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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Astrology refers to any of several systems, traditions or beliefs in which knowledge of the apparent positions of celestial bodies is held to be useful in understanding, interpreting, and organizing knowledge about human affairs and events on Earth. A practitioner of astrology is called an astrologer or, less often, an astrologist or astrolog.
The word "astrology" is derived from the Greek ast??????a, from ?st???, astron, ("star") and ????? (logos), which has a variety of meanings generally related to "systematic thought or speech." Logos' is written in English as the suffix -ology, "study or discipline.
Although the two fields share a common origin, modern astronomy as practiced is not to be confused with astrology. While astronomy is the study and observation of celestial objects and their movements through space, astrology is the study of the supposed correlation of those objects with earthly affairs. Astrology is often defined as a form of divination by astrologers[1][2], and as a pseudoscience by a number of critics [3][4].

The Flammarion woodcut, an enigmatic woodcut by an unknown artist.Contents [hide]
1 Description
2 Traditions
3 Horoscopic astrology
3.1 The horoscope
3.2 The tropical and sidereal zodiacs
3.3 Branches of horoscopic astrology
4 History of astrology
5 The objective validity of astrology
6 Effects on world culture
6.1 Language
6.2 Astrology as a descriptive language for the mind
6.3 Western astrology and alchemy
6.4 The seven liberal arts and Western astrology

Astrological glyphs representing the Sun, Moon, and planets (including Earth).The core beliefs of astrology were prevalent in most of the ancient world and are epitomized in the Hermetic maxim As Above, So Below. The famous astronomer/astrologer Tycho Brahe also used a similar phrase to justify his studies in astrology: Suspiciendo despicio — "By looking up I see downward." Although the principle that events in the heavens are mirrored by those on Earth was one generally held in most traditions of astrology across the world, historically in the West there has been a debate among astrologers over the nature of the mechanism behind astrology and whether or not celestial bodies are only signs or portents of events, or if they are actual causes of events through some sort of force or mechanism.
Many of those who practice astrology believe the positions of certain celestial bodies either influence or correlate with people's personality traits, important events in their lives, physical characteristics, and to some extent their destiny. However, there is some agreement amongst modern astrologers that the universe acts as a single unit, so that any happening in any part of it inevitably is reflected in every other part (thus "as above, so below" is still held to be true).
All astrological traditions are based on the relative positions and movements of various real and construed celestial bodies as seen at the time and place of the event being studied. These are chiefly the Sun, Moon, planets, and the lunar nodes. The calculations performed in casting a horoscope involve arithmetic and simple geometry and serve to locate the apparent position of heavenly bodies on desired dates and times based on astronomical tables.
In past centuries astrologers often relied on close observation of celestial objects and the charting of their movements, and might be considered a protoscience in this regard. In modern times astrologers have tended to rely on data drawn up by astronomers and set out in a set of tables called an ephemeris, which shows the changing positions of the heavenly bodies through time. Many astrologers throughout history made major contributions to astronomy so as to add proficiency to their astrological efforts such as Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Nicholas Copernicus and many others.
There are many different traditions of astrology, some of which share similar features due to the transmission of astrological doctrines from one culture to another. Other traditions developed in isolation and hold completely different doctrines, although they too share some similar features due to the fact that they are drawing on similar astronomical sources, i.e. planets, stars, etc.
Zodiac signs, 16th century European woodcutSignificant traditions of astrology include but are not limited to:
Babylonian astrology
Horoscopic astrology and its specific subsets
Hellenistic astrology
Jyotish/Vedic astrology
Medieval & Renaissance horoscopic astrology
Modern Western astrology with its specific subsets
Modern tropical and sidereal horoscopic astrology
Hamburg School of Astrology
Uranian astrology, subset of the Hamburg School
Psychological astrology or astropsychology
Chinese astrology
Persian-Arabic astrology
Kabbalistic astrology
Mesoamerican astrology
Tibetan astrology
Horoscopic astrology
Main article: Horoscopic astrology
Horoscopic astrology is a very specific and complex system of astrology that was developed in the Mediterranean region and specifically Hellenistic Egypt sometime around the late 2nd or early 1st century BCE [5] that deals largely with astrological charts cast for specific moments in time in order to interpret the inherent meaning underlying the alignment of the planets at that moment based on specific sets of rules and guidelines. One of the defining characteristics of this form of astrology that makes it distinct from other traditions is the computation of the degree of the Eastern horizon rising against the backdrop of the ecliptic at the specific moment under examination, otherwise known as the ascendant. Horoscopic astrology has been the most influential and widespread form of astrology across the world, especially in Africa, India, Europe and the Middle East, and there are several major traditions of horoscopic astrology including Indian, Hellenistic, Medieval, and most other modern Western traditions of astrology.

The horoscope
A computer generated Western natal chart, a specific type of horoscope created for the moment of a person's birth.Central to horoscopic astrology is the calculation of a horoscope or astrological chart. This is a diagrammatic representation in two dimensions of the celestial bodies' apparent positions in the heavens from the vantage of a location on Earth at a given time and place. The horoscope of an individual's birth is called a natal chart. In ancient Hellenistic astrology the rising sign or ascendant demarcated the first celestial house of a horoscope, and the word for the ascendant in Greek was horoskopos. This is the word that the term "horoscope" derives from and in modern times it has come to be used as a general term for an astrological chart as a whole. Other commonly used names for the horoscope/natal chart in English include natus, birth-chart, astrological chart, astro-chart, celestial map, sky-map, star-chart, nativity, cosmogram, vitasphere, soulprint, radical chart, radix, or simply chart, among others.

The tropical and sidereal zodiacs
The path of the sun across the heavens as seen from Earth during a full year is called the ecliptic. This, and the nearby band of sky followed by the visible planets, is called the zodiac.
The majority of Western astrologers base their work on the tropical zodiac, which evenly divides the ecliptic into 12 segments of 30 degrees each with the start of the Zodiac (Aries 0°) being the Sun's position at the March equinox. The zodiacal signs in this system bear no relation to the constellations of the same name but stay aligned to the months and seasons. The tropical zodiac is used as a historical coordinate system in astronomy.
All Jyotish (Hindu) and a few Western astrologers use the sidereal zodiac, which uses the same evenly divided ecliptic but which approximately stays aligned to the positions of the observable constellations with the same name as the zodiacal signs. The sidereal zodiac is computed from the tropical zodiac by adding an offset called Ayanamsa. This offset changes with the precession of the equinoxes.

