Genetics word

By Abdul-Lateef Balogun

Freelance Writer – Malaysia


Propagating the Inborn Argument

In 1901, Havelock Ellis argued that homosexuality was inborn and therefore not immoral. This view was equally promoted by the famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud. By claiming homosexuality is inborn, proponents argue that it cannot be classified as an illness; it’s not a vice and it’s not something to be ashamed of or even practiced secretly. This and other similar psychoanalytic theories of homosexuality were soon shot down when great flaws were observed in the study approach. For instance, it was detected that the theories were not subjected to rigorous empirical tests (Herek, 2009).

It’s over a century now and this same argument is being put forward again, but this time more vociferously. Leveraging changing social norms, a politically stronger homosexual community and, most importantly, an amazingly strong media backing, the biological argument that homosexuals are born that way has found its way into the public domain yet again.

According to Dean Byrd, a clinical professor at the psychiatric department as well as the department of family and preventive medicine, University of Utah, “The initial ‘evidence’ used to support a biological model of homosexuality came from Simon Levay, Dean Hamer, and the research team of J. Micheal Bailey and Richard C. Pillard. Of the four researchers, three are self-identified homosexuals.”

Considering the homosexual orientation of these researchers, the outcome of their study isn’t really surprising. Explaining further, Professor Byrd pointed out the often ignored fact that Levay’s research had a number of limitations, including an insignificant amount of information about the sexual histories of the research subjects. Nonetheless, his unconvincing study was sufficient proof for homosexual activists and major media outlets to drive home their argument that homosexuality is indeed biologically induced.

“Opposing views were, for the most part, silenced. Any junior-level scientist could quite quickly see that this claim was far from accurate, but most dared not speak out for fear of being ostracized or even labelled homophobic.” (Byrd, 2010).

Interestingly, Levay eventually recanted when he apparently contradicted the media’s interpretation of his findings.

“I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn’t show that gay men are ‘born that way,’ the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain.”

“Since I looked at adult brains, we don’t know if the differences I found were there at birth or if they appeared later.” (Nimmons, 1994).

Surprisingly, while the mainstream media provided substantial coverage for Levay’s research, a similar gesture was not replicated when recent research showed that the media’s interpretation of Levay’s research was flawed (Leonard, 2005). The other major evidences given in support of the biological argument are not markedly different, a litany of half-truths, often times misinterpreted by the mainstream media.

Is there Really a Gay Gene?

Of all the studies generally put forward as evidence of a biological basis for homosexuality, Dean Hamer’s genetic study arguably enjoys the most mention. In this study, Hamer and his team asserted that a stretch of DNA located at the tip of the X chromosome is responsible for male homosexuality. If successful and widely accepted, the research would provide conclusive and irrefutable evidence for the claim that homosexuality in men is actually caused by a “gay gene”.

This would imply homosexual orientation in gays is a natural, normal and involuntary feeling triggered by certain genes in the body. In its desperation to provide undeniable proof for the ‘homosexuals are born that way’ argument, the media in its characteristic fashion latched onto this ‘new discovery’ and gave it unprecedented publicity. It was victory at last for the numerous gay rights movements, or so it seemed.

Just like similar studies in the past, this new finding too crumbled like a pack of cards under rigorous scientific tests and scrutiny. The first person to pick holes in this widely acclaimed new discovery was no less a personality than Yale University’s renowned scientist, Dr. Neil Risch, the very man who invented the method used by Hamer and his team in their genetic study.

“Hamer et al suggest that their results are consistent with X-linkage because maternal uncles have a higher rate of homosexual orientation than paternal uncles … however, neither of these differences is statistically significant,” Dr. Risch wrote (Risch, 1993).

In an attempt to validate his claims, Risch and his colleagues replicated Hamer’s study and their findings were revealing to say the least. According to these researchers, “it is unclear why our results are so discrepant from Hamer’s original study. Because our study was larger than that of Hamer et al, we certainly had adequate power to detect a genetic effect as large as was reported in that study. Nonetheless, our data do not support the presence of a gene of large effect influencing sexual orientation at position Xq28.” (Rice et al, 1999).

Rattled by sustained criticisms of his study, Hamer was apparently humbled and left with no choice but to acknowledge the limitations of his findings.

“The pedigree study failed to produce what we originally hoped to find: simple Mendelian inheritance. In fact, we never found a single family in which homosexuality was distributed in the obvious sort of pattern that Mendel observed in his pea plants,” he admitted.

