Updated: Sep 12, 2021
What is Homosexuality?
Homosexuality is the attraction solely to people of one's own sex or gender identity.
Those who identify as male are considered gay, while those who identify as female are considered lesbian. A poll conducted by Gallup in 2020 found that about 5.6% of all people in the United States (about 19 million people) identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. 36.2% of LGBTQ+ Americans identify as Gay or Lesbian.
How old is homosexuality?
Homosexuality is not something new.
Records of homosexuality date all the way back to even before ancient Roman times. Mesolithic rock art in Sicily from 9700 B.C. depicts phallic male and female figures in pairs. Around the same period, drawings from the Neolithic and Bronze Age featuring sexual depictions were found in the Mediterranean area. These portrayals are shown to represent a human figure having breasts and male genitals or without sex distinguishing characteristics.
According to the novel “Female Homosexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome,” same-sex relationships and intercourse were also well-documented in both ancient Rome and ancient Greece, and it was often expected for men to be attracted to both other men and women. However, the evidence about female homosexuality is limited, with its mention in Greek and Roman literature being scarce.
What issues do gays and lesbians face?
Even though homosexuality has been around for a very, very long time, there are sadly still problems gays and lesbians have to face.
This is the belief that heterosexuality, or the attraction to the opposite sex on the gender binary, is the normal or default sexual orientation. It assumes that sexual and marital relations are most fitting between people of the opposite sex.
This is a system of attitudes, bias, and discrimination in favor of opposite-sex sexuality and relationships. It includes the presumption that other people are heterosexual or that opposite-sex attractions and relationships are the only norm and therefore superior.
While all members of the LGBTQ+ community face homophobia, gays and lesbians deal with heteronormativity and heterosexism to a different extent. Other members of the LGBTQ+ community can face these problems, but they are most prevalent with gays and lesbians.
What are some symbols of homosexuality?
Gays and lesbians have had varying symbols throughout the past several decades. Here are a few:
The first symbols of homosexuality were forced upon gay and lesbian individuals in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Homosexual men were required to wear an inverted pink triangle, while those who were homosexual and Jewish had to wear an inverted pink triangle overlapping a yellow triangle. While lesbian women were not recognized by the Nazi regime, many were denoted with an inverted black triangle given to those considered “asocial”:
In 1978, Gilbert Baker designed the original rainbow pride flag for San Francisco Gay Freedom Day as a more optimistic alternative to the pink triangle that many gay men had reclaimed in the decades since the Holocaust. It was meant to capture the diversity of the global gay and lesbian community. In this original version, pink represented sexuality, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for the sun, green for nature, turquoise for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for spirit. Other variations include a 7-stripe version with the pink removed to save fabric. Another version of the rainbow flag removed the turquoise and changed the indigo to royal blue, which has remained the popular symbol for the gay community (and the LGBTQ+ community overall) since 1979.
The labrys lesbian flag was created in 1999 by Sean Campbell. It included a labrys, which was a common symbol of empowerment adopted by the lesbian feminist community in the 1970s, on top of the inverted black triangle used during the Holocaust over a violet background. The Lipstick Lesbian flag was introduced on the blog “This Lesbian Life” in 2010. This was later adapted to a variation without the lipstick mark in the top left-hand corner.
However, many lesbians oppose the Lipstick Lesbian flag and its derivative due to butch-phobic, biphobic, transphobic, and racist comments on the blog of the original designer, Natalie McGray. This had led to a new lesbian pride flag, designed by Emily Gwen in 2018, which uses different colors to represent a wider range of individuals within the lesbian community. PRISM uses a simplified version of this updated pride flag on its PRISM Pride collection with five colors rather than seven.
Oxford University. (n.d.). Homosexuality Meaning. Lexico Dictionaries. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/homosexuality.
Jones, J. M. (2021, February 24). LGBT Identification Rises to 5.6% in Latest U.S. Estimate. Gallup.com. https://news.gallup.com/poll/329708/lgbt-identification-rises-latest-estimate.aspx.
The Rainbow Chronicles. Thoughtworks. (n.d.). https://www.thoughtworks.com/rainbow-chronicles.
Boehringer, S. (2021, September 7). Female Homosexuality in Ancient Greece and Rome (1st ed.). Routledge.
Oxford University. (n.d.). Heteronormative Meaning. Lexico Dictionaries. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/heteronormative.
Oxford University. (n.d.). Heterosexism Meaning. Lexico Dictionaries. https://www.lexico.com/en/definition/heterosexism.
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (n.d.). CLASSIFICATION SYSTEM IN NAZI CONCENTRATION CAMPS. Holocaust Encyclopedia. https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/classification-system-in-nazi-concentration-camps.
Gonzalez, N. (n.d.). How Did the Rainbow Flag Become a Symbol of LGBTQ Pride? Encyclopædia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/story/how-did-the-rainbow-flag-become-a-symbol-of-lgbt-pride.
Siclait, A. (2021, June 15). What The Lesbian Pride Flag Means And Where It Comes From. Women's Health. https://www.womenshealthmag.com/life/a36523338/lesbian-pride-flag-meaning/.