18th century Icelandic manuscript showing astrological houses and planetary glyphs.
Branches of horoscopic astrology
Every tradition of horoscopic astrology can be divided into four specific branches which are directed towards specific subjects or used for specific purposes. Often this involves using a unique set of techniques or a different application of the core principles of the system to a different area. Many other subsets and applications of astrology are derived from the four fundamental branches.
There are four major branches of horoscopic astrology.
Natal astrology, the study of a person's natal chart in order to gain information about the individual and his/her life experience.
Katarchic astrology, which includes both electional and event astrology. The former uses astrology to determine the most auspicious moment to begin an enterprise or undertaking, and the latter to understand everything about an event from the time at which it took place.
Horary astrology, a system of astrology used to answer a specific question by studying the chart of the moment the question is posed to an astrologer.
Mundane astrology, is the application of astrology to world events, including weather, earthquakes and the rise and fall of empires or religions.
History of astrology
Main article: History of astrology
The anatomical-astrological human of antiquity showing believed correlations between areas of the body and astrological entitiesThe origins of much of astrology that would later develop in Asia, Europe and the Middle East are found among the ancient Babylonians and their system of celestial omens that began to be compiled around the middle of the 2nd millennium BCE. This system of celestial omens later spread either directly or indirectly through the Babylonians to other areas such as India, China and Greece where it merged with pre-existing indigenous forms of astrology. This Babylonian astrology came to Greece initially as early as the middle of the 4th century BCE, and then around the late 2nd or early 1st century BCE after the Alexandrian conquests, this Babylonian astrology was mixed with the Egyptian tradition of Decanic astrology to create Horoscopic astrology. This new form of astrology, which appears to have originated in Alexandrian Egypt, quickly spread across the ancient world into Europe, the Middle East and India.

The objective validity of astrology
The Ptolemaic system depicted by Andreas Cellarius, 1660/61Main article: Objective validity of astrology
Astrology is a very controversial subject. The case for and the case against astrology's objective validity are discussed in more detail in the main article.
Few astrologers today believe that a causal relationship exists between heavenly bodies and earthly events, but there are a number who have called for better statistical studies (for example, Mark McDonough, the President of Astrodatabank ) and several individuals (most notably French psychologist and statistician Michel Gauquelin and German researcher and professor of psychology Suitbert Ertel [6]) claim to have found correlations, but not causation, between some planetary positions and certain vocations.
Many astrologers have posited acausal purely correlative relationships between astrological observations and events, such as the theory of synchronicity [7] proposed by Jung. Others have assumed there was a religious mechanism in operation, such as divination.[8]
The majority of the scientific community believes that astrology is a pseudoscience and there has been strong criticism of the discipline[9][10][11][12]. There is no widely accepted evidence that astrology as a system has a falsifiable, scientific basis though individual astrological predictions may be subject to disproof. Where tested, modern western astrologers have shown a consistent lack of predictive power [13] [14]
Astrology has repeatedly failed to demonstrate its effectiveness in controlled studies, according to the American Humanist Society. The group, advocating against all things supernatural, characterised those who continue to have faith in astrology as doing so "in spite of the fact that there is no verified scientific basis for their beliefs, and indeed that there is strong evidence to the contrary."[15] One well-documented and referenced paper, for instance, which conducted a large scale scientific test, involving more than one hundred cognitive, behavioral, physical and other variables, found no hint of support for astrology[16].
Skeptics of astrology also suggest that the perceived accuracy of astrological predictions and descriptions of one's personality can easily be accounted for by the fact that we tend to exaggerate positive 'hits' and overlook whatever does not really fit, especially when vague language is used (see Forer effect). [17]

Effects on world culture
Zodiac in a 6th century synagogue at Beit Alpha, Israel.Astrology has had a profound influence over the past few thousand years on Western and Eastern cultures. In the middle ages, when even the learned of the time believed in astrology, the system of heavenly spheres and bodies was believed to reflect on the system of knowledge and the world itself below.

Influenza, from Medieval Latin influentia meaning influence, was so named because doctors once believed epidemics to be caused by unfavorable planetary and stellar influences. The word "disaster" comes from the Latin "dis-aster" meaning "bad star". Also, the adjectives "lunatic" (Moon), "mercurial" (Mercury), "martial" (Mars), "jovial" (Jupiter/Jove), and "saturnine" (Saturn) are all old words used to describe personal qualities said to resemble or be highly influenced by the astrological characteristics of the planet, some of which are derived from the attributes of the ancient Roman gods they are named after. More information about planetary linguistics can be found on this site.

Astrology as a descriptive language for the mind
Different astrological traditions are dependent on a particular culture's prevailing mythology. These varied mythologies naturally reflect the culture(s) they emerge from. Images from these mythological systems are usually understandable to natives of the culture they are a part of. Most classicists think that Western astrology is dependent on Greek mythology.

Many writers, notably William Shakespeare[18], used astrological symbolism to add subtlety and nuance to the description of their characters' motivation(s). An understanding of astrological symbolism is needed to fully appreciate such literature. Some modern thinkers, notably Carl Jung,[19] believe in its descriptive powers regarding the mind without necessarily subscribing to its predictive claims. Consequently, some look at astrology as a way of learning about one self and one's motivations. Increasingly, psychologists and historians [20] have become interested in Jung's theory of the fundamentality and indissolubility of archetypes in the human mind and their correlation with the symbols of the horoscope.

