Mansplaining to others how people get the gay - Am I doing it right?

At a party last night some social acquaintances were discussing the SCOTUS decision on gay marriage and while they were fairly conservative in their overall outlook were taking a resigned approach to the issue one saying “Well … they say it’s genetic” and the other saying “Well my brother is gay so I guess he can get married now”.

I put down my beer and responded that it was not actually preordained in your genome but was “epi-genetic” in that the hormone levels in the mother’s womb at very precise time and development internals was the most powerful determinant. So yes, if your mom had a genetic tendency to have specific hormones flowing at specific times it was “genetic” to that extent, but it was not really “wired” into your genes from conception to be gay or not gay and beyond that environment would have big impact on how it was expressed.

Is this correct or is there new information super seceding this paradigm?

Actually, current studies have found that only about 10% of gay men were born that way and the rest were simply sucked into the lifestyle.


That 10% must have had their “hands” full.

It is possible that there are genetic or epigenetic factors that result in some people being gay. But the research is often used as part of a political argument that “gay people can’t help it”. Some, I assume most people who identify as gay have a natural preference in their sexuality but anyone can be gay for any reason. None of the genetic or epigenetic hypotheses explain why one identical twin is gay and the other is not (to my knowledge), and I know a pair of twins like that. People don’t have to justify their sexuality.

The toaster IS really tempting.

It’s not a toaster oven anymore?

Took me a minute to get the pun.


You’re not half kidding, either. Yowza.

We’ve had to downsize the recruitment budget, but it is a *fabulous *toaster!

I still think that if we upgraded to microwave ovens with a popcorn setting the quantity, quality, and caliber of the new recruits would over shadow the added cost.

Nah, Laura Dern spoiled it for everybody.

Well you’re gonna have to up the ante before I even consider switching teams.

I’m not an expert on the latest in the field, but first of all, a scientist would probably add at the beginning “we really don’t know, but there’s some evidence that maybe …”

Second, ‘epi-genetics’ does have kind of a specific narrow meaning in biology, and as far as I know, there’s no evidence yet that it’s involved in gay/straight differentiation (no evidence that it isn’t, either. We really don’t know).

Seriously, we don’t even know what physical differences there are between gay and straight people. It’s seems clear that there are some physical differences (if only in tiny details of brain wiring) because there’s fairly overwhelming evidence that sexual preference is set before puberty and fairly constant throughout one’s life*. But if we don’t even know what the differences are, it’s really hard to be confident we know what causes them…

  • within broad bands of course. And people do adopt to their surroundings, and what they actually do can change dramatically and also people are complex and strange enough that no single set of categories ever fits everybody, etc. etc.

I guess I thought that it was a scientific “fact” that a majority of gay men tended to have specific areas/structures of the brain “feminized” and the converse for gay women re having areas of the brain “masculinized”. Is this not the case now?

If one twin is gay, the odds that his identical twin will also be gay is higher, indicating some genetic or hormonal link. But since it’s an odd rather than a given, that would seem to demonstrate that there’s more going on.

It also would seem strange, to me at least, that a man would get a specific feminine trait (attraction to men) or vice versa, without all of the other gender traits. Certainly, it could happen, but predominantly if there was a hormal/genetic issue with confusion between male and female, I would expect it to have a greater overall effect than just adjusting sexual attraction. I would expect gay men to look more feminine - wider hips, narrower shoulders, a longer index finger, less rugged features, etc. But overwhelmingly, that is not what we see. Gay men seem to be just as big, burly, and manly as any other man. Gay women can tend to look a bit masculine, but I suspect that, that’s more due to weight, makeup, haircut, and clothing choice than anything innately physical.

I would also question how this attraction actually works? In most other mammalian species, on Earth, attraction is very straightforward. Generally, the female has a scent that she releases and that scent causes the male to get turned on and want to mount her. Humans do have scent glands, but on the whole we don’t seem to be terribly scent-driven. Our sense of smell isn’t very good and, so far as I am aware, scents don’t generally cause men to become erect. Often we start noticing our desired sex early in life, before puberty, when it is unlikely that either gender would be emitting sexy odors via their scent glands.

That would imply that we are visually driven. But image recognition, targeted to specific images, seem like something that’s far harder to encode into DNA than instictual reactions to a particular chemical hormone. Animal bodies are largely operated via hormones already, so making us susceptible to them is pretty easy. But specific visuals? Much harder.

And then getting back to what I had previously mentioned, we often find ourselves first noticing and talking about our desired gender before we hit puberty. And before puberty, the physical differences between male and female is pretty minute. So what we are meant to be recognizing, visually, to turn us on to one gender or the other seems pretty questionable, let alone whether our DNA can really encode that level of specificity into us.

Whereas, we know that Bonobos - one of the animals in closer relation to us - are pretty much free-wheeling when it comes to sexual behavior. For them, it’s just a more-the-merrier sort of thing, regardless of gender. We can also look back at ancient Greece and Rome and find ancient societies which seemed to think that, while marriage between man and woman was necessary as a means to create children, it was entirely reasonable (or even preferred) to have male lovers.

Scientifically, what evidence we have that homosexuality is linked to anything in particular is pretty limited. Personally, I don’t think that that’s because homosexuality isn’t genetic nor epigenetic. Rather, it’s because human sexuality is probably, by default, pansexual. Via logic, social cues, who the first person was when you thought of after finding out about sex, or who-knows-what, we mostly just learn to favor one sex or the other early on. And then, based on how poorly re-programming therapy has done, the assumption would be that our gender preference becomes locked in during our development phase and cannot be readily changed afterwards.

For some of us, there may be more to it than that (based on the twin studies). But currently, I would take the lack of evidence as a lack of evidence for innate sexuality overall, rather than as evidence of a lack of inborn homosexuality.

I would think “higher odds of gayness” among monozygotic twins suggests an environmental genesis. A genetic cause should lead to a perfect correlation of 1.0 among monozygotic twins, shouldn’t it?

Even mono-zygotic twins have different fingerprints and that divergence seems to happen in the first trimester. It will be interesting when scientists do discover the mechanism that leads to ‘teh ghey’. What will happen when someone comes up with a genetic test that will detect predisposition?

I’m not that up on research in this area, but I don’t think this was ever accepted as a solidly proven scientific fact rather than a “Some studies have found…” sort of thing.

Join now and not only do you get a toaster, a microwave, but we throw in this bobblehead Antonin Scalia doll!