What Is Homosexuality?

Medically Reviewed by Gabriela Pichardo, MD on July 02, 2023
3 min read

Homosexuality refers to attraction between people who are the same sex. It comes from the Greek word homos, meaning “the same.”

It is a sexual orientation, as opposed to a gender identity such as male, female, and non-binary. People who are homosexual could refer to themselves as gay, lesbian, LGBTQ, queer, or a number of other terms. 

There is no one way to experience same-sex attraction. Many people who are gay develop feelings for people of the same sex in their teenage years. However, it can take some time to find what you’re most attracted to or to be comfortable in acknowledging it to yourself and others. People experience sexual, romantic, and emotional feelings toward another person in different ways at different points in their lives. 

There are many different synonyms for “homosexuality,” as the term itself is outdated.

The most common synonym is “gay” or “lesbian.” Gay usually means a man being attracted to another man, while lesbian means a woman is attracted to another woman. “Queer” is a broad term that refers to someone who is not heterosexual (attracted to the opposite sex) or cisgender (having a gender identity that corresponds with their assigned birth gender). “LGBTQ” is an acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning. It usually defines a community of individuals rather than a specific person.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of homophobia in the United States and around the world. In many countries, it’s illegal to be gay. People who are anti-gay have spread several harmful myths demonizing homosexuality. Among them include:

Myth 1: LGBTQ Members Make Bad Parents

Many people who are gay have loving families and raise happy, successful children. In fact, a study done in 2014 stated that there were few differences in family structure or social development between same-sex parent households and opposite-sex parent households. 

Myth 2: Being Gay Is a Choice and Can Be Fixed

Being gay is not a choice, or something that can be changed. Most scientists agree that sexuality is the result of several factors, including biology and environment.

Conversion therapy, or efforts to make someone change their sexuality, is potentially harmful and has been rejected by mainstream American medical organizations. The American Medical Association is against therapy that is “based on the assumption that homosexuality is a mental disorder or that the person should change their orientation.

It’s important to know that there is nothing wrong with loving people of the same gender as you. You might want to let your loved ones know if you feel same-sex attraction, or you might not be ready to share this yet. It’s entirely up to you, but no one can invalidate your identity. 

Coming out, or telling people in your life about your sexual identity, is a different experience for everyone. It’s not always easy, and you don’t have to come out if you’re not ready.

It might be an extended process that happens over months of years rather than one conversation. Whatever you decide to do is valid. Take time to think about your intentions before you decide to come out to your loved ones.

Coming out might help build understanding in your relationships, or it might help you build new ones. Remember, there’s no requirement that you need to come out. In fact, you need to come out to yourself and foster acceptance for yourself before you share who you are with other people.

It’s also vital to build a support system around you. You might find this by building relationships with other members of the LBGTQ community, even joining a club or a support group. You might even find role models in media and popular culture.

Remember that your identity is your own. It is defined by you and no one else.