Homosexuality, defined variously as same-sex love, desire, and/or sexual activity, has been, in one form or another, a universal phenomenon. In the United States, male homosexuality, like all same-sex attraction and behavior, has often challenged entrenched gender systems that define and maintain masculinity. Although the term homosexual referred to both sexes when it was coined in the nineteenth century, male homosexuality has been a more prominent concern in American society. This is due to the larger public role that men have played, and to the resulting concern with definitions of, and conformity to, a masculine ideal. For these reasons—in addition to moral opposition to sexual acts between same-sex partners—homosexuality has been among the most controversial and divisive issues in the United States.

Homosexuality has been ...

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