I'd rather be limited to Homosexual or Homophile that have the Gay identity and all its preconceived ideals, ideas & perceptions etc thrust upon my identity. I reject the notion of Gay. I am not gay or a gay, I am however a homosexual homophile.
Homosexual is a purely objective description.
Gay is a label of social identity.
Contrary to popular misconception in modern Western society, the two terms do not mean the same thing.
Homosexuality is the physical -and emotional- attraction to one's own gender. A man may be solely attracted to other men, which makes him strictly homosexual. However, it is very normal for a man who is attracted to the opposite sex to also have homosexual desires.
The term homosexuality is a bit limiting in this sense, because it focuses specifically on sexualattraction or behaviour. Most men, in every culture throughout history, have been predominantlyhomosocial, as the socialization with other men is necessary for a young male to learn the social norms and skills that are appropriate to male identity in any given society. The deep bonds that develop between men in their socialization are often homophile in nature, denoting love between members of the same gender, without necessarily referring to any sexual attraction or behaviour.
In many societies, those institutions deemed most masculine in nature -such as those of the hunter and the warrior or soldier- are those in which men spend nearly all their time socializing uniquely with members of the same sex. It is precisely in these most 'manly' of institutions that homophile relations between men are -or were- most common. This love between men is not necessarily, but may be, of a homosexual nature as well, but one cannot say in all of these cases that the individuals are necessarily strictly homosexual.
Notably among the soldiers of ancient Greece and Rome, it was perfectly normal for men to have amorous relationships with other men, many of whom also had wives at home. Both Alexander the Great and the Roman emperor Hadrian had a wife as well as a male lover. The love between two men was perceived as being of an entirely different nature than the relationship one had with one's wife. In fact, the love for a man was often held to be exalted above heterosexual love, and at the very least certainly never emasculating.
In ancient Greek and Roman society, as well as in many other great civilizations, the accepted social norm for sexual activity by men, was that a man assume a dominant sexual role. Assuming a passive position in sex, ie. allowing one's self to be penetrated, was considered emasculating. Hence, we can safely assume that any sexual activity between male lovers of equal standing would have entailed physical intimacy without either individual assuming a passive role.
The only similarity between ancient Greek or Roman male lovers and gay men in contemporary Western society, is that they are both attracted to men.
The term gay -in its most common modern usage- is not just a modern coinage, but an entirely new form of social identification that has next to no relation to homosexuality found throughout history and in other cultures.
Without even the slightest intention to disrespect anyone who identifies with this term, I feel compelled to state the politically incorrect obvious point that gay identity has created a third gender identity in modern society. Carrying the label gay, means assuming the social role of a psychological intersexual.
To attach the label gay to an historical figure like Alexander the Great or Hadrian, as is now common, is not only misleading because they also had wives, but because the label is inaccurate in describing their sexuality and gender identity, and because they themselves would not have been able in the least to identify with the label.
So too, there are innumerable men in our modern world who have the need and desire to connect with other men on both an emotional and a physical level, but who cannot be considered gay, either because they are also attracted to women, or because they are unable to relate to the unmasculine social role that is integral to gay identity.
Adrian van Liere