Western astrology and alchemy
Extract and symbol key from 17th century alchemy text.Main article: Astrology and alchemy
Alchemy in the Western World and other locations where it was widely practiced was (and in many cases still is) closely allied and intertwined with traditional Babylonian-Greek style astrology; in numerous ways they were built to complement each other in the search for hidden knowledge. Astrology has used the concept of classical elements from antiquity up until the present. Most modern astrologers use the four classical elements extensively, and indeed it is still viewed as a critical part of interpreting the astrological chart. Traditionally, each of the seven planets in the solar system as known to the ancients was associated with, held dominion over, and ruled a certain metal. See also: Astrology and the classical elements

The seven liberal arts and Western astrology
In medieval Europe, a university education was divided into seven distinct areas, each represented by a particular planet and known as the Seven Liberal Arts.
Dante Alighieri speculated that these arts, which grew into the sciences we know today, fitted the same structure as the planets. As the arts were seen as operating in ascending order, so were the planets and so Grammar was assigned to the quickest moving celestial body (the Moon) and so on, culminating in Astronomia which was thought to be astrologically ruled by Saturn, the slowest moving and furthest out planet known at the time. After this sequence wisdom was supposed to have been achieved by the medieval university student.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Taiwanese people waiting for the Taipei Rapid Transit System in Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan).
Farmers at a labour protest in Jakarta, Indonesia.A people is a group of individuals who belong to and function within a particular society. In common usage, the term people may be synonymous with human, or otherwise may carry an exclusive meaning. In general, the word people is a collective noun used to define a specific group of humans. However, when used to refer to a group of humans possessing a common ethnic, cultural or national unitary characteristic or identity, "people" is a singular noun, and as such takes an "s" in the plural; (example: "the English-speaking peoples of the world").
The concept of personhood (who is a person within a society) is the fundamental component of any selective concept of people. A distinction is maintained in philosophy and law between the notions "human being", or "man", and "person". The former refers to the species, while the latter refers to a rational agent (see, for example, John Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding II 27 and Immanuel Kant's Introduction to the Metaphysic of Morals).
Central issues of interest to people are the understanding of the human condition and the meaning of life, and survival. Religion, philosophy, and science represent modes and aspects of inquiry which attempt to investigate and understand the nature, behaviour, and purpose of people. Cosmology is a subset philosophy which explores where people come from and where they are going. Sociology, economics, and politics represent modes by which people investigate how to maximize a collective survival strategy.

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Intimate relationship
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An intimate relationship is an interpersonal relationship with a great deal of physical and/or emotional intimacy. It is usually characterized by romantic or passionate love and attachment. Sexuality may or may not be involved.

Main article: Love
Love is an important factor in intimate relationships. Research has established that love is more than just liking a lot, and is distinct from sexual attraction. Typically, love in relationships is divided into two types: passionate and companionate. Passionate love is intense longing, and is often accompanied by physiological arousal (shortness of breath, rapid heart rate). Companionate love is affection and a feeling of intimacy not accompanied by physiological arousal.
Anthropological research has shown some variations in intimate relationships. In the Mediterranean, the idea of passionate love is frequently present, whereas in Sub-Saharan Africa there is a lesser amount. Chinese couples tend to value companionate love over passionate love, whereas with American couples the reverse is true.
Different cultures have different conceptions of love. In Japan, there is the concept of amae, acting in ways to induce another to take care of you (as a parent would) secure in the knowledge that they will. In China, there is a type of romantic love called gan qing, which reflects the tenor of a social relationship between two people or two organizations. In Korea, jung(?) is a personal connection, or feeling of connected fates.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Gay (disambiguation).
Sexual orientation
Part of sexology
Common classifications
Other classifications
Kinsey scale

Gay is an adjective meaning "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy", however in modern usage, gay is a word usually used, as either a noun or adjective, to refer to homosexuals; persons sexually oriented toward members of their own gender.
"Gay", used as an adjective, sometimes describes traits associated with both gay men and lesbians, their culture, or perceived lifestyle. The term lesbian, on the other hand, is used exclusively in a gender specific way to describe homosexual females.

1 Etymology
1.1 Etymology of the modern usage
1.2 Parts of speech
1.3 Folk etymologies
2 Commonly accepted usage
2.1 Sexual orientation
2.1.1 Self-identification
2.1.2 Selecting the appropriate term
2.2 Gay community
2.3 Descriptor
3 Pejorative usage
4 Notes

