Sexual minority/minorities refers to people who identify, or are identified, as distinct from a presumed dominant and thereby normativized population in terms of their sexual designations, desires, expressions, attractions, behaviors, performances, and/or pleasures. This entry, focused on the United States, addresses sexual minority both as a concept and as a term. The concept of a sexual minority can be traced to practices that medicalized, pathologized, psychologized, and bureaucratized homosexuality beginning in the late nineteenth century. In the United States, the term emerged as a self‐identification and in rights‐based discourses after World War II. “Sexual minority” circulates in but functions differently across contexts ranging from those focused on activism, medicine, social sciences, and law. Critiques have focused on the minoritizing function of the term, and the lingering traces of medicalization, as well as the ways in which the term can obscure sexual and gender fluidities, intersecting social locations, abilities, erotic justice, and pleasure.
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