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View Full Version : Gay Gene? Is this for real or just speculation?


Daowajan
10-25-2001, 06:56 PM
Tonight I'm going to a club meeting where one of the bio professors is going to talk about the so-called "gay gene." I'll post highlights when I get back.

I'm not too confident: the club that's sponsoring it is run by a girl who tried to pass off Klinefelter Syndrome (genetic disorder in which a man ends up with an extra Y chromosome(I think)) as a separate gender.

I'm glad I have my 18,000-member bullshit detector. What's the scientific evidence for the gay gene? If it doesn't exist, then what causes homosexuality?

Cargogal
10-25-2001, 07:37 PM
The 'gay gene' was hypothesized because studies showed a greater incidence of both siblings being homosexual when the siblings in question were identical twins (genetically identical) instead of fraternal twins (born at the same time).

MHO, it leaves out how very much 'closer' identical twins are.

You're going to have to come up with a good definition of homosexuality if you're going to study it, BTW. I have bi friends, friends who were gay and went straight, friends who were straight and went gay, friends who call themselves straight but like sex with people with the same plumbing. Sexuality is a gradient, and this is turning into a Great Debates thread. ;)

Duck Duck Goose
10-25-2001, 09:52 PM
Highlights.

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/living/DailyNews/gaygene990422.html

A team of researchers at the University of Western Ontario in Canada has found no evidence of the so-called “gay gene,” directly contradicting studies from 1993 and ’95 that pinpointed a specific genetic marker on the X chromosome linked to homosexuality in men.

<snip>

That’s why the gay community welcomed the 1993 study by biologist Dean Hamer of the National Cancer Institute. Hamer found that in 40 pairs of gay brothers, 33 had the same set of DNA sequences in a region of the chromosome called Xq28.

<snip>

Attempting to replicate those findings, Ontario neurologist George Rice examined the DNA of 52 pairs of gay brothers, and found that their Xq28 sequences were no more similar than what might be expected from sheer chance.
Rice’s results appear in today’s edition of the journal Science.

Here's the article, but they want you to register (free).

Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28
George Rice, Carol Anderson, Neil Risch, and George Ebers
Science 1999 April 23; 284: 665-667. (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/284/5414/665?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=rice%2C+g&fulltext=gay+gene&searchid=1004063901449_5855&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&fdate=10/1/1995&tdate=10/31/2001)

Here's a followup that evidently does not require registration.

Genetics and Male Sexual Orientation
Dean H. Hamer;, George Rice, Neil Risch, and George Ebers;
Science 1999 August 6; 285: 803 (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/285/5429/803a?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author1=rice%2C+g&fulltext=gay+gene&searchid=1004063901449_5855&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&fdate=10/1/1995&tdate=10/31/2001)

Erwin Deja Wu
10-25-2001, 11:27 PM
Yes there is. I fortunately was born without it. :eek:

Daowajan
10-25-2001, 11:52 PM
Are you entirely sure? ;)

BTW, the lecture was basically "We don't know." There were some interesting theories though. And I'm glad one of the actual professors was talking about it, rather than some punk student with an armload of Internet research.

Dale The Bold
10-25-2001, 11:54 PM
I always thought it was personal choice. People do fluctuate between preferences, I'd hate to think we have no control over our decisions. I think it was a ploy to spread tolerance. Well intended, but no longer needed. i think we all understand now. But I say call a choice a choice, let people decide for themselves and don't condemn anyone.

PosterChild
10-26-2001, 12:08 AM
Originally posted by Dale The Bold
I always thought it was personal choice. People do fluctuate between preferences, I'd hate to think we have no control over our decisions. I think it was a ploy to spread tolerance. Well intended, but no longer needed. i think we all understand now. But I say call a choice a choice, let people decide for themselves and don't condemn anyone. What a person feels/desires is not a choice, but what they do about it, is. You probably didn't choose to be attracted to the opposite sex any more than someone who is gay, did. Or do you think you think if you felt societal pressure you could choose to be gay?

Interesting thought.

Earl Snake-Hips Tucker
10-26-2001, 12:11 AM
I don't know about gay genes, but one study some years ago said that men with small hypothalamus glands are more likely to be gay.

bibliophage
10-26-2001, 02:20 AM
I want to avoid having a debate in this forum. Let's stick to the facts, people.

bibliophage
moderator GQ

Duck Duck Goose
10-26-2001, 08:48 AM
Well, one fact is that the results of the first study haven't been reproducible so far.

Another fact is that the first study was based on a really tiny sample.

And finally, I think I'm not too far out of line to state that it's not likely that anybody's gonna get any more funding to study it, now that we've all got that big red "A" hovering over us.

So, to address the OP, the existence of a "gay gene" is still just speculation--"not proven".

MMI
10-26-2001, 09:07 AM
I am not a geneticist (IANAG?) but earlier this year I read Genome, by Matt Ridley. It is at home, I am at work. (Alas, such is life)

IIRC, there is a gene that is active in a proportion (maybe 1/3) of the gay male population that is not active in non-gay males. So the most we can say right now is that there may be a genetic component in some male homosexuality.

I think there also may be some issue in separating out biochemical, environmental and pure hereditary factors in why a gene is active.

I should probably look through it again tonight

breaknrun
10-26-2001, 09:20 AM
Originally posted by Daowajan
I'm not too confident: the club that's sponsoring it is run by a girl who tried to pass off Klinefelter Syndrome (genetic disorder in which a man ends up with an extra Y chromosome(I think)) as a separate gender.


This just came up tangentially in another thread. Klinefelter's is a case of XXY so it's a man with an extra X chromosome. Caroline Cossey, a famous James Bond girl, is an example of this. Not all men who have Klinefelter's feel the need to crossdress or go through sex reassignment surgery.

Regarding the gay gene, I've been hearing similar things like gay men have brains more like women or some such for years. Never been proven yet. I imagine it would be in the news if a study ever conclusively settles this question.

booklover
10-26-2001, 12:05 PM
There's been all kinds of stuff in the news---you just have to keep your eyes/ears peeled. Among them is the hypothalamus & gene thing (for gay men) and the two really peculiar things that have popped up about lesbians: that, supposedly, we HEAR more like straight men do (has something to do with less ability to hear high-pitched sounds) and that a specific digit on lesbians' hands (ring finger, I think) is supposed to be longer than those of straight women. Both of the lesbian things are attributed to possibly being exposed to more androgens in the womb.

I don't know whether we'll ever settle the nature vs nurture question---I happen to think it's a combo of both.

RainbowDragon
10-26-2001, 12:46 PM
I have met a gay Joe, a gay Brian, and a gay Steve… Haven’t yet come across a gay Gene, so I doubt if he exists. If he does, I bet he is probably using his middle name instead.

Esprix
11-02-2001, 01:20 AM
If anybody does want a debate, I'd be happy to point you to the links in my .sig. Thank you.

Esprix

kniz
11-02-2001, 01:28 AM
Would that gene also have anything to do with an aptitude towards interior decorating?