One of the most hotly contested areas of research is that of a possible genetic link for homosexuality. It seems like even scientists are getting bogged down in this area of science. Some believe that being gay has definite genetic parallels, while others maintain that homosexuality is the result of environmental influences and personal choice on the part of the individual. Most emphasis on the genetic influences on homosexuality arises from the idea that homosexuals are still very much discriminated against in society.
“Given the difficulties of being gay in a predominantly straight society, homosexuality is not a choice someone would make in life,” said a gay man named Larkin, who has two brothers who were gay (Gay brothers…2007). One of them died of AIDS, and the other committed suicide. Who would choose these odda? Those who believe in the genetic correlation cite studies that are made up primarily of twin studies, family studies and adoption studies (Abbott, 2007). These studies tend to show that homosexuality tends to cluster in families.
One widely cited study in the 1990s found that if one member of a pair of identical twins was gay, the other had a fifty-two percent chance of being gay. In contrast, the result for pairs of non-twin brothers was only nine percent (Gay brothers…, 2007). Scientists have also looked for physical differences between a so-called “gay” brain and a so-called “straight” brain. Dr. Sander Breiner of Michigan State University reports some interesting observations he has made regarding these studies.
He found that gay males react differently to estrogen and testosterone than do straight males. Their brains seem to respond in chemically different ways to these hormones (Gay brothers…, 2007). However, many scientists oppose these studies. They cite countless instances in which adolescent and adult men and adult women have simply changed sexual orientation. For males this seems to occur in the mid to late twenties and go from homosexual to heterosexual while women in their forties may change from heterosexual to homosexual (Whitehead and Whitehead, 2007).
A wide arena of change is therefore observed in the behaviors of both heterosexual and homosexual males. In addition, some scientists do not have faith in the twin studies. Warren Throckmorton, a PhD at Grove City College notes, “At risk of belaboring the point, the faulty interpretation of all of these studies is that genetic influence is the same as destiny. Arising from studies of identical twins raised together, these studies frequently fail to take into account the confounding factor of shared environment.
Despite the flaws in interpretation and design, the inference desired by many in the gay-activist camp is that the only scientifically acceptable approach to homoerotic feelings is to accept and identify with them” (2003). Basically these scientists are saying that the supposed genetic influence is the result of the shared environment these twins and brothers have. I feel that homosexuality is genetic. After all, nobody chooses a lifestyle so filled with medical danger and social ostracism.
Those who are homosexual seem as certain of their lifestyles as heterosexuals. The talk of changing orientation may just be the result of pressure from religious groups or family members. I hope that scientists continue studying genetic components of homosexuality.
Abbott, D. A. (2007). Myths and Misconceptions About Behavioral Genetics And Homosexuality. National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuality. July 2007. Retrieved from http://www. narth. com/docs/080307Abbott_NARTH_article. pdf Gay brothers may hold genetic clues: Study seeks scientific explanation for roots of homosexuality. (2007). MSNBC. com. Retrieved from http://www. msnbc. msn. com/id/21309724 Throckmorton, Warren. (2003). Homosexuality and Genes: Deja vu All Over Again? National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuality. October 30, 2003. Retrieved from http://www. narth. com/docs/dejavu. html Whitehead N. , and Whitehead B. (2007). Chapter Twelve: Can You Change Your Sexual Orientation? My Genes Made Me Do It. Retrieved from http://www. mygenes. co. nz/Ch12. pdf