The historical concept and definition of sexual orientation varies and has changed greatly over time; for example the word „gay“ was not used to describe sexual orientation until the mid 20th century. A number of different classification schemes have been used to describe sexual orientation since the mid-19th century, and scholars have often defined the term „sexual orientation“ in divergent ways. Indeed, several studies have found that much of the research about sexual orientation has failed to define the term at all, making it difficult to reconcile the results of different studies. However, most definitions include a psychological component (such as the direction of an individual’s erotic desire) and/or a behavioural component (which focuses on the sex of the individual’s sexual partner/s). Some prefer to simply follow an individual’s self-definition or identity.
The high prevalence of people from the West on this list may be due to societal attitudes towards homosexuality. The Pew Research Center’s 2003 Global Attitudes Survey found that „[p]eople in Africa and the Middle East strongly object to societal acceptance of homosexuality. But there is far greater tolerance for homosexuality in major Latin American countries such as Mexico, Argentina, Bolivia and Brazil. Opinion in Europe is split between West and East. Majorities in every Western European nation surveyed say homosexuality should be accepted by society, while most Russians, Poles and Ukrainians disagree. Americans are divided–a thin majority (51 percent) believes homosexuality should be accepted, while 42 percent disagree.“
This is a partial list of confirmed famous people who were or are gay, lesbian or bisexual. Famous people who are simply rumored to be gay, lesbian, or bisexual are not listed.