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In the context of sexuality, lesbian refers only to female homosexuality.

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Beginning in the 1990s, some of these have been reclaimed as positive words by gay men and lesbians, as in the usage of queer studies, queer theory, and even the popular American television program Queer Eye for the Straight Guy.

Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships have varied over time and place, from expecting all males to engage in same-sex relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, and to proscribing it under penalty of death.

"Essentialists" typically believe that sexual preferences are determined by biological forces, while "constructionists" assume that sexual desires are learned.

The philosopher of science Michael Ruse has stated that the social constructionist approach, which is influenced by Foucault, is based on a selective reading of the historical record that confuses the existence of homosexual people with the way in which they are labelled or treated.

The condemnation of anal sex between males, however, predates Christian belief.

It was frequent in ancient Greece; "unnatural" can be traced back to Plato.In a detailed compilation of historical and ethnographic materials of Preindustrial Cultures, "strong disapproval of homosexuality was reported for 41% of 42 cultures; it was accepted or ignored by 21%, and 12% reported no such concept.Of 70 ethnographies, 59% reported homosexuality absent or rare in frequency and 41% reported it present or not uncommon." In cultures influenced by Abrahamic religions, the law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature.Homosexuality was mentioned in many famous works of Chinese literature.The instances of same-sex affection and sexual interactions described in the classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber seem as familiar to observers in the present as do equivalent stories of romances between heterosexual people during the same period.The first record of possible homosexual couple in history is commonly regarded as Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, an ancient Egyptian male couple, who lived around 2400 BCE.

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