A cartoon from Punch magazine from 1857 illustrating the use of "gay" as a euphemism for prostitution. One woman says to the other (who looks glum), "how long have you been gay?" The poster on the wall is for La Traviata, an opera about a courtesan.The primary meaning of the word gay has changed dramatically during the 20th century—though the change evolved from earlier usages. It derives via the Old French gai, from the Latin gaius, or possibly from a Germanic source.[1] The word originally meant "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy" and was very commonly used with this meaning in speech and literature. For example, the title of the 1938 ballet aptly named Gaîté Parisienne ("Parisian Gaiety"), a patchwork compiled from Jacques Offenbach's operettas, illustrates this connotation. In more recent times, starting in the mid 20th century, the word gay cannot usually be used in this former context without the expectation that one will assume a double entendre, or that the person using the term is out of touch with contemporary society. Some have tried to revive the original denotation of the word, but with limited success.
Look up gay in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.The word started to acquire sexual connotations in the late 17th century, being used with meaning "addicted to pleasures and dissipations". This was by extension from the primary meaning of "carefree": implying "uninhibited by moral constraints". By the late nineteenth century the term "gay life" was a well-established euphemism for prostitution and other forms of extramarital sexual behaviour that were perceived as immoral.
The first name Gay is still occasionally encountered, usually as a female name although the spelling is often altered to Gaye. (795th most common in the United States, according to the 1990 US census[1]). It was also used as a male first name. The first name of the popular male Irish television presenter Gabriel Byrne was always abbreviated as "Gay", as in the title of his radio show The Gay Byrne Show. It can also be used as a short form of the female name Gaynell and as a short form of the male name Gaylen. The "Gaiety" was also a common name for places of entertainment. One of Oscar Wilde's favourite venues in Dublin was the Gaiety Theatre, first appearing there in 1884.
Etymology of the modern usage
The use of the term gay, as it relates to homosexuality, arises from an extension of the sexualised connotation of "carefree and uninhibited", implying a willingness to disregard conventional or respectable sexual mores. Such usage is documented as early as the 1920s. It was initially more commonly used to imply heterosexually unconstrained lifestyles, as for example in the once-common phrase "gay Lothario",[2] or in the title of the book and film The Gay Falcon (1941), which concerns a womanising detective whose first name is "Gay". Well into the mid 20th century a middle-aged bachelor could be described as "gay" without prejudice.
A passage from Gertrude Stein's Miss Furr & Miss Skeene (1922) is possibly the first traceable published use of the word to refer to a homosexual relationship, though it is not altogether clear whether she uses the word to mean lesbianism or happiness:
They were ...gay, they learned little things that are things in being gay, ... they were quite regularly gay.
The 1929 musical Bitter Sweet by Noel Coward contains another use of the word in a context that strongly implies homosexuality. In the song "Green Carnation", four overdressed, 1890s dandies sing:
Pretty boys, witty boys, You may sneer
At our disintegration.
Haughty boys, naughty boys,
Dear, dear, dear!
Swooning with affectation...
And as we are the reason
For the "Nineties" being gay,
We all wear a green carnation.
The song title alludes to Oscar Wilde, who famously wore a green carnation, and whose homosexuality was well known. However, the phrase "gay nineties" was already well-established as an epithet for the decade (a film entitled The Gay Nineties; or, The Unfaithful Husband was released in the same year). The song also drew on familiar satires on Wilde and Aestheticism dating back to Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience (1881). Because of its continuation of these public usages and conventions – in a mainstream musical – the precise connotations of the word in this context remains ambiguous.
Other usages at this date involve some of the same ambiguity as Coward's lyrics. Bringing Up Baby (1938) was the first film to use the word gay in apparent reference to homosexuality. In a scene where Cary Grant's clothes have been sent to the cleaners, he must wear a lady's feathery robe. When another character inquires about his clothes, he responds "Because I just went gay...all of a sudden!" [3] However, since this was a mainstream film at a time when the use of the word to refer to homosexuality would still be unfamiliar to most film-goers, the line can also be interpreted to mean "I just decided to do something frivolous". While there is much debate about what Grant meant with the ad-lib (the line was not in the script), Grant's Hollywood background should leave little doubt as to what he meant--he knew the connotation of the term, even if the audience did not.
The word continued to be used with the dominant meaning of "carefree", as evidenced by the title of The Gay Divorcee (1934), a musical film about a heterosexual couple. It was originally to be called The Gay Divorce after the play on which it was based, but the Hays Office determined that while a divorcee may be gay, it would be unseemly to allow a divorce to appear so.
By the mid-century "gay" was well-established as an antonym for "straight" (respectable sexual behaviour), and to refer to the lifestyles of unmarried and or unattached people. Other connotations of frivolousness and showiness in dress ("gay attire") led to association with camp and effeminacy. This range of connotation probably affected the gradual movement of the term towards its current dominant meaning, which was at first confined to subcultures. The subcultural usage started to become mainstream in the 1960s, when gay became the term predominantly preferred by homosexual men to describe themselves. Gay was the preferred term since other terms, such as "queer" were felt to be derogatory. "Homosexual" was perceived as excessively clinical: especially since homosexuality was at that time designated as a mental illness, and "homosexual" was used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to denote men affected by this "mental illness". Homosexuality was no longer classified as an illness in the DSM by 1973, but the clinical connotation of the word was already embedded in society.
One of the many characters invented by 1950s TV comic Ernie Kovacs was a "gay-acting" poet named Percy Dovetonsils. In one of his poems (which were always read to an imaginary off-screen character named "Bruce") he mentions the expression "gay caballero".
By 1963, the word "gay" was known well enough by the straight community to be used by Albert Ellis in his book The Intelligent Woman's Guide to Man-Hunting. By 1968 mainstream audiences were expected to recognise the double entendre in the ultra-camp musical entitled Springtime for Hitler: a gay romp with Adolf and Eva at Berchtesgaden — which formed part of the plot of the film The Producers. The camp implications of the concept were explicit in the ludicrous pastiche of Coward's style epitomised by the title song:
Springtime for Hitler and Germany
Deutschland is happy and gay!
We're marching to a faster pace
Look out, here comes the master race!
Parts of speech
Gay was originally used purely as an adjective ("he is a gay man" or "he is gay"). Gay can also be used as a plural noun: "Gays are opposed to that policy"; although some dislike this usage, it is common [4] particularly in the names of various organizations such as PFLAG: (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere). It is sometimes used as a singular noun, as in "he is a gay", such as in its use (partly to comic effect) by the Little Britain comedy character Daffyd Thomas (a gay man who believes himself "the only gay in the village" despite abundant evidence to the contrary).

Street banners at Davie Village, a popular gay village in Vancouver.
Folk etymologies
It has been claimed that "gay" was derived as an acronym for "Good As You", but this is a backronym (based on a false etymology).
Another folk etymology accrues to Gay Street, a small street in the West Village of New York City — a nexus of homosexual culture. The term also seems, from documentary evidence, to have existed in New York as a code word in the 1940s, where the question, "Are you gay?" would denote more than it might have seemed to outsiders.
Commonly accepted usage
Overview article: Terminology of homosexuality
Gay is used as an adjective to describe sexual orientation (attraction, preference, or inclination) and is usually chosen instead of homosexual as an identity-label.
Gay sex involves acts between or among people of the same sex or gender.
Gay is usually used to describe the "gay community" by both insiders and the mainstream media.
Gay can be used as a nonspecific derogatory comment towards a person or object. As a term of abuse it may be widely used by adolescents.
Gay is sometimes used to describe an object of particular flamboyance.
Other connotations can vary widely based upon speaker and situation.
Sexual orientation
Sexual orientation, behaviour, and self-identification are not necessarily aligned in a clear-cut fashion for a given individual. See sex for a discussion of sex and gender. Some people consider gay and homosexual to be synonyms. Others consider gay to be a matter of self-identification and homosexual to refer to sexual activity or to sexual attraction that is predominantly to members of the same sex. By using these definitions, a person could be gay and not homosexual, or homosexual and not gay.
If a person has had same-sex sexual encounters but does not self-identify as gay, terms such as 'closeted', 'on the down low', 'discreet', or 'bi-curious' may be applied. Conversely, a person may identify as gay without engaging in homosexual sex. Possible choices include identifying as gay socially while choosing to be celibate or while anticipating a first homosexual experience. Further, a bisexual person may identify as gay while maintaining a monogamous relationship with a member of the opposite sex. Still others might consider gay and bisexual to be mutually exclusive.
Some same-sex oriented persons prefer 'homosexual' as an identity over 'gay', seeing the former as describing a sexual orientation and the latter as describing a cultural or socio-political group with which they do not identify.

