Homosexuals are Not 'Born Gay'
Evidence from Science (Genetics) and History (Anthropology)


Homosexuals are Not 'Born Gay' : Evidence from Science (Genetics) and History (Anthropology) 

Are People Really 'Born Gay' ? by Caleb Price

Proof You Can't Be 'Born Gay' by Philip Irvin

Gay Historians Say -- Nobody is 'Born That Way' by David Benkof

A Look at the Biological Research Studies from New Direction Ministries


Are People Really "Born Gay" ? by Caleb Price

Can someone really be "born" gay? Is there a "gay gene"? Does biology equal destiny? Clearly, the controversy over this issue is huge in our culture. While pro-gay activists and their allies want us to believe people are "born gay" and that sexual orientation is an unchangeable characteristic like race or eye color, a closer examination of the scientific evidence reveals that the "nature vs. nurture" debate over homosexuality is far from settled. At best, the evidence for a genetic and/or biological basis to homosexual orientation is inconclusive. In fact, since the early 1990s, numerous studies attempting to establish a genetic cause for homosexuality have not proven to be valid or repeatable -- two important requirements for study results to become accepted as fact in the scientific community.

Because of this, the current thinking in the scientific community is that homosexuality is likely caused by a complex interaction of psychosocial, environmental and possible biological factors. And the two leading national psychiatric and psychological professional groups agree that, so far, there are no conclusive studies supporting any specific biological or genetic cause for homosexuality. [1]

In sum, there is no scientific or DNA test to tell us if a person is homosexual, bisexual or even heterosexual for that matter. And since nobody is "born gay," it's clear that sexual orientation is, at its core, a matter of how one defines oneself -- not a matter of biology or genes. But what about the studies I've heard about in the media that say people are born gay? While the media's headlines and reporting of these studies have given the impression that science is closing in on a "gay gene," it's important to note that each study suffers from significant problems and limitations. And what the researchers themselves have said about their own work is important. Specifically, you should know that their comments have never been fully reported in the press.

Some examples:

  • From the 1991 Hypothalamus (Brain) Study, Simon LeVay, who self-identifies as gay, said: "It's important to stress what I didn't find. I did not prove that homosexuality is genetic, or find a genetic cause for being gay. I didn't show that gay men are born that way, the most common mistake people make in interpreting my work. Nor did I locate a gay center in the brain." [2]
  • And from the 1991 Twins Study, Richard Pillard -- also a gay man -- admits: "Although male and female homosexuality appear to be at least somewhat heritable, environment must also be of considerable importance in their origins." [3]
  • And from the 1993 X Chromosome Study, Dean Hamer -- also a gay man -- said: "....environmental factors play a role. There is not a single master gene that makes people gay....I don't think we will ever be able to predict who will be gay." [4]
  • And from the 2005 Fruit Fly Study, Barry Dickson, the lead researcher, admitted that the understanding of how innate behaviors are genetically determined is "rudimentary at best." He also admitted that the male-male courtship behaviors they observed probably involved "environmental and social stimuli" and that the female-female courtship behavior was abnormal -- missing some key steps. [5]
  • And what about the 2005 male and 2006 female pheromone studies from Sweden that gay activists claimed were more evidence of a biological basis to homosexuality? (Pheromones are chemicals that can be smelled and are known to influence animal behavior. However, their role in humans is unknown.) Here, it is significant that Ivanka Savic, the lead researcher, said that the 2005 study had nothing to do with proving homosexuality to be biological. And regarding the 2006 study, she said "it is very important to make clear that the study has no implications for possible dynamics in sexual orientation." [6]
  • More recently, Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, summed up the research on homosexuality saying that "sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations." [7] As a comparison, Collins indicates that the potential genetic component for homosexuality is much less than the genetic contribution that has been found for common personality traits such as general cognitive ability, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism, openness, aggression and traditionalism. [8]

Clearly, the case for a "gay gene" has not been made. So, do all gay people believe that sexual orientation is "fixed" and unchangeable? Not by a long shot. While it's true that many homosexuals and their allies believe that people are "born gay" and cannot change, there exists a surprising -- and not insignificant -- minority of gays and lesbians who recognize that sexual orientation is, in fact, flexible.

For example, Kate Kendell, director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, argued in the gay magazine Frontiers that sexual orientation is not fixed. And lesbian columnist and psychotherapist Jackie Black has said that sexuality is not static. Further, lesbian author Camille Paglia argues that homosexuality is not normal and that it is an adaptation, not an inborn trait. Most recently, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force spokesperson Roberta Sklar admitted in an ABC news story that today's young lesbians and bisexuals have a "more flexible view" about sexuality and see it as "a fluid thing." [9]

Thus, while no one knows for sure what causes a homosexual identity to develop, recent research confirms that substantial change is, indeed, possible. Pro-gay ally Dr. Robert Spitzer of Columbia University published results from a study of 200 gay men and lesbians who had sought "re-orientation" therapy. Spitzer found that most were able to achieve fulfilling heterosexual relationships. While his research shows that such change often involves a long and difficult journey, it is nevertheless possible for highly motivated individuals. [10]

