Well, OK, there is the possibility, but it is far slighter than you might think.
Here is what it all boils down to, people aren't born gay. They are using weak science to move a political agenda. I know Lady gaga did lie to you, and I'm sorry you believed her lies.
Being born gay is an idea from 1899 when German researcher Magnus Hirschfeld regarded homosexuality as congenital - meaning, "born that way" - and he asked for legal equality based on this thinking.
I'm going to take the three major studies by:and break down for you how they are misleading, and totally fallacious.
Simon LeVay and the INAH-3
Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist, studied the brains from 41 corpses, including 6 women, 19 homosexual men, and 16 men presumed to be heterosexual. A small area of the brain, the INAH-3, was similar in size in women and homosexual men, but larger in heterosexual men. He suggested that this might be evidence for an actual structural difference in the brains of gay men. There are, however, numerous problems with this study
- In comparing the size of the INAH-3, he presumed that the 16 "heterosexual" men were, in fact, heterosexual. Only two of them had denied homosexual activities; for the rest, sexual histories were not available. Thus, he was actually comparing homosexual men with men of unknown sexual orientation! This, obviously, is a major flaw in scientific method.
The volume of the INAH-3 may not be a relevant measure:
- Scientists disagree on the most accurate way to measure the INAH-3. LeVay measured the volume; other scientists claim it is more accurate to measure the actual number of neurons. Clarifying the potential problem, some have suggested that using a volume method to project impact on sexual orientation may be like trying to determine intelligence by a person's hat size.
- When different laboratories have measured the four areas of the INAH (including INAH-3), their results conflicted. For example, Swaab and Fliers (1985) found that the INAH-1 was larger in men, while LeVay (1991) found no difference between men and women. Allen et al (1989) found the INAH-2 to be larger in men than in some women, while LeVay (1991) again found no difference.
The above problems aside, even the data from LeVay's study did not prove that anyone was born gay. This is the case for at least two reasons:
- Both groups of men covered essentially the same range of sizes. One could be gay (HM) with a small INAH-3 or with a large one. One could also be in the "heterosexual" category (M) with either a small or large INAH-3. Clearly, these men were not held to a sexual orientation by their INAH-3 biology! As the data shows, the INAH-3 size of three of the homosexual men puts them clearly in the "heterosexual" category (with one having the second largest INAH-3!). If all you know about any of LeVay's subjects is INAH-3 size, you could not accurately predict whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, male or female.
- A study that showed a clear difference in INAH-3 sizes, would still leave another question unanswered: are men gay because of a smaller INAH-3, or was their INAH-3 smaller because of their homosexual actions, thoughts, and/or feelings? It is known that the brain does change in response to changes in behavior and environment. For example, Newsweek reported that "in people reading Braille after becoming blind, the area of the brain controlling the reading finger grew larger." As well, in male songbirds, "the brain area associated with mating is not only larger than in the female, but varies according to the season" (Newsweek, Feb. 24, 1992, p. 50).
Bailey & Pillard: Twins and Other Brothers
Bailey and Pillard studied pairs of brothers -- identical twins, non-identical twins, other biological brothers, and adoptive brothers -- where at least one was gay. At first glance, their findings looked like a pattern for homosexuality being genetically influenced. Identical twins were both homosexual 52% of the time; non-identical twins, 22%; other biological brothers, 9.2%; and adoptive brothers, 10.5%. A closer look reveals significant problems with a "born gay" conclusion to this study:
"In order for such a study to be meaningful, you'd have to look at twins raised apart," says Anne Fausto Sterling, a biologist. The brothers in this study were raised together in their families ( had he same upbringing)
All the results were different from what one would expect if homosexuality was directly genetic:
- Because identical twin brothers share 100% of their genes overall, we would expect that if one was homosexual, the other would also be homosexual, 100% of the time. Instead, this study found that they were both homosexual only 52% of the time.
- Although completely unrelated genetically, adoptive brothers were more likely to both be gay than the biological brothers, who share half their genes! This piece of data prompted the journal Science to respond: "this . . . suggests that there is no genetic component, but rather an environmental component shared in families" (Vol. 262 Dec.24, 1993).
If homosexuality were genetic, one would expect each number in the column "Results from the B & P study" to be identical to the corresponding number in the "Expectation if genetic" column. Each one is significantly different!
| || Both are Homosexual:|
| || Shared genes |
| Expectation |
| Results from |
| Identical twin brothers || 100 % || 100 % || 52 %|
| Non-ident. twin brothers || 50 % || 50 % || 22 %|
| Other biological brothers || 50 % || 50 % || 9 %|
| Adoptive brothers || 0 % || 1-4 % || 11 %|
Finally, Bailey & Pillard did not use a random sample. The men in the study were recruited through advertisements in gay newspapers and magazines.
Dean Hamer and the Xq28 Genetic Markers
Hamer studied 40 pairs of homosexual brothers, and reported that 33 pairs shared a set of five genetic markers. Reporting the story, Time magazine's cover read "BORN GAY Science Finds a Genetic Link" (July 26, 1993). Hamer, however, was more cautious. He felt that it played "some role" in a minority of 5 to 30% of gay men (The Science of Desire by Dean Hamer and Peter Copeland. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Pages 145-146). This is a rather distant reality from finding the "gay gene" and it left two critical questions: just how much influence was "some role" thought to be, and what about the other 70 to 95%?
Based on a simple genetic theory, one would expect 50%, or 20 pairs, to have the same markers. Why did 7 pairs of gay brothers not share a set of genetic markers?
Hamer did not check to see if the heterosexual brothers of the homosexual men also had such a genetic marker. Thus, there was no control group in this study. Here too, this obviously is a major flaw in scientific method.
Since that time, Science has reported that George Ebers, a researcher at the University of Western Ontario, has attempted to duplicate the study but found "no evidence, not even a trend," for the "genetic link." In the scientific world, that is a big problem. More recently, another study by Rice et al. has also stated that its results "do not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality."
If nothing else take this away: Being pro gay rights is fine, but don't destroy the scientific method to move your agenda.
****(notes from my biology 372 class were used)