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Why Gay?


RubyHypatia
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I watched this very interesting documentary on BBC America the other day. I've always been curious as to why some people are gay. It didn't make evolutionary sense to me. Anyway, in this documentary a man, John Barrowman, goes on a quest to figure out why he's gay. The best lead he got was that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. So it may not be genetic as there has yet a gay gene to be discovered. So something happening in the womb could be causing people to be gay. Interesting.

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Thank you so much for the heads up! I love the way the issue is being handled in this fun documentary. I have just seen part one, and I wanted to write before going onto the next part.

 

John Barrowman is one of my favorite actors/singers, but he is not too well known here in the U.S. In the UK, however, he would be (I guess) the gay Brad Pitt. And like Brad, he is now in his early 40s.

 

Although he is using his American accent for this documentary, he was raised in both the U.S. and his native Scotland and can switch accents in a second.

 

 

BarrowmanattheDeLovelypremiereinNY2.jpg

 

BarrowmanasAladdin-3.jpg

 

Barrowmanlaughinginakilt.jpg

 

BarrowmaninMethod-2.jpg

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I watched this very interesting documentary on BBC America the other day. I've always been curious as to why some people are gay. It didn't make evolutionary sense to me. Anyway, in this documentary a man, John Barrowman, goes on a quest to figure out why he's gay. The best lead he got was that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. So it may not be genetic as there has yet a gay gene to be discovered. So something happening in the womb could be causing people to be gay. Interesting.

 

That has been stated before already, and yeah it's an interesting lead to follow.

 

Not that this would mean that there can't also be a genetic component, although I personally doubt that there may be "the" (solitary) gay gene. I think it will be more like a combination of a number of genes that mean advantages of some kind or the other, but also "increase the gay percentage" of the person... you get "too many" of them, you find yourself at least bi, if not homo. Would be a very easy explanation for why there is still "the gay" among us although gays don't normally reproduce.

 

(Of course the easy explanations are all too often wrong... oh well. :) )

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Thanks for the link. It's a subject I find very interesting.

 

A few points that weren't brought up. For one thing, we haven't even begun to understand all of the epigenetic factors that could be in play here (or in most anywhere else.) And despite all the hype around sequencing whole genomes, we still have a ways to go before we can rule out regular old genetics as an influence. Like Thurisaz said, it could be a huge bank of contributing genes, or there could be 'master control' mechanisms hiding in the large sections of the genome with no known function. We do have some fruit fly studies and some pretty reliable twin studies that point us in the genetic direction. The twins in Pt. 4 are an interesting exception, of course. But even then we can't eliminate genetics as a factor, monozygotic twins are not exact genetic duplicates.

 

That said, birth order is an interesting thing. Definitely raises it's own questions, though. Are these social factors arising from having older brothers? Prenatal 'hormone soup' factors? Epigenetic factors? Have we properly adjusted for the possibility that this is just background noise from a Homosexuality/Fertility sexually dimorphic genetic trait? Because that's currently the commonest evolutionary explanation for male homosexuality.

 

And it's all so complicated. Male and female homosexuals are not always comparable. Most studies ignore bisexuals. Most discussions center around an unnecessary nature/nurture dichotomy. And then we have Xtian Fundies who have their heads up their collective asses on the whole damn issue.

 

---

 

Anybody else find it interesting how willing he was to believe that a brain scan says he's strait in Pt. 2, or in the "Gay Gene" scene in Pt. 5? People tend to be extremely trusting of ostensibly 'scientific results' coming from genetic analysis, brain imaging or even when irrelevant (or non-sense) neuroscience terminology is thrown in.

 

According to a recent brain imaging study. ;) ;) ;)

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Another little thing in the documentary that made me uneasy. Showing male/female average test scores and finger length ratios without standard deviation bars gives the impression that there isn't much variation or overlap. Obviously it has to be dumbed down a little bit, but this kind of stuff just gives people totally wrong ideas about a sensitive and important subject.

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Wasn't it also recently discovered that the brains of gay men were more similar to the brains of straight women?

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Oh good lard! John Barrowman!