Even more recently in 2007, a landmark study was published by Drs. Stanton Jones and Mark Yarhouse which concluded that it is possible for homosexuals to change their physical attractions and that such efforts to bring about change do not appear to be psychologically harmful. Entitled Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, this groundbreaking research has been hailed by experts from both sides of the debate as being the most methodologically rigorous to date. [11]

And as more evidence of the fact that people can and do change their 'sexual orientation', organizations exist for Roman Catholics (Courage), Mormons (Evergreen), Jews (JONAH) and Muslims (StraightWay) that represent tens of thousands of people who have made the choice to walk out of their homosexual and bisexual identities. [12]

Even in the secular cultural arena we see evidence of well-known people who have clearly changed their sexual orientation. Examples of formerly gay-identified celebrities who reportedly have become involved in relationships with people of the opposite gender include actors Anne Heche and Julie Cypher. Apparently, the reality that people can change their sexual identity isn't just a right-wing Christian thing. Clearly, pro-homosexual advocates and their allies aren't dealing with all the evidence in their insistence that people are "born gay" and cannot change.

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Caleb Price is a research analyst for CitizenLink, an affiliate of Focus on the Family.

June 14, 2010 @ 6:14 pm

Article re-printed from CitizenLink, edited by P


Proof You Can't Be 'Born Gay' by Philip Irvin

The most effective, and I would argue the only, way to stop the homosexual political agenda is to direct discussions to a topic that homosexuals have successfully protected from public debate; whether people are "born gay." Many believe people are "born gay" -- that there is some organic basis for homosexuality. Most people who believe this would not deny homosexuals "equal rights" -- including marital rights -- simply because of an accident of birth. Such people support homosexual objectives out of compassion; but this compassion too often has overridden their own theological beliefs and the time-tested Judeo-Christian principles upon which our country was founded.

The more we fight this compassionate response, the more unreasonable our efforts seem, and the more enraged these compassionate homosexual supporters become at our attempts. While we might gain temporary victories or even stop same-sex marriage for a season, our efforts only result in more anger produced and more determination developed to fulfill the desires of our "victims" -- the victims who have (until now) effectively presented themselves as worthy of compassion. Ultimately, we cannot win because what we are fighting grows stronger the more we fight it. We can win the discussions and political debates easily, though, when the topic of "born gay" is effectively presented as a topic for public consideration.

If people really are "born gay," the homosexual agenda makes sense (at least compassionate sense). If not, then all concessions made to homosexuals encourage people to follow the lifestyle. To make significant progress, we must address the original question of whether people really are "born gay." If we succeed, we will then inherit the mantle of compassion as we help protect people from falsely believing they are homosexual.

This debate has been complicated by discussions of religion, morality or social good. While the "born-gay" thesis has huge political ramifications, it reverts to a scientific question. Further, by avoiding moral or religious positions on homosexuality, no valid objections can be raised against using this paper or similar material everywhere, even in public school classrooms.

Winning public policy debates

The article, "Are people really 'born gay'?," from the June 14, 2010 issue of CitizenLink does an effective job of refuting the claim by examining studies, providing expert opinion and showing the flaws of the homosexual community's position. However, both sides of the debate cite expert opinions and studies, while disputing the conclusions of the opposing side. Who wins this type of debate? The "winner" of the debate is the side that most successfully saturates the populace with its message. With the liberal media strongly supporting the homosexual agenda and ideology, we're significantly outgunned trying to saturate the populace with our message.

The only way we can hope to win debates is to focus on the fundamental question, "Does it make any sense for people to be 'born gay'?" If we can show that the "born gay" thesis is an absurd idea, then any scientific/pseudoscientific counter assertions are exposed as equally absurd. Homosexual leaders refuse to debate this issue because they know they cannot win. It's imperative that we force discussion and demand such debate because we cannot lose, and it is the only path to victory. If we can forcefully expose the fallacy of the "born gay" thesis, the intellectual support of homosexual rights collapses, and we won't even need to discuss the topic of "gay marriage."

Genetics is our friend

The laws of evolution and of genetic succession are particularly harsh on any trait that prevents reproduction, so let's start with a simple formula that paints a stark picture: "One gay man + one gay man = zero gay children."

Or we can look at the female side of the picture: You can go back maybe 10 generations and assume any fertility rates (number of children per woman) for lesbian and straight women and calculate what would happen. Even a slight difference would cause a homosexual gene to rapidly fade from the population. On the other hand, if the fertility rates were the same, how could women be considered lesbians if they were having the same amount of heterosexual sex to produce an equivalent number of children?

Even if a tendency toward homosexuality were genetic, every time that gene expressed itself, it would fall out of the gene pool. Ask any genetics teacher, "Could homosexuality be genetic if there is no mechanism for gays to pass their genes on to children as frequently as straights pass genes on to their children?" While you are at it, propose any percentage of gays in the starting population and any fertility rates for gays and straights, and ask for the mathematical calculations of how rapidly a homosexual gene would die out.

