- The planet Mercury is a symbol used by the transgendered community. The sign for Mercury is a crescent shape and a cross, which represents the male and female principles in harmony in an individual. Additionally, the god Mercury fathered Hermaphroditus, who had both male and female sex organs.f
- The labrys, a double-edged hatchet or axe, is a symbol of strength and unity for the lesbian community. Demeter, the Goddess of Earth, is said to have used a labrys as her scepter, especially in religious ceremonies.f
- In 1987, Delta Airlines apologized for arguing in plane crash litigation that it should pay less in compensation for the life of a gay passenger than for a heterosexual one because he may have had AIDS.f
- Records of same-sex relationships have been found in nearly every culture throughout history with varying degrees of acceptance.a
- The number of gays and lesbians in the U.S. is estimated to be approximately 8.8 million.c
Nearly 9 million people in the U.S are gay or lesbian
- No research has conclusively proven what causes homosexuality, heterosexuality, or bisexuality.k
- Scientists estimate that approximately 5% of the total human population worldwide has a homosexual orientation.d
- Historians note that in some cultures, homosexual behavior was not viewed as effeminate but as evidence of a man’s masculinity. Examples include the Celtic and Greek cultures.e
- Approximately 1 million children in the U.S. are being raised by same-sex couples.c
- In 1982, the Gay Related Immune Disorder (GRID) was renamed Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).f
- The state with the most gay couples is California, with approximately 92,138. The state with the least gay couples in North Dakota, with approximately 703 couples.f
- The U.S. state/district with the highest concentration of gay couples is Washington, D.C. (1.29%). The lowest concentration of gay couples is found in North and South Dakota (0.22% each).f
- The three U.S. cities that have the most gay couples are New York City (47,000), Los Angeles (12,000), and Chicago (10,000). The major metropolitan cities with the highest LGBT concentration are San Francisco 15.4%, Seattle 12.9%, and Atlanta 12.8%.f
Plato argued that a homosexual army would consist of "inspired heros"
- An estimated 1 million lesbians and gays are military veterans.f
- An estimated 1% of the population in America is confirmed as transsexuals.f
- Approximately one in three gay men prefer to not engage in anal sex.f
- In some American Indian cultures, having a same-sex attraction was called being Two-Spirited. The tribe honored such people as having special gifts and being especially blessed.e
- Gay teen suicides are more common in politically conservative regions.c
- Gay people tend to be left-handed much more often than heterosexuals.j
- Gay or lesbian teens are 50% more likely to use alcohol and three times more likely to use marijuana than heterosexual teens. They are also more likely to be homeless.c
- There is some evidence that increased levels of steroids in the womb increases the chances that a girl will be a lesbian.j
- Some researchers have asked, if the main motivation of all species is to pass genes on to future generations, and gay men produce 80% fewer offspring than straight men, why would a gay gene not have been wiped out? Explanations include that homosexuality is caused by a virus or that female relatives of gay men are more fertile to compensate.k
- Homosexuality has been recorded in China since ancient times and has often been referred to as “the cut sleeve” and “pleasures of the bitten peach.”h
- Scholars speculate that the growing acceptance of homosexuality in China is due to China’s “one-child” policy. Additionally, unlike the United States and Europe, which are predominantly Christian, and Southeast Asia, which is predominately Muslim, China has no dominant religion to fuel debates against homosexuality. Furthermore, researchers believe that homophobia in China is simply a European import.h