 

*scurries to go watch episodes of Torchwood!*

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Wasn't it also recently discovered that the brains of gay men were more similar to the brains of straight women?

 

Certain pieces, anyway

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I watched this very interesting documentary on BBC America the other day. I've always been curious as to why some people are gay. It didn't make evolutionary sense to me.

 

It never used to make evolutionary sense to me, either.

 

Then I read about some of the theories about how/why homosexuality may have evolved.

 

Homosexual organisms will be less likely to have offspring of their own, so they will have time and energy to devote to the off spring of their close relatives. Considering this, homosexuality may have evolved because it helped promote the survival of a species. With more caring adults and a few fewer off spring, young are more likely to survive. The homosexual individuals would not be ensuring the passing on of their own genes directly, but they would be helping to secure the survival of organisms whose genes were very close to their own.

 

I actually think that this is quite an interesting and convincing idea.

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If homosexuality is the result of genes, then how would homosexuality be sustained generation after generation seeing that most gay people don't procreate? And if evolution is making some people be used to help raise their relatives' offspring, why should they be homosexual? Why not just non-sexual? There are people who actually have no desire for sex. The idea that something happens in the womb makes more sense to me, but this issue of sexuality needs to be studied a lot more, so we will see.

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If homosexuality is the result of genes, then how would homosexuality be sustained generation after generation seeing that most gay people don't procreate?

 

There are different explanations.

 

Mothers of male homosexuals tend to be more fertile. Homosexuality hurts the reproductive chances of male offspring, while increasing the reproductive odds of female offspring. The genes are the same, they are just expressed differently between the two sexes.

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Guest Marty

I thought I had read somewhere awhile ago that homosexuality increases in animal populations as they increase in numbers and begin to stress the environment and resources. Is there anything to that? Seems a good way to keep runaway population growth in check, and would describe why it seems like homosexuals are growing in numbers as the decades roll on. Of course I'm sure there were gay people going back to time immemorial, but maybe there really are more of them because we are increasing our numbers so quickly?

 

To me, this seems to make more sense than helping with the young, but who knows?

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I thought I had read somewhere awhile ago that homosexuality increases in animal populations as they increase in numbers and begin to stress the environment and resources. Is there anything to that? Seems a good way to keep runaway population growth in check, and would describe why it seems like homosexuals are growing in numbers as the decades roll on. Of course I'm sure there were gay people going back to time immemorial, but maybe there really are more of them because we are increasing our numbers so quickly?

 

To me, this seems to make more sense than helping with the young, but who knows?

 

 

That is interesting, too. It could be some combination of the two.

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I thought this documentary did a good job of personalizing the quest for understanding how some of us are homosexual instead of heterosexual.

 

However, I felt like John Barrowman was biased in his attempt to "prove" that it's nature and not nurture that determines our sexual orientation. No matter what the cause, it still must be a basic human right to mate with whichever gender(s) you want.

 

The only criteria for sanctioning a relationship between consenting adults should be that all parties involved want it. Assuming any sanctioning is even required.

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I thought this documentary did a good job of personalizing the quest for understanding how some of us are homosexual instead of heterosexual.

 

However, I felt like John Barrowman was biased in his attempt to "prove" that it's nature and not nurture that determines our sexual orientation. No matter what the cause, it still must be a basic human right to mate with whichever gender(s) you want.

 

The only criteria for sanctioning a relationship between consenting adults should be that all parties involved want it. Assuming any sanctioning is even required.

 

I agree completely. Besides, there's an uneasy overlay on all this "scientific" examination of the reason(s) for homosexuality. That overlay is the intimation that there ought to be a cure.

 

There is no "reason" for being a human of any stripe, and no "cure" for it, either.

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Besides, there's an uneasy overlay on all this "scientific" examination of the reason(s) for homosexuality. That overlay is the intimation that there ought to be a cure.

 

There is no "reason" for being a human of any stripe, and no "cure" for it, either.

I worry about that too.

 

You know that fundies and other social conservatives will be breeding out the gay gene if one is found. On the other hand, all the fun liberal families will want to make sure they have at least one gay son who can decorate the house and entertain with show tunes. Nature always finds a balance!