Workarounds that don't work

For homosexual apologists, this obvious genetic roadblock is not so obvious and they have developed a number of workarounds. For example, some have pointed out that many homosexuals have children before coming out as gay. The Lesbian Mothers Project was created to fight for custody of children that lesbian mothers had while in a hetero relationship. OK. So they had hetero sex, but it was not their "sexual preference." To sustain this model is it possible that initially being hetero is part of the normal life cycle of a homosexual?

With this kind of emerging problem, someone getting married might want to run tests to ensure he or she is marrying someone of the stated orientation. But it doesn't work that way. A person can in all ways act straight and swear on a stack of phone books that he/she is straight, but that's not conclusive proof. Likewise a person can act and claim to be homosexual, but later events can show they were just "confused" and weren't homosexual at all. A cardinal rule of gay ideology is that sexual orientation is immutable. From that viewpoint, it would seem that 'gayness' or 'straightness' is determined by what a person eventually declares himself or herself to be.

This leads to an interesting question: What percentage of the population dies before finally acting on their true orientation? Obviously some, but under this perspective, it is entirely possible that everyone is homosexual, but most die before coming out. It is also possible that everyone really is inherently straight and those who assert to be homosexual are only "confused." So while some assert that homosexuality is an inherent, unchangeable characteristic, it follows that it is impossible to say who has it -- nothing can be presented as conclusive proof.

Homosexual studies sunk

This problem torpedoes any research supporting an organic basis for sexual orientation. Consider the scenario in which Carl marries Sally, who then dumps Carl to run off with Sue. This scenario has two possible causes: (1) Sally converted from hetero to homo, and there is no organic basis for sexual orientation, or (2) researchers built their studies on the premise that Sally and those like her were hetero, only to have to discard all their research because it's based on flawed assumptions.

There is a study that claims a difference between heterosexual and homosexual brains. If those brains labeled "straight" included homosexuals who have not yet come out, while the brains labeled "gay" included straights that are really just confused and only thought they were homosexual, the researcher is just comparing one group of gay and straight brains with another group of gay and straight brains. How could he conclude anything? With this flawed beginning, any study attempting to prove an organic basis for homosexuality is invalid.

Some profess a foggy belief that homosexuality must be caused by some type of "chemical imbalance." But homosexuals claim that one in 10 is gay, or a full 30 million Americans. If such a huge population has this organic characteristic which precludes reproduction, why has there been such a small amount of research intended to find and perhaps treat this chemical imbalance or other organic medical condition?

Would those who postulate a "chemical imbalance" be willing to consider implicating a drug that is specifically designed to create such an imbalance? Birth control pills give an overpowering amount of female hormones to reprogram the ovulation cycle. If an unknowingly pregnant woman took birth control pills that saturated her male fetus, could this blast of female hormones induce homosexuality in him? If those purporting to support a "chemical imbalance" hypothesis are unwilling to explore this possibility, they really don't want to consider the obvious shallowness of their position.

What about bisexuals?

As another of the many lines of reasoning showing the absurdity of "born gay," let's talk about bisexuality. What is a bisexual? Supposedly, it is someone who is 50 percent straight and 50 percent gay? Can't someone also be a 60-40 bisexual or any other ratio? We speak of someone who is "straight with gay tendencies" -- an 80-20 bisexual. If a bisexual has a good relationship with one gender and a bad relationship with the other, can't this "bisexual person" easily go from 50-50 to 40-60? Since we've already seen that homosexual ideology says it's not even possible to determine who is/is not homosexual, it would be absurd to assert that a particular bisexual was born at 63.2 percent gay and must be stuck at that exact level for his entire life. By providing specific legal protection for bisexuals, discrimination laws acknowledge that we are all bisexual because we all have the full capability of going either way.

Also, if people are "born gay," please explain whether pedophiles were born that way and if not, why is there such an insistence that their behavior must have been learned or chosen, but that of heterosexuals and homosexuals could not have been? The idea that people can be inherently homosexual only makes sense if you don't think about it. Homosexuality is about what a person does and not about what a person is. 'Born gay' doesn't make sense.

As noted above, if we continue to fight misplaced compassion toward homosexuals, we cannot win. If instead we disseminate and utilize evidence that "born gay" doesn't make any sense, we cannot lose. If the logic in this commentary piece is widely dispersed and applied, it could cripple the homosexual agenda, ideology and social/political influence.

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For more than 25 years, Philip Irvin has been using creative techniques to vigorously fight the homosexual agenda. As a defendant, he's even won a discrimination case against the Seattle Office for Civil Rights. In 1988, he published an article accurately predicting the homosexual demand for "total acceptance of homosexuality by all of society" and their increasing effective attempts to silence the opposition.

10/21/2012 @ 3:18 pm 

Article re-printed from World Net Daily, edited by P 


Nobody is 'Born That Way' -- Gay Historians Say by David Benkof

Virtually no serious person disputes that in our society, people generally experience their gay or straight orientations as unchosen and unchangeable. But the LGBT community goes further, portraying itself as a naturally arising subset of every human population, with homosexuality being etched into some people's DNA.

