Why are there so many gay people?

Turkey basters.

Another possible genetic explanation is that homosexuality might be an extreme manifestation of a trait that, in smaller doses, is beneficial for survival. For instance, there might be a gene which increases how much one is attracted to men. Such a gene would be associated with homosexuality in men, but with increased fecundity in women. Alternately, there might be a set of genes associated with male bonding. Get a small number of those genes, and you’re a pathetic loner. Get a moderate amount, and you can get along with other men well enough to do things like go on successful group hunts with them. Get a lot of those genes, and you end up gay.

Quoth Superfluous Parentheses:

Actually, the question remains valid if there’s any genetic basis for homosexuality at all. If there’s some gene or set of genes that increases the likelihood of the carrier being homosexual, then absent other considerations (the “gay uncle” benefit or whatever), one would expect that gene to gradually diminish and disappear, not for it to show up in a few percent of the population.

I thought the most recent research/hypothesis was pointing heavily towards the chemical environment in utero as opposed to mostly/purely genetic.

Not everything genetic (or even most things genetic) is a disease.

Anyway, we know skin color is genetic, and that doesn’t mean it’s acceptable to suggest it should be “cured”!

Pipped to the post - I read the same thing in respected journal The New Scientist (the UK equivalent of Nature). The statistical correlation is strong.

Single genes rarely code for major characteristics, as that would be way too dangerous given the likelihood of mutation somewhere critical. Instead, the bets are spread, if you like, so an inherited characteristic is carried in parts by many genes. It makes cracking genomes very tricky, but also means that seriously unhealthy mutations are the exception rather than the norm.

IIRC, as well as the genes inherited from our ancestors, we each pick up an average of 30 spontaneous mutations along the way. Nature likes to mix it up a bit.

As I understand it, what’s known so far:
The orientations of identical twins are not completely correlated, indicating that it’s not purely genetic.
The orientations of identical twins are, however, better-correlated than those of fraternal twins, indicating that it’s at least partly genetic.
And the orientations of fraternal twins are better-correlated than those of non-twin siblings, indicating that it’s at least partly dependent on the uterine environment.

I don’t think there are that many homosexual people, you just see a lot about it in the media. It seems to be a sort of new equality struggle for this generation. And many homesexuals tend to be outspoken about their sexuality.

And it might have to do with there being so many selfish strange undateable people out there. :wink:

But, generally speaking, not as smart as their parents thanks to regression to the mean. This also explains why many movie sequels suck.

“Since sickle-sell anemia is genetically determined, only people with sickle-cell anemia will have children who have sickle-cell anemia.”

The concept expressed by that sarcastic pseudo-quote is that “bad” (i.e., contra-survival traits may survive by being the result of reinforcement of an otherwise benign, indeed evolutionarily positive gene or gene complex. In the analogical example, resistance to malaria is conduced by the heterozygous presence of an allele that, when reinforced, causes sickle-cell anemia.

For purposes of this post, presume homosexuality to be genetically determined and to be contra-survival, i.e., the romantic-sexual attraction to the same sex and not to the opposite sex will minimize the interest in intercourse resulting in reproduction. This is not making a moral judgment, but simply identifying biological consequences.

Now, the idea given above that having persons in a cultural unit who are not burdened with child-rearing is a net benefit to the culture, hnce to the individuals comprising the culturel, and will thus, if genetically determined, be selected for, is certainly one worth considering. This would account not only for the presence of a small percentage of homosexual persons in the population but also for the survival of individuals past menopause (both male and female persons) – as culturally both will be of benefit to the people as a social group.

There is, however, another possibility, resulting from the ‘incomplete penetration’ concept of the anti-malaria/sickle-cell gene. Suppose that heterozygosity of an allele leads to something that is a positive survival trait, but that same allele expressed homozygously results in a homoxexual orientation (or can be triggered to). [Note: the coincidental use of homo- and heterozygosity was unintentional.]

As a hypothetical example, humans engage in male-bonding (and of coruse female-bonding as well; the name was given by male social anthropologists). That is, men work together as teams, establishing friendships, for common goals. While Og smites the mammoth, Ug and Thag are distracting it, enabling Og to get in position to do the smiting without being gored. In contrast Krag the Loner, hunting a mammoth by himself in the next valley over, is in the process of dying by evisceration by mammoth tusk, his genes unexpressed in the next generation. The Upper Midwest Marketing Team for Mammoth Industries is merely the modern expression of the same cultural trait.

But a gene causing bonding to someone of the same sex, for friendship and mutual benefit – what happens if that is reinforced? Would a romantic-sexual component being added to the friendship-mutual benefit one make sense?

Just as a less-than-10% incidence of sickle-cell is preserved because that is the consequence of maintaining a reserve of malaria-resistance allele in the population, a less-than-10% incidence of homosexuality imay well be the consequent of retaining a reserve of the mae-bonding gene.

Then, of course, the fact remains that homoseuxality, though not a choice, may not be genetically determined, bu congenitally or by the consequences of early childhood environment.

Yes, you’re right, I didn’t think that through, or present it well. I actually mainly wanted to make the point that any cause of homosexuality that wasn’t genetic would lead to there being gay people even now.

Evolution doesn’t do what’s best it does what works.

