Oil

Gay Genes Gone Bad

Possibly one of my weirdest posts ...

Many gay people claim they don't have a choice. They're born gay. Personally, I think some people may choose to be gay or bisexual, but there has certainly been some circumstantial evidence to suggest that there may be a genetic component to sexuality. And what if there is? What if it's proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that sexual orientation is genetically determined? Will gay people dance about in joy, knowing that one of the strongest arguments against their lifestyle has been destroyed? Perhaps they will, but perhaps they shouldn't.

Think about it. We're getting closer and closer to the point where we can have designer babies. Blond hair or red? Brown eyes or blue? Gay or straight? Now seriously, how many couples are going to order a gay baby? What's worse, with some parents now deciding to abort their children because tests confirm a serious genetic disorder, will parents decide to abort gay babies? (They're already aborting many girls in China.) That will be interesting -- watching the Right-to-Life Christians crusade to save the gays.

Many (perhaps most) people will choose not to order a gay baby; some people will choose to abort a gay baby. There will, of course, be one notable and terribly ironic exception: ultra-conservative religious types who feel that genetic manipulation is against God's will, as is abortion. Will it be possible, in the future, that almost all gays will be born to them? Do I applaud the humor or feel bad for the children? Decisions, decisions ...
  • Current Mood: amused amused
  • Current Music: MC Hawking | Fuck the Creationists
Interesting supposition...

One argument that the pro-gay rights (e.g. marriage) groups claims is that gay couples - albeit lesbians - can have children through invitro fertilization. As a gay group who can physically have children, would we see an INCREASE of gay children born to them? From many of the articles and documentaries I've seen on the subject of gay parents, many do not want gay children either.
Because they understand the angst from growing up with that stigma against them. The strongest supporters I ever met for teen abortions were enlisted servicemen's wives, who experienced firsthand the life-altering repercussions of a "shotgun wedding from an accident" adventure.
hm....
I have read most of the literature on the "gay gene" argument, and to be honest I think it is a bunch of crap.

There is WAY too much societal variation in cultural systems of sexuality across space and time for genes to have much effect. If there is a "gay gene," then societal influences MUST be able to override them. The whole field of anthropology points to this.....

The mainstream gay rights movement has used this gene research to push their case more for discursive advantage than anything else. Trying to explain to the population that sexuality is socially constructed, and that just because our sexual system is created through culture does NOT mean that you have a choice in the matter.....this is just too much for a political movement to explain in a 30 second snippet.

I do not ever think there will be a gay gene test, it is just not posible, and even if there was one it would be so grossly inacurate that it could never be marketed in our capitalist medical care system from hell.
Re: hm....
You may very well be right and, I suspect, you probably know a hell of a lot more about the topic than I. The point, however, was the delicious irony of the predicament this would cause for the religious right. It's just too exquisite. I have to smile.
Re: hm....
I'm with you and against you. My belief: We ALL have the gay gene. Some of us are more subject to it than others. But I agree that socialisation is a big issue. You can't tell me that the Italians-when-it-was-OK-to-be had more of the gay gene than the now-catholic-not-ok-to-be-gay folks in the same region.

People are sexual. And if I like anal sex and blowjobs, that doesn't make me gay, that makes me horny. The gender of the [recipient of my seed] 'bottom' has little bearing on my horniness, except for the fact that I have been socialised to like boobies and koochies better.

right?

I still find it interesting that, usually, even in societies where homosexuality is frowned upon (sometimes by death) that 10% of people are gay (in those extreme places, they just have to hide it, right?). Forgot where I got that number, but intuitively, it makes sense.
Re: hm....

While I agree with you to a point that sexual behaviour is a social construct, that doesn't explain why homosexual behaviour has been documented in numerous other species. If society passes patterns of thought and behaviour from generation to generation, and we believe that sexuality is a learned behaviour, would we then believe that the existence of a gay horse can in some way be explained by factors in horse culture?
Re: hm....
That is the argument that sociobiologists use.