Are gays indeed born that way? The question has immense political, social, and cultural repercussions. For example, some of the debate over applying the Constitution's equal protection clause to gays and lesbians focuses on whether 'gayness' is an inborn characteristic. And the major argument gays and lesbians have made for religious affirmation has been, "God made me this way." Thus, if it's proven sexual orientations are not innate, much of the scaffolding upon which today's LGBT movement has been built would begin to crumble. Given the stakes, most gays and lesbians are dismissive or hostile toward anyone who doesn't think being gay is an essential, natural characteristic of some members of the human race. But a surprising group of people doesn't think that -- namely, scholars of gay history and anthropology. They're almost all LGBT themselves, and they have decisively shown that 'gayness' is a product of Western society originating about 150 years ago.

Using documents and field studies, these intrepid social scientists have examined the evidence of homosexuality in other times and cultures to see how the gay minority fared. But they've come up empty. Sure, there's substantial evidence of both discreet and open same-sex love and sex in pre-modern times. But no society before the 19th century had a gay minority or even discernibly gay-oriented individuals. (There weren't straight people, either. Only our society believes people are oriented in just one direction, as gay history pioneer Jonathan Ned Katz, formerly of Yale, explained in his book The Invention of Heterosexuality.)

According to the experts on homosexuality across centuries and continents, being gay is a relatively recent social construction. Few scholars with advanced degrees in anthropology or history who concentrate on homosexuality believe gays have existed in any cultures before or outside ours, much less in all cultures. These professors work closely with an ever-growing body of knowledge that directly contradicts "born that way" ideology. Please don't confuse my points with the amateur arguments of people like Brandon Ambrosino. The subtle, counter-intuitive academic case that being gay is a social construction relies on abundant studies built out of actual data from leading scholars at major universities. Someone who quotes a few lines from Foucault and then declares that people choose their sexual orientations is making a mockery of this serious, vital subject.

Sexual orientations cannot be innate

Journalists trumpet every biological study that even hints that 'gayness' and 'straightness' might be hard-wired, but they show little interest in the abundant social-science research showing that sexual orientation cannot be innate. The scholars I interviewed for this essay were variously dismayed or appalled by this trend. For example, historian Dr. Martin Duberman, founder of the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, said "no good scientific work establishes that people are born gay or straight." And cultural anthropologist Dr. Esther Newton (University of Michigan) called one study linking sexual orientation to biological traits ludicrous: "Any anthropologist who has looked cross-culturally (knows) it's impossible that that's true, because sexuality is structured in such different ways in different cultures."

While biology certainly plays a role in sexual behavior, no "gay gene" has been found, and whatever natural-science data exists for inborn sexual orientations is preliminary and disputed. So to date, the totality of the scholarly research on homosexuality indicates 'gayness' is much more socio-cultural than biological.

Historical perspectives

Knowing about the phantom gay past when everyone else is certain 'gayness' has always existed can be frustrating. Gay history professor Dr. John D'Emilio (University of Illinois-Chicago) once lamented that even while gay historical scholarship accepts the "core assumptions" of the social-construction idea, "the essentialist notion that gays constitute a distinct minority of people different in some inherent way has more credibility in American society than ever before."

Today's categories for sexuality correspond poorly with times past. Dr. Duberman put it this way: "Were people always either gay or straight? The answer to that is a decided no." Instead, people from other eras who slept with members of their own gender "haven't viewed that as something exclusive and therefore something that defines them as a different category of human being."

Many popular attempts to portray an age-old history of 'gayness' start with ancient Greece. We do have much documentation -- the poetry of Sappho, Greek vases depicting men in flagrante -- that same-sex relationships and intercourse were common in that culture. But scholars don't think the ancient Greeks had a gay minority. Rather, that civilization thought homosexuality was something anyone could enjoy. In addition to a wife, elite men were expected to take a younger male as an apprentice-lover, with prescribed bedroom roles. The system was so different from ours that to describe specific ancient Greeks as gay or straight would show profound disrespect for their experiences, and violate the cardinal historical rule against looking at the past through present-colored lenses.

Another example in which evidence of same-sex relations has been misinterpreted to depict a gay minority involves 18th-century upper-class female romantic friendships. Even those women who probably had genital contact with each other in that context thought about sex, gender, and intimacy in such culturally specific ways that scholars have spurned the viewpoint (nearly universal among non-scholars) that any two females who wrote each other love letters and shared a bed were obviously lesbians.

Anthropological perspectives

LGBT anthropologists have also found no gay minorities in their studies of cultures around the world. In fact, Dr. Newton noted in an essay that her field has "no essentialist position on sexuality, no notion that people are born with sexual orientations. The evidence, fragmentary as it is, all points the other way." Thus, Dr. Newton wrote, "Western lesbian and gay anthropologists, for the most part, have not run around the world looking for other lesbians and gay men."

