Sexuality

In the ancient Roman world, sexual pleasure was a cause for celebration rather than a source of shame.

Why Was Erotic Art So Popular in Ancient Pompeii?

A new exhibition spotlights 70 examples of sensual imagery discovered in the Roman city

In 51 B.C.E., Julius Caesar noted that people in Britain did not eat hares due to their religious significance.

The Ancient Origins of the Easter Bunny

A scholar traces the folk figure's history from the Neolithic era to today

Researchers are getting closer to creating a birth control pill for those with testes, according to findings presented this week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Male Birth Control Pill Expected to Start Human Trials This Year

The new non-hormonal pill was 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy in mice

Today, Betty Boop is an immediately recognizable cultural icon, appearing on everything from luggage to coffee mugs to chunky heels to board games.

The Evolution of Betty Boop

Film censorship sparked the beloved cartoon character's mid-1930s makeover

ONE Condoms become the first condoms approved for anal sex by the FDA. 

FDA Approves First Condom for Anal Sex

Health experts say FDA authorization may increase condom usage during anal intercourse and reduce sexually transmitted infections

The Shakers, who reached the peak of their popularity in America between 1820 and 1860, loathed the institutions of marriage and family for the sinful “natural affections” that accompanied them.

The Sects That Rejected Sex in 19th-Century America

Why three religious groups traded monogamy for celibacy, polygamy and "complex marriage"

A female dolphin cald swims about her mother at the Madrid Zoo and Aquarium in 2018.

Female Dolphins Have a Fully Functional Clitoris

A new study finds surprising similarities between human and cetacean sexual anatomy

Ary Scheffer, The Ghosts of Paolo and Francesca Appear to Dante and Virgil, 1835

Before Romeo and Juliet, Paolo and Francesca Were Literature's Star-Crossed Lovers

Centuries after Italian poet Dante published "The Divine Comedy," Romantic artists and writers reimagined the tragedy as a tale of female agency

Researchers studying Edvard Munch's Madonna (left) discovered hidden underdrawings (right) that reveal how the artist tinkered with his composition over time.

Art Meets Science

Hidden Sketch Reveals a More Traditional Version of Edvard Munch's Sensual 'Madonna'

A chance discovery suggests the woman's provocative pose was originally somewhat subdued

Mary Ware Dennett wrote The Sex Side of Life in 1915 as a teaching tool for her teenage sons.

The Sex Education Pamphlet That Sparked a Landmark Censorship Case

Women's rights activist Mary Ware Dennett was arrested in 1929 for mailing a booklet deemed "obscene, lewd or lascivious"

#FreeBritney activists protest at Los Angeles Grand Park during a conservatorship hearing for Britney Spears on June 23, 2021 in Los Angeles.

Britney Spears and the Age-Old History of Men Policing Women's Trauma

The singer's conservatorship, on trial this month, recalls the history of hysterectomies, insane asylums, forced contraception, among others

Queer artist Gilbert Baker preserved this 10- by 28-foot section of an original 1978 pride flag.

LGBTQ+ Pride

Long-Lost Fragment of First Rainbow Pride Flag Resurfaces After Four Decades

The brilliantly colored banner—now on view in San Francisco—flew on "Gay Freedom Day" in 1978

This month's book picks include The Engagement, How the Word Is Passed and Drunk.

Books of the Month

The Fight to Legalize Gay Marriage, the Woman Who Couldn't Be Silenced and Other New Books to Read

These June releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics

An undated view of the Seven Hills of Bonn by Josephine Butler, who campaigned for sex workers' rights and pushed Parliament to raise the age of consent

Pioneering Victorian Suffragist's Unseen Watercolor Paintings Are Up for Sale

Seven landscape scenes by 19th-century British social reformer Josephine Butler are headed to the auction block

A statue of Charles Darwin sits in the Natural History Museum in London. The scientist's book 'Descent of Man' was published in 1871.

How Darwin's 'Descent of Man' Holds Up 150 Years After Publication

Questions still swirl around the author’s theories about sexual selection and the evolution of minds and morals

This photo, like some others in the collection, was taken in a photo booth, eliminating the need for a photographer.

Newly Published Portraits Document a Century of Gay Men's Relationships

"Loving" features around 300 photos that offer an intimate look at men's love between the 1850s and 1950s

This Andy Warhol print of Haring (left) and his lover Juan DuBose is expected to fetch around $250,000.

Keith Haring's Personal Art Collection Is Up for Auction

Sotheby's sale features works by Warhol, Basquiat, Lichtenstein and other members of the graffiti artist's circle

“Wise and Valiant: Women and Writing in the Golden Age of Spain” spotlights Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (left) and Catalina de Erauso (right), among others.

Remembering the Forgotten Women Writers of 17th-Century Spain

A show in Madrid highlights female authors who penned histories, biographies, poetry, novels, scripts and more

LGBTQ+ Pride

LGBTQ+ Pride at the Smithsonian

Read our newest stories about LGBTQ+ arts, culture and history, as well as a list of events around the Smithsonian related to Pride

Mapping the Gay Guides’ main function is preserving and publicizing an overlooked, under-studied chapter in LGBTQ history.

This Interactive Map Visualizes the Queer Geography of 20th-Century America

Mapping the Gay Guides visualizes local queer spaces' evolution between 1965 and 1980

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