In every species there are super aggressive members, does this mean that muderers are biologically driven?

In every species there are those mothers that kill their young, does that mean that infanticide is biologically driven?

In every species there are those individuals that do not follow their normal species bonding system. Either not bonding with others, or trying to bond when the norm does not. Does this mean that anti-social behavior in humans is biologically driven?

There are all sorts of examples. I would argue that animals, including humans, are sexual creatures and that there is a bell curve of variation. The variation is much larger over space and time than anything that can be explained through biology. Yes, there are some members of every species that prefer those of the same sex. Just part of the sexual drive, not becuase of a SPECIFIC code, but part of the bell curve.

Now, there are NO "gay horses." The term "gay" is a relational and cultural term specific to modern western human culture. Now, there are animals that prefer sexual and emotional bonds with those of the same sex, but assigning cultural meaning to it is just wishful thinking.
Re: hm....

Now, there are NO "gay horses."

OK. Here's where your argument breaks down. You might view being gay as a "relational and cultural term," but many define "gay" in terms of what you're doing with your genitalia. Thus, if there is a clear genetic predisposition for someone to do things with their genitalia that the religious right would object to, _sister_madly_'s point still holds. Just because you choose to define "gay" one way does not mean that others have to define it your way. The religious right certainly doesn't.

Also, I have to admit that some of your earlier comments didn't ring true with me. Specifically, where you wrote:

There is WAY too much societal variation in cultural systems of sexuality across space and time for genes to have much effect. If there is a "gay gene," then societal influences MUST be able to override them.

I don't buy that. What about societies where being gay is punishable by death? You still have people risking death by sleeping with someone of the same sex. Being willing to risk death for homosexuality suggests (to me) something stronger than societal influence. And using the word "MUST" is suspicious to me. It suggests a definite thing about a very arguable (and argued) topic. I'm willing to be convinced otherwise, though.

Re: hm....
There is a culture in indonesia where EVERY male goes through a period when he "imbibes the semon" of older men throughout his teen years. They believe that this is how they grow strong and become a man.

Does this mean that everyone in the culture is gay?

In indeginous the culture of Thailand they have three genders. It is looked as normal fore relationships between men and kahouy(can be biologically male or female), or women and kahouy, or men and women as normal. Now, just because the man and the kahouy are both biologically male, does that mean they are gay? They do not believe so. I would argue that calling them gay is cultural imperialism, placing western belief systems on a non-western culture.

This is a very interesting test case from the perspective of the sex worker industry in "Bangcock." The male prostitutes from the rural areas who come from the three gendered system clash with the western educated business travelers who come from a sexual-object choice system. There is a significant cultural conflict going on there right now. The natives feel that the west is invading and destroying their culture, while the western educated look upon the natives as ignorant and behind the times.

Ancient Greece had same-sex relationships throughout society. Because it is not like that now, does this mean our biology changed? It could not have, there has not been enough time for darwinist evolution to develop. Now, just because these were relationships between men does not mean it was gay.

It was structured through what activity they participated in. Who fucked whom....and this was determined through POWER. They did not look upon the sex of the partner as relavent. The main cultural structural force was power dynamics, not sex. The culture did not look upon sex as a cultural identity.

The islamic cultures are a really good example. It may be cause for a death penalty now, but a thousand years ago sexual relationsahips between adult men and teenage boys was commonplace to the culture. Having males in your harem was a sign of wealth. Does this mean the culture biologically changed? No...the religion and culture changed.

In the western world we look upon sexuality as an identity detirmined by the biological sex we have sex with. Object choice theory. This is actually a very modern phenomona. Even as late as the 1500's in England this was not a held. Most Queer Theorey aceademics hold the belief that the modern gay identity developed through the intersection of capitalism and industrialization. It is a long argument, posited first through an article called "Capitalism and Gay Identity" by John DeMilio.

