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Biological and Environmental Components of Homosexuality

Discussion in 'The Philosopher' started by BlackMetalWhiteGuy, Mar 8, 2008.

  1. BlackMetalWhiteGuy

    BlackMetalWhiteGuy Manly Man!

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    I'd prefer to avoid any discussion of your opinion or moral stance on the matter, but I'm curious to know what your interpretations of its origins may be. This is an interesting topic for me because there seem to be so many factors, both biological and environmental that affect one's likelihood of being homosexual. I'll start with the biological aspects first, since those are the ones that I'm most familiar with.

    There is very strong evidence for a genetic component to homosexuality, even though no correlating gene or gene group has ever been isolated or identified. It is well known that homosexuality is a naturally occurring phenomenon in many animal species and that there is a correlation between having homosexual relatives and actually being homosexual yourself, suggesting that it may be hereditary. This is expressed particularly well in breeding experiments with Drosophila fruit flies. Whenever a male fly is identified that attempts to mate with other males, he obviously does not produce any offspring of his own, but the rate of homosexuality in his nephews is far greater than that of the rest of the population.

    Birth order also shows a statistically significant correlation with homosexuality in men, with the rate of homosexuality increasing proportionately to the number of older brothers (from the same mother). Obviously there are cases of older gay brothers and younger straight brothers, but this is the exception, not the rule, so don't bother trying to argue about it. Interestingly, the same effect is not observed with women. Female children are no more or less likely to become lesbians regardless of the number of older brothers or sisters they have, and homosexuality in male children does not seem to show any correlation with the number of older sisters. One theory is that abnormalities in prenatal testosterone exposure are amplified with each additional male fetus, which could affect the sexual orientation of future male children.

    A study of the neuroanatomy of deceased heterosexual and homosexual individuals showed that homosexual male brains were less developed in one specific area than in the same part of a heterosexual male brain. Unfortunately, all homosexual brains in the study were taken from men who died of AIDS, whereas none of the heterosexual men had AIDS at their times of death. Consequently, it becomes impossible to determine whether the reduced size of the brain area is directly related to homosexuality, or if was simply the result of AIDS related neurodegeneration.

    One environmental factor to consider is social acceptance. People are more likely to admit to their own homosexuality in an environment in which gays are not penalized for their lifestyle. Ironically though, homosexuality is actually more common in societies in which it is not allowed, as homosexuals feel obligated to acquire heterosexual relationships, thus increasing the frequency of the gay "gene," within the population. Also ironic is the fact that homophobia is strongest in individuals who are either extremely religious*, uneducated*, or who fear that they may be gay themselves.

    The most puzzling piece of the homosexuality debate, for me at least, lies with a friend of mine who is straight, while his identical twin brother is gay. This is particularly interesting to me because as twins, birth order would make no difference as it is not determined until after the embryonic hormonal exposure has already left its influence. Furthermore, as identical twins with presumably identical embryonic hormonal exposures, they should be equally biologically predisposed to homosexuality... but they aren't.

    What is your interpretation of these data and which do you think plays a greater role in the "nature vs nurture" debate on homosexuality? Also, since I only have one short paragraph on the "nurture" impact on the subject, please feel free to make suggestions or point out anything that I may have missed.

    I apologize for not citing any sources. All data and studies referenced are from my notes from classes like Human Sexuality, Evolutionary Psychology, Biopsychology, and Behavioral Biology.

    * not related, but religiousness and education show a strong inverse correlation, ie. more religious people are on average less educated than their less / non-religious counterparts.
     
  2. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    I can think of a possible answer. Many "gay" men choose the lifestyle and are not biologically "gay" but really just perverted and often bi-sexual. These, so I have heard argued, (but am cynical about) are a bad stereotype of what "gays" are like and give homosexual men a negative image that "real gays" find disturbing. Hmmm.

    But, the relevance of what I said to the identical twin issue is that identical twins brought up together often make a decision to forge a different path to their clone. They wish to assert some individuality. Therefore the "gay" twin may have chosen his orientation or perhaps the heterosexual one is suppressing his homosexuality. Had the two been separated at birth and then reunited as adults, there is evidence they could be far more similar despite their different environmental influences.
    I can't be bothered looking for references but there are a number of remarkable stories of reunited identical twins and how they both have the same clothes, name their kids or dogs the same names, do the same jobs, marry similar partners and so on.
     
  3. waif

    waif Member

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    I definitely think homosexuality is biological. I think the environmental effects just sometimes cause people to repress their homosexuality, but I don't think it affects their actual orientation.

