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Sexual orientation
Part of sexology
Common classifications


Other classifications

Fluid sexuality
Kinsey scale
Klein Sexual Orientation Grid

Related articles

Affectional orientation
Situational sexual behavior

A lesbian is a female emotionally and/or sexually attracted only to other females. Females attracted to both females and males are more often referred to as bisexual. An individual's self-identification might not correspond with her behavior and may be expressed with either, both, or neither of these words.


The earliest known written references to same-sex love between women come from ancient Greece. Sappho (the eponym of "sapphism"), who lived on the island of Lesbos, wrote poems which apparently expressed her sexual attraction to other women but some ancient accounts also describe her as having had love affairs with men. Moreover, Maximus of Tyre claimed her relationships with the girls in her school were platonic. Modern scholarship suggests a parallel between the ancient Greek constructs of love between men and boys and the friendships between Sappho and her students in which "both pedagogy and pederasty may have played a role."

Lesbian relationships have also been cited in ancient Sparta. Plutarch, writing about the Lacedaemonians, reports that "love was so esteemed among them that girls also became the erotic objects of noble women."

Accounts of lesbian relationships are also found in poetry and stories from ancient China, but are not documented with the detail given to male homosexuality. Research by anthropologist Liza Dalby, based mostly on erotic poems exchanged between women, has suggested lesbian relationships were commonplace and socially accepted in Japan during the Heian Period. During medieval times in Arabia there were reports of relations between harem residents, although these were sometimes suppressed. For example, Caliph Musa al-Hadi ordered the beheadings of two girls who were surprised during lovemaking.

More information on this topic is available at [ Wikipedia:Lesbian ]
Drawing-Gay flag.png  This article about lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender issues
Also see the article on Sexual orientation


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