I have some excellent resouces in my library if you would like me to e-mail you a reading list. This is the field I got my individualy major in. I admit, social constructionism is a bit much to take when it comes to something as personal as sexuality, but the body of literature on the subject is immense, where there conflicting argument (sociobiology) has a much smaller body of academic work which is riddled with holes large enough to drive a truck through. It is more publicized and commonly believed though. The whole field of Queer theory has been arguing against it since its inception in the 1970's.

I even have one book that focusses on both sides of this arguement with competing articles.

I could go on with different examples. There are as many sexual systems in the world as there are economic systems. I actually think that is a good comparison, as western capitalism is taking over the world so is western perceptions pertaining to sexuality. The idiginous systems are disapearing rapidly. Anthropogists have been documenting this for over a century.

Keep in mind that I am not arguing that any of these cultures, including ours, is a static system. No, there is a bell curve of beliefs and variation in each one. What I am arguing is that the main meat of the curve has so much variation, and so many different cultural meanings, that calling anything "gay" other than modern, western human culture is just not applicable.

Re: Why didn't I think of this?
You can be our muse :)

(And don't you dare complain about that. You know what I wanted to say :)
That bike commute gives you good thinkin' time, doesn't it?

Another unintended complicating aspect is the natural desire of a parent to for their child's life to be as devoid of pain as possible. In our world, being gay creates an added level of life difficulty because of the level of prejudice that's out there. I wonder what other minorities might be 'weeded out' by the same well-meaning intent. The designer baby concept bodes ill for a nonhomogenized world.
A bit of a ramble
Maybe for the third child in a family, so you could have one of each?

Humour aside, as someone who can't have children I would be thankful for any healthy child. As someone with many close gay (and lesbian, just to be clear) friends I would have no qualms in having a gay child. I guess if I was choosing I suppose as a woman I would prefer a gay son to a lesbian daughter. In my experience gay men tend to be closer to their mothers. Would sexuality really matter that much to you that you would abort a health fetus? I guess it would depend on how wanted the child was.
Re: A bit of a ramble
I guess if I was choosing I suppose as a woman I would prefer a gay son to a lesbian daughter.

Now that is a fascinating comment. Why would you think that is?

I'm not disagreeing, mind you. In high school, I wrote a paper about discrimination against gay people and took a poll of my fellow students (living in a very conservative country town in Texas.) Almost universally, each gender said they could understand how the other gender could be gay, but not their own. I suspect, living in a more liberal area now, that there would not be as strong a correlation, but I still wonder why it's there (I can speculate as to why, but it's a complicated enough topic that I could easily be wrong.)
I don't know if there is a gay gene. I suspect it's far more complicated than that, will lots of genes coming into play and interacting with social conditions.

But even if there is a gay gene: remember that it has already been under extreme pressure since the beginning of time. If one is gay, one is less likely to reproduce. The gay gene presumably has some compensating factor that has allowed it to thrive despite this extreme handicap.

That is to say: even if people attempted to purge the gay gene, it might be harder than you indicate here.

Also, MOST people in the world are horribly poor and don't have the money to worry about the genetic makeup of their kids. The pressing issue is feeding their kids, and keeping them safe from disease.
OMG...I love this. I am going to keep this in the back of my mind for the next time my religious family starts to talk about abortion and genetic testing and such. I know they are against gay marriage. It will be so much fun to watch them squirm....hehe.

I also like the way your minds thinks.
From what I understand about ultra-conservative religious types, after much discussion between churches it will be ruled that homosexuality is a sin punishable by death (according to the Bible) and thus abortion in that instance would be God's will. Now you can see why I wanted to leave that island I lived on...

I'm very interested to see what orientation my (undesigner) offspring will be if sexual orientation turns out to be genetic though; both Matt and myself are bisexual. However I'm not likely to find that out until many years afterward; due to fears of litigation, no NHS hospital in London will divulge information on an unborn baby's gender. No doubt if a "gay" gene is discovered this information will also not be disclosed.

But I wouldn't be surprised if it was all just a cruel twist of fate; Matt's parents and my parents are very homophobic to the point that neither of us have admitted that we "swing both ways" to them because we know they'd never be approving or accepting of this.