Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Third chromosome from the left... G.A.Y.

Sothere is a gay gene, or genes, or maybe not. Closer reading will show that only 200 men were studied, from one place, and the researchers believe that what they discovered could only contribute 20% of gayness.

More interesting is that the researchers confirmed that gay men are more likely to have elder brothers than elder sisters. Environmental factors are almost certainly going to turn out to be more important than genes in creating homosexuals, although that's not to say that this isn't an exciting avenue for research. Just think, soon you can be testing your kids for gayness! That should please the homophobes.

It's a strange thing, the gay gene. It's one of those things you wish were true but most probably are not (a bit like God or ghosts or luck). It would make arguing against the intolerant a lot easier if you could put it to them that they were hating something a person could not change and they could not refute that (of course, we feel gayness is something that a person cannot change, but the homophobes, especially their religious subset, cannot bring themselves to believe that: gayness is a sin and humans choose to sin).

I'm suspecting that this will turn out to be a correlation that is not repeatable across groups. The results seem a little sketchy to me, the product of wishful thinking. In any case, studies this small really need to be replicated in bigger groups with much greater variance among their members.

I'm interested further that the researchers believe that the relatively high level of homosexuality in ancient Rome might have been down to use of condoms and consequent low fertility. Personally, I've always believed that most men would fuck anything if left to their own devices and that social pressure, and often oppression, generally straightens them out. Classical society was not as repressive of gays as other societies have been. Rome patterned its culture on that of Greece, which believed pederasty to be an important part of social life.

We've all heard the stories of Afghans and their love of boys' bottoms and there are tribes in the Amazon that have institutionalised pederasty. Are these people rich in the genes in question? I hardly think so. I think, though, that there will be more gayness in a world that accepts gayness, just as there is more greed in a greedy world, and more love in a loving world. Let's face it, we're sheep. The sheepitude might be written in our genes if you insist on genes' explaining everything.


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