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 Topic: Nature versus Culture: Is homosexuality a choice or not?

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skraame  



Joined: 13 Apr 2003
Posts: 11
Interests: Literature
Physical Location: Oslo, Norway

Posted: 4 Jul 2003, 5:16 am    Post subject: Nature versus Culture: Is homosexuality a choice or not? Reply with quote

Most of us gays and lesbians will agree that homosexuality is not a choice but that we are born this way. A few years ago there were big debates going on about the "gay gene", a debate which have now somehow faded. If I am not all wrong I even think I remember some scientists announcing they had found the "gay gene".

My question is: Does anyone know where I can find information about homosexuality, biology, the "gay gene" or/and new research?

Best regards,
BÝrge
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Ryan  



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 33
Interests: Queer History and Biography
Physical Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posted: 4 Jul 2003, 7:58 pm    Post subject: Re: Nature versus Culture: Is homosexuality a choice or not? Reply with quote

skraame wrote:
Most of us gays and lesbians will agree that homosexuality is not a choice but that we are born this way. A few years ago there were big debates going on about the "gay gene", a debate which have now somehow faded. If I am not all wrong I even think I remember some scientists announcing they had found the "gay gene".

My question is: Does anyone know where I can find information about homosexuality, biology, the "gay gene" or/and new research?

Best regards,
BÝrge

Hi BÝrge,

There is an article in the academic journal Personality and Individual Differences
Volume 34, Issue 8 , June 2003, Pages 1337-1382, by authors Qazi Rahman and Glenn D. Wilson, titled:

"Born gay? The psychobiology of human sexual orientation"

The article is a metastudy (an overall study of studies) on the biology of sexual orientation. The author-supplied abstract is:

Sexual orientation is fundamental to evolution and shifts from the species-typical pattern of heterosexuality may represent biological variations. The growth of scientific knowledge concerning the biology of sexual orientation during the past decade has been considerable. Sexual orientation is characterised by a bipolar distribution and is related to fraternal birth order in males. In females, its distribution is more variable; females being less prone towards exclusive homosexuality. In both sexes homosexuality is strongly associated with childhood gender nonconformity. Genetic evidence suggests a heritable component and putative gene loci on the X chromosome. Homosexuality may have evolved to promote same sex affiliation through a conserved neurodevelopmental mechanism. Recent findings suggest this mechanism involves atypical neurohormonal differentiation of the brain. Key areas for future research include the neurobiological basis of preferred sexual targets and correlates of female homosexuality.

I have read a pre-print version of the article and it offers a very good overview of the literature re: "gay genes". If people want I can try to summarize some of the findings.
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University of Manitoba Libraries
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skraame  



Joined: 13 Apr 2003
Posts: 11
Interests: Literature
Physical Location: Oslo, Norway

Posted: 6 Jul 2003, 9:29 am    Post subject: Summaries Reply with quote

I would love to read some summaries of these findings.
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Ryan  



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 33
Interests: Queer History and Biography
Physical Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posted: 21 Jul 2003, 5:41 am    Post subject: Some quotes from the Rahman/Wilson metastudy. Reply with quote

skraame wrote:
I would love to read some summaries of these findings.


OK, well, I've made it through the first half of the article, here are a few highlights so far on the findings from the Rahman/Wilson metastudy (page numbers refer to pages in the study referred to above):

- "The distribution of sexual orientation appears to be bimodal in men, whereas it is more variable in women, typically in the form of higher degrees of bisexuality...this is consistent with the notion that females have greater erotic plasticity (that is, women's sex drive being more influenced by situational and cultural factors than men's)..." p. 1340

- "...the relationship between childhood gender noncomformity and adult sexual orientation..is generally considered one of the strongest of all developmental associations in humans...homosexual men typically recall having been feminine boys, whilst homosexual females were masculine girls...the gender nonconforming behaviours appear to be specific to childhood sex-typed activities and interests, rather than playmate preferences." p. 1340

- "the second most consistent correlate of sexual orientation, in males at least, is fraternal birth order...homosexual men are found to have a greater number of older brothers than heterosexual men...homosexual women do not differ from heterosexual women in any category of sibling or sex ratio." p. 1340

- "It seems that sexual orientation aggregates in families, hinting towards a heritable basis, although not excluding a role for environment...Homosexual men have more homosexual brothers than do heterosexual men...whilst homosexual women have more homosexual sisters than heterosexual women." p. 1341

- "Gay men have more homosexual uncles and cousins through the maternal line than on the paternal side..." p. 1342

- "...it seems that, whether operationalized in terms of gender atypicality or as a primary trait, sexual orientation has a substantial genetic component, and that this may be located on the X chromosome." p. 1343

- "homosexuality is associated with greater non-right-handedness...homosexuals overall have a 39% greater likelihood of being non-right-handed; gay men 34% and lesbians 91%. Clearly, the realtionship between handedness and sexual orientation is stronger in women." p. 1350

- "Overall, the pattern of findings suggests that homosexual men are more masculinized in terms of digit formation and possibily genitalia, but female-like in pubertal onset, weight and height." p. 1353

- "It seems reasonable...to conclude that homosexual men show a trend towards sex atypicality in specific neural reasons [of the brain]." p. 1354

Anyways, more later. This should be enough for people to chew on and argue over :-)
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Ryan  



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 33
Interests: Queer History and Biography
Physical Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posted: 25 Jul 2003, 6:36 pm    Post subject: Rahman/Wilson Metstudy Quotes, Part 2 Reply with quote

OK, here's some more quotes from the second half of the study 'Born Gay? The Psychobiology of Human Sexual Orientation', Personality and Individual Differences vol. 34 (2003) pp. 1337-1382.