Instead, different cultures have a panoply of understandings of sex, gender, and desire specific to their own worldviews. For example, the Native Americans known as berdaches or two-spirits have generally taken on feminine dress and social roles, and almost exclusively partnered with non-berdache men. From an anthropological perspective, if berdaches are a gay minority, then the term "gay" loses all meaning.

Many Arab, African, and Latin American cultures have organized sexuality around the masculinity/femininity or active/passive role of the sex object, rather than the biological sex of the individual desired. Such cultures have plenty of same-sex activity, but many of them didn't have a gay minority until recently.

Our gay/straight/bisexual system seems obvious and logical because we exist within it, but anthropology provides an important corrective to our ethnocentric assumptions. Dr. Newton asserted without hesitation that she knows of no non-Western cultural system that divides people into the categories of men who like women; men who like men; women who like men; and women who like women the way ours does.

When and where did being gay originate?

So why did a gay minority first appear only a century and a half ago, and only in the West? Some scholars say it's because that's when and where doctors began to pathologize people who spoke of same-sex desires or experiences. Those patients developed homosexual identities, which led others to distinguish themselves as heterosexual. Another kind of analysis spotlights Western economic and demographic trends. Dr. D'Emilio has argued that subsistence outside the nuclear family first allowed urban young men to experience same-sex eroticism in ways that could lead to gay identity. And Katz has pointed to the increased "sexualization of commerce and commercialization of sexuality," in which entrepreneurs profited from sex-linked books, magazines, films, bars, and baths.

While each approach assigns the genesis of the gay minority to the mid-to-late 19th century, in many places gay identity didn't develop until much later. For example, Yale historian Dr. George Chauncey's studies of New York City and Newport, Rhode Island before the Second World War include many individuals involved in same-sex activities who cannot be fairly called "gay." Nonetheless, gay-rights organizations present 'gayness' as ubiquitous and timeless. One Web site for straight allies of the gay community (PFLAG.org) even says:

Is there something wrong with being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender? No. There have been people in all cultures and times throughout human history who have identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).

If that were even partly true, gay and lesbian social scientists would have reason to celebrate. Identifying the first gay minority outside our milieu would make their careers.

If it's natural, it isn't cultural

How can 'gayness' be natural, if it is also culturally specific? The possibilities are underwhelming:

The difference is semantics. It's really not. Gay and lesbian historians aren't just claiming that before the 19th century nobody was called "gay." They're saying nobody was gay (or straight). While various societies had different ways of thinking about and expressing gender, love, and desire, homosexuality was generally something one could do, not something one could be.

Gays in other cultures couldn't come out because homosexuality wasn't accepted. But we have loads of evidence of same-sex intercourse and love, which would be unlikely if the problem was homophobia. We have no convincing evidence that the people leaving such records were unresponsive to the opposite sex or considered themselves to be oriented differently than those who expressed passion for opposite-sex individuals.

The gay minorities from other societies left no records. Doubtful. We have documentation of so many aspects of people's public and private lives that if there were long-ago gay people, we'd know about them. For example, there are thousands of 20th century letters and novels and speeches and diary entries that say some version of, "My parents want me to marry an opposite-sex person, but I don't want to, because I only like my own sex." But to my knowledge, there are virtually no such 10th-century documents.

By definition, people who want or have same-sex love and sex are gay, and those who don't are straight -- yesterday, today, and tomorrow. It's tempting to look for versions of our own lives and identities in other eras, but responsible history tries to understand the past on its own terms. Saying Shakespeare was gay makes about as much sense as saying he was a Republican.

Of course, none of this means people don't have sexual orientations today, it just means sexual orientations are specific to our culture, and thus not basic human nature. In tech-speak, that means being gay is in the software of some people's lives, but it's in nobody's hardware.

The compelling evidence nobody's born gay doesn't necessarily have to shred the LGBT agenda. Legitimate reasons for more liberal attitudes and policies regarding gays and lesbians still exist, such as freedom of association, the right to privacy, and respect for other people's experiences. But those who demand social or political change because gays are born that way just don't know much about history.

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David Benkof is a Stanford-trained historian whose research has focused on modern Jewish history and the gay and lesbian past. He has written about gay and lesbian history for dozens of LGBT publications, and authored the book (as David Bianco) Gay Essentials: Facts for your Queer Brain (Alyson, 1999). He has taught gay and lesbian history at the Billy deFrank Lesbian and Gay Community Center in San Jose and the Institute of Gay and Lesbian Education in West Hollywood. He is a frequent contributor to the Daily Caller.

5:57 PM 03/19/2014

Article re-printed from The Daily Caller, edited by P 


Are People "Born Gay?" -- A look at the most cited biological research studies

"Born gay." The idea that homosexuality is genetic, or at least biologically predetermined and unchangeable, has received a great amount of media coverage presenting it as "new scientific fact." What is often not known is that this "born gay" idea is not new, not proven, and frequently contradicted by what the researchers actually said. At least as far back as 1899, German researcher Magnus Hirschfeld regarded homosexuality as congenital -- meaning, "born that way" -- and he asked for legal equality based on this thinking.

