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Sexual Orientation and Sexuality

To a casual observer, sexuality and sexual orientation seem fairly explicit in meaning: How and to whom one engages in genitally oriented sexual activity; in other words, what one does, to and/or with whom, for erotic expression and release. Although the two terms are related, sexuality and sexual orientation are distinctly different concepts. Sexuality refers to the totality of a person’s affective and physical expressions related to romantic and/or genital-related activity; sexual orientation is extrapolated from those expressions, forming the basis of an aspect of a person’s identity; it is the publicly expressed and interpersonally enacted congruence between one’s gender and the gender of one’s erotic desire. The history of this modern understanding of sexuality and sexual orientation can be viewed in three phases: First, ...

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