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#SexFeed - Have scientists proven that homosexuality is genetic?

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Scientists say they have identified the “gay gene” – but is that a good thing or not?


Contributor: Smokedawg

VERY concerned about this, particularly if it's a single gene. We're not really that far off scientifically from the ability to turn on or off certain genes. If there's only one, you can bet many parents will choose to have it shut off in their children should it be found in them.

Contributor: Ghost

I am a scientist and as such I have access to (and have read) this research. I don't mean the HuffPost article that Roland found, I mean the journal article from the author (cited below). Here it is, for you to find and read for yourselves:

Camperio Ciani, A. , Fontanesi, L. , Iemmola, F. , Giannella, E. , Ferron, C. , et al. (2012). Factors associated with higher fecundity in female maternal relatives of homosexual men. J Sex Med.

Ciani has spent years researching this and she has many publications, and her work is highly unscientific (in my humble opinion). However, we all have to keep in mind that medical/psychiatric research and actual science are two different things. There is actually a book about this very subject (Born Gay: The Psychobiology of Sex Orientation - Wilson, Rahman) and it's full of similar, panic-inducing pseudo-scientific explanations all grabbing for some assurance that people are, indeed, born gay. Especially men. Most (all) of this research focuses on men. I recommend you read it, at least for laughs.

And Smokedawg, don't worry so much. She hasn't found "the gene" and I doubt she ever will. Her logic (that there is a genetic factor passed from mothers to gay sons) is based on a small sample size and extremely subjective data which, if held to any scrutiny, would be called out for what it is: incomplete case histories subjected to the not-so-impartial views of one researcher hoping to prove her theory.

Contributor: Smokedawg

I hadn't read the Ciani article, so didn't have any context as to how rigorous it was (I'm a medical/healthcare journalist myself). But since I've covered gene silencing often enough (currently conducted in research animals and not in humans, of course) in my own work, I'm very uncomfortable at the thought that there might be a single (or just a few) genes involved with homosexuality, since I know what human nature and the ability one day to semi-customize our children's genes would mean...

Contributor: Ghost

Hi again Smokedawg,

If you're a medical journalist, then you should be familiar with the quasi-scientific slant of many psychiatric/sexology findings, and Ciani's research is no exception. Ciani is a social psychologist, not a geneticist and has devised some really out-there evolutionary theories to explain these "findings". No genes have been found to date, and I have doubt a "gay gene" or even a gene complex will be found. There is research that indicates that in-utero attack of male fetuses by the mother's immune system (by other authors) may have some effect on male attraction and sexuality which is much more convincing, but I can think of no ethical way to counter that effect! Always that "blame the mother" thing.

And I know what you mean about human nature. This is one of those subjects that I wonder "why do they even receive funding?" The ethical ramifications of this kind of research are impossible to predict, and researchers may have the best intentions (political legitimation of homosexuality as "not a choice" for purposes of securing rights and privileges), but the implications can be used for both "good" and "evil".

Contributor: Smokedawg

One of my first articles for EdenFantasys for the Eden Cafe blog was actually on the issue of genes vs. environment and how I both suspect genes are a fairly minor part of it all and/or hope they don't find an underlying genetic basis.

The fact that homosexuality doesn't tend to run in families (as so many other things do) has always made me leery of genetic theories.

Frankly, the whole issue of sexuality is such a fluid and personal thing. Where I'm at sexually now isn't where I was at even five or 10 years ago. I think so much is shaped by our experiences and early connections and just life in general.

As for funding of studies, there are so many I just scratch my head over, not the least of which was the recent study looking at whether bisexuality really exists. I think we need more studies on "does common sense exist anymore" ;-)

Contributor: dsumrow1




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