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It never used to make evolutionary sense to me, either.

 

Then I read about some of the theories about how/why homosexuality may have evolved.

 

Homosexual organisms will be less likely to have offspring of their own, so they will have time and energy to devote to the off spring of their close relatives. Considering this, homosexuality may have evolved because it helped promote the survival of a species. With more caring adults and a few fewer off spring, young are more likely to survive. The homosexual individuals would not be ensuring the passing on of their own genes directly, but they would be helping to secure the survival of organisms whose genes were very close to their own.

 

I actually think that this is quite an interesting and convincing idea.

I've read the same, and I've also read homosexual individuals are usually more tolerated in the herd by by the alpha male(s), as they're not a potential rival for the females' attention, which is another benefit.

 

Ultimately, of course, I agree with TFT and Pitchu. Folks is folks, whether we like meat tacos, tube steak, both or neither. How we got that way is irrelevant. We're here now, so we'd best learn to just get along.

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The angry, heterophobic part of me is silenced every time I read this thread's latest entry.

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I can't exactly tell you why I care about the root causes of homosexuality (or anything else.)

 

I can tell you that it is *not* because I hope that we can someday find a 'cure' for it, and I strongly resent the implication that this is the ultimate, underpinning goal of all people who are interested in the subject.

 

Now;

 

Let's all get along, etc.

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Documentaries and studies on the origin of homosexuality have always interested me. My interest is two-fold, I am gay, and I have an identical twin brother who is heterosexual. The young twin boys in this film were of special interest to me. I was expecting to see a snap shot of my own youth and found something differently entirely. My twin and I always shared the same interests when we were children and did not display the kind of dual behaviors that we saw in this film at all. My brother and I tended to avoid ruff-and-tumble play that was typical of boys, yet neither of us were interested in stereotypical feminine behavior either. We both enjoyed cooperative games (board games especially) indoors and when we were outside we tended to enjoy non-competitive ball games that were popular with both the boys and girls on our block. The only common interest we both had with dolls was that we found them interesting to blow up with fireworks or melt with a magnifying glass. Looking back I also recall that during recess in elementary school both my twin and I were much more likely to be playing hopscotch or jump-rope with the girls than playing ball games with the boys. (To this day I amazed that we were never teased about this.) Today my brother has been happily married for 25 years. The only thing different about him from most straight guys I know is his complete and total boredom with all things regarding professional sports.

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I can't exactly tell you why I care about the root causes of homosexuality (or anything else.)

 

I can tell you that it is *not* because I hope that we can someday find a 'cure' for it, and I strongly resent the implication that this is the ultimate, underpinning goal of all people who are interested in the subject.

 

Now;

 

Let's all get along, etc.

 

Are you the one doing the scientific examinations, BSC? Maybe you should re-read my post. That is, unless you just enjoy "strongly resenting," in which case, Resent Away...... have a good time...... :party:

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Guest QuidEstCaritas?

There's no scientific evidence that people are genetically gay AFAIK.

 

Even if it turns out it isn't based in genetics, people should still be allowed to be themselves.

 

If I grow up and like playing soccer I have no right to tell a guy that likes football that he needs to play soccer or risk rotting in Hell by order of His Majesty my Invisible Friend teh Skydaddy Jebus.

 

If guys like guys it doesn't mean they are bad people, it just means they like guys. I like women and am slightly bi, but if I was transexual and was bi then that wouldn't bother me one bit (the sexual preference that is). People need to be themselves.

 

I tend to agree with Gary Greenberg take on this issue of "genetics" concerning why people are gay. His foundation is solid.

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I'm sorry Pitchu.

 

Please, just ignore me

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I'm sorry Pitchu.

 

Please, just ignore me

 

Nah, it's more fun to taunt you. :P:

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There's no scientific evidence that people are genetically gay AFAIK.

 

Even if it turns out it isn't based in genetics, people should still be allowed to be themselves.

 

:whs:

 

As long as all people involved are consensual adults, it's no one's business. End of story.

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