Since homosexuality is not a result of some special genes in the body as often erroneously reported in the media, the million dollar question is: what causes homosexuality? Dr. Joseph Nicolosi, co-founder of US-based National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH) proffers an explanation.

“Homosexuality is most likely caused by a combination of developmental, social and (in some cases) biological factors,” he told “Developmentally, we most often see a failure to identify with the same-sex parent, and emotional isolation from same-sex peers.”

Explaining further, he mentions that the biological factors would be those that make a person grow up to feel less gender-identified. Known for the great influence it exerts on virtually all spheres of human behavior, the environment is yet another factor that plays a key role in shaping an individual’s sexual orientation. This includes the influence of family and peer relationships, as well as the media.

Yet another important fact, though rarely mentioned, is an individual’s choice in developing a sexual preference. In the words of Camille Paglia, a lesbian activist, “there is an element of choice in all behavior, sexual or otherwise,” and people can choose how they respond to unwanted homosexual attractions.

Researchers and medical experts might be divided on the actual causes of homosexuality; they might even have divergent views on its classification as a mental illness or otherwise. But what is scientifically clear is that the hyped idea of a single master gene that makes people homosexual is farfetched.

Wages of Sin

For Zachary Jackson and countless kids that are being parented by gay and lesbian couples, grave danger lies ahead.

“Children need both a mother and a father. They need to see how men and women interact in healthy ways. Two gay men and two lesbian women together can only distort these roles,” warned Nicolosi.

According to a child trends report, research clearly demonstrates that family structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents (Byrd, 2008).

Another cause for concern is the harm caused to homosexuals themselves.

“Anal sex is very damaging to the body and, I believe, to the psyche as well; it introduces more pathogens, because it misuses a bodily organ. Encouraging homosexual behavior will increase bisexual experimentation and distort our culture’s understanding of healthy gender roles,” he explained, adding that clients repeatedly complain that a gay lifestyle is unsatisfying and maladaptive for them.

Extensive medical evidence supports greater rates of medical disease among homosexuals. For instance, homosexual behavior has been identified as the major means through which the AIDS epidemic is transmitted in the United States. Furthermore, the rate of anal cancer infection is 10 times higher than that of heterosexual males (Byrd, 2008). Similarly, lesbians have higher rates of Hepatitis B & C, bacterial vagirosis, heavy cigarette smoking, intravenous drug use and alcohol abuse.

Considering the huge threats posed by same-sex marriage, it is expedient to nip this dangerously growing trend in the bud. If left unattended, the negative effects of same-sex marriage will not be limited to the participants alone, but the society at large will equally bear the brunt.

It is encouraging to note that people with homosexual orientation can actually be helped to change such orientation to a heterosexual one. Nicolosi offered the following advice.

“I believe our bodies tell us who we are, and that we were designed for heterosexuality, not for homosexuality, which distorts our true nature. The client can be helped to see how he or she really is connected to his or her biological gender, and we can help him break down the ‘mysterious’ image of the unavailable same-sex person that cause him to romanticize his own sex. People can reduce their unwanted attractions significantly, and develop their opposite-sex attractions to a degree varying from person to person, through therapy.”


Herek, Gregory. M. Facts about Homosexuality and mental health. (2009).

Byrd, D.A. Homosexuality: innate and Immutable? What Science Can and Cannot Say. (2010). Liberty University Law Review. Volume 4, Number 3

David Nimmons. Sex and the Brain, 15 Discover 64, 66 .(1994).

Sax, L. Why Gender Matters 208. (2005)

Neil Risch, Elizabeth Squires-Wheeler & Bronya J.B. Keats. Male sexual orientation and genetic evidence. (1993). 262 SCIENCE 2063, 2064

George Rice, Carol Anderson, Neil Risch & George Ebers, Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at XQ28. (1999). 284 SCIENCE 665,667

Byrd, Dean. A. Conjugal Marriage Fosters healthy human and Societal Development. (2008). what’s the Harm? University Press of America.

Acknowledgement: Special thanks to NARTH and Prof. Dean Byrd for making substantial resources freely available for this write-up.

  1. adilsud says:

    Homosexuality in Africa

    The common belief among Africans is that homosexuality is primarily a story of seduction by Europeans and/or Americans, in which the Africans acquiesced out of fear or from a desire for money. . . But we know that this is a lie, and this is an attempt to shed some light on our true history, that which our colonial masters had ensured was kept hidden from us. In the black/white relationships that did develop into homosexual unions, the white partner appears to have been the aggressor. No doubt the abuse of African people by European/American people has included sexual abuse. What is untrue, the lie, is that such abuse was the origin of African homosexuality.