Now, a century later, the idea that homosexual persons are born that way has again received a great amount of media attention. As new research studies were published, the popular press presented these as evidence that people are "born gay" and that sexual orientation is therefore unchangeable. What has been quietly happening, though, is that the "science" behind this idea is falling apart. Here we briefly examine the three most cited studies, from Simon LeVay, Michael Bailey & Richard Pillard, and Dean Hamer.

Simon LeVay and the INAH-3

"Time and again I have been described as someone who 'proved that homosexuality is genetic' ... I did not." --Simon LeVay in The Sexual Brain, p. 122.

Simon LeVay, a neuroscientist, studied the brains from 41 corpses, including 6 women, 19 homosexual men, and 16 men presumed to be heterosexual. A small area of the brain, the INAH-3, was similar in size in women and homosexual men, but larger in heterosexual men. He suggested that this might be evidence for an actual structural difference in the brains of gay men. There are, however, numerous problems with this study:

LeVay data from p. 1036

The points on the graph represent the size of INAH-3 in the brains from corpses of 6 women (F), 16 men (M; presumably heterosexual) and 19 homosexual men (HM)

In comparing the size of the INAH-3, he presumed that the 16 "heterosexual" men were, in fact, heterosexual. Only two of them had denied homosexual activities; for the rest, sexual histories were not available. Thus, he was actually comparing homosexual men with men of unknown sexual orientation! This, obviously, is a major flaw in scientific method.

The volume of the INAH-3 may not be a relevant measure:

Scientists disagree on the most accurate way to measure the INAH-3. LeVay measured the volume; other scientists claim it is more accurate to measure the actual number of neurons. Clarifying the potential problem, some have suggested that using a volume method to project impact on sexual orientation may be like trying to determine intelligence by a person's hat size.

When different laboratories have measured the four areas of the INAH (including INAH-3), their results conflicted. For example, Swaab and Fliers (1985) found that the INAH-1 was larger in men, while LeVay (1991) found no difference between men and women. Allen et al (1989) found the INAH-2 to be larger in men than in some women, while LeVay (1991) again found no difference. See Byne (1994), page 52.

The above problems aside, even the data from LeVay's study did not prove that anyone was born gay. This is the case for at least two reasons:

  1. Both groups of men covered essentially the same range of sizes. One could be gay (HM) with a small INAH-3 or with a large one. One could also be in the "heterosexual" category (M) with either a small or large INAH-3. Clearly, these men were not held to a sexual orientation by their INAH-3 biology! As the data shows, the INAH-3 size of three of the homosexual men puts them clearly in the "heterosexual" category (with one having the second largest INAH-3!). If all you know about any of LeVay's subjects is INAH-3 size, you could not accurately predict whether they are heterosexual or homosexual, male or female.
  2. A study that showed a clear difference in INAH-3 sizes, would still leave another question unanswered: are men gay because of a smaller INAH-3, or was their INAH-3 smaller because of their homosexual actions, thoughts, and/or feelings? It is known that the brain does change in response to changes in behaviour and environment. For example, Newsweek reported that "in people reading Braille after becoming blind, the area of the brain controlling the reading finger grew larger." As well, in male songbirds, "the brain area associated with mating is not only larger than in the female, but varies according to the season" (Newsweek, Feb. 24, 1992, p. 50).

Bailey & Pillard: Twins and Other Brothers

Bailey and Pillard studied pairs of brothers -- identical twins, non-identical twins, other biological brothers, and adoptive brothers -- where at least one was gay. At first glance, their findings looked like a pattern for homosexuality being genetically influenced. Identical twins were both homosexual 52% of the time; non-identical twins, 22%; other biological brothers, 9.2%; and adoptive brothers, 10.5%. A closer look reveals significant problems with a "born gay" conclusion to this study:

  • "In order for such a study to be meaningful, you'd have to look at twins raised apart," says Anne Fausto Sterling, a biologist. The brothers in this study were raised together in their families.
  • All the results were different from what one would expect if homosexuality was directly genetic:
  1. Because identical twin brothers share 100% of their genes overall, we would expect that if one was homosexual, the other would also be homosexual, 100% of the time. Instead, this study found that they were both homosexual only 52% of the time.
  2. Although completely unrelated genetically, adoptive brothers were more likely to both be gay than the biological brothers, who share half their genes! This piece of data prompted the journal Science to respond: "this . . . suggests that there is no genetic component, but rather an environmental component shared in families" (Vol. 262 Dec.24, 1993).
  3. If homosexuality were genetic, one would expect each number in the column "Results from the B & P study" to be identical to the corresponding number in the "Expectation if genetic" column. Each one is significantly different!
  4. Finally, Bailey & Pillard did not use a random sample. The men in the study were recruited through advertisements in gay newspapers and magazines.
  Both are Homosexual:
  Shared genes (overall) Expectation if genetic Results from B&P study
Identical twin brothers 100 % 100 % 52 %
Non-ident. twin brothers  50 %  50 % 22 %
Other biological brothers  50 %  50 %  9 %
Adoptive brothers    0 %  1-4 % 11 %

Dean Hamer and the Xq28 Genetic Markers

Hamer studied 40 pairs of homosexual brothers, and reported that 33 pairs shared a set of five genetic markers. Reporting the story, Time magazine's cover read "BORN GAY Science Finds a Genetic Link" (July 26, 1993). Hamer, however, was more cautious. He felt that it played "some role" in a minority of 5 to 30% of gay men (The Science of Desire by Dean Hamer and Peter Copeland. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. Pages 145-146). This is a rather distant reality from finding the "gay gene" and it left two critical questions: just how much influence was "some role" thought to be, and what about the other 70 to 95%?

