What makes us gay?
What makes us gay?
- genetic factors and brain structure
- child-rearing and overbearing parents
- the society and culture we grow up in
Take your pick. Browse the Internet and you'll find 10 more, some bonkers. Even today, theories are fiercely debated, new ones appear, while others fall away. The nature vs. nurture argument often takes centre stage though genetic factors would seem to be the front-runner.
More importantly, perhaps, does it matter? Or as Albin belts out at the end of Act I of La Cage aux Folles "I am what I am, and what I am needs no excuses."
Genes and genetic factors
In August 2019, Scientific American reported a new study that claims to dispel the notion that a single gene or handful of genes make a person prone to same-sex behavior. The analysis, which examined the genomes of nearly half a million men and women, found that although genetics are certainly involved in who people choose to have sex with, there are no specific genetic predictors. Yet some researchers question whether the analysis, which looked at genes associated with sexual activity rather than attraction, can draw any real conclusions about sexual orientation.
In December 2017, the New Scientist reported reported that "...for the first time, individual genes have been identified that may influence how sexual orientation develops in boys and men, both in the womb and during life. Alan Sanders at North Shore University, Illinois, and his team pinpointed these genes by comparing DNA from 1077 gay and 1231 straight men. They scanned the men’s entire genomes, looking for single-letter differences in their DNA sequences. This enabled them to home in on two genes whose variants seem to be linked to sexual orientation."
Scientists quash idea of single 'gay gene'
In 2019, a vast new study has quashed the idea that a single “gay gene” exists, scientists say, instead finding homosexual behaviour is influenced by a multitude of genetic variants which each have a tiny effect. The researchers compare the situation to factors determining a person’s height, in which multiple genetic and environmental factors play roles. “[This study] highlights both the importance of the genetics as well as the complexity of the genetics, but genetics is not [the] whole story,” said Dr Benjamin Neale, co-author of the study from the Broad Institute in the US.
Scientists quash idea of single 'gay gene' | The Guardian | 29 Aug 2019
Large-scale GWAS reveals insights into the genetic architecture of same-sex sexual behavior | Science, Vol. 365, Issue 6456 | 30 Aug 2019
No one chooses their sexuality
One thing we do know is that no one chooses their sexuality. It is innate and natural to us. Some gay people knew they were different, if not gay, from as young as 5 or 6 while, for most of us, our sexuality is determined by our early teens. Some men have girlfriends, get married and have families before they realise who they are - coming out later on in their life, in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, and even 70s.
Census to ask about sexual orientation for the first time | The Guardian | 18 Oct 2020
We need to stop using the phrase "coming out" | Mic | 16 Oct 2020
‘Gay gene’ theories belong in the past – now we know sexuality is far more fluid | The Guardian | 30 Aug 2019
What do the new ‘gay genes’ tell us about sexual orientation? | New Scientist | 7 Dec 2017
Does Everybody Have A Gay Gene? | AsapSCIENCE | 27 Jul 2017
Why finding the gay gene is a big problem | Huff Post | 2 May 2017
Male homosexuality influenced by genes, US study finds The Independent | 2 Mar 2015
How our genes could make us gay or straight Washington Post | 4 Jun 2014
The evolutionary puzzle of homosexuality | BBC 18 Feb 2014
Being homosexual is only partly due to gay gene, research finds The Telegraph | 2 Feb 2014
Homosexuality: it's about survival - not sex | TEDx | 15 Nov 2016↑ Back to top