A lesbian is a homosexual woman. The concept of "lesbian" to differentiate women with a shared sexual orientation evolved in the 20th century. Throughout history, women have not had the same freedom or independence as men to pursue homosexual relationships, but neither have they met the same harsh punishment as homosexual men in some societies. Instead, lesbian relationships have often been regarded as harmless and incomparable to heterosexual ones, unless the participants attempted to assert privileges traditionally enjoyed by men. As a result, little in history was documented to give an accurate description of how female homosexuality was expressed. When early sexologists in the late 19th century began to categorize and describe homosexual behavior, hampered by a lack of knowledge about homosexuality or women's sexuality, they distinguished lesbians as women who did not adhere to female gender roles and incorrectly designated them mentally ill—a designation which has been reversed in the global scientific community.
The word lesbian means a female homosexual or woman who is primarily attracted to other women. Where did this word come from? The term came to describe women who love women after the island's most famous resident, the poet Sappho. The poet Sappho of Lesbos or Lesvos lived in B. Sappho was an intellectual and poet who wrote many love poems to other women. Although much of her poetry has been destroyed by religious fundamentalists, the few poems of Sappho that remain speak clearly to her love and infatuation with women. Her writings is very erotic, something uncommon, especially for women of that era.