The controversy over homosexuality frequently comes down to a debate over whether
"homosexuals were born that way" or "homosexuality is a life-style
choice." In most cases the correct answer is "Neither of the above."
Contrary to publicity in the media, the case for the "gay gene" has not been
made. The articles cited as proving that homosexuality is genetically determined, don't
actually make that claim, but suggest that it may possibly that sexual orientation is
influenced by inherited characteristics (such as temperament). Those who believe that
homosexuality is a developmental disorder which is preventable and treatable do not deny
that inherited temperamental characteristics can play a part, as they can in other
The evidence in the much publicized articles used to promoted the "gay gene"
myth is scientifically weak to say the least, could be used equally well to demonstrate an
environmental influence, or has not been replicated by other researchers. For a very small
number of few individuals the choice to engage is same-sex activity may be an act of
rebellion against societal norms. There is, however, substantial evidence that early
childhood experiences set up a series of events which result in same-sex attraction or
activity. The child faced with a series of negative experiences makes decisions to defend
himself, but these can not be considered as a mature, free will decision to choose to be
homosexual and, in most cases, these childhood decisions cannot be seen as real choices.
The adolescent or adult homosexually attracted person can however make a decision to seek
help, provided he knows that such help is available.
When homosexuals say they have always felt "different," they may be right. If
as a little boy you didn't feel your father's love and acceptance, if your mother didn't
encourage your masculine identification, if you weren't accepted by other little boys, you
probably felt you were different and it hurt. It isn't just that homosexuals have to want
to change. They have to face all the childhood pain. Many have been sexually abused,
become sexually addicted, addicted to drugs and alcohol, or have other psychological
problems linked to their childhood experiences. Psychological healing takes time. For many
homosexuals, it is easier to say, "I was born this way."
There is, however, another reason why homosexual activists are pushing unproved
theories for a genetic cause for homosexuality: they have research which shows that people
who believe that homosexuality has a genetic cause are more likely to support homosexual
The following material includes excerpts from the articles used to support the claim
for biological cause of homosexuality and articles pointing out the flaws in these
studies. None of the articles actually claim that homosexuality is genetically determined,
let alone prove it. Since many people have been influenced by news report falsely
interpreting the "gay gene" studies, it is necessary to firmly refute the
"gay gene" myth, while at the same time offering homosexual persons hope.
One of the ways used to study what is genetically
determined and what is influenced by environment is to study identical twins adopted by
different families in infancy. A major study of identical twins separated at birth found
six pairs of twins in which one was homosexual.
If homosexuality is "genetically determined,"
then 100% of identical twins would have the same sexual orientation. The one pair of males
twins separated at birth who were both homosexual as adults had additional problems -
learning disability, hyperactivity, speech impediment with lisp as a child, emotional
lability, subject to episodes of anxiety and depression. One member of the other set of
male twins had engaged in homosexual activity with an adult as an adolescent, subsequently
married and fathered four children with no further homosexual activity and therefore
cannot be considered homosexual. In addition the study does not consider the effect of
being adopted on psychological development of boys. McGuire (see
below) points out other flaws in the report.
Eckert, E., Bouchard, T., Bohlen, J., Heston, L. (1986) Homosexuality in monozygotic
twins reared apart. British Journal of Psychiatry. 148: 421 - 425.
"We describe six pairs of monozygotic twins, in which at least one member of five
pairs were homosexual, and one of the remaining pair was bisexual, from a series of 55
pairs, reared apart from infancy; all the female pairs were discordant for homosexual
behavior. This and other evidence suggest that female homosexuality may be an acquired
trait. One male pair was concordant for homosexuality, while the other was not clearly
concordant or discordant, this suggests that male homosexuality may be associated with
a complex interaction, in which genes play some part. "
Another way to study genetic influences is to compare
identical twins (monozygotic) with fraternal twins (dizygotic), brothers, and adopted
If homosexuality were genetically determined then 100%
of identical twins would be identical, since identical twins have the same inherited
temperament and same environment, it would be expected that they would be more likely to
have the same sexual orientation.
While the Bailey/Pillard study does not claim
that homosexuality is genetically determined, in an interview quoted below Pillard gives
the impression that his study proves that the childhood experiences have no
effect on sexual orientation, which the study neither proves nor
Bailey, J., Pillard, R. (1991) A genetic study of male sexual orientation. Archives
of General Psychiatry. 48: 1089 - 1096.
