Gay Gene Lingers…


It’s a debate as old as time itself (okay, maybe not that long, but still…). What makes people gay? Nature or nurture? Construction or essential component? Countless theorists, doctors, and assorted wackos have ruminated on this matter for decades and, it seems, there’s no end in sight.

Chicago researches are using The Molecular Genetic Study of Sexual Orientation to recruit 1,000 pairs of gay brothers. Once recruited, the brothers will have their DNA harvested, examined, and analyzed in the five-year effort to find the elusive “gay gene”. The impetus for the study comes from new findings that suggests homosexuality runs in families.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports: “Homosexuality tends to run in families. While 2 percent to 4 percent of all men are gay, 8 percent to 12 percent of brothers of gay men are gay.”

While that’s good news for those of you with brother fantasies, many fear that proving the existence of faggotry’s natural biology will be used to find a gay cure. Researchers, of course, insist their findings will help quell homophobia. On the other side, religious conservatives worry that such a finding will cut holes through their virulent attacks on homosexualities alleged sinfulness. (But, we’re sure they’ll use the information to rid the world of gays once and for all.)

This is a debate we’ve followed for years and obviously there are pros and cons to such research. We’re torn, so we ask you: where do you stand on “gay gene” research?

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  • NYSailorScout

    IF this is actually true, this completely blows a hole in the entire “Ex-Gay” movement.

    IF this is biological, then being gay is about as sinful as having brown hair.

  • Nick

    That’s an awfully idealistic picture of the line of thinking that would result, NYSailorScout. Just because things are genetic doesn’t mean that they don’t get stigmatized, it just opens up avenues for a different kind of reparative therapy. Prenatal genetic testing to determine if the fetus carries the unfortunate gay gene, anyone? What about if a kid comes out as a teen, and Mom and Dad rush him/her off to see if they really have the gene.

    I’m just not so sure that it’s a good idea to have some sort of gay scarlet letter, for either the antis or the queers themselves to create another class of differentiation.

    Also, as usual, scientists are just flat out ignoring women and everyone who doesn’t consider themselves 100% homo or hetero.

  • Nick

    Oh, and Andrew, I forgot to mention–thank you so much for providing two perspectives in the article and not just jumping on the “Oh, yay, it’s going to be okay to be gay if they find the gene!” bandwagon. Kudos to you, darling.

  • NYSailorScout

    But if this is reality, we have to face it. If there is a gene, we can’t run from it because we are afraid that other people will use it against us. Living in reality is the most moral thing that we can do. I just need more evidence. What I’ve seen so far is not enough.

  • Lisa Frank

    Best headline from the Onion ever: Gay Gene Isolated, Ostracized.

  • Jabba Jabba

    Genetic manipulation is very complicated and it’s likely that if the gay gene is isolated, it would be such a complex mechanism to shut off that there wouldn’t be able to be a vaccine.

    I do worry that the gay gene can get “tagged” and then people would be able to choose not to have gay children. However, I’m unsure how quickly people would choose to abort a fetus that is gay. Conversely, although this scenario could occur, it shouldn’t be a reason to stop scientific research that could change people’s minds. A large number of Americans believe that being gay is a choice, but that if it weren’t, would not be as threatened by it.

  • Nick

    Scout, who the hell is running? All I’m saying is, be gay, be happy with it, and move on–we don’t need some gene to prove that it “isn’t our fault.” If you’re looking for some sort of comfort, as evidenced by your heavy-handed speech about “morals,” there are other ways to get it than science.

  • Martini-boy

    Also, strictly dividing science from social values is a hard task to do. The discovery of a gay gene might lead to other twist: namely, that of a ‘faulty’ gene. Heck, this idea is already circulating i.e. my sister believes I have this, which is her explanation to my queerness. If this is the case, then it could be grouped under ‘genetic defects’ and be pathologized once again.

    Also, the finding of a gay gene might bring issues of essentialism back to discussion about one’s being and behaviour. Just as women were (and still are to many) believed to have a motherly instinct/ a caregiving role/ an inferiority to males, etc, so gay men might be subjected once again to such a restrictive/ inferior status within society (correction: to as status that is even lower than what it already is). Individual characteristics and personal experiences will be ignored, and all gay men will be grouped together and treated the same…

    To that, I say, let’s just hope we have learned quite a few things from history.

    ONE LAST THING. This division between nature and nurture is HIGHLY problematic for me. It is, needless to say, a distinction that seems valid because it has been around with us Westerners (i.e. European and American) for so many centuries. Whey must there be such a strong distinction, I ask? Why can there not be an intersection, in various degrees, of both ‘nature’ AND ‘nurture’? And also, how do we know that there is not a third, fourth, or fifth, factor coming into play in the ‘formation’ and/or ‘development’ of homosexuality.

    And let us also remember (and thank Foucault for this one) that homosexuality is now being treated as a form of being. “I’m gay” people say; but before ‘homosexuality’ proper existed as a nominative term in the 19th century, the ‘homosexual’ as a person was unknown. Rather, the act of ‘sodomy’ – just an act, although one seen not so lightly – was something the was performed and did NOT define the individual’s central being. Taking on this medical search for a gene, then, would suggest that ‘homosexuality’ (aka attraction to a person of the same-sex) would be something that flows through one’s body – that is irrefutable – and not something that is, as many would argue, an attraction that merely pleases them, and is followed through because of the sensations it brings. It becomes, in a sense, an instinct. And this will be highly problematic in itself.

  • Martini-boy

    Oh, and I agree with Nick: why is there such a need to find it’s origins?! It’s hard to find a straight person out there who is looking for the origins of his/her heterosexuality. The way I see it: attempting for find a genetic/ hormonal/ pre-natal basis to homosexuality is a way of making it, in essence, ‘biological’. This need to biologize one’s sexuality is a desire to make it ‘natural’, and as such, to refute arguments about choice, sin, and re-orientation.

  • dan

    Im not a geneticist–please, I barely passed high school biology–but wouldnt most brothers be raised pretty much in the same environment. So that the odds of there being more than one gay in a family with more kids would be the case, whether homosexuality was “nature” OR nuture?

    There’s also the whole twisted idea that the Right’s anti-abortion stance will bite them on the ass. They finally devise a way to determine sexuality in utero, but they cant doing anything about it because theyve taken away all reproductive rights! HA HA! oh wait…crap.

  • NYSailorScout

    What are morals but science? Belief in the truth and reality is not seeking comfort. It is my moral code. Science is the ultimate morality because it believes that A is A, unless it is proved otherwise. There is a such thing as right and wrong.

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