Self-identification of one's sexual orientation is becoming far more commonplace in areas of increased social acceptance, but many are either reluctant to self-identify publicly or even privately to themselves. The process is fairly complex, and many groups related to gay people cite inadvertent heterosexism as a leading problem for those that would otherwise self-identify.
Selecting the appropriate term
Some people reject the term homosexual as an identity-label because they find it too clinical-sounding. They believe it is too focused on physical acts rather than romance or attraction, or too reminiscent of the era when homosexuality was considered a mental illness. Conversely, some people find the term gay to be offensive or reject it as an identity-label because they perceive the cultural connotations to be undesirable or because of the negative connotations of the slang usage of the word.
According to the Safe Schools Coalition of Washington's Glossary for School Employees:
"Homosexual: Avoid this term; it is clinical, distancing and archaic. Sometimes appropriate in referring to behaviour (although same-sex is the preferred adj.). When referring to people, as opposed to behaviour, homosexual is considered derogatory and the terms gay and lesbian are preferred, at least in the Northwest [of the United States]."
Sometimes the term gay is used to describe both same-sex male and same-sex female relations. More rarely, it is used as a shorthand for terms queer or gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. The term also sometimes includes transgender, transsexual, and intersexual. Some trans and intersexed individuals find their inclusion in this larger grouping to be offensive. It is commonly used to refer specifically to gay men; the precise meaning may need to be made clear from context. The term lesbian, however, is exclusively female.

Gay community
Main article: Gay community
The notion of the gay community is complex and slightly controversial.
Just as the word "gay" is sometimes used as shorthand for "gay, lesbian, and bisexual" and possibly also "transexual" and others, so "gay community" is sometimes a synonym for "LGBT community" or "Queer community". In other cases, the speaker may be referring only to gay men. Some people (including many mainstream American journalists) interpret the phrase "gay community" to mean "the population of gay people".
Some LGBT people are entirely geographically or socially isolated from other LGBT people, or don't feel their social connections to their LGBT friends are different from those they have with straight friends. As a result, some analysts question the notion of sharing a "community" with people one has never actually met (whether in person or remotely). But other advocates insist that all LGBT people (and perhaps their allies), are part of a global community, in one way or another.

The term gay can also be used as an adjective to describe things related to gay people or things which are part of gay culture. For example, while a gay bar is not itself homosexual, using gay as an adjective to describe the bar indicates that the bar is either gay-oriented, caters primarily to a gay clientele, or is otherwise part of gay culture.
Using it to describe an object, such as an item of clothing, suggests that it is particularly flamboyant, often on the verge of being gaudy and garish. This usage pre-dates the association of the term with homosexuality, but has acquired different connotations since the modern usage developed.
Using the term gay as an adjective where the meaning is akin to "related to gay people, culture, or homosexuality in general" is a widely accepted use of the word. By contrast, using gay in the pejorative sense, to describe something solely as negative, can cause offence.

Pejorative usage
When used with a derisive attitude (e.g. "that was so gay"), the term gay is pejorative. The derogatory implication here is that the object (or person) in question is 'cheesy', 'kitsch', or even simply 'bad'. Recently, young bloggers have used "gay" to mean "uninteresting" or "dull" -- just the opposite of the original meaning (e.g.: "That party was so gay."). This usage has its origins in the 1980s, when homosexuality had already become mainstream but was still seen as negative by many people. Beginning in the 1990s and especially in the 2000s the usage as a generic insult became common among young people, who may or may not link the term to homosexuality. This practice is frowned upon in communities that seek to ensure respect for people of all sexual orientations, and is considered to be on par with ethnic slurs. Many defenders of the word's pejorative usage choose to spell it "ghey" to avoid any sexual connotations. Critics object to this change of spelling, often comparing it to the use of “knigger” for nigger to evade accusations of racism.

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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about same-sex desire and sexuality among females. The term can still refer to any inhabitant of the island of Lesbos or its Lesbian Greek dialect.
Sexual orientation
Part of sexology
Common classifications

Other classifications
Kinsey scale

Related articles
Affectional orientation
Biology and sexual orientation
Choice and sexual orientation
Demographics of sexual orientation
Non-human animal sexuality
Situational sexual behavior

A lesbian is a woman who is aesthetically, sexually, romantically and/or emotionally attracted to other women.

1 Etymology of "lesbian"
2 History
3 Public policy
3.1 Reproduction and parenting rights
4 Sexuality
5 Culture
6 Media depictions
6.1 Mainstream broadcast media
6.2 Cinema
6.3 Comics
7 Feminism
7.1 Transwomen and trans-inclusion

Etymology of "lesbian"
See also: Terminology of homosexuality
The word lesbian is derived from Lesbos (??sß??), a Greek island located in the East Aegean Sea where the ancient Greek lyric poet Sappho lived and ran a school for girls in the 6th century BC. Many of her poems are about her passion for her students. Sappho's literary association with love between females has led to the term lesbian having its modern meaning, as well as its rarer synonym Sapphism.
Other words used to describe lesbianism over the past 2000 years have included tribadism, Amor lesbicus, and urningtum.
There are many slang terms for different kinds of lesbians including dyke and bulldyke (typically used to describe a lesbian harboring a traditionally masculine identity). Both of the former are almost always regarded as pejorative when used by outsiders, but are often acceptable within lesbian discourse.
The butch/femme identity is arguably an integral part of lesbian history but also an evolving paradigm. Perhaps more recognizable today is the "androgynous" lesbian who expresses herself somewhere between butch and femme.

