Will tolerance towards gays reduce their numbers in the long term?

Some thoughts
(1) It is assumed that being gay has biological origins (people ar “born gay”)

(2) Gays in less tolerant societies ended up marrying people of the opposite sex,and had children, thus passing on their genes.

(3) Now, in societies where there is tolerance for gays, they do not marry people of the opposite sex. As a result only a few, I would think, have children, and so their genes are not passed onto the next generation.

So, do the above facts imply that in the long term, the number of people who are gay will diminish?

If not, which of the above points is false?

Is there a problem with (1)? Is it possible that while being gay has biological origins, it is not something that is inherited?

I should point out that for it to be an inherited trait, it does not mean that 100% of the children of gay people will be gay, just that the children have a higher probability of being gay than the children of non-gay people.

If this is the case, then even if no gays ever had children, there would still be some people born gay from non-gay parents. However, the numbers will be much lower than if most gays had children, which is what I assume happened/happens in less tolerant societies.

Bravo, Polerious, that is actually a very perceptive and interesting point which I, for one, had never considered. All your own work?

Even if “tolerance” ultimately extends to allowing gay people every right or service granted to straight people, such that a gay man could father a child via artifical insemination of a surrogate mother, the number of women prepared to come to such an arrangement would still, I guess, lead to fewer gay men fathering children compared to a society which pressured them into straight marriage. (Gay women would appear far less constrained in this respect.)

I don’t see a particular “problem” with this, and in any case the biological origin of homosexuality might be rather more complex than, say, eye colour.

(Designing heterosexuality via genetic manipulation is rather more problematic, but a different debate entirely.)

As you state, it might be biological without being genetic. In the famous “twins study,” it was found that one’s identical twin had a 50/50 chance of being gay if their sibling was.

We can’t trule out hormones and other factors.

True, but I’ve known at least one gay couple who paired up with a lesbian couple, and went the artifical insemination route.

We have the technology.

There will be fewer unexpected/unwanted pregnancies, of course. But frankly, from both a social and an ecological perspective, fewer unwanted children can only be a good thing.

There are other factors of course.

In a world without homophobia, I doubt gay teenagers would be attempting (and succeeding at) suicide at an elevated rate.

And in a world where married men weren’t furtively sneaking out to saunas and bathrooms for sex with men, it might be easier to reach them with messages about AIDS. Plus, some men don’t use condoms as a very passive mode of suicide.

Of course, in a world without homophobia, there’s no gaybashing. No Matthew Shepherds.

Frankly, on the balance, I think our numbers would go up.

This is where your argument falls apart. If it’s possible for a child of two heterosexual parents to be gay, then there’s no reason for the number of gay people to decrease.

When I was a kid I used to raise mice. Once I let the largest cage get to crowded. There were about two families in there - boys and girls. Some of the boys (not all) started to have sex with each other. I can’t say for sure they became exclusively homosexual, however. But for the short time I allowed the cage to stay that crowded, pregnancies became fewer. I was a kid, though, and this was not a scientifically experiment.

However, It lead me to a hypothesis. Homosexuality may be a natural and unconscious reaction/remedy to overpopulation.

So it may not be genetic in the sense that it can be inherited like say, eye color, but it may be a latent trait that some people have that will manifest itself when necessary. Kinda like the ability some fish have to change sexes.

Just a thought. I don’t know if anyone has done research on this type of thing.

They didn’t always do that anyway. You’ve heard of the phrase “confirmed bachelor?” It’s not a new one.

The discussion I’ve seen here (very scientific) supports the theory that it’s biological but not genetic. Horomones in utero seem to be the #1 factor.

I have no idea if that’s even true. There is - as has also been discussed a lot here, just like everything else related to homosexuality - no ‘gay gene,’ and thus it can’t be quite as simply passed on.

I think PussyCow is right that sometimes you’ll see that happen in the animal world. There are also some species that have sex for pleasure, and apes in particular don’t seem to be very picky about who they mess around with.

Lastly, while homosexuality is tolerated more these days, in general non-traditional families are increasingly tolerated as well. So it’s no longer so scandalous if, say, a lesbian is impregnated by a friend or donor and raises the child with her partner.

I am not a biologist, so the following is conjecture rather than the product of research.

I think homosexuality is inherent. Homosexuals are born, not made. The question is why. My theory is that is has to do with hormonal imbalance.

(Please don’t read any bias into the word “imbalance”. I use it to illustrate a deviation from the heterosexual norm. And I mean a statistical norm, not a societal one.)

