Greeks are widely rumored-known to have had practiced and actively embraced same sex relationships which was formalized in relationships like pederasty which was an accepted form of relationship between a man and an adolescent boy wherein they were to remain together while the elder of the two behaved as a teacher, mentor and a lover. While “gay” relationships are extensively mentioned and hinted at, female same sex references are sparse and tend to wear off when the polis starts to crystallize. Still, one finds a strong reminder in the word “ lesbian” as it derives from the island of Lesbos, home of the most famous Greekwoman who wrote songs about love for women, Sappho.
In Sparta where boys were separated from family at the tender age of eight to train, one finds very clear examples of young boys living with adult men of age 20-25, and being educated and loved by the latter. It is said that Spartan women dressed like a man on their wedding night in order to make the transition for their husbands smoother.
Sculpture and myth alike shared the theme and fascination for gay love :  whether it be Zeus descending as an eagle to carry off Ganymede, the most beautiful boy on Earth, to be his lover on Mount Olympus, or Apollo and Hyacinth’s ill fated love. While in Thebes, the general Epaminondas commanded a regiment composed of 150 pairs of lovers. This 'Band of Lovers' became a formidable fighting force, with lover defending lover until death, and this tale is recounted even today in many hill villages of north Greece.

The Greek ideal of ’beautiful and good’ meaning that beauty of body and goodness of soul were the essence of human i.e. male perfection. Homosexual love between men and youths striving together to develop these virtues was seen as the most effective way to cultivate that ideal. Hence Greek pedagogy encouraged homosexual love, though with time it came to loggerheads with the citizenship ideal of equality and sovereignty as one partner had to acquire a passive role and feign or even assume submission. 
Aditi Saraswat, History, IInd Year

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    February 2013