"Of the relatives whose sexual orientation could be rated, 52% (29/56) of
monozygotic cotwins, 22% (12/54) of dizygotic cotwins, and 11% (6/57) of adoptive brothers
were homosexual... rate of homosexuality among nontwin biological siblings, as reported by
probands, 9.2% (13/142) was significantly lower than would be predicted by a simple
"A recent survey found that those who believed that homosexuals are "born
that way" held significantly more positive attitudes toward homosexual than subjects
who believed that homosexuals "choose to be that way" and/or "learn to be
"Heritability is not informative regarding the development of sexual orientation
(or, for that matter, of any trait.)"
"... these data are consistent with heritable variation in prenatal brain
development or in some aspect of physical appearance that, by way of differential
parental treatment, leads to differences in sexual orientation. "
"... one assumption of the heritability analyses presented above is that there are
no major genes for homosexuality, "
"This suggests that among homosexuals, individual differences in development
are largely determined by genetic and/or shared environmental factors."
Emery, E. (1991 ) New study: Homosexuality genetic: Latest finding does little to alter
opinions toward gays locally. Providence Journal. Dec.
"'I think the results of this study should be a signal to parents that having a
child who's gay isn't the result of being an inadequate parent,' said Boston University
psychiatrist Richard C. Pillard, one of the authors of the study. "
IDENTICAL TWINS, Different histories
Green, R. (1974) Sexual Identity Conflict in Children and Adults. Baltimore:
Case histories of identical twins discordant
for sexual preference suggest that other factors plays a significant role in the
development of gender identity and sexual preference. For example, identical twin Frank,
Jr. was born first and "badly mutilated" during the process. He was considered
by his parents as "very ugly infant." Co-twin Paul had big eyes and was
perceived as good-looking at birth. Strangers seeing them together commented, "Oh how
nice! A boy and a girl." At three Paul contracted an infectious disease which
required extensive medical attention. For two and a half years his mother drove him to a
hospital in a distant city -- a two hour round trip -- while the father stayed home with
Frank, Jr. Because of the medical problems, the father was reticent to engage in rough
play with Paul.
At age 8 Paul was evaluated for feminine
behavior, which included cross-dressing, doll play, female role play, and avoidance
rough-and-tumble play. When asked to draw a person, Paul drew a female and Frank drew a
male. In an interview with the therapist, the twins' mother commented on the impact on
Paul of not being named after his father, "I can see, looking through
Paul's eyes -- that he [Frank, Jr.] got Daddy's name because he's the one that Daddy liked."
IDENTICAL TWINS, Different histories
Identical twins Sam and Howard differed in weight
at birth and that difference persisted into adulthood. As a result they could always be
told apart. According to the report, Sam had homosexual
fantasies and engaged in homosexual activity. Howard's fantasy life was heterosexual. He
Friedman, R. (1988) Male Homosexuality: A Contemporary Psychoanalytic Perspective.
New Haven: Yale U. Press.
"Psychological development diverged from early childhood. Sam's
first memories were feeling insecure and vulnerable. He recalled that at age five, he had
been envious of girls because they were taken care of by men when they grew up. Sam always
felt closer to his mother than to his father, perceiving the latter as withdrawn and
passive... Sam stayed home after school helping his mother with housework or playing
hopscotch with neighborhood girls, while Howard remained outside with male peers. Although
not effeminate, Sam was athletically awkward and temperamentally unassertive. The last to
be chosen for team sports, frightened of rough-and-tumble activities, he had low status
with other boys."
"Sam was ashamed of his body. As early as age five, he recalled, he
felt that his nipples were similar to his mother's. In later years, he felt that he had a
feminine habitus, even though others perceived him to be masculine. During his boyhood and
early adolescence Sam was labeled a "mama's boy" and "the twin who like to
read" by causal acquaintances, peers and extended family. . .
"Howard recalled feeling secure as a young child. He perceived his
father as quiet in disposition but loving, gentle, and strong. He always felt closer to
his father than to his mother and actively rebelled against her control. . . .
"Howard was the target of continual maternal disfavor because of
his sloppiness, rowdiness, and poor performance as student. During boyhood and
adolescence, he was a peer group leader, athletically graceful, and fiercely competitive
at team sports. He responded to challenge with attack and usually emerged the victor in
fights with other boys. Howard viewed his body with pride and never felt unmasculine or
feminine. From about age eight, he was known as "the twin who liked sports." (p.