Finger length may indicate sexual orientation
- Researchers have found that the length of a lesbian’s index finger in relation to the ring finger is closer to the male ratio than straight females. Men tend to have shorter index fingers in relation to their ring fingers; in women, the lengths are about the same.k
- Canadian researchers have documented what they call the “big-brother effect,” which postulates that a male with older brothers is three times more likely to be gay than a boy with no older brothers. They argue that this may be a result of the complex association among hormones, antigens, and a mother’s immune system.k
- Studies have shown that gay men have more feminized patterns for certain cognitive tasks, such as spatial perception and remembering where objects are placed. Studies have also shown masculinized results for lesbians in inner-ear functions and eye-blinking reactions to loud noises.k
Genetics and environment both play a role in determining homosexuality
- If one identical twin is gay, the other has about a 20-50% chance of being gay. Because it is not 100%, scientists speculate that homosexuality is a result of the interplay of environmental factors (e.g., surge of hormones in the womb, a virus, etc.) and genetics.j
- One of the earliest recorded accounts of bisexuality in America was by Spanish explorer Álvar Nuñez Cabeza de Vaca who, in the early sixteenth century, mentions “effeminate” Indians in Florida who “go about dressed as women and do women’s tasks.”f
- In 1629, the Virginia Court recorded the first instance of gender ambiguity among the American colonists. A servant named Thomas/Thomasine Hall is officially declared by the governor to be both “a man and a woman” and ordered to wear articles of each sex’s clothing.f
- Nicholas Biddle, a member of the Lewis and Clark expeditions, recorded that “among Minitarees [Indians], if a boy shows any symptom of effeminacy or girlish inclinations, he is put among the girls, dressed in their way, brought up with them, and sometimes married to men . . . the French called them Birdashes [sic].”f
- As of 2010, gay marriage is legal in New York, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire. California, New Jersey, Nevada, Washington, Oregon, and Washington, D.C., offer same-sex partners benefits similar to those offered to married couples.f
- Same-sex marriage is legal in Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, and Argentina. In Mexico, same-sex marriage is legal but performed only in Mexico City.f
- In 1860, Walt Whitman published the homoerotic Leaves of Grass, which later inspired numerous gay poets.f
- The first U.S. novel to touch on the subject of homosexuality is Bayard Taylor’s 1870 Joseph and His Friend.f
- The Society for Human Rights in Illinois was founded in 1924 and is believed to be the first homosexual organization in the United States. It lasted just a few months but published two issues of Friendship and Freedom, the first gay liberation magazine in the country.f
- The first published piece about homosexuality by an African American writer is the short story “Smoke, Lilies and Jade” by Bruce Nugent.f
- The Drag, written and produced by Mae West, is the first play with gay male content to be produced in the United States.f
- In 1930, Hollywood studios enacted the Motion Picture Production Code, prohibiting all references to homosexuality or “sexual perversion” in the movies. It was strengthened in 1934 under pressure from the Catholic-led Legion for Decency. It remained in effect until the 1960s.f
- The first U.S. lesbian magazine was titled Vice Versa and was written by the pseudonymous Lisa Ben (an anagram for “lesbian”).f
- In 1948, the Kinsey Institute published its groundbreaking study of sexual behavior in American men. Kinsey’s research helped foster a sense of community and self-acceptance among homosexuals.f
From 1952 to 1990, homosexual foreigners were banned from entering the U.S.
