People talk about the gay gene, about whether homosexuality is biological, genetic, due to social influences, or just plan choice. But yet nobody ever seems to consider the implications this has on heterosexual behavior.

Would there be a reason that the cause of one behavior would be different from the cause of the other? Would it even make sense to assume that being straight is normal and based on biology, but yet being gay would be a choice, or be due to how someone was raised? I don't think it would.

So what does this imply? For one, it implies a lot of double standards that people are using. When someone screams about how gays chose to be gay, doesn't that mean that person chose to be straight? "But I didn't," they may reply - so why do they get to say that because they're straight, but someone who's gay doesn't?

Now I'm not going to get into the religious aspect of the debate, because, well, I don't find it relevant here. What's "natural" and "normal" often has no bearing on what a religion considers "good" and "evil".

But take a minute, and look at why you like who you like. Why should it be any different for anyone else?

Yes, the reproductive organs of a male and female naturally fit together rather well (though not always). But somehow I doubt anyone has used that logic when determining their partner. "Hmmm... I like that guy, and that girl's kinda cute also, which would my parts work better with?" There's no debate, just an attraction. But back to my point, why assume it only works that way for people who are straight?

Besides, many animal species have exhibited homosexual behavior, surely there aren't two different mechanisms at work with them. Now obviously, the things that affect them aren't as complex, which, I think, helps my point.

The arguments for heterosexuality being based in biology usually run something like the following:

  • Male and female reproductive organs are naturally compatible with each other, rather than with themselves.
  • Male and female intercourse is the only natural way of producing offspring.
  • As offspring are the only way for the species to perpetuate its genes, it's logical that those genes would predispose their donors toward heterosexual behavior.

Meanwhile, the arguments for homosexuality having a biological basis goes something like this:

Arguing that one must choose to be straight or gay (or bi) is good for a philosophical discussion of the issues, but it's pretty hollow when it comes down to a serious discussion of biology and/or genetics. One of the few things both creationists and Darwinists agree on is that heterosexual behavior is the "default setting" for every species that uses sexual reproduction, because otherwise the species would have long since been replaced by the amoeba.

But the logic of mblase's writeup presumes that there is no benefit in being homosexual, either for the individual or the species. While the biological advantage of heterosexual intercourse is that you can produce children, perhaps the advantage of sex with someone your own gender is that you can't. The 'tribe' needs maiden aunts to care for the children, and population growth can only go so far. Maybe the contribution made by the childless is so great that a population can't live without it.

So, back to the heterosexuals. Who knows what causes it? Certainly on an individual level, for women heterosexual intercourse and resulting childbirth has been the greatest threat to their survival. One for one, there's no advantage in reproduction for women.

It's going to wrench your mind into 23 pieces whichever way you look at it. Perhaps the reason we don't usually debate the reasons for people being heterosexual is simply that they're the majority. And most people are normal, right?

While there may or may not be any benefit in being homosexual, either to the individual or society, the important point is that if you don't reproduce, you don't pass on your genes. No matter how long you live, how much fun you have, or how you benefit society, if you don't reproduce, your genes die with you.

A gene can be said to have been successful if it perpetuates itself, even at the expense of the individual that it codes for. Which is why all kinds of genetic illnesses appear in old age - an individual susceptable to osteoporosis after the age of 50 is equally likely to reproduce as an individual who doesn't. In modern society, even genetic flaws that would prove fatal at a pre-reproductive age in lower animals, such as blindness, deafness, diabetes, or even hemophilia do not result in a significant reproductive disadvantage. These conditions can be inheirited, as the parents were able to reproduce, despite the 'defective' genes.

A genetic predisposition to homosexuality over heterosexuality, however, would significantly reduce the chance of sexual intercourse with an individual of the opposite sex, and therefore the chance of the individual reproducing, and the 'gay gene' being passed on.

The only possibilities for the survival of a 'gay gene' are for it to continually appear as a spontaneous mutation, for it to be recessive, either imparting a small reproductive advantage (or at least imparting no reproductive disadvantage) when paired with a dominant 'straight gene'2, or for it to be expressed by a combination of very many genes, the way eye, hair or skin colour is3.

1 - Barring diseases that affect reproduction directly, such as Down's syndrome

2 - An example of this is the genes for warfarin resistance in rats - ww rats bleed to death after exposure to warfarin, as their blood does not clot. Ww rats are not significantly affected by warfarin, and do not have any crippling deformities. WW rats are not significantly affected by warfarin either, but need substantially more vitamin K in their diet if they are to survive.

3 - Skin colour is expressed by twomany4 pairs of genes, the effects of which add together to make the skin of an individual one of fivelots of4 different colours. Due to the interations of these pairs, it is possible for two individuals with the same skin colour to have offspring with a different one, the exception being parents who are either both pairs fully recessive (white), both pairs fully dominiant (black), or one pair fully dominant, one pair fully recessive.

4 - Nothing on the internet seems to agree what the number is. If you know, please tell me :)

biology != genetics

There are several avenues available to make a legitimate case that sexual orientation is biologically based without ever mentioning genes or, shudder, selective advantage. Furthermore, it's possible to mention genetics without having to bandy about the gay gene concept.

Talk about prenatal hormone exposure. Talk about the psychosomatic effect on a pregnant woman of perceived overpopulation. Talk about sex-swapping Amazonian frogs. Talk at length about the sexual habis of Bonobos.

And then get back to the original point: There's a bit of a contradiction in declaring being attracted to someone of the same sex is a choice, while also asserting being attracted to someone of a differing sex is not a choice. Besides a couple of fairly confused people I knew in highschool that thought it was trendy, I have never known of anyone that claimed to be able to choose to be attracted to someone... much less choose to be attracted to someone that's 180º from what they "should" be attracted to.

Consider: "Not My Type." Why does that phrase have any meaning? Furthermore, assuming you have one, why should "your type" be whatever it happens to be?

There are ideas about hip:waist ratios, pentagonal/geodesic symmetry of bone structure, and other supposed advertisements of fertility. BUT, what about the guys that like slim-hipped girls with small breasts? Or the girls that like slim-hipped girls with small breasts, for that matter?

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