The Diversity of Homosexuality Cultural Systems of Homosexuality

Most scholars of the 1980s and 1990s emphasized the uniqueness of homosexuality in every culture. Of course in some respects every culture is different from every other culture. Still, we can classify cultures on many different characteristics. One popular typology, originally suggested almost 40 years ago, groups cultures into one of three male homosexual systems (Gorer, 1966). The first, and by far the most common, has been labeled the "pathic" ("passive") or "gender-stratified" system. The second, also very common, has been called the "pederasty" or "age-stratified" system, and includes societies with "mentorship" or "ritualized" homosexuality. The third system, much less common, has been labeled "homophilic" or "egalitarian," and may be subdivided into "adolescent homosexuality," "comrade," and "gay" systems.

Systems of female homosexuality are similar but not exactly parallel to the male systems. Examples of each system can illustrate the cross-cultural variation.

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