  • Based on a simple genetic theory, one would expect 50%, or 20 pairs, to have the same markers. Why did 7 pairs of gay brothers not share a set of genetic markers?
  • Hamer did not check to see if the heterosexual brothers of the homosexual men also had such a genetic marker. Thus, there was no control group in this study. Here too, this obviously is a major flaw in scientific method.
  • Since that time, Science has reported that George Ebers, a researcher at the University of Western Ontario, has attempted to duplicate the study but found "no evidence, not even a trend," for the "genetic link." In the scientific world, that is a big problem. More recently, another study by Rice et al. has also stated that its results "do not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality."

Now even the gay and pro-gay press are acknowledging the problems. In her 1996 book, Gender Shock, writer and lesbian woman Phyllis Burke, quoting Dr. Paul Billings, an internist and human geneticist, calls the born gay idea "a new fish story." A gay publication, "The Guide" writes Hamer's story under the title "Gene Scam?"

"The media seized upon a study suggesting the existence of a 'gay gene.' Now that it is unravelling, mum's the word." --The Guide, October 1995

As well, Parents, Family and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), one of the larger pro-gay organizations, explains that there is no conclusive evidence that people are born gay in its booklet "Why Ask Why? Addressing the Research on Homosexuality and Biology."

Born gay? Ironically, what the studies actually suggest is that persons who experience same-sex attraction are not prisoners of their biology. That's good news for same-gender-attracted people who would rather pursue other options.

More on Twin Studies

No fewer than eight major studies from around the world have found homosexuality is not a genetic condition. These studies of identical twins were conducted in Australia, the U.S., and Scandinavia during the last two decades and they all arrive at the same conclusion: gays were not born that way.

"At best genetics is a minor factor," says Dr. Neil Whitehead, PhD. Whitehead worked for the New Zealand government as a scientific researcher for 24 years, then spent four years working for the United Nations and International Atomic Energy Agency. Most recently, he serves as a consultant to Japanese universities about the effects of radiation exposure. His PhD is in biochemistry and statistics.

The first very large, reliable study of identical twins was conducted in Australia in 1991, followed by a large U.S. study about 1997. Then Australia and the U.S. conducted more twin studies in 2000, followed by several studies in Scandinavia, according to Dr. Whitehead.

"Twin registers are the foundation of modern twin studies. They are now very large, and exist in many countries. A gigantic European twin register with a projected 600,000 members is being organized, but one of the largest in use is in Australia, with more than 25,000 twins on the books." Identical twins have the same genes or DNA. They are nurtured in equal prenatal conditions. If homosexuality is caused by genetics or prenatal conditions and one twin is gay, the co-twin should also be gay.

"Because they have identical DNA, it ought to be 100%," Dr. Whitehead notes. But the studies reveal something else. "If an identical twin has same-sex attraction the chances the co-twin has it are only about 11% for men and 14% for women." Because identical twins are always genetically identical, homosexuality cannot be genetically dictated.

"No-one is born gay," he notes. "The predominant things that create homosexuality in one identical twin and not in the other have to be post-birth factors."

Peter Sprigg of the Family Research Council says that these numerous, rigorous studies of identical twins have now made it impossible to argue that there is a "gay gene." If homosexuality were inborn and predetermined, then when one identical twin is homosexual, the other should be, as well.

Yet one study from Yale and Columbia Universities found homosexuality common to only 6.7 percent of male identical twins and 5.3 percent of female identical twins. The low rate of common homosexuality in identical twins -- around six percent -- is easily explained by nurture, not nature.

Researchers Peter Bearman and Hannah Brueckner concluded that environment was the determining factor. They rejected outright that "genetic influence independent of social context" as the reason for homosexuality. "(O)ur results support the hypothesis that less gendered socialization in early childhood and preadolescence shapes subsequent same-sex romantic preferences." "Less gendered socialization" means, a boy was without a positive father figure, or a girl was without a positive mother figure. In light of the evidence, Sprigg said simply, "No one is born gay."

Psychiatrists William Byne and Bruce Parsons summarize the science: "Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking. .... In fact, the current trend may be to underrate the explanatory power of extant psychosocial models." In other words, homosexuality is a psychological malady, not something people are born with.

