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  • Print publication year: 2018
  • Online publication date: March 2018

Chapter 20 - Sexualities and Homophobia

from Part III - Problems of Discrimination and Inequality


Historically, social norms have emphasized procreative sex within the context of a stable union, most often marriage. While homosexuality and other forms of nonprocreative sex have long been viewed as deviant, they have not always been outlawed. As sexual behaviors became increasingly linked to people's identity, new measures were introduced to restrict so-called deviant sexual expression. This connection between sexual behavior and identity gave rise to homophobia as well as to tightening restrictions on sexualities, particularly female sexualities. Homophobia takes many forms, and beginning in the 1950s in the United States, public policies were created granting explicit permission to fire federal employees on grounds of “sexual perversion.” As US society has shifted its views about sexuality and normative sexual practices, research on sex and sexualities has evolved. Problems, however, continue to exist in the areas of sexualities, most notably for those with female, non-gender-conforming, adolescent, and/or black and brown bodies.

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