The first mentions of same-sex love between women come from ancient Greece. Sappho, the eponym of lesbianism, is thought to have had a complex love life — some ancient accounts describe her as having love affairs with men as well; while one ancient source, Maximus of Tyre, claimed that her relationships with the girls in her school* were purely platonic. Modern scholarship, basing itself on ancient texts, suggests a parallel between the ancient Greek constructs of love between men and boys, and the relationships between Sappho and her students, in which "both pedagogy and pederasty played a role."[1]
Lesbian relationships were also reported from ancient Sparta. Plutarch, writing about the Lacedaemonians, reports that "love was so esteemed among them that girls also became the erotic objects of noble women." [1]
Accounts of Lesbian relationships are also found in poetry and stories from ancient China, but are not documented with the detail given to male homosexuality.
During medieval times there are reports from Arabia of relations between residents of the harem. These were often cruelly suppressed, one example being the beheading of two girls surprised during lovemaking, carried out at the order of the caliph Musa al-Hadi. [2]

Public policy
In Western societies, explicit prohibitions on women's homosexual behavior have been markedly weaker than those on men's homosexual behavior.
In the United Kingdom, lesbianism has never been illegal, in contrast with male sodomy which often was punished with hanging or jail, sexual activity between males being legalised in England and Wales only in 1967. There are various apocryphal stories about why lesbianism was not criminalised in the UK. One relates that Queen Victoria refused to sign a bill outlawing it, insisting, "ladies did not do such things." However, lesbian publications such as The Well of Loneliness were declared obscene and seized.
Jewish religious teachings condemn male homosexuality but are more lenient towards lesbianism, ruling it to be acceptable in an unmarried woman if this prevents her from premarital sexual relations with a male but it is not encouraged. However, the approach in the modern State of Israel, with its largely secular Jewish majority, does not outlaw or persecute gay sexual orientation; marriage between gay couples is not sanctioned but common law status and official adoption of a gay person's child by his or her partner have been approved in precedent court rulings (after numerous high court appeals). There is also an annual Gay parade, usually held in Tel-Aviv; in 2006, the "World Pride" parade is slated to be held in Jerusalem.
Western-style homosexuality is rarely tolerated elsewhere in the Middle East, with the possible exception of Turkey. It is punishable by imprisonment, lashings, or death in Iran, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.

Reproduction and parenting rights
In some countries the right of lesbian women's access to assisted birth technologies such as in vitro fertilisation(IVF) has been the subject of debate. In Australia the High Court rejected a Roman Catholic Church move to ban access to IVF treatments for lesbian and single women. However, Prime Minister John Howard sought to amend legislation in order to prevent access to IVF for these groups, which raised indignation from the gay and lesbian community.
Many lesbian couples seek to have children through adoption, but this is not possible in every country.

Three 18th Century women engaging in foreplay.Sexual activity between women is as diverse as sex between heterosexuals or gay men. Some women in lesbian relationships do not identify as lesbian, but as bisexual. As with any interpersonal activity, sexual expression depends on the context of the relationship. Like anyone else (regardless of sexuality), lesbians can be promiscuous or committed, ashamed or proud. There is a wide spectrum of lesbian behavior and generalizations can be misleading. Recent cultural changes in western and a few other societies have enabled lesbians to express their sexuality more freely, which has resulted in new studies on the nature of female sexuality. Research undertaken by the U.S. Government's National Center for Health Research in 2002 was released in a 2005 report called Sexual Behavior and Selected Health Measures: Men and Women 15-44 Years of Age, United States, 2002. The results indicated that among women aged 15-44, 4.4 percent reported having had a sexual experience with another woman during the previous 12 months. When women aged 15–44 years of age were asked, "Have you ever had any sexual experience of any kind with another female?" 11 percent answered "yes". There is a growing body of research and writing on lesbian sexuality, which has brought some debate about the control women have over their sexual lives, the fluidity of female-to-female sexuality, the redefinition of female sexual pleasure and the debunking of negative sexual stereotypes. One example of the latter is lesbian bed death, a term invented by sex researcher Pepper Schwartz to describe the supposedly inevitable diminution of sexual passion in long term lesbian relationships; this notion is rejected by many lesbians, who point out that passion tends to diminish in almost any relationship and many lesbian couples report happy and satisfying sex lives.

Gertrude Stein and lover Alice B. Toklas.Throughout history, hundreds of lesbians have been well-known figures in the arts and culture. (See List of gay, lesbian or bisexual people.)
Before the influence of European sexology emerged at the turn of the twentieth-century, in cultural terms female homosexuality remained almost invisible as compared to male homosexuality, which was subject to the law and thus more regulated and reported by the press. However with the publication of works by sexologists like Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis, Edward Carpenter and Magnus Hirschfeld, the concept of active female homosexuality became better known.
As female homosexuality became more visible, it was described as a medical condition. In Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905), Sigmund Freud referred to female homosexuality as inversion or inverts and characterised female inverts as possessing male characteristics. Freud drew on the "third sex" ideas popularized by Magnus Hirschfeld and others. While Freud admitted he had not personally studied any such "aberrant" patients, he placed a strong emphasis on psychological, rather than biological, causes. Freud's writings did not become well-known in English-speaking countries until the late 1920s.
This combination of sexology and psychoanalysis eventually had a lasting impact on the general tone of most lesbian cultural productions. A notable example is the 1928 novel The Well of Loneliness by Radclyffe Hall, in which these sexologists are mentioned along with the term invert, which later fell out of favour in common usage. Freud's interpretation of lesbian behavior has since been rejected by most psychiatrists and scholars, although recent biological research is now providing some findings that may bostler a Hirschfeld-ian "third sex" understanding of same-sex attraction.
The Black Triangle was used to identify "socially unacceptable" women in concentration camps by the Nazis. Lesbians were included in this classification. Since then lesbians have appropriated the Black Triangle as a symbol of defiance against repression and discrimination as gay men have similarly appropriated the Pink triangle.During the twentieth century, lesbians such as Gertrude Stein and Barbara Hammer were noted in the US avant-garde art movements, along with figures such as Leontine Sagan in German pre-war cinema. Since the 1890s, the underground classic The Songs of Bilitis had been influential on lesbian culture, and this book provided a name for the first campaigning and cultural organisation in the United States, the Daughters of Bilitis.
During the 1950s and 1960s, there was a rise in lesbian pulp fiction in the US and UK, many of which carried "coded" titles such as Odd Girl Out, The Evil Friendship by Vin Packer and the Beebo Brinker-series by Ann Bannon. British school stories also provided a haven for "coded", and sometimes outright, lesbian fiction.
During the 1970s, the second wave of feminist era lesbian novels became more politically oriented, works often carried the explicit ideological messages of separatist feminism, and the trend carried over to other lesbian arts. Rita Mae Brown's debut novel Rubyfruit Jungle was a milestone of this period. By the early 1990s, lesbian culture was influenced by a younger generation who had not taken part in the feminist "sex wars," which strongly informed post-feminist queer theory and the new queer culture.
Since the 1980s, lesbians have been increasingly visible in mainstream culture: in music (Melissa Etheridge, K.D. Lang and the Indigo Girls), in sports (Martina Navrátilová), and in comic books (Alison Bechdel and Diane DiMassa). More recently, lesbian homoeroticism has flowered in fine art photography and the writing of authors such as Pat Califia, Jeanette Winterson and Sarah Waters. There is an increasing body of lesbian films such as Desert Hearts, Go Fish, Watermelon Woman, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, Everything Relative and Better than Chocolate (See List of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender-related films.) Classic novels such as those by Jane Rule have been reprinted.

