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Gay Gene

Edward Stein

Subject Medicine
Sociology of Sex, Gender, and Sexuality » Sociology of the Body

Key-Topics gay

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405124331.2007.x


The idea that a gene or set of genes makes some people sexually attracted to people of the same sex has become widely accepted over the past few decades. However, scientific evidence supporting the existence of a gay gene is inconclusive and the political and legal rationale some scientists have for the “search for the gay gene” ( Hamer & Copeland 1994 ) is dubious. Early in the twentieth century, geneticist Richard Goldschmidt (1916) suggested that the bodies of homosexuals did not “match” their sex chromosomes. According to this hypothesis, which was accepted by many people, gay men have female-typical sex chromosomes and lesbians have male-typical sex chromosomes. This hypothesis was shown to be false about 40 years after Goldschmidt proposed it ( Pare 1956 ) and it is not accepted even by those who believe in the existence of a gay gene. Today, some scientists continue to look for genes that account for differences in sexual orientations. The search for the gay gene is at least initially plausible for various reasons, in particular, in light of several recent scientific studies that purport to show that sexual orientations are biologically based and that this biological basis is inborn or determined at an early age (LeVay 1996; Stein 1999 : ch. 5). The most prominent study in the search for the gay gene was done by Hamer and colleagues (1993) and it is supposed to support ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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