- In 1952, the Unites States Congress enacted a law banning lesbians and gay foreigners from entering the country. The law was on the books until it was repealed in 1990.f
- The first lesbian organization in the United States was formed in 1955. Called the Daughters of Bilitis, it was founded in San Francisco by Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon.f
- In 1961, Illinois became the first state to abolish its laws against consensual homosexual sex.f
- The Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop was founded in 1967 in New York City and was the first gay bookstore in the world.f
- In 1968, Dr. John Money performed the first complete male-to-female sex-change operation in the United States at Johns Hopkins University.f
- The 1969, Time magazine’s “The Homosexual in America” was the first cover story on gay rights in a national magazine.f
- The first lesbian/feminist bookstore in the U.S. was the Amazon Bookstore Cooperative (now known as True Colors Bookstore), which opened in Minneapolis in 1970.f
- In 1972, William Johnson became the first openly gay man to be ordained as a minister by a major religious denomination, the United Church of Christ, in California.f
- In 1973, the American Psychiatric Association decided that homosexuality should no longer be classified as a mental disorder. Also the same year, the American Bar Association passed a resolution recommending the repeal of all state sodomy laws.c
- In 1974, Elaine Noble became the first openly gay elected official in the United States when she was elected to the Massachusetts state legislature.f
- Gilbert Baker, also known as the “Gay Betsy Ross,” designed the rainbow flag, or Pride Flag, in San Francisco in 1978. The flag is the most prominent symbol of lesbian and gay pride. The colors, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet represent sexuality, life, healing, the Sun, nature, art, harmony, and the spirit, respectively.f
- In the 1970s, feminist activist Betty Friedman argued that the “Lavender Menace,” or lesbians, would overwhelm the feminist movement with “sexuality issues” and did not want lesbians to use NOW (the National Organization for Women) as a platform. Consequently, many lesbian feminists started their own activist groups.f
- A lavender rhinoceros has been often used to signify the lesbian community. A rhinoceros was chosen because it is generally docile, but when it is provoked, it can become ferocious. Lavender is often used to represent the GLBT community, because it is a mixture of red and blue, which represents the female and male principles, respectively.f
- In 1984, Berkeley, California, became the first city in the United States to extend domestic partnership benefits to lesbian and gay city employees.f
- In 1995, British actor Nigel Hawthorne, star of the film The Madness of King George, became the first openly gay Best Actor nominee in the history of the Academy Awards.f
- The term LGBT or GLBT or LGBTQ was adopted in the 1990s and refers to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (and queer or questioning) people. However, the term is not without contention with some groups, such as those who are intersex, who want to be included, and others who don’t want to be included.c
- In an attempt to distinguish themselves from what they view as a white-dominated LGBT community, some African Americans favor the term SGL (same gender loving).f
- The pink triangle was the symbol gay men were required to wear in Nazi concentration camps during WWII. Lesbians were sometimes required to wear a black triangle.c
- Pride Day or Pride March refers to celebrations that typically take place in June that commemorate the Stonewall Inn riots of June 28, 1969. These riots are considered the birth of the modern gay civil rights movement.b
- Most of the LGBT community discourages the use of the term “sexual preference” because it implies that sexuality is the result of conscious choice.d
- In the 1960s, the term “AC/DC” referred to a person who had sex with either men or women. The term came from the abbreviations for two types of electrical currents, an alternating current and a direct current.f
- A “beard” is someone of the opposite sex who knowingly dates a closeted lesbian or gay man to provide that person with a heterosexual “disguise,” usually for family or career purposes.f
- A “buffet flat” was an after-hours partying spot in Harlem of the 1920s that was a common place for African American lesbians and gay men to socialize. The “buffet” referred to a variety of sexual possibilities: straight, gay, group sex, etc.f
- The term “closet” refers to the confining state of being secretive about one’s homosexuality. The word cannot be found in lesbian and gay literature before the 1960s and was probably not used before then.f
- The term “sodomy” refers to various sexual acts that some states have declared illegal. Sodomy is not necessarily synonymous with homosexuality or sex between gay men, and the legal definition differs from state to state. However, in June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court declared that state sodomy laws that target adult, consensual same-sex practices violate the U.S. Constitution’s due process clause.c
- More than 70% of the thousands of calls to the 24/7 Trevor Lifeline (a national organization that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to the LGBTQ community) come from the southern and central regions of the United States.f