Media depictions
Lesbians often attract media attention, particularly in relation to feminism, love and sexual relationships, marriage and parenting.

Mainstream broadcast media

Tara Maclay and Willow Rosenberg in Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Lindsay Peterson and Melanie Marcus in Queer as Folk
Maia Jefferies and Jay Copeland in Shortland Street
Lana Crawford and Georgina Harris in Neighbours
Dr. Kerry Weaver and Sandy López in ER
Helen Stewart and Nikki Wade in Bad Girls
Paige Michalchuk and Alex Núñez in Degrassi:The Next Generation
Pretty much everybody on The L Word
Spencer Carlin and Ashley Davies in South of Nowhere
Carol, Ross' ex wife, and her life partner Susan on Friends
Marissa Cooper and Alex Kelly on The OC
Patty Bouvier, Sister of Marge Simpson, on The Simpsons
Naomi and Sonia in EastEnders
Jessica Sammler and Katie Singer on Once and Again
Jasmine Thomas and Debbie Dingle in Emmerdale
In an episode of American teen sitcom California Dreams 'Trudy' played by Michelle Donoghue was said to have been involved in a lesbian relationship with 'Chantelle' who was portrayed by guest star Nicola Bardon. However the episode never aired and its actual existence remains a myth.

In addition, some characters are claimed to be lesbians (often jokingly), though whether they actually are is unknown. In some cases, the show's producers most likely did not intend any implications of sexuality; in others, it is often implied but not stated outright.
Xena and Gabrielle in Xena: Warrior Princess. These characters were not officially "outed" in the storyline, but their relationship was implied through comically ambiguous dialogue and actions laced with double-meaning, allowing viewers to draw their own conclusions, and perhaps to avoid criticism while showing tolerance to lesbians.
The 1980s television series L.A. Law included a lesbian couple, which caused much more controversy than lesbian TV characters would a decade later. The 1989 BBC mini series Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit was based on lesbian writer Jeanette Winterson's novel of the same title. Russian pop-duo t.A.T.u were popular in Europe during the early 2000's, gaining attention and TV airplay for their pop videos because they were marketed as lesbians, even though they weren't (it remains unknown whether this idea came from the duo themselves or their promoters). Some saw this as a mockery of the "gay liberation cause".
Sci-fi series Babylon 5 featured, in one episode, an implied lesbian relatonship between two characters (Talia Winters and Commander Susan Ivanova). However, this is never explicitly stated or shown, and in any case did not go beyond this episode, as Winters was revealed at the end of the episode to be an unconscious spy for Psi Corps
Well known sci-fi series Star Trek: Deep Space 9 also featured several episodes including elements of lesbianism. Most famously, the episode "Rejoined" centers around two female characters (Jadzia Dax and visiting scientist Lenara Khan) who love each other but cannot pursue a relationship due to cultural taboos, and which featured a lesbian kissing scene that got the episode banned in several states. In the episode itself, the taboo is said to be a Trill taboo on "reassociation", referring to relationships than linger after a Trill has passed onto a new host; the fact that both chacters are women is never mentioned, and it is made quite clear that in the 24th century, this is so accepted that it does not even come to people's minds. This episode earned the show praise from the GLBT community. However, the actual relationship between these two characters were not of the two women, Jadzia and Lenara, but of the androgynous Trill symbionts that inhabited them, Dax and Khan. Previous hosts for the Dax and Kahn symbionts, Torias Dax and Nilani Kahn, had been married in a heterosexual relationship.
Actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in 1997, and her character on the sitcom Ellen did the same soon after. Ellen, then in its fourth season, became the first American sitcom with a lesbian lead character. The coming-out episode won an Emmy, but the series was cancelled after one more season.
In 2000, the character of Bianca Montogomery (Eden Riegel) was revealed to be gay in the ABC Daytime Drama Series All My Children. From 2000 - 2005, Bianca was the focus of many storylines involving her sexuality but she is perhaps best known for a storyline in which her character was raped and then the resulting child from the rape was stolen from her. While many have praised the fact that a lesbian character was given such a prominent storyline, others have criticised the way in which the show seemingly would not allow Bianca to have a successful long-running relationship with another woman, instead preferring to keep Bianca in a constant state of trauma.
In 2004, The L Word was primarily focused on the lives of a group of lesbian friends, and Ellen DeGeneres had a popular daytime talk show. In a 2005 episode of The Simpsons titled "There's Something About Marrying", Marge's sister Patty came out as a lesbian.