HAMER STUDY MAKES CLAIMS OF GENETIC INFLUENCE
Hamer presents a mass of technical evidence. The
charts and data do not, however, compensate for the small sample size and methodological
deficiencies. Even if the conclusion that homosexuality is "genetically
influenced" were accepted, this would not be proof that homosexuality is
"genetically determined." The McGuire
article (reviewed below) analyzes Hamer's investigation of the family histories and
finds that the claim of maternal influence is not justified. Other researchers have failed
to replicated his claims of a particular gene associated with homosexuality, and a second
study by Hamer found a smaller percentage of correlation.
Hamer, D., Hu, S., Magnuson, V., Hu, A., Pattatucci, A. (1993) A linkage between DNA
markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation. Science. 261: 321 - 327.
"The role of genetics in male sexual orientation was investigated by pedigree and
linkage analysis on 114 families of homosexual men. Increased rates of same-sex
orientation were found in the maternal uncles and male cousins of these subjects, but not
in their fathers or paternal relatives, suggesting the possibility of sex-linked
transmission in a portion of the population . DNA linkage analysis of a selected group of
40 families in which there were two gay brothers and no indication of nonmaternal
transmission revealed a correlation between homosexual orientation and the inheritance of
polymorphic markers on the X chromosome in approximately 64 percent of the sib-pairs
tested. The linkage to markers of Xq26, the subtelomeric region of the long arm of the sex
chromosome, had a multipoint lod score of 4.0 (P = 10-5),
indicating a statistical confidence level of more than 99 percent that at least one
subtype of male sexual orientation is genetically influenced."
STUDY OF FAMILY TREES OF HOMOSEXUAL
While Hamer claimed to have found more homosexuals on
the mothers side of the family than would be expected, this study of effeminate boys
(possibly pre-homosexual) did not find a high rate of homosexuality in relatives on either
side. In both cases, the numbers studied were so small and the means of determining who
was homosexual so unreliable that the results can not be said to have "proved"
Zuger, B. (1989) Homosexual in families of boys with early effeminate behavior: An
epidemiological study. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 18, 2: 155 - 166.
"In the course of a long-term study of 55 boys with early effeminate (cross-gender) behavior an effort was also made to
ascertain the presence of sexual deviance in their parents, siblings, uncles, and aunts.
For most of these groups of relatives, only one to three members of each group was found
to be homosexual, equaling 4% male and 1% female for the total test population. "
"Three of the 49 fathers were homosexual. (One of the mothers engaged in homosexual episodes.)"
"... one homosexual brother and one homosexual sister were reported for the
respective 48 brothers and 40 sisters."
"Among the 47 paternal uncles and 61 paternal aunts of the effeminate boys, there
was 1 definite homosexual in each group. Possible homosexuals among the uncles were 4 and
none for the aunts. On the maternal side, 3 of the 41 uncles were definite homosexuals and
1 a possible homosexual. There were no homosexuals among the 44 maternal aunts."
HAND/EYE COORDINATION - Sex differences
The results could also be interpreted to add the
massive body of evidence which suggests that rejection by male peers because of lack of
hand/eye coordination contributes to a need for masculine acceptance and affirmation, and
that this need leads to same-sex attraction. It is also possible that hand/eye
coordination is developed through early play experiences with the father and therefore
that a boy who did not have interaction with the father would be more prone to lack the
experiences which would grow those parts of the brain which control hand/eye coordination.
Hall, J., Kimure, D. (1995) Sexual orientation and performance on sexually dimorphic
motor tasks. Archives of Sexual Behavior. 24, 4: 395-407.
"Heterosexual men outperformed heterosexual women, whereas gay men threw less
accurately and lesbians tended to throw more accurately than their heterosexual
counterparts. Differences in sports history or hand strength did not account for these
"Pegboard scores found no interaction or main effect of sexual orientation, but
the effect of sex was significant. Regardless of sexual orientation, women outperformed
men and this difference remained significant even when a measure of finger size was
partialed out. this study provides new evidence suggesting an association between sexual
orientation and motor-performance profiles."
"The results of the study are consistent with the notion that early hormones
mediate changes in neural functioning that underlie both sexual and nonsexual behaviors in
humans. More specifically, the study adds evidence that sexual orientation and
motor/cognitive predispositions have early biological contributions."
THEORY OF CAUSATION OF SEXUAL ORIENTATION
This study presents an interesting theory and one with
which some of those who stress treatment and prevention would not totally disagree -
namely that homosexuals as children saw themselves as different from their same-sex peers
and this contributed to the development of same-sex attraction. The disagreement arises
over whether this is healthy and normal. Zucker and Bradley argue convincingly that the
early alienation from one's own sex is the result of negative experiences and that such
children are not happy non-conformists, but troubled, rigid and phobic. Furthermore, while
the homosexual may be attracted to what is perceived as different from himself, another
homosexual is not in fact different and the complementarity desired will not be found in a
* Bem, D. (1996) Exotic becomes erotic: A developmental theory of sexual orientation. Psychological
Review. 103, 2: 320 - 335.
