Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find

Initially, I planned to post this study from a conservative news source in attempt to add some levity to their foot-in-mouth reporting style. It seems, however, that most conservative publications have taken the liberty of adding their own thoughts to this, oftentimes spinning it into an ethical thesis regarding “gay conversion therapy” and how it “shouldn’t be forcibly thrown out.” Upon realizing this, I decided I would be personally remiss to repost such smut.

Instead, I give you an article from The Scientist. Epigenetics seem to be the new frontier in science, and it is fascinating what developments could come of this. Personally, my favorite part of the article is the final paragraph which surmises that we, essentially, should already understand that homosexuality is biologically based and not feel the need to pour money into proving this.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this!


Researchers looking for a genetic signature of homosexuality have been barking up the wrong tree, according to a trio of researchers in the United States and Sweden. Instead, the scientists posit, epigenetic influences acting on androgen signaling in the brain may underlie sexual orientation. In a paper published last week (December 11) in The Quarterly Review of Biology, they propose a model describing how epigenetic markers that steer sexual development in males could promote homosexual orientation in females, and vice versa. The scientists offer their model to explain both the tendency of homosexuality to run in families, and the fact that so far no “homosexual gene” has been identified.

“It’s a very provocative, very interesting new twist that is plausible,” said Margaret McCarthy, a neuroscientist at the University of Maryland who studies how hormones influence brain development and was not involved in producing the model. But, she cautioned, so far the theory “is not supported by any data.”

Indeed, Andrea Ciani, an evolutionary psychologist at the University of Padova, thinks that a variety of factors, including genes and epigenetics, influence sexual orientation. “It’s a little bit vain to think we’ll find the answer to homosexuality as a whole.”

The model was developed by William Rice, an evolutionary geneticist at the University of California, Santa Barbara; Sergey Gavrilets, a mathematician at the University of Tennessee; and Urban Friberg, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Uppsala. The notion that epigenetics, rather than genetics, is the primary force promoting homosexuality sprang from several observations, explained Rice.

Read more

12 thoughts on “Homosexuality ultimately a result of gene regulation, researchers find”

  1. Jon,

    First, I’m sorry to say that you will not find a receptive audience here for your dangerous pseudo nonsense. We have to deal enough with radical fundamentalists in the real world; we don’t need a fundamentalist Catholic coming in here and attempting to poison minds. I realize you’ve convinced yourself that you’re helping us poor, deluded, broken, confused heterosexuals playing our gay games, but you’re the one with the delusion, not us. There are plenty of anti-gay Catholic echo chambers you could haunt; please don’t troll this site.

    Second, it’s clear from what you’ve written here that you’re likely struggling with same-sex attraction yourself. Long before I came out I believed and was saying similar things to what you’re spouting here. Fact is, you wouldn’t be so violently opposed to our exercising the freedom to live our lives the way were born if you didn’t resent us for being the very thing you’re likely denying yourself.

    If you wish to be miserable, no one here can stop you. But you won’t convince anyone here to join you in your self-imposed exile of misery.

    1. David,

      I’m very happy that you did not resort to the swearing and name calling that is typical of all your responses. That shows maturity. I’ve always found wit to be much more effective to vulgarity. Maybe it’s just because this is a public site and you don’t have the safety of ambiguity.

      I would expect that since this is a atheist sight that those who frequent it would be supportive of scientific evidence and not typical theological arguments (which would be pointless in this environment).

      Here is some real science about gay animals: Remember the gay penguin story? The gay agenda’s “gay” penguins turned out not to be gay and started mating with females when they were separated. That must have been a real blow to the gay communities ego when they lost their poster children, urh, penguins. Penguin colonies form rookeries to raise their young – and when in captivity they still group together: in this case two males. Why does the gay agenda promote animals in the first place? I could go on and on, species after species, but it’s not worth my time right now since you won’t believe in factual, repeatable science.

      David, I do not believe that you are playing “gay games.” You are gay. 100%. You believe it, so it is true. It is now who you are and how you identify your whole being as. Your body will even change to reflect that belief. I’m not promoting religious beliefs, just metaphysics – science.

