Final Draft; Is homosexuality born or bred?
Is homosexuality genetic or is it a choice? The widespread arguments of homosexuality have led many researchers to try and find its cause and diagnosis. In this case, researcher Dean Hamer found a linkage of a specific gene, called Xq28, which is a chromosome that plays a role in homosexuality. Although there hasn’t been a direct answer to this debatable question, there is evidence that proves homosexuality is primarily genetic. With this being said, environmental factors also play a key role in shaping an individual to either become homosexual or stray away from it. Several articles like “The Last Mile”, written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, “Homosexuality; Born or Bred” which was written by the Newsweek Staff, “The Innate-Immutable Argument Finds No Basis in Science” written by Dean Byrd and “Everything You Need to Know About Being Gay in Muslim Countries”, written by Brian Whitaker are all articles that discuss scientist’s beliefs about whether homosexuality comes from genetics or not. Studies have been done to see if homosexuality is indeed genetic like the twin studies which is a study that was done by J. Michael Bailey. Homosexuality comes from a person’s genetics because there is no influence nor is it taught to become gay in a heterosexual society. In addition, as homo sapiens, our bodies are made to reproduce so attraction to the same sex especially from early childhood shows that there is some sort of genetic adaptation.
Researcher J. Michael Bailey conducted the Bailey twin study in the 1980’s to examine twins and take a closer look at the genetic makeup of sexual orientation. He wanted to find out how many pairs of twins would both be gay because “if sexual orientation was partly inherited, then a higher proportion of identical twins should be gay compared to fraternal twins” (Mukherjee, 373). The Bailey study used twins that were both fraternal and identical to look at the genetic components of homosexuality. It was purposely done on identical twins because they share the same genes. If more identical twins are gay than fraternal twins or siblings, it would prove that there is some sort of genetic link to homosexuality. “When Bailey looked for concordance of gayness among twins, the results were striking. Among the fifty-six pairs of identical twins, both twins were gay in 52 percent” (Mukherjee, 373). The population is made up of ten percent of gay people in society and the fact that 52 percent of identical twins who share the same DNA, have both come out as gay shows that homosexuality is a matter of genetics and not a choice. When one identical twin is gay and the other isn’t, it can be explained with other influences that surround them in life such as family, friends, schools, religious beliefs and social structures that force them to live a conformed (heterosexual) lifestyle. “Undoubtedly, the pervasive and repressive cultural beliefs that surrounded homosexuality were potent enough to sway the choice of a “straight” identity in one twin but not the other. But the twin studies provided incontrovertible evidence that genes influenced homosexuality….” (Mukherjee, 374). This shows that cultural influences often make people change their sexual orientation.
In the book “The Gene” chapter “The Last Mile” by Siddhartha Mukherjee researcher, Dean Hamer began questioning if sexual identity was a result of genetics or personal choice. In Hamer’s study, he states “The role of genetics in male sexual orientation was investigated by pedigree and linkage analyses on 114 families of homosexual men…. The goal of our work was to determine whether or not male sexual orientation is genetically influenced. We used the standard techniques of modern human genetics, namely pedigree analysis and family DNA linkage studies.” (375 Mukherjee). In this study, Hamer found maternal linkage for male homosexuality, this indicated that a gene determining homosexuality was passed on through the mother’s family line. Hamer states “…this trend meant that the gay gene had to be carried on the X chromosome” (376 Mukherjee). Dean Hamer hasn’t yet found a gene that determines if a person will become homosexual. Hamer states “The “gay gene” might not even be a gene, at least not in the traditional sense. It may be a stretch of DNA that regulates a gene that sits near it or influences a gene quite near from it” (379 Mukherjee). However, he claims to have located a genetic component of male homosexuality linked to a chromosomal region known as Xq28. Furthermore, Dean Hamer admits that there’s an environmental factor that leads to homosexuality. Hamer states “Multiple genes with small effects- in particular, genes that modulate and integrate inputs from the environment- are much more likely to be involved in the determinant of sexual identity” (379 Mukherjee). He concludes that sexual identity is unlikely to be caused by a “single master regulator”, but is rather a product of genetics and environmental influences.