"A developmental theory of erotic/romantic attraction is presented that provides
the same basic account for opposite and same-sex desire in both men and women. It proposes
that biological variables, such as genes, prenatal hormones, and brain neuroanatomy, do
not code for sexual orientation per se but for childhood temperaments that influence a
child's preferences for sex-typical or sex atypical activities or peers. These preferences
lead children to feel different from opposite or same-sex peers -- to perceive them as
dissimilar, unfamiliar, and exotic. This, in turn, produces heightened nonspecific
autonomic arousal that subsequently gets eroticized to that same class of dissimilar
peers. Exotic becomes erotic."
Gay Heterosexual Lesbian Heterosexual
(n=686) (n=337) (n=293 (n=140)
Had not enjoyed sex-typical activities 63% 10% 63% 15%
Had enjoyed sex-atypical activities 48% 11% 81% 61%
Atypically sex-typed 56% 8% 80% 24%
Most childhood friends were opposite sex 42% 13% 60% 40%
"... relatively more women than men had enjoyed sex-atypical activities and had
opposite-sex friends during childhood. (In fact, more heterosexual women than gay men had
enjoyed boys' activities as children --61% vs. 37%, respectively.)"
"They found that 71% of gay men and 70% of lesbian women recalled having felt
different from same-sex children during the grade-school years, compared with 38% and 51%
of heterosexual men and women, respectively."
"When asked in what way they felt different, gay men were most likely to say that
they did not like sports; lesbians were most likely to say that they were more interested
in sports or were more masculine than other girls. In contrast, the heterosexual men and
women who had felt different from their same-sex peers in childhood typically cited
differences unrelated to gender."
"Most people choose members of the opposite sex to be their romantic and sexual
partners. It is an indication of how unthinkingly heterosexuality is taken for granted
that authors of articles and textbooks never seem to notice this quintessential
complementarity and its challenge to the conclusion that similarity produces
"... the mediating temperaments should possess three characteristics: First, they
should be plausibly related to those play activities that define gender conformity and
nonconformity. Second, because they manifest themselves in sex-typed preferences, they
should show sex differences. And third, because they are hypothesized to derive from the
genotype, they should have significant heritablities. One likely candidate is aggression
and its benign cousin, rough-and-tumble play. "
"EBE theory predicts that the effect of any childhood variable on an individual's
sexual orientation depends on whether it prompts him or her to feel more similar to or
more different from same-sex or opposite-sex peers."
"Finally, some women who would otherwise be predicted by the EBE model
to have a heterosexual orientation might choose for social or political
reasons to center their lives around other women. This could lead them to
avoid seeking out for sexual or romantic relationships, to develop
affectional and erotic ties to other women, and to self-identify as
lesbians or bisexuals."
CHANDLER BURR WANTS TO BELIEVE IN A BIOLOGICAL CAUSE
Burr presents a mass of scientific information
all of which is either irrelevant to the question or scientifically deficient. Burr lists
"the various scientists pursuing this biological mystery" and stresses the
political importance of evidence which could prove homosexuality is biologically
Burr C. (1996) A Separate Creation: The Search for the Biological Origins of Sexual
Orientation. NY: Hyperion.
"what... would it mean to the Church's view of sexuality and reproduction if there
were a subgroup of human beings genetically directed to have nonreproductive sex? -- the
implications derived their importance from a profound equalizing effect, a leveling of
political, social, and even theological hierarchies. Because if this research showed that
homosexuals were biologically different from other people in tiny variations in genetic
helices and patterns of microscopic neurons deep inside them, it also said that in the
larger, important ways -- in their basic humanity, in their capacity for feeling and
thought, in the aspects of day-to-day life -- heterosexuals and homosexuals were the
[Quoting Hamer on the NIghtline show with Ted Koppel] "What
is important today," he concludes, " is that we've clearly demonstrated that
genes are involved." After a commericial break, Koppel introduces the Reverend Peter
Gomes, professor of Christian Morals at Harvard University [and a homosexual]
Gomes..."I think part of the whole conversation about homosexuality has been to
confuse it with some deliberate choice of lifestyle, confuse it with a 'lifestyle,' and
suggest that it is somehow an option that other people whare normal, as it were, do not
have, " he says. "In the sense that homosexuality is now to be seen as part of
the equipment with which some people are born into the world, in some respects I think
normalizes the debate, and I think that's helpful."