Based on articles from New Direction Ministries of Canada -- a Christian ministry to LGBTQ and other 'sexual minorities' 

For the identical twin studies: LifeSiteNews.com (May 2015) and OrthodoxNet blog (2013)


References [Square brackets indicate which of the three above articles are reviewed]

  • LeVay, S. (1991). "A difference in hypothalamic structure between heterosexual and homosexual men." Science, 253, August, p. 1034-1037. Data in chart from p. 1036.
  • Bailey, J.M & Pillard, R.C. (1991). "A genetic study of male sexual orientation." Archives of General Psychiatry, 48, December, p. 1089-1096.
  • Hamer, D. et al. (1993). "A linkage between DNA markers on the X chromosome and male sexual orientation." Science, 261 16 July, p. 321-27.
  • Byne, William & Parsons, Bruce (1993). "Human sexual orientation: the biologic theories reappraised." Archives of General Psychiatry, 50, March 1993, p. 228-237. [LeVay, Bailey & Pillard]
  • Byne, William (1994). "The biological evidence challenged." Scientific American, May 1994, p. 50-55. [all three]
  • Cole, Sherwood O. (1995). "The biological basis of homosexuality: a Christian assessment." Journal of Psychology and Theology, 23(2), p. 89-100. [all three]
  • Dallas, Joe (1992). "Born gay?" Christianity Today, June 22, p. 20-23. [LeVay, Bailey & Pillard]
  • LeVay, Simon & Hamer, Dean H. (1994). "Evidence for a biological influence in male homosexuality." Scientific American, May 1994, p. 44-49. [LeVay, Hamer]
  • Looy, Heather (1995). "Born gay? a critical review of biological research on homosexuality." Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 14(3), p. 197-214. [all three]
  • Marshall, Eliot (1995). "NIH's 'Gay Gene' study questioned." Science, 268, Jun 30 1995, p. 1841. [Discusses G.C. Eber's attempt at replicating Hamer's work].
  • Muir, J.G. (1996). "Sexual orientation - born or bred?" Journal of Psychology and Christianity, 15(4), p. 313-321. [all three]
  • PFLAG (1995). Why Ask Why? Addressing the Research on Homosexuality and Biology. Privately published booklet. [all three]
  • Rice, G. et al. (1999). "Male Homosexuality: Absence of Linkage to Microsatellite Markers at Xq28." Science, 284(5414), p. 665-667. [Hamer]

Endnotes

[1] "Fact Sheet on Gay Lesbian Bisexual Issues," the American Psychiatric Association, May 2000; and "American Psychological Association Online: Answers to Your Questions/Topic -- Sexuality/What causes a person to have a particular sexual orientation?," www.apa.org/topics/sorientation.html

[2] David Nimmons. "Sex and the Brain," Discover Magazine. March 1, 1994. www.discovermagazine.com/1994/mar/sexandthebrain346 

[3] http://www.narth.com/docs/senatecommittee.html 

[4] N. Mitchell, "Genetics, sexuality linked, study says," Standard Examiner, April 30, 1995.

[5] Ebru Demir and Barry Dickson, "fruitless Splicing Specifies Male Courtship Behavior in Drosophilia" Cell, Vol. 121, 785-794, June 3, 2005.

[6] Nicholas Bakalar, "Link is Cited Between Smell and Sexuality," New York Times, May 16, 2006, with quote by researcher Ivanka Savic from Chicago Tribune, May 9, 2005. www.drthrockmorton.com/article.asp?id=146 

[7] www.narth.com/docs/nothardwired.html  see also Francis S. Collins, The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief, 2006 (Free Press), p. 260.

[8] Ibid, p. 258, 260.

[9] www.abcnews.go.com/US/LifeStages/story?id=3484082&page=1  and www.townhall.com/columnists/KevinMcCullough/2007/08/19/radical_gay_activist_we_lose?page=full&comments=true 

[10] R. L. Spitzer, "Can some gay men and lesbians change their sexual orientation?" Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32(5), 403-417, 2003, and R. L. Spitzer, "Psychiatry and homosexuality," Wall Street Journal, May 23, 2001.

[11] Stanton L. Jones and Mark A. Yarhouse, Ex-Gays? A Longitudinal Study of Religiously Mediated Change in Sexual Orientation, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, 2007. www.ivpress.com/media/exgays-pr-09042007.php  and www.bpnews.net:80/BPnews.asp?ID=26429 

[12] Several organizations exist for those struggling with same-sex attractions:

See also

Why Marriage Matters: The Case for Normal (One Man and One Woman) Marriage by Maggie Gallagher

The 'Gay Christian' Debate: The Bible, History, Homosexuality, and the 'Gay Revolution' with Michael Brown and Kathy Baldock

The Bible, Tradition, and Catechism on Homosexuality, Sexual Morality, and Marriage


Books by Dr. Michael Brown and others on this issue:

Can You Be Gay and Christian? by Michael L. Brown   Outlasting the Gay Revolution by Michael L. Brown   A Queer Thing Happened to America by Michael L. Brown   God and the Gay Christian by Matthew Vines   Torn: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays vs. Christians Debate by Justin Lee


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