A scene from Mädchen in Uniform (Germany, 1931), the first lesbian feature film. It was immediately banned in the United States but then released in a heavily cut version, which also had an altered, subtly pro-Nazi ending. It was later banned in Germany, after which director Leontine Sagan and many of the cast fled the country. (Scriptwriter Christa Winsloe eventually joined the French resistance, likely because of this banning, and was executed by the Nazis in 1944).The first lesbian-themed feature film was the exceptional Mädchen in Uniform (1931), based on a novel by Christa Winsloe and directed by Leontine Sagan, tracing the story of a schoolgirl called Manuela von Meinhardis and her passionate love for a teacher, Fräulein von Nordeck zur Nidden. It was written and mostly directed by women. The impact of the film in Germany's lesbian clubs was overshadowed, however, by the cult following for The Blue Angel (1930).
Until the early 1990s, any notion of lesbian love in a film almost always required audiences to infer the relationships. The lesbian aesthetic of Queen Christina (1933) with Greta Garbo has been widely noted, even though the film is not about lesbians. Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca (1940), based on the novel by Daphne du Maurier, referred more or less overtly to lesbianism, but the two characters involved were not presented positively: Mrs. Danvers was portrayed as obsessed, neurotic and murderous, while the never-seen Rebecca was described as having been selfish, spiteful and doomed to die. All About Eve (1950) was originally written with the title character as a lesbian but this was very subtle in the final version, with the hint and message apparent to alert viewers. In The Children's Hour (1961) Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine play schoolteachers falsely accused by a disgruntled student of having a lesbian relationship; indeed, it turns out that MacLaine's character is a lesbian and is in love with Hepburn's character.
Films with explicitly lesbian content, sympathetic lesbian characters and lesbian leads began appearing during the 1990s. By 2000 some films portrayed characters exploring issues beyond their sexual orientation, reflecting a wider sense that lesbianism has to do with more than sexual desire. Notable mainstream theatrical releases included Bound (1996), Chasing Amy (1997), Kissing Jessica Stein (2001), and RENT (2005, based on the Jonathan Larson musical) . There have also been many foreign-language lesbian films such as Fucking Åmål (Sweden, 1998) and Blue Gate Crossing (Taiwan, 2004).
Actresses who have played lesbian roles on tv or film include Gina Gershon, Alexis Smith, Melina Mercouri, Chevi Colton, Nia Long, Whoopi Goldberg, Queen Latifah, Angelina Jolie, Glenn Close, Joey Lauren Adams, Alyson Hannigan khlaire trevor and many others.
See also: List of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender-related films.

Character design of the new Batwoman. Art by Alex Ross.In the weekly DC comic mini series, 52, a Post-Crisis (a reboot of the DC universe during the late 80's) version of Kathy Kane as Batwoman will be introduced. According to Dc Executive Editor, Dan DiDio, Kathy will differ from her Pre-Crisis counterpart by being protrayed as a lipstick lesbian, who is romantically linked to Detective Renee Montoya.

Women protesting for same-sex marriage.Historically, lesbians have been involved in womens' rights. Late in the 19th Century, the term Boston marriage was used to describe romantic unions between women living together while contributing to the suffrage movement. Continuing a tradition of inclusive acceptance, in 2004 Massachusetts became the first American state to legalize same-sex marriages.[2]
During the 1970s and 80s, with the emergence of modern feminism and the radical feminism movement, lesbian separatism became popular, and groups of lesbian women came together to live in communal societies. Some women found this kind of society liberating. Others, like Kathy Rudy in Radical Feminism, Lesbian Separatism, and Queer Theory, remarked that in her experience, stereotypes (along with the hierarchies to reinforce them) developed in the lesbian separatist collective she lived in, ultimately leading her to leave the group.
During the 1990s, dozens of chapters of Lesbian Avengers were formed to press for lesbian visibility and rights.

Transwomen and trans-inclusion
The relationship between lesbianism and lesbian-identified transgender or transsexual women who identify as lesbian has been a turbulent one, with historically negative attitudes, but this seemed to be changing by the close of the twentieth century.
Some lesbian groups openly welcome transsexual women and may even welcome any member who identifies as lesbian, but a few groups still do not welcome transwomen. The Lesbian Avengers have historically had a very inclusive policy.
Disputes in defining the term lesbian along with enforced exclusions from lesbian events and spaces have been numerous. Some who hold a non-inclusionist attitude often make reference to strong, typically second-wave feminist ideas such as those of Mary Daly, who has described post-operative transsexuals as constructed women. They may attribute transsexualism to mechanisms of patriarchy or do not recognize a transsexual's identification as female and lesbian. By defining lesbian through these views, they subsequently defend the non-inclusion of women with transsexual or transgender-backgrounds.
Inclusionists claim these attitudes are inaccurate and derive from fear and distrust, or that the motivations and attitudes of transgender or transsexual lesbians are not well understood, and so they defend the inclusion of transwomen into lesbianism and lesbian spaces.
Both views are common. One incident due to this divisiveness arose during the early 1990s in Australia, when the wider lesbian community raised money to purchase a building devoted to lesbian women along with a uniquely lesbian-only space called The Lesbian Space Project. After the organisation successfully bought the building, a debate over the inclusion of transwomen polarised the lesbian community, the building was later closed and the funds were moved to help support the Pride Centre, a lesbian and gay community centre in Sydney.
An example often cited among the transgender and transsexual communities is the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, a well-known and primarily lesbian event restricted to womyn-born womyn. Camp Trans, an organization oriented towards transwomen, was started as a result.

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Old age
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Old age consists of ages nearing the average life span of human beings, and thus the end of the human life cycle. Euphemisms and terms for older people include advanced adult, elderly, and senior (chiefly US) or senior citizen and pensioner. Older people have limited regenerative abilities and are more prone to disease, syndromes, and sickness than other adults. For the biology of aging see senescence.
In Western societies, adults are declared to be "old" when they reach the ages of 60-75, and secure their pension entitlement. Some governments offer old age pensions, and redeemable retirement savings plans.
Retirement is a typical lifestyle embraced by advanced adults, marking the end of a lifetime of work.
In the late 20th century and early 21st century, advances in nutrition and health care have extended the period of good health as well as extending the overall life expectancy.
Pensions provision relied upon life expectancy at retirement being short: This change has led to the pensions crisis.
Some believe there to be prejudice against older people in Western cultures, referred to as ageism.
The medical study of the aging process is gerontology, and the study of diseases that afflict the elderly is geriatrics.

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