Burr, C. (1996) Suppose there is a gay gene...What then?: Why conservatives should
embrace the gay gene. The Weekly Standard. Dec. 16.
"I am a Colin Powell Republican and a gay person who is an ardent assimilationist.
I am an assimilationist in part because I look at a homosexual orientation as a biological
roll of the dice that has all the political importance of left handedness, i.e., none at
BAILEY AND PILLARD STUDY CRITIQUED
This article explains how the studies which supposedly
prove "heritability," actually offer evidence of the importance of environmental
Goldberg, S. (1992) What is normal?: If something is heritable, can it be called
abnormal? But is homosexuality heritable. National Review. Feb. 3. p.36 - 38.
"... there is a crucial distinction that Bailey and Pillard did not make, a
distinction between predispositional and a determinative physiological factor. The
latter would be a factor that generated basic sexual orientation regardless of the
environment in which the individual grew."
"Homosexuality can be conceived as a series of "go"/"no go"
steps, with a "go" required at every step if homosexuality is to develop. A
person who lacks the physiological necessary condition (if there is such a condition),
will not become a homosexual no matter what his subsequent environment. Another person,
who meets the physiological necessary condition, will not become a homosexual if he
encounters one series of environments, but will if he encounters another. This is now the
implicit view of virtually all researchers who offer causal explanations of homosexuality.
"Is the greater frequency in homosexuals of depression, general unhappiness, and
other undeniably undesirable tendencies a function only of social ostracism or also,
perhaps primarily, of factors inherent in the development of homosexuality? At one time,
homosexual spokesmen denied that there were any differences between homosexuals and
heterosexuals other than in choice of sexual partner. This argument was surrendered even
before the evidence required because it ignored the fact that it is only the negative effects
of social sanctions that would lead anyone to be bothered by such sanctions. "
"One major study attempted to answer the question by studying societies with
varying attitudes toward homosexuality. It found that the degree of tolerance was
unrelated to the rates of depression, unhappiness, and the like. Astonishingly, the
authors of this study concluded that this demonstrates that tolerance is not enough; equal
acceptance is required if the rates of pathology are to decline. "
"What this evidence far more plausibly seems to imply is that social ostracism has
little to do with the correlated behavior (which is a function of the same processes --
whatever they are -- that generate the homosexuality)".
"... evidence like that provided by Bailey and Pillard indicates that such a
physiologically determinative factor will not be found."
HAMER STUDY QUESTIONED BY FEMINIST AUTHOR
Radical feminists and some of their lesbian allies hold
to a post-modernist deconstructionist ideological position, namely that gender
differences, gender roles, and sexual
orientation are socially constructed and can be changed. They therefore reject the
claim that homosexuality (or for that matter heterosexuality) are genetically determined.
Ms. Falsto-Sterling is also the author of "The Five Sexes: Why male and female are
not enough" Science. March/April 1993, in which she writes "Imagine that
the sexes have multiplied beyond currently imaginable limits."
Falsto-Sterling, A., Balaban, E. (1993) Letters: Genetics and male sexual orientation. Science.
"We wish to emphasize a point with which we are sure Hamer et al. would
agree: correlation does not necessarily indicate causation. A gene affecting sexual
orientation in some segment of the male population might do so very indirectly. For
instance, any gene that might increase the tendency of brothers to psychologically
identify with one another might influence their similarity in such matters and sexual
orientation and would be picked up in the present study. "
"We wonder whether it might not have been prudent for the authors and the editors
of Science to have waited until more of the holes in the study had been plugged (or
not, as the future will tell.)"
BIOLOGICAL THEORIES QUESTIONED
This review finds no evidence to support the claims for
a genetic cause for homosexuality.
Byne, W., Parsons, B. (1993) Human sexual orientation: The biologic theories
reappraisal. Archives of General Psychiatry. 50: 229 - 239.
"... there is no evidence at present to substantiate a biologic theory, just as
there is no compelling evidence to support any singular psychosocial explanation. While
all behavior must have an ultimate biologic substrate, the appeal of current biologic
explanation for sexual orientation may derive more from dissatisfaction with the present
status of psychosocial explanations than from a substantiating body of experimental data.
Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking. In an
alternative model, temperamental and personality traits interact with familial and social
milieu as the individual's sexuality emerges. Because such traits may be heritable or
developmentally influenced by hormones, the model predicts an apparent nonzero
heritability for homosexuality without requiring that either genes or hormones directly
influence sexual orientation per se."
"... as reviewed by Van den Aardweg, the literature suggests that many, perhaps a
majority of homosexual men report family constellations similar to those suggested by
Bieber et al to be causally associated with the development of homosexuality (e.g. overly
involved, anxiously overcontrolling mothers, poor father-son relationships). this
association has been observed in nonclinical as well as clinical samples. "
"Research into the heritability of personality variants suggests that some
personality dimensions my be heritable, including novelty seeking, harm avoidance, and
reward dependence. Applying these dimensions to the above scenario, one might predict that
a boy who was high in novelty seeking, but low in harm avoidance and reward dependence,
would be likely to disregard his mother's discouragement of baseball. On the other hand, a
boy who was low in novelty seeking, but high in harm avoidance and reward dependence,
would be more likely to need the rewards of maternal approval, would be less likely to
seek and encounter male role models outside the family, and would be more likely to avoid
baseball for fear of being hurt. In the absence of encouragement from an accepting father
or alternative male role model, such a boy would be likely to feel different from his male
peers and as a consequence be subject to nonerotic experiences in childhood that may
contribute to the subsequent emergence of homoerotic preferences. Such experiences could
include those described by Friedman as being common in prehomosexual boys, including low
masculine self-regard, isolation, scapegoating, and rejection by male peers and older
males, including the father. "
HAMER STUDY QUESTIONED
This article gives the background on the investigation
by the Office of Research Integrity into the methods used by Hamer.
Crewdson, John (1995) Study on 'gay gene' challenged. Chicago Tribune. June 25.
".... no other laboratory has confirmed Hamer's findings. Now, Hamer and his lawyers
are defending his study before the Office of Research Integrity which is investigating
allegations by one [of] Hamer's collaborators that he selectively reported his data in
ways that enhanced the study's conclusions."
"His accuser, a junior researcher who performed the computerized genetic mapping
that is at the heart of Hamer's claimed discovery , also refused to speak about the
"Questions about Hamer's choice of data were first raised in March of last year by
the researcher, a 38-year-old post-doctoral fellow in NCI's Laboratory of Biochemistry,
where Hamer is chief of the section on gene structure and regulation."
"Shortly after voicing her questions the woman was abruptly ordered to leave the
laboratory without even removing her personal effects. "
"The researcher then took her concerns to higher-ups at the National Institutes of
Health, the federal biomedical research complex of which the NC is a part. NIH officials
referred the matter to the Office of Research Integrity, the federal agency charged with
investigating possible scientific misconduct."
"Only one independent laboratory has reported attempting such a replication , and
it has found no evidence to support Hamer. "We can't reproduce Hamer's data,"
says Dr. George Ebers, a neurogeneticist from the University of Western Ontario, who has
searched unsuccessfully for a Hamer-style genetic link to homosexuality in more than 50
pairs of gay Canadian brothers."
"Exactly half of his brother pairs, Eber said, shared genetic markers on the X
chromosome, where Hamer found evidence for genes linked to homosexuality. Such a 50-50
split is the precise distribution that would be expected by chance alone, leading Ebers to
conclude that "there is no support for the idea that anything on the X chromosome is
disposing you to homosexuality.'"
GENETIC CLAIMS QUESTIONED
McGuire reviews the various studies which claim that
homosexuality is biologically determined.
McGuire, T. (1995) Is homosexuality genetic? A critical review and some suggestions. Journal
of Homosexuality. 28,1&2: 115 - 145.
"Genetic analysis of behavioral differences among human beings requires both
careful experimental design and appropriate genetic modes. Any genetic study must use (1)
valid and precise measures of individual differences, (2) appropriate methods to ascertain
biological relationships, (3) research subjects who have been randomly recruited, (4)
appropriate sample sizes, and (5) appropriate genetic models to interpret the date. In
addition, the researchers must exercise caution in interpreting biosocial effects from the
observed phenotypic correlations. To date, all studies of the genetic basis of sexual
orientation of men and women have failed to meet one or more or any of the above
Hamer et al.
"I have to agree with King that "Were virtually any other trait involved, the
paper would have received little public notice until the results had been independently
"I compared similar pairs of relatives (maternal vs. paternal uncles; maternal
cousins from uncles and aunts and paternal cousins from uncles and aunts) In none of these
three cases did I find a significant difference. That is, there was no evidence for a
maternal effect. "
"Until these results are replicated with better recruitment procedures, accurate,
reliable, and consistent assessment of sexual orientation, sufficient sample sizes,
appropriate statistics, and rigorous testing of all members of the pedigrees, they should
be viewed with extreme skepticism."
