A Conversation for Homosexuality

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 1


In the past strong taboos and social pressure forced many gay people to marry and have children. If homosexuality has a biological cause and that cause is genetic then the repression of the expression of this behavior could actually lead to the spread of genes for homosexuality. Presumably with social acceptance many gay people will choose to live together without having children, would this eventually lead to a reduction of homosexuals in the population?

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 2

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

That's an interesting way to look at the situation.

My guess would be no, and for several reasons. First and foremost, homosexuals are no more likely to give birth to homosexual children than their heterosexual counterparts. So while there are biological differences between gay and straight people, those differences aren't simply passed from one generation to another. Something more complex be involved that we don't entirely understand at this time.

Second, even if homosexuality were passed to children in the same way that eye or hair color is, there would be many current and future ways for homosexual people to continue to propagate their 'gay genes.'

Most simply, a male gay couple and female gay couple might cooperate briefly in order to have children. Or a female could have a one night stand or coordinate with a straight man with specifically to get pregnant. Or a teenager of either gender still trying to understand their sexuality might end up having a child, only understanding themselves as homosexual after the chlid was born.

Using more technological means, a female couple could go the route of artificial insemination. Or a male couple might pay a woman to inseminate herself with the sperm of one or both of them, after which the woman might or might not stay involved with raising the child.

In the future, it will likely be possible for the DNA of an egg to be replaced in part by the DNA of one male partner, and for the egg to be inseminated with the sperm of the other partner. Similarly, it may become possible for a sperm's DNA to be replaced with a stripped version of a female partner's DNA for insemination purposes. And of course, it may eventually be possible for babies to be gestated outside the womb altogether. Now we're talking about combining DNA in a way that wasn't possible previously, with both partners contributing.

Finally, the existence of bisexuality further muddies the issue. If there were a gay "gene," there's no guessing what the chances would be of a bisexual person passing it on to their children. And for that matter, straight people might have recessive copies of this "gay gene" that they pass on all the time. In that case, the gene's not going to disappear for generations, regardless of what happens with technology.

But all this is silly speculation. No gay gene has been located, and we won't know more until human sexuality is better understood.

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 3


In many cases the person is simply in the wrong shell. A male soul in a female body will result in a gay male just as for some women they are a male soul, stuck in a female body.

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 4

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

Gender dysphoria is a completely different condition.

A person who believes they were born in a body of the wrong gender might be gay, straight, or bisexual within the context of that biological gender they were born into. If they get a sex change after undergoing therapy and hormone treatments for years, they might be classified as gay, straight, or bisexual afterwards.

Most won't change their gender(s) of preference after surgery, though a few will. So most 'gay' people beforehand will emerge 'straight,' but the reverse is also true. And the exceptions to the rule are simply impossible to explain within your assumptions. I'm afraid there's no statistical relationship between orientation and gender dysphoria.

Admittedly, society's prejudices push us towards lumping the two unrelated phenomenon together. But if you ask me, that says more about us than about either gay people or people with gender dysphoria.

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 5


Hi Fragilis,

I am always willing to bow to the knowledge you have gained through your extensive research into and writing on sexual orientation and genders. And, I think I understand what you are saying about post-operative gender preferences. But, I'm not entirely certain that we can properly make these deductions.

Regardless of the psychological state, or voluntary physical reforming surgeries, the person hasn't actually 'changed genders', but merely took on the form of the opposite gender. At the cellular level, they are still what they were; or, at least, will be until we can do 'complete reconstruction of DNA' sex-changes.

They may 'feel' that they are now the 'correct' gender, and may simulate most of the characteristics of their new body (other than reproductively); but they also will never whether or not they feel the 'same' as a person naturally borne to the gender.

I suppose some large dog could be made to physically be indistinguishable from a wolf, but it would never know how wolves actually feel about their wolfness. Selective breeding has been used to try to recreate the extinct buffalo, but I'm sure that the genome has not yet been matched so well that the new strains are a match for the originals.

smiley - towel

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 6

Fragilis - h2g2 Cured My Tabular Obsession

You're right, of course.

And in the same way, we could belabor the point of the extent to which gender is biological and the extent to which it is socially defined and experienced. Some people go so far as to argue that if society were less segmented by gender and more accepting of wide ranges of behavior on both sides, less people would experience gender dysphoria in the first place. I feel unqualified to even express an opinion on that one.

Perhaps the most correct thing to say is that people with gender dysphoria start out feeling they are caught in between our society's definition of gender. They are neither clearly one gender nor the other, in that the mind and body don't seem to match. On the other hand, it's safe to say they aren't the exact biological (or even perhaps mental) equivalent of either gender after operation either.

All it all, it makes the stubborn push to define these people as
"straight" or "gay" seem a bit misguided. In my mind, the only thing to do is let them sort it out for themselves.

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 7


Absolutely, Frag:

Gender dysphoria isn't the only dysphoria out there, and we are always sorting it out for ourselves.

smiley - towel

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 8


I'm a lesbian, and I most definitely am not a man stuck in a woman's body. I'm ALL woman, baby!smiley - winkeye

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 9

Ascverlaren Cherry

I am trying to track down a very thought provoking article I read in New Scientist recently. Bear with me while I try to explain it from memory and forgive the rather clinical approach.

The basic premise is that there is a group of genes, for which each trait has a varying degree of 'dominance'; much like the gene for dark hair dominating that for light.

ie, D = Dark l = light.
Therefore, mixing these genes would give:

DD = Dark hair
Dl = Dark hair
lD = Dark hair
ll = light hair

The 'homosexual-linked' traits relate to sensitivity and caring behaviours (rather than the previously held belief in 'feminine' and 'masculine' behaviours) and are present in *every* human genome to a lesser or greater degree. However, it takes a certain combination of them to produce a homosexual trait. As such, even if no homosexual individual ever reproduced, the random nature of selection will always lead to homosexual offspring.

Homosexuality is not a choice and it is not evil; you could debate that it is a perfectly natural inclination, as is a predisposition towards weight gain or having blue eyes.

*AC clambers down from her soap box to admire first lengthy post*

evolution of homosexuality?

Post 10


There is actually a theory out there that homosexuality for several reasons, some being to keep the population in check by discouraging some members from reproducing while simultaneously encouraging the success of the population by caring for others' young. Similarly, there is yet another theory that the homosexuality "gene" within animals evolved so that it looks beyond its own bearer, for while gay animals rarely reproduce they can notice the presence of the gene in others, including the young, and encourage their individual success.

Purely an evolutionary standpoint. I'm gay, so its interesting to ponder the origins of this part of my identity.


evolution of homosexuality?

Post 11


Speaking purely personally as 95% gay woman/lesbian...I find the dualism of gay/straight a bit strange.

I could imagine women being very close...including sex but also having children.

I'm thinking hunter/gatherer situation though...which my understanding as a biologist is that our genetics are still principally evolved for.

Men out hunting...(mens business) Women doing women's business.

(But everytime I've talked about hunter/gatherer on h2g2 of late I got slammed....)

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