    There are two false assumptions in anthropology. The first false assumption is that savage or primitive people know nothing about homosexuality; the second false assumption is that Africans were savage or primitive. Where there was clear and indisputable evidence of African homosexuality, anthropologists had to invent excuses in order to save these false assumptions, and that is what they did.

    The first excuse was that Africans learned homosexuality from the Arabs. Then the excuse was that Africans learned homosexuality by hustling Europeans. Anthropologists said homosexuality was only a corruption practiced by the overly rich chiefs. Then they said that poor people practiced homosexuality because the overly rich chiefs had monopolised all of the women in harems. They said it was only youthful high spirits: the African was not really homosexual; he was just real drunk last night. Every excuse you are likely to hear from a deep closet case was used by Euro-American academics in the attempt to explain away the facts. The facts were: homosexuality was found in almost every major African ethnic group that we know of, through all of the history we know of. Few of the societies of Africa could be called savage or primitive, but all over the world, those people who might fairly be called savage or primitive are perfectly familiar with homosexuality. Homosexuality is not the white man’s way. It is the way of gay people of all colours and nations, of all places and times.

    African Homosexuality

    One common mistake made, is that of confusing the popularity of homosexual activity with what gay people are doing and how they are treated. In Azandeland, in modern day northern Congo and the Central African Republic, most men, or at least very many men, had homosexual affairs. However, most men were still expected to marry women, father children, and so forth. The Azande knew very well that some men preferred to have sex with other men. Although every man was expected to marry a women, Azande customs provided a man with an excuse to have sex with another man whenever he wanted, throughout life. Marriage between warriors and recruits was only a part of the Azande accommodation to male homosexuality. The Azande were not a liberal people. They were the rare example of a society that punished female homosexuality while imposing no penalty on males. Because it was thought fatal to any man who witnessed it, female homosexuality could, in theory, entail the death penalty. But in fact female homosexuality was common and the public knew about it. In an Azande folktale two women conspire to fool a husband in order to get together. The most common sexual activity between men was intercourse between the thighs. This sort of adaptation is common in cultures where homosexual affairs become fashionable among non-gay men. We do not know what the gay, or preferentially homosexual Azande did. We only know the Azande knew there were such men.

    In societies where homosexuality becomes popular across the board, it is usual to find that older men choose unmarried young men and that the older men assume the role of top in these relationships. So it is perhaps instructive to look at two groups in Africa that went counter to that tendency. A good example of an African people with a tradition of male homosexuality between lovers of the same age was the Nyakyusa who lived north of Lake Malawi (aka Lake Nyasa). However important the family was in Africa, you cannot form strong states and vast empires such as Africa had, on the basis of family alone. Intermarriage helps some. But to build a strong state you must have forces that run across family lines, that hold the various families together, and that keep feuds and rivalries from tearing society apart. Various African societies have used various institutions to paste society together. There might be secret societies, like fraternities and sororities, especially in West Africa. There might be trade organisations or craft guilds. There may be dance associations or religious institutions. Very commonly, people are organised in age groups. The Nyakyusa of what is now southwestern Tanzania and northern Zambia carried organisation by age group to the extreme. They organised their villages by age group. One of the first things young Nyakyusa boys did, to show they were becoming responsible, was to herd cattle. Generally a boy and his best friend would herd their families’ cattle together. Pasturing the cattle gave the boys plenty of time to play around. And, of course, what they did was to have sex. They danced together, engaged in mutual masturbation, anal sex, and intercourse between the thighs.

    Oral sex, whether heterosexual or homosexual, was not very popular in traditional African societies. Most of them thought it was very bad. Oral sex or rape were considered serious crimes which might entail a cattle fine. All of the other things the boys did might get them a tongue lashing or a minor whipping if they were caught by the adults. But everyone knew what was going on and no serious attempt was made to stop the boys. At a fairly young age Nyakyusa boys had to move out of their fathers’ homes. At first they were likely to sleep with other boys in abandoned huts or other bachelors’ quarters in their fathers’ villages. Boys slept together, and naturally had sex with each other at night. So long as force was not used, no crime was reckoned to have occurred when the boys had sex. For the boys, homosexuality was considered a perfectly normal, if not completely desirable, sexual outlet that required no explanation, supernatural or otherwise.
    Eventually boys of the same age, perhaps from several parent villages, got together and began to form a village of their own. At first this was a boys’ village. The girls remained in the parent villages until the boys reached a marriageable age. In a sense, Nyakyusa villages have a life cycle from boyhood through manhood to old age. A village is child to some other villages, parent to some villages, and brother to yet others.

