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As such, the current use of the term has its roots in the broader 19th-century tradition of personality taxonomy. Similarly, some recommend completely avoiding usage of homosexual as it has a negative, clinical history and because the word only refers to one's sexual behavior (as opposed to romantic feelings) and thus it has a negative connotation. The first letters are frequently combined to create the initialism LGBT (sometimes written as GLBT), in which B and T refer to bisexual and transgender people.

Gay especially refers to male homosexuality, but may be used in a broader sense to refer to all LGBT people.

Since the end of the 19th century, there has been a global movement towards increased visibility, recognition, and legal rights for gay people, including the rights to marriage and civil unions, adoption and parenting, employment, military service, equal access to health care, and the introduction of anti-bullying legislation to protect gay minors.

The word homosexual is a Greek and Latin hybrid, with the first element derived from Greek ὁμός homos, "same" (not related to the Latin homo, "man", as in Homo sapiens), thus connoting sexual acts and affections between members of the same sex, including lesbianism.

Homosexuality was mentioned in many famous works of Chinese literature.