A large scale study about sexuality and same-sex relationships claimed that it isn't as simple as finding a gay gene.
The infamous "gay gene" has been a question of concern for many, gay people are inquired to be attracted to the same sex due to a certain biological gene. But this large scale study shows results different from these inquisitions.
Same-sex attraction is complex and there are multiple factors like environment, social upbringing, and genes that are at play in defining sexuality. The study shows that genetics play only 1/3rd of a role in molding sexuality. And it isn't just one single gene, but many that lead to same-sex attraction.
Basically, genetics alone doesn't define same-sex attraction.
The researchers studied samples of 477,522 individuals, revealing five loci significantly associated with same-sex sexual behavior. But these five locations capture only a tiny fraction of the genome's overall contribution.
Several scientists who are part of the LBTQ community said they were worried that the findings could give ammunition to people who use science to regurgitate biases and discrimination against gay people.
The New York Times quoted a researcher saying, “It’s written into our genes and it’s part of our environment. This is part of our species and it’s part of who we are.”
The nature vs. nurture debate has been a never-ending debacle, but when it comes to sexuality maybe we can put it to rest.
It's important to put this to rest because "there is a strong correlation between beliefs about the origins of sexual orientation and tolerance of non-heterosexuality" said one researcher.
While its true that no one can "turn" gay, there are certain factors that play a role in being homosexual. Though there is no explanation as to how it works exactly, nurturing and environmental factors do play an important role.
For example, the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. The effect doesn't hold for older or younger sisters or younger brothers, or even for adopted or step-brothers.
If someone is in a more homosexual friendly environment, they are more likely to come to terms with their homosexuality, but that doesn't contribute to being gay, it just allows them to identify openly.
Almost everyone experiences brief same-sex attraction at some point in their lives, which is why homosexuality is fluid. But impacting or influencing sexuality is not the same as causing or determining it.
An article from The Guardian states that "The presumption seems to be that straightness is normal and therefore does not need explanation; whereas queerdom is a deviation from the norm and this requires investigation and answers.
A concern that was raised when this study was published is that it could be used as ammunition to fuel the theory that conversion therapy works and that some would ask for gene mutation or embryo selection.
Even though that would be difficult practically, the study does pose a threat to the gay community, in that it gives anti-gay people the right to misuse the information.
“I deeply disagree about publishing this,” said Steven Reilly, a geneticist and postdoctoral researcher who was on the steering committee of the institute’s LGBTQ affinity group, Out@Broad. “It seems like something that could easily be misconstrued,” he said, adding, “In a world without any discrimination, understanding human behavior is a noble goal, but we don’t live in that world.”
But while it can be misconstrued, it has also given the LGBTQ community a platform to reinstate their belief that they are in fact born gay, and did not choose the lifestyle.
Overall, the study of the gay gene, like any other has its ups and downs. But it has given us a great insight into understanding homosexuality and same-sex attraction.