    Now, what do I mean by boys? In Africa you are a child until you become a boy. You remain a boy until you of an age to have a house, a female wife, and children of your own. Nyakyusa began having homosexual relations at 10 to 14 years of age. They seldom married before they were 25. So for ten to fifteen years of the most sexually active part of life, Nyakyusa men practiced homosexuality. Once they got married to women, and virtually all of them did, Nyakyusa men were supposed to stop having homosexual relations. Nonetheless, a few cases of relations between men and boys came to light. This was punishable by a cattle fine. It is said, however, that the men were not afraid of the fine, but of the shame of being caught in activity associated with witchcraft. In any event, Nyakyusa men did not believe it sacrificed their masculinity to perform anal sex in either position. They did not believe they were castrated in the middle of their burning skulls just because they had sex with their friends. Certainly the Nyakyusa public thought it peculiar if a man with a wife at home preferred to have sex with a man or boy, but that only raised questions of witchcraft, not questions of manhood.
    username “Anengiyefa”


  2. adilsud says:

    The Gay Gene: New Evidence Supports an Old Hypothesis
    Daniel Honan on June 16, 2012, 12:00 AM Extreme Biology What’s the Big Idea?

    If a so-called “gay gene” exists, what is the evolutionary logic for it? After all, you would expect that homosexuals would have fewer children than heterosexuals, so that any genetic cause of homosexuality would have been selected out of the gene pool a long time ago.

    The answer, as you might expect, is a bit complicated (if it’s even the right answer).

    A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine has found a link between homosexuality and female fertility. The mothers and maternal aunts of gay men have “increased fecundity compared with corresponding maternal female relatives of heterosexual men,” the authors of the study write.

    This study, which the authors note was based on a small sample and “would benefit from a larger replication,” supports the so-called “balancing selection hypothesis.” The gay gene — or genes — are thought to exist on the X chromosome, and “increase the reproductive value” of the female relatives. In other words, it makes the women more attractive to men, allowing them to produce more offspring. So while the ‘gay gene’ may not be passed down directly, it will survive over the course of many generations.

    Not only are the maternal relatives of gay men more attractive, more fertile and subject to fewer complications during pregnancy, the study also found these women are extroverts and generally happier. In other words, if you’re the mother of a gay man, you’re pretty awesome.

    Can this idea survive scrutiny?

    Bryan Sykes, the author of the new book, DNA USA, tackled this subject in a previous work, Adam’s Curse, and more recently in an interview with Big Think.

    According to Sykes, “there is some evidence that there is a genetic predisposition to male homosexuality.” And yet, in Sykes’s view, it is highly unlikely there exists “a simple gay gene” that you either have or don’t have. To put it another way, the idea that a simple gay gene exists “as a kind of mutation” is downright ludicrous, according to Sykes.

    However, Sykes also points out that there is some evidence that suggests the possibility of a genetic association with homosexuality without the existence of a mutated gene. He tells us:

    I think you could explain it by the way that mitochondria–that piece of DNA which I’m full of admiration for because they aren’t interested in men at all–are inherited down the female line. And they have ways, I think, of getting rid of male embryos and making sure that they’re propagated at the expense of males.

    One way that mitochondria might do this, Sykes says, is to influence some male fetuses during early development so these fetuses “do not turn into heterosexual males.” This controversial idea, according to Sykes, “would explain how you can have a genetic association without there being a mutant gene.” But why would mitochondria act this way? While it may sound weird, Sykes says this type of activity has been observed in many other animal species. He tells us:

    It’s the basis of how beehives work. There are bees working away for the queen bee with no hope of having their own DNA propagated in the next generation. I think there’s a possibility, at least it’s something to argue about, that a similar thing is operating in humans as regards male homosexuality.

    What’s the Significance?

    If the existence of the ‘gay gene’ is ever proven conclusively, it is unlikely to have much of an impact on the beliefs of some people who reject homosexuality as a “lifestyle.” After all, some of those people simply reject science. Indeed, there are some people who want to bury their heads in the sand, and that is an issue that impacts the field of genetics in general, gay gene or no gay gene.

    So what does genetics have to teach the rest of us about who we are? Quite a lot, says Sykes, if we’re in fact willing to find out. The other significant question, of course, is how much is our behavior pre-programmed in our genes and to what extent can we change ourselves and grow after we are born? Sykes has a good answer.

    While it’s “perhaps too deterministic” to say that your genes determine everything you do, Sykes says your genes are like a deck of cards. You’re dealt these cards, you’re influenced by these cards, but the rest depends on what you do with them.


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