Just in the past few days there has come the announcement in the journal Science of a large study by an international research team and the discovery of five genetic markers linked to whether someone has ever had sex with a person of the same sex. This team conducted a genome-wide association study using genomic data from over 470,000 people, the largest study of its kind, and found that genes contribute to same-sex sexual behavior, but it is consistent with research that says there are no specific genes that make people gay.
According to study co-author Benjamin Neale, a geneticist at the Broad Institute, the research “provides the clearest glimpse yet into the genetic underpinnings of same-sex sexual behavior…”, but the markers, which can be found across a range of genes, can’t be used to predict a person’s sexual behavior or orientation, according to researchers, since like most human traits they are influenced by an array of genetic and environmental factors. “Behavior versus identity are different components and different pieces of how people think about their sexual behavior”, says Neale.
The research team collaborated with several advocacy groups, including GLAAD, so it appears to be very balanced work which seems to validate everything I have previously read about the existence of a so-called “gay gene”, which is that, strictly speaking, there isn’t one. But I wonder what the political response to this announcement will bring, particularly from the LGBT activists. We’ll see.
Previously, I have referenced a lengthy exchange several years ago with the gay adult son of a subscriber on this and related questions, one of the most meaningful in which I have engaged. Here is a key excerpt of my position: “You are correct that I cannot find any compelling argument that homosexuality is an innate and irreversible condition. I have read extensively on this question, and I have found no source that makes the case that the condition is deterministically genetic, nor do I know of any report of the discovery of the ‘gay gene’. I am persuaded that, as with many other conditions, there exists a genetic predisposition to homosexuality to varying degrees in many people, and that this predisposition is either nurtured, enhanced, and accommodated, or discouraged, repelled, rejected, or overcome, as the case may be, by temperament, environment, consultation, and preference. If I stand corrected on this point by evidence I have missed, please inform me”. (For the full essay, see “We’re Missing the Point in the Same-Sex Marriage Debate”, The Texas Pilgrim, July 2011).