If something works, there’s no reason to change it. The goal of evolution is to reproduce and make new genes. Well humans are excellent at doing this, especially in the last 100 years.

So there isn’t an anwer to the OP question because there’s no need to answer it.

As long as humans survive to reproduce that is what works.

Look at the cough reflex. The windpipe and foodpipe cross. This is a HUGE flaw in design. And even though thousands of people each year choke to death the design flaw isn’t enough to stop reproduction.

For the sake of argument, no insults intended, let’s assume that homosexuality is a design flaw. As long as there are enough straight people to keep the gene pool going, it doesn’t matter.

Even if you accept (the outdated statistic) 1 of 10 people are gay, that isn’t enough to put a stop to the evolution.

Homosexuality can’t be a strict gene thing, 'cause there are lots of identical twins where one is gay and one isn’t. Though it clearly leans in that direction it isn’t enough to point to a definate genetic link.

Another piece of interesting evidence is the more children a woman has the greater likelihood the later children will be gay. I am a gay male and the 4th and last child of my mother.

Most gay people I know are the youngest or near the end. But I do know a few people that are gay and first born and all their siblings are straight, so that isn’t a strict rule obviously.

Finally, we can’t answer this because you have to define “gay” or “homosexual.” Remember a sex act does not a homosexual make.

As a gay male I find it odd that, someone will say “Oh he’s gay, he had sex with a guy he MUST be gay.” But when I point to them and say “have you had sex with a girl,” they usually say, “yes.” But that doesn’t make them straight.

For example, I read in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine where singer Daryl Hall was asked if he was gay. He replied, he had sex with a few guys but he has a long term girlfriend and no longer has any interest in men. (And for the record Hall states Oates is 100% straight :)).

Remember Steve the “Dell Dude” (real name: Ben Curtis)? He is an actor now and his father left his mother and came out. His father was a minister. So of course Steve was asked if he was gay. He replied that he had sex with men, “just to see what it was about,” but didn’t care for it and he said he likes women.

OK so how do you class those two. Are they gay just because they had sex with a few guys? I am a gay male and I wouldn’t consider either man gay. But I could find a lot of people who would argue endlessly they are gay and surpressing it.

So it’s really hard to get any real evidence, because you can’t really tell.

So if homosexuality is a design flaw it isn’t a big enough flaw to stop the evolution process, just like the way the exchange of food and air pipes isn’t a big enough design flaw to kill off humans in big enough numbers to effect evolution

Another reason is that cultural factors can suppress the expression of a gene in its influence on behavior. Alcoholism, for instance, may have a genetic component, but in a culture where drunkenness is severely condemned or access to alcohol is limited, the negative consequences of alcoholism can be reduced or eliminated.

Similarly, maybe you are a lesbian because of a combination of your genotype and your environmental influences. But if you are captured in a raid on your group by the neighboring hunter-gatherers and taken as a wife by one of the raiders, you are probably going to bear a child a year whether it is your preference or not.

Even in cultures like the ancient Greeks, a man was expected to marry and reproduce even if he was as gay as green on Thursdays.

My own WAG is that it is probably a commonly-recurring syndrome associated with the evolutionary change in primates away from a mating season to year-round sexual availability.


And it’s a function of number of children (or number of males, don’t remember which) already born, chances go up further down the line you are born.

Oh yes, I forgot about curing black people.
If you read something completely outrageous on the internet, it is usually a case of either irony, or a complete idiot.

There are so many forces at work in evolution that it’s a trivial matter to propose multiple solutions to the problem posed in the OP, as seen in this thread so far.

Or number of previous pregnancies of the mother – which I’ve seen claimed.

I’m not sure what you mean. You seem to be saying that as long as things work well enough to keep humanity from going extinct, natural selection will not favor any innovations or tend to eliminate anything. This is just wrong. There are plenty of reasons why something might be non-optimal, but you haven’t pointed to a specific reason for this in this case. In fact you seem to be dismissing all questions about why things are one way when it would seem that selection would favor something else. This is unjustified. In fact, if we were to make some simplistic assumptions, we could calculate the rate at which a “gay allele” would decrease in frequency.

I thought the latest research was that being gay had a lot less to do with genetic factors, and was, to a large extent, a random dice roll as a function of the inter-utero hormonal environment of the fetus at very specific time windows of development, with higher than normal concentrations of testosterone or estrogen (at those critical development points) tending to feminize or masculinize the mental development of the child.

If this is true gay people will continue to be produced regardless of their tendency to procreate.

Well, you see, a closeted lesbian and a closeted gay guy get together out of civic duty to continue the species…

Oh, you mean that’s NOT it? (choice between :confused: and :wink: )

ETA: A turkey baster is still involved, right?

Wow, so there really ***WAS ***an Adam & Steve . . . we just got their names wrong!

That would make sense if homosexuality were limited to the primates. But as I understand it, it’s found in just about every animal species where they’ve looked for it.

So did I. But they haven’t been able to show this happens in humans due some pesky ethical considerations. Something about experimenting on humans being undesirable or some such. Very inconvenient for the progress of science, to be sure.

But it seems to me they could get around those restrictions by just taking blood and amniotic samples of a large number of pregnant women during the critical times of their pregnancies. Then some 14 or so years later interview the offspring for their sexual orientation. Has anyone tried this or perhaps is in the process of doing this?