"Typically, males excel in cognitive tasks involving spatial rotational components, the largest differences apparent during mental rotation and spatial navigation...Females excel at verbal fluency, verbal working memory, and facial emotion perception...In addition to these sex differences, several independent neuropsychological studies suggest that, for gay men at least, cognitive performance is shifted in a "female-like" direction. That is, homosexual males perform poorly on mental rotation and better on verbal fluency tests as compared to heterosexual males." pp. 1354-1355

"Gay men are also les accurate on visuomotor targeting tasks (typically male advantage) compared to heterosexual men, and no better than heterosexual women...Homosexual women are, however, more accruate than heterosexual women on visuomotor targeting, and comparable to heterosexual men." pp. 1355-1356

"In any case, gay men clearly show a decrement in spatial processing." p. 1355

"An example of the fruitful use of homosexuality as a 'test case' of more general aspects of human sexuality is illustrated in research which suggests that homosexuals may be more like same-sex heterosexual peers on certain aspects of mate preferences. For example, gay men seem as interested in casual sexual enconters, visually explicit sexual material, attractiveness and younger age of preferred partner, as do heterosexual men. Lesbiand, on the other hand, show the same preferences as heterosexual women--in seeking longer term pair bonds and a low emphasis on partner attractiveness...This helps to constrain the number of developmental hypotheses about sex differences in heterosexual preferences, for example men's preferences for visually sexually explicit material cannot be due to the social subjugation of women, as gay men also prefer explicit material which depicts male homosexual encounters...Also, the male preference for younger aged partners is less likely to be due to cultural emphases on female youth and beauty." pp. 1370-1371
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Tiram  



Joined: 26 Oct 2003
Posts: 4
Interests: cats, history, myth and folklore, herbs, math, politics, things web (esp. standards), literature and good sex.
Physical Location: Oslo, Norway

Posted: 26 Oct 2003, 6:02 am    Post subject: Re: Nature versus Culture: Is homosexuality a choice or not? Reply with quote

skraame wrote:
Nature versus Culture: Is homosexuality a choice or not?


Does it matter?

I think that the research is interesting in itself, but I can't see that whether homosexuality is "natural" or not really matters. There are so many "unnatural" acts we find perfectly normal and perform every day -- and vice versa -- I can't see that it really makes much difference whether one's sexuality is genetic or not. Not to mention the fact that what is "natural" and "normal" is largely a cultural question.

For example, in most Western cultures a need to have some "alone time" is considered perfectly natural and normal. In many African tribes an expressed desire to be alone will have people thinking you are ill.

And wearing shoes is perfectly normal (to most of us, at least), but can hardly be considered "natural".

For the record, I do think queer sexuality is largely genetic and/or biologically determined, but that's beside the point.
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iynque  



Joined: 07 May 2003
Posts: 8
Interests: Art and design, music
Physical Location: Midwest US

Posted: 24 Dec 2003, 12:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As far as I know, the majority of evidence for the cause of homosexuality points to a genetic answer. However, there is nothing yet that can prove the cause either way (nature or nurture).

There are even those who don't want to find an answer and would actually work against finding a definite answer, trying to disprove or discredit anything substantial. The reason is that if we were to find the cause of homosexuality, the vey first response would be 'curing' it--genetic therapies for a genetic answer or mental therapy for an environmental answer.

Regardless of the cause of homosexuality, it is no more a choice than heterosexuality.
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Ryan  



Joined: 03 Mar 2003
Posts: 33
Interests: Queer History and Biography
Physical Location: Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Posted: 27 Dec 2003, 11:20 am    Post subject: Genetics and Homosexuality Reply with quote

iynque wrote:
...The reason is that if we were to find the cause of homosexuality, the vey first response would be 'curing' it--genetic therapies for a genetic answer or mental therapy for an environmental answer...

That's what I worry about too. Our science is growing at a faster rate than many societies' and governments' ability to adapt. Combine the genetic pinpointing of the "gay gene" and the continued and dangerous homophobia of many of the world's religions, add a dash of some people's greed and other people's desperation, and you could well have clinics set up to test for being gay. The good question is: What would people do with the knowledge? There hasn't been nearly enough discussion of these sorts of questions in my opinion.
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iynque  



Joined: 07 May 2003
Posts: 8
Interests: Art and design, music
Physical Location: Midwest US

Posted: 7 Jan 2004, 9:02 pm    Post subject: Re: Genetics and Homosexuality Reply with quote

It's an interesting scenario...

In the face of a "cure," I think that most out people would choose to keep their sexuality. The process of coming out and the results are often a source of strength, courage, and wisdom, which is not something that would be easily relinquished. However, I would wonder about those who have yet to come out. Would they choose to be who they really are, or would they opt for an 'easier' route?
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iynque  



Joined: 07 May 2003
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Interests: Art and design, music
Physical Location: Midwest US

Posted: 7 Jan 2004, 9:04 pm    Post subject: Re: Genetics and Homosexuality Reply with quote

...and that brings up another interesting point: Would there be any heterosexuals who would choose to be gay?
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