History of Homosexuality
Instances of homosexuality and homosexual behavior have been documented since the time of ancient civilizations and have been encountered in every historical period. Most people think of ancient Greece as the most well-known place where homosexuality was historically recorded and socially acknowledged. However, all continents have documented evidence via art, literature and other historical artifacts of the presence of homosexual and bisexual behavior since ancient times.
In Africa, multiple pieces of art that depict same-sex relationships have been discovered by archaeologists and historians. The most famous piece depicts the Egyptian couple Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, two males shown in a romantic setting.
Homosexual behavior has also been documented in Asia, including various societies such as China and Japan. It is interesting to note that homosexual behavior in these areas occurs in high political orders as well as monastery environments.
Western Europe is famous for the documented homosexual behavior of the political class in both ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. In this environment, more specifically in Greece, same-sex relationships were not only seen through a sexual orientation angle, but more through a philosophical one. Men were deemed as being the only individuals capable of complex philosophical thought, and thus a relationship between two men was the only one that could yield elevated philosophical feelings of love, respect and appreciation.
History of Gay Rights
Within the modern world, homosexuality has been seen both as a social or psychological disorder as well a social cause or movement, similar to feminism or the civil rights movement. The history of the gay rights movement (as well as the history of homophobia in societies) starts around the late ’30s to mid ’40s, when a few developed western nations decriminalized homosexual behavior. Psychology associations as well as medical associations contributed to the gay rights movement by removing homosexuality from their disorder lists.
The ’80s brought the gay rights movement in the limelight as gay groups got involved in AIDS awareness campaigns and outreach efforts. The late ’80s and early ’90s were the times when most developed countries had outlawed discrimination based on one’s sexual orientation both in the workplace and other arenas. Today the gay rights movement faces a wide array of issues. You can learn more about these by visiting our “Homosexuality Today” and “Homosexual Issues” pages.