Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Homosexual and Gay

Homosexual vs Gay

“Homosexual” and “gay” mean the same thing these days. “Homosexual” is a word that is used more clinically while “gay” is a word used more generally. They both refer to the sexual orientation of a man specifically. Homosexual or gay men are men who choose to have an emotional and physical relationship with other men of their choice.

The word “gay” did not originally refer to homosexual men. It simply meant “merry, bright, lively or showy.” Today, however, whenever somebody says “gay,” it refers without fail to a homosexual male. The word “gay” is also used to for all homosexual people including women who are also called lesbians. One refers to homosexual men and homosexual women as gay men and women.

The word “homosexual” is a hybrid of Greek and Latin words. “Homos” is a Greek word which means “same” unlike the Latin word “homo” which means “man.” Thus the word “homosexual” refers to the sexual orientation of a person towards a person of the same gender. On the other hand, the word “gay” referred to “sexual enjoyment” in the 17th century. Thus, prostitutes were referred to as gay women, a brothel was referred to as a gay house, and a man who was a womanizer was called a gay man.

The use of the word “homosexual” can be traced back to the early 20th century. When World War II ended, there was a change in the attitudes of people towards sexuality. Homosexual men and women started coming out and started openly calling themselves gay. Initially, the word “gay” was used as an adjective, and later it started being used as nouns. Any man having homosexual inclinations was a gay. In modern times, “gay” is used only for homosexual men.

In regular language, many words are used commonly. However, when they appear in print, they get an unofficial certification. The word “homosexual” was being used after World War II openly, but it first made its appearance in print in 1869 in a German pamphlet written by novelist Karl-Maria Kertbeny. It was published anonymously at that time. The world started catching up when it was again used by the author Gustav Jager in his book titled “Discovery of the Soul” published in 1880. Both books could not make the word popular as it was not an acceptable concept. When Richard von Krafft-Ebing used the words “heterosexual” and “homosexual” in his book called “Psychopathia Sexualis,” the terms became popular with doctors as well as laymen.

In modern times the usage of the word “homosexual” is not considered to be a good choice of words as it refers only to the sexual orientation of a person. “Gay men” and “lesbians” is considered more appropriate as it not only refers to the sexual orientation of a person but also refers to the romantic relationship between two people of the same gender.


1.“Homosexual” is a clinical term used to refer to two individuals of the same gender having a sexual interest in each other; “gay” is a more general term used for homosexual people.
2.“Homosexual” is used in modern times to refer to homosexual males; “gay” is sometimes used for both gay men and women but mostly used specifically for gay males.

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1 Comment

  1. I identify as homosexual, I am a guy who is happily sexually, emotionally and romantically attracted to the same sex. That’s all what “homosexual” means.

    “Gay” is a subcultural identity which goes beyond sexual orientation and includes characteristic that are not shared by all homosexual people such as effeminacy or a particular taste in music and fasion. This is because, in origin, “gay” was used to refer to the famboyant homosexual man, the one whose histrionic and, many times, gender non-conformist behaviour made him stand out. However, not all homosexual men share the same behaviour.

    Since all homosexual people are different and strikingly different and diverse I choose to identify as homosexual because “homosexual” doesn’t have a subcultural idenity attached so I don’t have to trade my individuality with one created in urban cities.

    I have no problem with those who identify as “gay” so there isn’t a “me vs them” thing going on.

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