Today it is no secret that sexuality can’t be developed. A human is born with a particular set of genes, and among other things, they determine our sexual attractions. A certain sexual orientation is not something society brings up in a child or something which can be imposed on it.
Perhaps, the utter convincing argument in favor of the theory is the development of twins. If they’re identical, twins share the same set of genes. And it has been proven that identical twins are more likely to be of the same sexuality. Whereas non-identical twins, whose genes are only half identical, are less likely to have the same sexual preferences.
Up until now only one thing we didn’t know – what gene it is. A study conducted in 1993 confirmed the existence of such a gene, but later it was proved to be wrong. Still, the catchy naming is given by the media remains. The “gay gene”.
What unites all of these studies is their scope. It’s relatively small. Our DNA is too diverse from a person to person. Thus, we can’t be completely sure that a certain group of people all share one gene. The search would be fruitless, and the results would be irrelevant.
Knowing this, a group of researchers sets to find an answer to that complicated question. And here are the results.
The approach | Gay Gene
The first thing the team did differently is dedication. All of the previous studies did an experiment on, say, hundreds of people. Or thousands. As much as it can seem, it is not enough. So, the plan here was to get DNA samples from as many people as possible. Turns out, “the possible” is roughly half a million.
But doing that poses a threat of a long, long study that’ll take decades to conduct. Following the “work smarter, not harder” motto, this study used data of other projects with an unimaginable quantity of interviewees. In the UK it was a Biobank study, and in the USA – 23andMe. The last one is a popular organization that helps people discover their ancestry. The truly important disclaimer here is that all participants gave their consent. Only then they were asked questions concerning the research, and only then data was collected.
But the issues aren’t limited only by the scale of such research. Another is that it’s hard to fish the needed information out of the gigantic database. Chosen organizations weren’t created to define the “gay gene”. Otherwise, this study wouldn’t be necessary. Hence, the information needed was limited down to the sexuality survey. The main question asked was whether the interviewees a same-sex encounter or partner.
DNA and programming are quite similar. Both DNA and programming are made of billions of code. And the differences in these genetic codes is what makes on the person, not like the other. The distinction between characteristics may be in one digit of code. Finding the difference in this one letter was the target. Roughly speaking, the letter depends on the participant’s sexual partners.
The gene is not alone| Gay Gene
Turns out, our genes are as social as humans are. The one gene that defines sexuality doesn’t exist. Instead, there are many that can possibly influence it.
The impact of only one of these genes creates a tiny impact. Five DNA locations definitely have an impact on sexual identity, but there are hundreds of possible locations. But these locations are less easy to determine.
23andMe interviewees were asked an additional question regarding their general attractions and identity. The results are clear: a certain set of genes impacts sexual attractions as well as sexual preferences, identity, and behavior.
As it often is with scientific research, some unexpected results occurred. One of the studied genes initially was only associated with same-sex male characteristics. But what’s interesting that this gene causes male balding, at least partially. Moreover, it’s the neighbor of the gene that participates in a process called sexual differentiation. This is the process of development of the differences between males and females. What is common for both lack of hair and sexual differentiation is sex hormones. Consequently, sex hormones are one more thing that, possibly, influences one’s sexual preference.
Additional discoveries confirm the fact that biology is complicated. The results of the study suggest that males and females are different in their same-sex behaviors. The main discovery is that there is no easy genetic key to sexuality. We can only state that some genes may be the reason why some sexualities are the way they are.
This means that, at least for now, personal sexual preference cannot be identified from one’s DNA.
Possible misconceptions| Gay Gene
As every man’s creation, science can be manipulated. Because it conveys information, it can be misunderstood. And studies of high social importance should be. This study is no exception.
However, it is easier for people to divide what they know in strict categories. Some might say that if there’s no such thing as one defined gay gene, sexuality is purely social. Others may argue that some genes do affect sexual preferences, so it has to be purely genetic. These examples are exaggerated – and wrong.
Sexual preference is only influenced by a certain set of genes. Despite what was said about twins, even genetically identical ones may have different preferences. And the study says nothing about other types of influence. So, the topic of sexual preference is a Mariana Trench of scientific research.
The final touch is that everyone may dive even deeper into the study. You may visit a website where you’ll find a FAQ section and a video on the research. The website was created with the help of hundreds of people, including scientists and LGBTQA+ activists. Thus, the website is an internet embodiment of thousands of people works.