Eckert et al.
"The experimenters were willing to "forgive" the adolescent heterosexual
affairs of twin A and label him as homosexual. However, the 15 years of exclusive
heterosexual activity of twin B with his wife was not persuasive enough for the
experimenters to diagnose his sexual orientation. Instead
they concluded: "it is hard to deny genetic factors as an aetiological
"Three of the female twin pairs were definitely discordant for
homosexuality. The fourth pain had one member who had extensive homosexual
affairs until her second marriage at age 29 and had been exclusively
heterosexual for 19 years. The other sister was homosexual. The
experimenters concluded that homosexuality [in women] was 'acquired after
conception, most likely after birth, but before menarche". None of these
conclusions, however, followed from their data."
"Kallman recruited a total of 85 MZ and DZ twins. Kallman claimed that all
co-twins of his MZ index cases were homosexual -- 100 concordance, while the DZ twins
showed only moderate concordance. Kallman later acknowledged that the 100% concordance was
only a statistical artifact".
Heston and Shields
"... studied a few male twins included in the Maudsley twin study who were
acknowledged homosexuals.. Two of five pairs of MZ twins were concordant for homosexuality
and one of the seven pairs of DZ twins was concordant."
"...some people want homosexuality to be biological or genetic because they then
believe that because homosexuals are "born that way" they will somehow be
tolerated. Others advocate environmental causes since this justifies their belief that
individuals "chose a gay lifestyle.""
"Even if we knew absolutely everything about genes and absolutely everything about
environment, we still could not predict the final phenotype of any individual. It is very
likely that behavior, in general, and sexual identity, in particular, are results of
idiosyncratic processes. Minor events can be amplified to have major effects. "
HAMER STUDY QUESTIONED
Editorial questions the studies claiming to prove the
existence of a "gay gene."
Simon LeVay has since left the Salk Institute in La
Jolla CA to actively work for gay rights.
It could not be proved that Hamer had engaged in
research irregularities and the charges were dropped.
Horgan, J. (1995) Gay Genes, Revisited: Doubts arise over research on the biology of
homosexuality. Scientific American. Nov. p.28
"In 1991 Simon LeVay, then at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San
Diego, reported finding subtle but significant differences between the brains of
homosexual and heterosexual. Two years later a group led by Dean H. Hamer of the National
Cancer Institute linked male homosexuality to a gene on the X chromosome, which is
inherited exclusively from the mother. "
"Both announcements made headlines worldwide. LeVay and Hamer appeared on talk
shows and wrote books. They also co-authored an article published in this magazine in May
1994. But LeVay's finding has yet to be fully replicated by another researcher. As for
Hamer, one study has contradicted his results. More disturbingly, he has been charged with
research improprieties and is now under investigation by the Federal Office of Research
"George Ebers of the university of Western Ontario says his examination of 52
pairs of gay brothers yielded no evidence for a linkage of homosexuality markers on the X
chromosome or elsewhere. Ebers and an associate, George Rice, have also analyzed the
pattern of sexual orientation in 400 families with one or more gay males and found no
evidence for the X-linked, mother-to-son transmission posited by Hamer. "
GENETIC CAUSATION QUESTIONED
This book by Simon LeVay and lesbian activist Nonas
appears to back away from the assertion that homosexuality is genetically determined and
adopts the theory that gender and identity are social constructed roles that can change.
LeVay, S., Nonas, E. (1995) City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian
Community in America. Cambridge MA; MIT Press.
"There are probably very few people who have not felt, at some time or another,
some sexual attraction to both men and women. Where the division between homosexual (or
heterosexual) and bisexual should be placed is arbitrary, because sexual orientation is a
"A person's sexual orientation is not necessarily a fixed, life-long attribute.
Sexual orientation can change: for example a woman may be predominantly attracted to men
for many years, and perhaps have a happy marriage and children during that time, and then
become increasingly aware of same-sex attraction in her thirties, forties, or later. This
does not mean that she was concealing or repressing her homosexuality during that early
period. To argue that she was really homosexual all the time would be to change the
definition of sexual orientation into something murky and inaccessible."(p.5)
"Lesbians identified with women - perhaps it would be more accurate to say that
they identified women with themselves. Gay men identified with men: not real,
heterosexual, homophobic men, of course, but with some celluloid vision of how men ought
to be : manly, clean-cut, go getting. "(p.61)
"The attitudes of lesbians and gays concerning gender are not entirely healthy.