      This is a little confusing for me: since you are an atheist, why do you spend so much time having religion control you? How many hours a day do you spend trying to prove that it’s wrong? Why do you put in the effort? Why not just live your life “free” from religion? Ironic, don’t you think?

      You’re probably asking why I would ever be checking out this gay without god site… I was more interested in reading about “science,” ands funny enough, you’re here so I will comment.

      As for your second comment… hmmm, where did you get that idea from? Interesting thought. I think I know where. Too bad. You can try to label, define me and put me into your little box, but I don’t value your very hateful opinions of me and have no need to defend myself to someone of your character.

      Here’s an interesting thought: I don’t “struggle” with any sexual attraction. I don’t have chemicals, hormones or feelings decide my actions for me – science, logic and fact do. It must be very difficult being controlled by “feelings” and “emotions” all day long. It must be very exhausting for you to have all that resentment and hate eat you up. Rather than hating people different from you, doing everything in your power to validate your existence, you should let it go and move on with life.

      1. Jon: It is interesting that you would declare that you don’t “allow” chemicals, hormones, and feelings to determine your actions… instead standing by science, logic, and fact. The true fact of the matter is that science continues to find that chemicals and hormones play a huge role in determining behavior. Gay arguments aside, we find more aggressive behavior in mammals with excess testosterone, while those with too little become weak and depressed. An excess amount of estrogen in a male body will result in the development of female-like breasts. The hormonal changes that occur in women as they age are known as menopause, which cause a variety of changes in their body and mind (the same can be said for the lesser-extreme male andropause). These are all scientifically studied and proven changes. Hormones and chemical changes are huge in determining how mammals will behave.

        In terms of your argument about the penguins, I have not read such study and would love for you to cite your sources on that one (though I’m not doubting it could be true). Homosexuality is well documented in over 1500 species and, while rare, exists all over the animal kingdom. If we are to assume that once all homosexual animals were removed from one another that their orientation would shift to heterosexual, we could also argue that prison inmates are actually gay, because once they are removed from their female counterparts, they engage in sex with other men. The argument holds no merit.

        Your thoughts are welcome here, but to make such outrageous claims without citing scientific sources will certainly ruffle some feathers.

      2. Jon: “Hateful opinions” of you? Funny, I thought that all things considered, everyone on this site has been incredibly respectful. You came in here using inflammatory terms like “gay agenda” and “lifestyle,” making veiled references to the efficacy of ex-gay therapy, and citing pseudo-scientific nonsense to support your dehumanizing theological opinions about LGBT people. And we’ve attempted to politely reason with you.

        So why don’t we live our lives free from religion? Because fundamentalist religious persons like yourself are still attempting to make life miserable for gay people like myself in many parts of the world, including the United States. You continue to recycle the same tired disinformation about the LGBT community, as if by repeating it more often and loudly will somehow make it true. If you were truly interested in science, logic, or facts, we might be able to have a rational discussion. The truth is that your understanding of “science” was behind the attempted suppression of the work of Copernicus and Galileo; behind opposition to the teaching of evolution and to the abolition of slavery; and more recently behind the Pope’s declaration that condom use in Africa spreads AIDS. If you had a shred of credible evidence, you’d have shared it already.

        And as coincidental as you attempt to make it sound, it’s no accident that you commented on a site that I happen to blog for, and I wish you’d be honest about that.

  2. Since the epigenome basically functions like a switch or valve – the social influences on homosexuality is the prominent indicator of how these “above the gene” controllers are activated. Since the epigenome proves that homosexuality is not permanent or uncontrolled by personal choices, I don’t understand why the gay agenda is promoting “born gay” since it is completely false. “Born gay” is acting like the victim. Stop being a victim of sexuality. The gay agenda just promote “choice.” I “choose” this lifestyle. I guess by being born this way is the typical “echo chamber” that self-validates a inaccurate belief.

