, you can research a transgender lifestyle and transgender people. This might give you an idea of what you might be feeling, or at least where to start. The term ‘transgender people’ is used to describe people who do not identify with their physical sex characteristics.
As a straight man, how can I improve gay and lesbian lives?
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people always need advocates to spread awareness and understanding among populations that otherwise would not directly encounter important issues impacting sexual minority communities. You can thus become an ally for the community.
The number of straight men who are becoming allies is ever on the rise, pushing awareness forward and promoting equality and respect for all. This makes it much easier for people to live openly gay, openly lesbian, or openly bisexual.
It also promotes the use of gender neutral pronouns that are used to describe gender nonconforming people. As a result, it is extremely valuable to the LGBTQ+ community.