First comes the belief, subscribed to by many lesbian and gay therapists, that gender
identity and general are solely the products of socialization. Not only is there little
scientific evidence to support this belief; it is also damaging, in that it makes gays and
lesbians who are gender nonconformist, as well as transsexual men and women, search
futility in their childhood memories for what made them so, and it also leads them to
separate off their gender nonconformity conceptionally from their homosexuality, which
many gay and lesbian therapists do consider innate. In fact, whatever their causes,
homosexuality and gender nonconformity are intimately related."
"Second, many gays and lesbians, especially in the past, have disliked and, as
best they could, concealed their own gender nonconformity. Of course, this is
understandable, given childhood teasing and adult sexism...But still gays and lesbians
refuse to simply be gender nonconformity. Instead, they have to act gender
nonconformist, to have an intellectualized reason for it. Either they are intent on
overthrowing the patriarchy, and have chosen the abolition of gender as the means to that
end, or they are cultural trendsetters for whom genderfuck is the mode du jour"(p.
LE VAY BRAIN STUDY CRITIQUED
This review of Simon LeVay's book points out the flaws
in his research.
Porter, R. (1996) Born that Way: A review of Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of
Research into Homosexuality by Simon LeVay and A Separate Creation by Chandler
Burr. New York Times Book Review. August 11.
"... Dr. LeVay argued that science was at last solving the homosexuality
questions. Being gay as not a matter of choice or a consequence of upbringing but was
coded into biological destiny. Sexual orientation was in your genes, brain or metabolism,
embedded in your very nature."
"Dr. LeVay and his colleagues are enthusiastic about dramatic breakthroughs, but
read carefully and find the house of sexual science is built on sand. Dr. LeVay did his
research on brains. You and I might think that a neurologist would investigate quite a few
-- a though, perhaps, before claiming to have solved the Sphinx riddle. So how many brains
did Dr. LeVay slice? Forty-one. How many more has he done since then? None, it seems. A
new form of inverse square law appears to be operating: bigger and bigger claims based on
minuscule amount of research."
"Moreover, as Mr. Burr's interviewees note, there are dozens of ways in which Dr.
LeVay's original experiments might have been flawed -- a fact that Dr. LeVay frankly
admits. The homosexual brains he sliced all came from men who have died of AIDS."
HAMER STUDY QUESTIONED AGAIN
Another study failed to replicating Hamer's
findings on the "gay gene" lending credence to the accusation that Hamer may
have manipulated his data.
Gadd, Jane (1998) New study fails to find so-called 'gay gene'. Toronto Globe and
Mail. June 2.
"In 1998 Dr. Dean Hamer, a researcher at the U.S. National Institutions of Health,
captured headlines when his study of 33 pairs of gay brothers found similarities in parts
of their X chromosomes that suggested homosexuality could be an inherited trait."
"But an NIH colleague, Dr. Alan Sanders, reported yesterday that an attempt to
replicate the results using 54 sets of gay brothers was not successful."
""No [genetic] marker reached statistically significant criteria" in Dr.
Sander's study, he told reporters at the American Psychiatric Associations annual
conference yesterday in Toronto."
Myers, M. (1982) Homosexuality, Sexual Dysfunction, and incest in male identical Twins.
Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 27: 144
Parker, N. (1964) Homosexuality in twins: A report on three discordant pairs. British
Journal of Psychiatry. 110: 489 -495.
Case A: "Their mother, then 39 years old, learnt only a few days before the
confinement that she was having twins, as she already had a 7-year-old son was anxious
that one of them should be a girl. Sensing her obvious disappointment following the normal
delivery of two 6 1/2 pound sons, the labour ward Sister consoled her with the suggestion
that the first-born, and one subsequently to become a homosexuality, was
to be a girl. Although they were so alike that they could not be distinguished, the mother
seized on this idea and put a bracelet around the firs twin to ensure there would be no
confusion of identity, and from then on he was treated as if he were a girl."
Rainer, J., Msnikoff, A., Kolb, L., Carr, A. (1960) Homosexuality and Heterosexuality
in Identical Twins. Psychosomatic Medicine. 22, 4: 252.
Identical twin was Tom (heterosexual) blamed by his mother for her difficult labor.
Piskur: "The major finding of this study was that exposure to a written summary of
research supporting biological determinants of homosexual orientation can affect scores
assessing attitudes toward homosexuals when measured immediately after the reading.