This paper explores four separate articles stemming from research on the origins of homosexuality, whether from a genetic source or as a byproduct of life experiences and conditions. Micheal Price (2018) and Simon LeVay (2003) both agree that homosexuality forms aspart of one’s DNA, while Paul Cameron (2004) believes that homosexuality stems from life experiences. Helen Cothran (2003) does not agree with either theory, indicating that homosexual tendencies result primarily from societal influence with mild genetic influences
“A different lover is not a sin. Believe capital H-I-M. I’m beautiful in my way, ‘cause God makes no mistakes, I’m on the right track, baby, I was born this way.” The pop song “Born This Way” by Lady Gaga enunciated the feelings of many members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community (LGBT). That said, research on whether or not homosexuality actually has genetic roots has yet to provide a definitive answer. Some researchers claim that homosexuality is purely genetic based on studies and data, while others believe it is caused by conditioning and experiences. Given the confusion, I wanted to know for myself the answer to the question, ‘Is homosexuality genetic?’
The first article I researched printed in the October edition of Science Magazine, “Giant Story Links DNA to Same Sex Experiences” by Michael Price (2018). In the article, Price discusses a study of DNA and behavioral information from thousands of individuals to determine if there was a connection between the two. The information found suggested four variants that strongly associate with nonheterosexuality behavior. These variants were found on chromosome seven, eleven, twelve, and fifteen. Two of the variants being specific male same sex experiences only. With this new knowledge, Andrea Ganna of the Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Harvard Medical School in Boston, gave her final thoughts stating, “I’m pleased to announce there is no ‘gay gene’. Rather, ‘nonheterosexuality’ is in part influenced by many tiny genetic effects” (qtd. in Price, p. 386). This is to imply that unlike other genetic disorders, homosexuality does not have a set genetic variation we can determine in every said individual.
Simon Lavay takes on a slightly different approach to the same idea in his article, “Homosexuality is Biologically Determined” (2003). The first idea that Levay talks about is that rats with high amounts of androgenic hormones are more likely to engage in sex with males. In conjunction, humans with the syndrome known as congenital adrenal hyperplasia also have high levels of androgenic hormones. The article states, “Several studies have reported that when these girls grow up they have a much greater likelihood of experiencing same-sex attraction than do comparison groups of women (such as their unaffected sisters)” (p.1). Numerous other studies continue to be brought up throughout the article including otoacoustic emissions, ability to throw a softball all leading to the same conclusion: there are differences between traits of homosexual and heterosexual individuals. Similar to my first source, this source indicates that homosexuality is indeed genetic. Both studies failed to provide a definitive answer to the question, but the research suggests that there is at least some evidence to support the concept homosexuality is genetic. At this point in my research, I started to understand why countless individuals can agree with the said information.
Paul Cameron refuted this ideology in his article, “Homosexuality is not Biologically Determined” (2004). Cameron discusses the idea that homosexuality is based on a large number of things such as: early homosexual experiences, family abnormality, unusual sexual experience, and cultural experiences. Research conducted within the article on early homosexual experiences reveals two-thirds of the boys whose first experience was homosexual engaged in homosexual behavior as adults; 95% of those whose first experience was heterosexual were likewise heterosexual in their adult behavior. A similarly progressive pattern of sexual behavior was reported for females (p.4). The article also points out that many individuals change their sexual preferences and can claim to be homosexual while also feeling attraction to the opposite sex. Conflicting with my previous two sources, Cameron does not believe homosexuality comes from genetics, but rather is developed through life experiences. Looking at all of my research done thus far, I began to realize why this is such a controversial issue. All of the articles display evidence towards how they believe homosexuality is formed, but neither can say with one hundred percent certainty. However, percentage wise, the study results for the non-genetic article are much higher.
My final source, “Homosexuality Is Caused by Societal Dysfunction,” by Helen Cothran (2003) hits on the point every behavioral trait in human nature has a genetic component. She uses the example of basketball players stating their genetic makeup has tons of similarities. Cothran also points out that just because homosexuality has some relation to genes does not mean that it isn’t changeable. The main point of her article, however, is that society is the driving cause for homosexuality. It is a way for individuals to better adapt into society. “There I believe homosexuality—like narcissism—is best viewed as a spiritual and moral illness” (p.7), says Cothran. She believes that the idea of homosexuality can come and go. Like my previous source, this article further agrees with the idea that homosexuality is changeable. It also does not agree with the idea that homosexuality is genetic but instead society based. This idea of homosexuality being a disease is interesting to me because I have always thought of it to be more of something that you were either born with or had something impact your life big enough that it changed you to become homosexual. Thinking of it in a way that it can come and go better helps me understand why people consider it.
If you were to ask a homosexual what they believed their preferences were caused by, they would most likely tell you it is genetic and they can’t control it. However, even though there are some genetic markers that indicate homosexuality is genetic, hard evidence has yet to be seen in science. I agree with Helen Cothran and her proposal that everything is connected to genetics in some way or another. Evidence such as the mice experiment or finding and studies on softball lead to the conclusion homosexuality is genetic, while other articles like such of Helen Cothran rebuttal that idea and show why it is outside experiences that have a true impact on homosexuality. I believe that the genetic studies shown are not enough. There are too many variables in their experiments. Homosexuality is based on environmental effects and is a choice. Science is just not advanced enough to prove this idea, not to mention, the evidence to support environmentally influenced homosexuality is stronger.
- Cameron, P. (2004). Homosexuality is not biologically determined. In A. Ojeda (Ed.), Opposing Viewpoints. Homosexuality. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from What Causes Homosexual Desire, and Can It Be Changed? 1999)
- LeVay, S. (2003). Homosexuality is biologically determined. In H. Cothran (Ed.), Current Controversies. Homosexuality. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from Sexual Orientation: The Science and Its Social Impact, http://hometown.aol.com/slevay, 2000)
- National Association for Research Therapy of Homosexuals. (2003). Homosexuality is caused by societal dysfunction. In H. Cothran (Ed.), Current Controversies. Homosexuality. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from Reflections from Jeffrey Satinover, 2001)
- Price, M., & Kaiser, J. (2018). Giant study links DNA to same-sex experiences. Science, 362(6413), 385–386.