Some scientists believe that the attempts to find a homosexual gene were failures and that Dean Hamer didn’t find enough evidence to support his idea of the X chromosome having something to do with homosexuality. Dr. Byrd wrote in “The Innate, Immutable Arguments Finds No Basis in Science.” that “offered some conclusions regarding genetics and homosexuality” (1). Byrd quoted Dean Hamer and said “We knew that genes were only part of the answer. We assumed the environment also played a role in sexual orientation, as it does in most, if not all behaviors…” (1). Environment can play a role in homosexuality and scare people into becoming heterosexual. In Muslim countries/societies, children are known to have arranged marriages and they can’t be free in their country or house. A family’s response to a child coming out as gay varies in Muslim countries, “in the more extreme cases, coming out results in the person being ostracized by their family or even physically attacked. A less harsh reaction is to seek a ‘cure’ either through religion or, in better off families through expensive but futile psychiatric treatment” (Whitaker, 4). People who live in families like this often change their sexual orientation to fit society’s needs because if not they might lose their family. So, environment does indeed play a role in a person’s sexual identity as it does in most behaviors. Scientists took this idea about how environment affects a person’s sexual identity and marked it as Dean Hamer’s failure, and some feel that if homosexuality is indeed genetic then environment should have nothing to with it. Dean Byrd quoted Hamer and Copeland when they were talking about their study and said “the pedigree failed to produce what we originally hoped to find: simple Mendelian inheritance. In fact, we never found a single family in which homosexuality was distributed in the obvious pattern….” (1).
Siddhartha Mukherjee has noted that several groups of scientists have tried to find the link to the gene Xq28, but they haven’t found a gay gene. They instead found gay locations on the X chromosome and these locations have proven for sexual behavior regulators, but none of the research groups have found a gene that definitely shows a link to either homo or heterosexuality. Siddhartha states, “whether Hamer is right or wrong about Xq28 is immaterial. The twin studies clearly suggest that several determinants that influence sexual identity are part of the human genome…multiple genes with small effects—in particular, genes that modulate and integrate inputs from the environment are much more likely to be involved in the determination of sexual identity” (Mukherjee, 379). This is true, people change their behavior to fit their environment and they also will go as far as change their sexual identity to fit into society’s standards. Some scientists believe that the attempts to find a homosexual gene were failures and that Dean Hamer didn’t find enough evidence to support his idea of the X chromosome having something to do with homosexuality. He instead “offered some conclusions regarding genetics and homosexuality” (Byrd, 1). Byrd quoted Dean Hamer and said “‘We knew that genes were only part of the answer. We assumed the environment also played a role in sexual orientation, as it does in most, if not all behaviors…’” (Byrd, 1). This is indeed true, environment can play a role in homosexuality and scare people into becoming heterosexual.
It may be hard for families to accept homosexuality due to society. Children coming out to their families can be “painful”. Some families are supportive however while others react in anger and disapproval. In the article “Born or Bred” Brenner states, “Had I known I was to have a gay child, I would probably not want to have a gay child” (6). Being openly gay in society is tough. There is constant judgment or mistreatment by others. In the article “Everything you need to know about Muslim countries” by Brian Whitaker discusses how in Muslim countries and societies, children are known to have arranged marriages and they can’t be free in their country or house. A family’s response to a child coming out as gay varies in Muslim countries, “in the more extreme cases, coming out results in the person being ostracized by their family or even physically attacked. A less harsh reaction is to seek a ‘cure’ – either through religion or, in better-off families – through expensive but futile psychiatric treatment” (4). People who live in families like this often change their sexual orientation to fit society’s needs because they know they have nothing without their family, and that if they come out as gay, they’ll be either shunned or beaten violently by their own family members. So, environment does indeed play a role in a person’s sexual identity as it does in most behaviors. he explains what it feels like to be homosexual in Muslim countries; you’re either punished by law or physically harassed by others. This shows that religion can play a big role in the opposition of homosexuality due to it being a “sin” in the perspective of a religious person.
All in all, why would someone want to choose a more difficult lifestyle? It is evident that homosexuality for a lot of people is not a choice they make, but in actuality a conformation that happened due to their harsh or very heterosexual society. Your surroundings influence you, as well as religion and the way you were raised. Although the homosexuality “gay gene” hasn’t been completely proven there have been multiple studies and research that show there is some sort of biological factor as well as environment factors that play a key role in homosexuals. Needless to say, with our scientific advancements hopefully within near time this gene will be found soon.
Staff, Newsweek. “Homosexuality: Born Or Bred?” Newsweek, 13 Mar. 2010,
Byrd , Dean. “The Innate, Immutable Arguments Finds No Basis in Science.” 27 May 2001,
Whitaker, Brian. “Everything You Need to Know about Being Gay in Muslim Countries.” The Guardian, Guardian News and Media, 21 June 2016,
Mukherjee, Siddhartha. “The Last Mile”. The Gene. First ed. New York Scribers, 2016.370 90.Print