Look at stereotypical gay men. They exhibit outward and inward traits usually associated with females. Stereotypical lesbians dress and behave more like men than women. Why? Because I think they are driven by the same hormonal imperatives that govern typical behavior in men and women. The greater the hormonal deviation within the individual, the greater the incidence of stereotypical behavior and appearance. This hormonal variation would explain the spectrum of homosexual behavior from stereotypical to biexual curiosity.

Is the imbalance genetic or spontaneous? If it’s genetic, Polerius might be onto something. If it’s simply random chance, then homosexuals will continue to be part of the human population in numbers that stay fairly stable.

Why? Because that’s a stereotype used to mock and deride. However, it does not represent most gay men and women.

I’m not a biologist, but I definitely remember seeing a television “news segment” on the same topic back in the '70s. It was as you said – mice raised in an enclosed environment started to display homosexual tendencies as they became more crowded, and the population self-regulated over time.

I’d wager that, when the root origin(s) of homosexuality are found, some of it will be related to external factors affecting in utero fetal development.

That’s right, Homebrew it IS a stereotype, and I don’t think Evil One intended to offend. HOwever, it cannot be denied that several (not all, maybe not even most) gay people act this way. So I don’t think we should get mad at Evil One for making this observation and speculation, let’s give him (her?) the benefit of the doubt:

If I understand what you’re implying, Evil One, you think lesbians may be lesbians due to an elevated amount of male hormones? Like testosterone? And males that are gay have more female hormones, like estrogen?
I think if this were the case it would be easily studied and there is most likely already a study out there. However, I have not taken the time at this time to Google such a study. Mostly because if it were that simple we would have heard about it long ago. So I don’t think this is the case.
Or am I misunderstanding what you are saying, Evil One?

Is this an attempt at sarcasm **SentientMeat **?

From your first sentence I would think yes, but the rest of your post indicates otherwise (since you seem to agree with my position: “… lead to fewer gay men fathering children compared to a society which pressured them into straight marriage”)

If the children of non-gay people have, say, a 10% chance of being gay, and the children of gay people have, say, a 20% chance of being gay, don’t you think a society in which no gay person has children would have less gay people than a society in which all gay people end up having children?

That’s an extremely strong assumption. Besides, if the heterosexual population is increasing, that 10% keeps getting larger and larger.

Can you provide a cite for this?

A quick google search resulted in the following from PBS

It was just an example. OK, let’s change the example so that it is not so extreme:

If the children of non-gay people have, say, a 10% chance of being gay, and the children of gay people have, say, a 20% chance of being gay, don’t you think a society in which, say, 30% of gays have children would have less gay people than a society in which, say, 80% of gay people end up having children?

Yes, but not percentage wise. Maybe in absolute numbers, but as a percentage of the whole population, it would decrease.

Without running a simulation, I can’t say either way, but what if those numbers are inaccurate?

I think this is a fascinating topic, Polerius; I’m not being sarcastic, I really do find it interesting. However, even if everything you outline in your OP is deemed accurate, I don’t think that the gay population will diminish very much (as a percentage) because, at the same time that technology is making it easier and easier for gays to reproduce without having to have sex with straight folks to do it, more and more straight couples are choosing not to reproduce. Add to that Hamish’s assertion that in the future there will be fewer gay teens committing suicide and fewer gay adults murdered on the grounds of their sexuality, and I suspect the numbers will still even out.

Were I not giving Evil One the benefit of doubt there would have been a link to a Pit thread rather than my existing calm comment. Further, while I accept that some gay people approximate the stereotype, it’s far from most and probably not even approaching a significant percentage.

On top of that the stereotyped “traits usually associated with women” are gender stereotypes tied to a very outdated and somewhat misogynistic past. These gender roles have been broken decades ago and are increasingly irrelevant.

This is from an old thread here, called “Will Homosexuality Disappear?”.

Posted by annaplurabelle:
“Actually, most researchers are now assuming multiple causal factors, in this order of viability: prenatal wash (congenital), genetic, environmental. Genetics alone has been ruled out - google the twin studies.”

And then she made an even more detailed post to answer my questions.
"Studies have already linked androgen and testosterone levels in utero to sexual preference variations in both genders. Research is impeded by the pesky fact that experimentation on live human fetuses is a bad thing to do. So nothing conclusive…

Interestingly, the in utero environment is also altered by birth order and/or gender of prior births:"


While I find it an interesting enough thought experiment, I’m not sure what difference it makes. To me, a world with 50% of the population being homosexual is no better or worse than a world with .000005% of the population being homosexual. Okay, the parties might be a lot more boring in the latter case. :slight_smile: If homosexuality (or heterosexuality) disappeared in a thousand years, I’d be fine with it, as long as it naturally occurred. When we start fiddling around with things to make it happen, it shows that homosexuals are not thought of as equals, and I have BIG problems with that.