Genetics and Homosexuality

Homosexuality is an issue.

Broadly speaking, it is viewed as something wrong, as an individual’s choice, as ‘cool’ (believe it or not, lesbian behaviour is considered cool at times), as inappropriate or even as a mortal sin. It doesn’t really matter to me. People have a right to live their lives the way they see fit.

But now, it seems, some people wish to put forward a theory that being homosexual is not a choice but rather a genetic compulsion that leaves no space for an individual to choose.

You are born black or white or yellow or red and that doesn’t change much (except in the case of Michael Jackson). But imagine people telling you that you are born either homosexual or heterosexual. That’s kind of unfair isn’t it? Suppose you were born heterosexual but wanted to become homosexual, or vice versa? I’m sorry, you cant change because your genes tell you that you cant.

A lot of people support Gay Rights now. Absolutely nothing wrong in that. They tell others that they have gay friends and they are very nice human beings in fact, and every one who doesn’t think so is a bloody homophobe! I wonder. Do they infer that homosexuals are nice human beings because they are gay or despite being gay? It has become a trend now. To be politically correct you have to have gay friends and think that they are very nice. (Just in case any accusations are levelled at me, I have to state that I have several gay friends and they are very nice people.)

Anyway, I digress. In their zeal to show that homosexuality is normal, they push the little pointer to the other side of the zero in the number line. Research has been carried out that shows some sort of relation between genes and homosexuality, and that research has been pounced on and waved around as proof that homosexuals are born that way! It sounds really good to them. I mean, if homosexuals are born that way, then there is nothing wrong with them right? Huh? Huh? Right?

If there was nothing wrong with homosexuality in itself, there wouldn’t be this desperate need to make it seem completely genetic. What happens to people who are homosexual but suddenly don’t feel attracted to their sex anymore? They feel they cannot change since it’s the way they were born. What happens to heterosexuals who are no longer attracted to the opposite sex? They have to stick that way, cos of course, their genes say they should.

The genetic component of homosexuality is not as significant as some wish to believe.

Here are some brief comments on several homosexuality studies floating around.

1. Twin Studies

According to the most popular study by Bailey and Pillard, they found that 52% (29/56) of monozygotic cotwins, 22% (12/54) of dizygotic cotwins, and 11% (6/57) of adoptive brothers were homosexual.

Since MZ twins share the same DNA, and if homosexuality is predominately gene determined, far more than 52% of the twins should be both homosexual.

The fact that they share the same DNA and grow up in generally the same conditions means that they also are exposed to and react to the same environment. Which is why 22% of DZ twins are also homosexual. Therefore environmental factors cannot be ruled out or thought of as insignificant.

Regarding the study in itself, the twins were chosen through ads placed in magazines. So called ‘snowball’ samples. Such studies could be biased in the nature of the twins who volunteer. A better form of research would be ‘registry’ studies. Twins who were recruited for other reasons and later asked about their sexual orientation. Such a study leads to results of less than 50% for MZ twins.

{1. Hershberger, SL (1997): A twin registry study of male and female sexual orientation. J. of Sex Research 34, 212-222.
2. Bailey, JM; Dunne,MP; Martin,NG (2000): Genetic and Environmental influences on sexual orientation and its correlates in an Australian twin sample. J. Pers. Social Psychology 78, 524-536

A much, much better study would be to use MZ twins raised apart but yet who are homosexual. But such numbers are minimal ‘statistically’.

2. Hypothalamus Study

The most popular hypothalamus study was done by LeVay. It is to be noted that LeVay himself is a homosexual. He proposed that there is a difference in the brains of homosexual and heterosexual males, namely in the hypothalamus, and people use this research to state that it’s the hypothalamus’ fault that some one is homosexual.

I quote:

The study, as LeVay himself readily admits, has several problems: a small sample group, great variation in individual nucleus size, and possibly skewed results because all the gay men had AIDS (although LeVay found “no significant difference in the volume of INAH 3 between the heterosexual men who died of AIDS and those who died of other causes”). As of this writing, LeVay’s findings have yet to be replicated by other researchers. LeVay himself has extended his search for dimorphism according to sexual orientation to the corpus callosum, which he is studying by means of magnetic-resonance imaging. Until his original findings are confirmed, the notion that homosexuals and heterosexuals are in some way anatomically distinct must hold the status of tantalizing supposition.

3. Body Part Measuring Study

Among family and friends we used to joke around that if a woman’s second toe is longer than her big toe, then she’s gonna boss her husband. Interesting. I put this research in the same category. It is not possible to differentiate homosexuals from heterosexuals by their finger lengths or inner ear. Who knows what they’d measure next? Nose hair length?

Media-hyped research could end up creating a Gattaca-type gene-filtered world. Imagine mothers rushing to doctors to check if their baby has the gay-gene? If one doesn’t believe there is anything wrong with homosexuality, why this desperate urge to make every one believe that homosexuality is genetically determined. Our most basic right is our right to choose. I shall be homosexual if I want or heterosexual if I want.

There may be a slight genetic component to homosexuality. There are far more environmental factors though. But through all that, any individual retains to right to choose.

  1. Sam said:

    Some people born Rich, Do they? Some people born Poor. Some people born Royal. Some people born Genius. Some people born Stupid. Some people born Terrorists. Some people born Pretty. So why not born gay?

    They are very easy to spot even when 5 years old. When other boys play ‘Robin Hood’, they play Jump Rope with girls.

    Just kidding though 🙂

  2. Just Mal said:

    Not all gays play skip with girls when they are young.

    This is a bit like the question of being fat. Genetics do play a role, but conscious, subconscious and unconscious choices are more important.

  3. Janus said:

    Yo Sam. Genes play no part with being born rich or poor or royal. As for being stupid, with proper environmental conditions and a shit load of effort, you can acquire the same effeciancy of a genius.
    (I had to say it, even tho you were kidding)

    I agree that choices play a huge role.

  4. nyasia said:

    I feel people are just born with a liking for the same sex. There is no gay gene. That is ludicrous. Its as if saying we’re a whole new species. We are all human and should be viewed as such. Whatever someone’s sexual preference is , is their buisness….

  5. Mel said:

    I believe both genetics and enviroment play a role in sexual orientation. There are those who choose to participate in homosexual behavior due to the enviroment. For example: Girls and women doing pornagraphic films, they arnt’ necessarally gay, but they are choosing to act on that type of behavior for whatever reasons….another story. Drugs are an enviromental influence on individuals to partake in homosexual behavior, deep rooted issues from child molestation, being denied female interaction for those in prison for long term. All of these are examples of how our enviroment plays part in someone choosing homosexual behavior. Then there are those who are gay (men for example) who feel they are females inhabiting a males body. This has genetics written all over it. Something didn;t go quite right for them when they were developing. With that said, what we should be asking is what causes this malfunction?

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