The No-Gay-Gene Science

Several different avenues of observation point to the potential mutability of sexual desire. But if one really believes that there exists only one way to become aroused, and one’s natural inclinations, natural for whatever reason, contradict God’s commands, those commands seem cruel and unreasonable.


To justify the pursuit of same-sex desire, advocates have searched for the “gay gene” any which way to Sunday, while ignoring more obvious developmental influences. That precious, holy grail of a gene would show that people cannot help being gay.


The rise of Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) over the last few decades afforded us a great deal of information on the relation between the human genome and characteristics in people. The first study done to try to identify a genetic pattern for same-sex attraction (SSA) (Mustanski, et. al., 2005), on 456 individuals, could not achieve any significant link, but the researchers did not want to give up. According to them, the study still showed promise.


Articles appeared affirming that the gene must be there, and it must be in this or that region of the chromosome. Then Drabant et. al., 2012, done on the 23AndMe database of more than 23,000 people, found NO significance whatsoever: “We did not find evidence of SNPs associated with sexual identity in men or women, nor did we replicate previous findings showing an association with regions on the X chromosome.”


The next significant study came in 2019: Ganna, et. al. “Large Scale GWAS Reveals Insights,” looked at the genomes of almost a half million people in England, US and Sweden. These investigators wanted to signal that they held the correct beliefs and so proclaimed brightly:


      “We wish to make it clear that our results overwhelmingly point toward the richness and diversity of human sexuality.”


Just what that “richness and diversity” meant chromosomally was not clear. Nonetheless:


“There is certainly no single genetic determinant (sometimes referred to as the “gay gene” in the media).”


“All measured common variants together explain only part of the genetic heritability at the population level and do not allow meaningful prediction of an individual’s sexual preference.”


In other words, what their results actually did show, which should be apparent to anyone and everyone, is that human sexuality is complex and dependent far more on our experiences and responses than our genes.


Despite this definitive proof, the authors still held out hope:

“Our results do not make any conclusive statements about the degree to which “nature” and “nurture” influence sexual preference.”


In other words, we cannot say SSA is genetic, though we’d sure like to.


Though there is no gay gene, whether one is “born this way” is a little more complex question to answer.


Next time I will look at that complexity.




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