  3. We will not identify homosexual genes, because there are none…. the 26 000 genes that have been identified in the human genome, and function mapped carry out the important roles of maintaining homeostasis within the body. Homosexuality will be an interplay between the genes that maintain the body (hormones etc.) and the epigenome. The epigenome is the 97-98 % of the genome that does not code for exons or (proteins) involved in epigenetic modification such as methylation and acylation. the remaining non coding regions known as junk DNA serves as function to regulate, the genomes expression of genes, through short interspersed repeats, SSR, transposable elements, and a number of other functional elements promoters, enhancers, repressors and so on…. Throughout development genes are turned on and off from embryo to adult, (environmental and genetic in nature). The interactions of these genes, and the epigenome with epidemiological factors, influence the development of neural pathways, hormone levels influence gender, and sex organs.

    There will be no 1, 2 — 10 genes to identify because it is a complex process of cascades of different gene pathways. Many factors both, genetic, epidemiological, environmental. (Nature and nurture)

    are the result of “phynotypic” homosexuality.

    Homosexuality has been observed in almost every species of altruistic populations or populations of closely related individuals.

    Ecologically/evolutionary speaking, it has been determined that homosexuality within a population or Kin group of species, has been selected for (natural selection) for spousal support. Often the paternal parent will leave the pop/kin group, leaving the homosexual individual to aid in the raising of young with the maternal parent.

    There will never be genes ID’ed only complex interactions through developmental processes, involving genetic, epidemiological, and environmental processes

    ~ Graduate in Biochemistry, genetics, Biology~
    ~MD candidate

    1. The only reason we’re still talking about the “causes” of homosexuality is that radical fundamentalist Christian politicians and leaders are using their bully pulpits to spread disinformation and slander about the LGBT community (e.g., Limbaugh claiming that there’s a movement to “normalize” pedophilia, a throwback to the old supposed link between gay rights and NAMBLA). These aren’t people who care about epigenome and phenotypes. These are the people who jumped on the Regnerus study because of the mere appearance that it claimed gays were bad parents. Arguing facts with hard line conservatives is a futile enterprise.

      All we can do is work to make marriage equality a reality and secure the legal protections. We’re seeing more of a sea change in the general population towards the acceptance of equality for LGBT Americans. Soon no one will be listening to the conservative Christians on this issue. We still need to take them and the threat they pose to equality very seriously.

  4. The idea that epigenetics, or chromosomal genetics, or interplay of genotype, phenotype, epigenetics, in utero mileu, culture, nutrition, and environment, influences sexual expression is academically interesting. I kind of wish people would quit saying “causes homosexuality” and rather view sexual expression as part of a multidimensional spectrum. What causes heterosexuality?

    Without religion, there’s no need to vilify LGBT people, so the “cause of homosexuality” is only interesting, not vital. With religion, scientific investigation is a Quixotic endeavor.

  5. Thanks guys. I agree that research is important but I did like what the article stated about epigenetic research into things like cancer are far more important. It was almost as if the person commenting was saying “we should really be beyond this and already have an understanding.” Though I also agree – most do not. Very recently, GOP candidates were opposing gay marriage stating “show me the scientific proof that homosexuality isn’t a choice.” Now, this is coming from those who are completely ignorant to both scientific/biological advancements as well as homosexuality in general and are instead forming their opinions based on an ancient text that claims a senior citizen single-handedly built an arch and gathered two of every animal – so there is very little merit to any of their arguments. But perhaps this will ultimately silence some stupidity. And David – I completely agree – it’s far more comfortable to not be discerning. Sometimes I miss those days. 😉

  6. Thanks for sharing this! Saw this story a couple of days ago. Still perplexes me how, in the face of compelling evidence, people can cling to ideas that are clearly unsubstantiated and wrong. But then most people like living in an echo chamber. It’s safer that way…

  7. A phenotypic understanding of human sexuality variants is inevitable. We will do this research either directly or indirectly and such models will be proposed. Whether a full and satisfying explanation of the vastness of human sexual gender, identity, proclivity, and emotion can be explained through genetics and embryology is unknown. I have my own opinions, but I will withhold them. However, what I believe the most important question is: does pursuing active “direct research” rather than avoiding such realities put us in a better position of understanding our unique phenotypes simply as differences, rather ‘variations’ and not as inferiorities? I would argue that such “direct research” is important, because it allows a direct contextual framing of the findings. Indirect discoveries lend themselves to semantic misinterpretations that enter the scientific if not public consciousness and often have to be counterend. Even in the face of reason this can be very difficult.

Leave a Reply