A gene mutation causes homosexuality in male fruit flies
- A recent study in the Drosophila (the fruit fly) shows that a mis-expression of a gene called the “near white gene” causes male flies to mate with other male flies. However, researchers are careful to note that it is highly unlikely that just one gene causes homosexuality in humans.j
- The ancient Greeks did not have terms that indicated a dichotomy between “heterosexual” and “homosexual.” Instead, the distinction in ancient Greek sexual relations was who would take a passive or active role. The most common form of same-sex love was between an older male, the erastes, who acted as a mentor, lover, and model for a younger boy, the eromenos. It was believed that sperm was the source of knowledge and that its issue would pass wisdom from the erastes to the eromenos.b
- German psychologist Karoly Maria Benkert is thought to have been the first to coin the word “homosexuality” in the late nineteenth century. He agued that the Prussian sodomy laws violated the “rights of man” and that homosexuality was inborn and unchangeable.a
- In June 2011, California became the first state to pass a bill requiring public schools to teach the historical accomplishments of gay men and lesbians.g
Homosexual behavior has been observed in over 1,500 animal species
- The entire species of the dwarf chimpanzee is bisexual. Lions have also exhibited homosexual behavior. Homosexual behavior has been observed in 1,500 animal species and is most widespread among animals with a complex herd life.i
- The word “lesbian” is derived from the Greek island Lesbos, home of Greek poetess Sappho. Her poetry proclaimed her love for girls and praised the beauty of women.a
- Pejorative terms for members of the LGBT community include poof, homo, faggot, queer, and fairy. However, the LGBT community is reclaiming some previously pejorative terms as positive words.f
- Some scholars have proposed that the first homosexual couple to be mentioned in history is the ancient Egyptian servants Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum who lived around 2400 B.C.f
- Same-sex intercourse is generally believed to be against Islamic law; however, there are differing methods of punishment. For example, in some fundamentalist Muslim regions, such as in Nigeria and Iran, homosexual behavior is still punishable by death.f
- Lambda is the Greek letter associated with some of the more aggressive factions of the LGBT community. Lambda can signify several things, including liberation, unity, synergy, or the iconic scales of justice. Scholars note that the symbol also appeared on the shields of Theben warriors. The Band of Thebes is believed to have consisted of a group of fierce and dedicated male lover/warriors.f
- The Harlem Renaissance was not only a seminal moment in African American history, but it also was a significant moment in the history of gay African Americans. Both black lesbians and gay men played a crucial role in the literary and musical renaissance that made Harlem famous in the 1920s.f
The term "lesbian" was used in academic books as early as 1880
- While lesbian refers only to female homosexuality, the term “gay” can refer to all members of the LGBTQ community. Some argue that the term “homosexual” should be avoided because the word refers only to sexual behavior rather than complex human romantic feelings.c
- Hitler first curtailed, then prevented, and finally destroyed all German sex research and a flourishing sex reform movement. This was the first step in the systematic persecution of German homosexuals between 1933 and 1945.f
- In 2005, Swedish researchers found that when straight men smelled a female urine compound, their hypothalamus lit up in brain images. In gay men, it did not. Instead, homosexual men’s hypothalamus lit up when they smelled the male-sweat compound, which was the same way straight women responded.k
- For most of the twentieth century, many researchers associated homosexuality with upbringing. Freud, for example, postulated that overprotective mothers and distant fathers contributed to male homosexuality.k
-- Posted September 13, 2011
a Boswell, John. 1994. Same Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe. New York, NY: Vintage Books.
b Duberman, Martin Bauml, Martha Vicinus, & George Chauncey Jr., Eds. 1989. Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. New York, NY: NAL Books.
c Emman Bernay, Ed. 2008. Homosexuality. New York, NY: Greenhaven Press.
d Endersbe, Julie K. 2000. Homosexuality: What Does It Mean? Mankato, MN: Capstone Press.
e Crompton, Louis. 2003. Homosexuality & Civilization. Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
f The Gay Almanac. 1996. The National Museum & Archive of Lesbian and Gay History. New York, NY: Berkeley Books.
g Johnson, Leidhra. “California Lawmakers Pass Bill to Teach Gay History.” July 5, 2011. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
h Lau, Steffi. “Homosexuality in China.” US-China Today. March 10, 2010. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
i “Same-Sex Behavior Seen in Nearly All Animals, Review Finds.” Science Daily. June 17, 2009. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
j Starr, Barry. “Understanding Genetics.” Stanford School of Medicine. December 22, 2008. Accessed: July 15, 2011.
k Swidey, Neil. “What Makes People Gay?” Boston Globe. August 14, 2005. Accessed: July 15, 2011.