    I just want to throw out there that men are better suited to men and women are better suited to women in terms of biological compatibility.
     
  4. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Hmmm...

    See, I believe that there are cases either way. I believe that some people are just naturally attracted to members of the same sex; so biologically homosexual. But I also believe that some people become gay because of their environment, whether that means an unusual (abusive, neglect, etc.) childhood or rejection by members of the opposite sex. Personally, I see no natural advantage to homosexuality, so I personally don't believe in it; but I completely agree with people's right to homosexual activity. It just doesn't offend me.

    But I don't believe that homosexuality is hereditary; because homosexuals can't reproduce, ;) I do believe that homosexual behavior in one's surroundings can influence homosexual behavior.
     
  5. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    Don't you mean emotionally?
     
  6. waif

    waif Member

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    Male sex drive is far greater than female sex drive. And as BMWG pointed out in another thread, men fall asleep after sex while women want to talk. There are other examples of ways in which women and men are better off with others of the same sex.

    But yeah, emotionally too.
     
  7. Vimana

    Vimana Member

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    I guess you're right. Theres a lot of stuff women don't understand about men when they think they've got them all figured out, and its the other way around too, only not as much in my opinion. I could explain if needed.

    Very true, in Japan gay men usually never have relationships with other men, they just marry women and have kids, so that they can destroy any rumor of their gayness. Or live how society tells them to, since Japanese culture is pretty much all about blending in.

    But what if gay men in societies where homosexuality isn't allowed end up becoming straight as to sort of blend in? My parents don't believe in bisexuality and say bisexuals are homosexual people who live in a society where it is acceptable to be straight so they end up developing sexual attraction towards the opposite sex as well as the same. And they have an attraction to the opposite sex because of their environment telling them to.
     
  8. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    I think that actually complements the sexes. There always will be and should always be a struggle between the sexes. That's what creates attraction. And personally, I'm gonna take the Tiresias route and claim that females get more pleasure out of the act of sex. Let me explain this for a moment. Men do get intense satisfaction from sex, but a great deal of sex for men is also discomfort and irritation. The reason men are ready to collapse and sleep after sex is because intercourse for us is one long, exhilarating, strenuous marathon towards a single climax. Intercourse for women (hopefully, ;) ) is a series of orgasms and climaxes that contribute to her arousal. When a man is done, he is exhausted because he has gone through much discomfort and struggle to achieve his end. Women, on the other hand, have experienced a series of climaxes and orgasms (which are very different than a man's), leaving them awake and eager. It releases hormones that excite the woman, while in men endorphins are released.

    Personally, I think the interplay between the sexes is fascinating. It's the differences and dissimilarities that contribute to the attraction of the sexes.
     
  9. BlackMetalWhiteGuy

    BlackMetalWhiteGuy Manly Man!

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    I don't think I could consider this, because I can't imagine why one might "choose" to be homosexual. Granted, our culture, or at least our generation within this culture is more accepting of it than many, but it's not like the average person can just decide to start telling people "I'm gay," and not suffer at least mild social repercussion because of it. In some cases, family members, especially older family members may object and harass them into "being straight." Essentially, I can understand your argument for one's quest for individual identity, but it seems to me like choosing to be gay would be more effort that it's worth.

    Alternatively, the straight one could just be repressing it, and don't think I haven't mentioned the idea to him before :lol:
    I think you're covered, because I saw this on one of the Discovery Channel networks not too many years ago.
    You can say that again!
    I don't understand how you don't believe in it due to the lack of any natural advantage, but still that some people are just naturally like that.
    This phenomenon is covered under the concepts of simple dominance and recessive genes, which are probably the first things you learn in high school genetics, along with Punnett Squares. I touched on this in my original post, I just didn't use those words.
    I don't know much about Japan, but the examples we used in class referred primarily to the "Muslim nations" of the middle east. In fact Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declaring during his visit to the US that "in Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country." This is now been immortalized as the third most memorable quote of 2007, just below "don't tase me, bro" and Miss South Carolina's explanation of why some Americans can't locate the US on a map.

    EDIT:
    This is an interesting interpretation, but if physical exertion played that much of a role, you would probably feel just as sleeping after an intense soccer match, which in my experience, is not the case. Consequently, I have to assume that the hormonal influx is the primary factor in men's post-sexual fatigue.

    Also, female orgasms trigger the release of large quantities of oxytocin, aka the "cuddle hormone," which influences them to try to bond. The same hormone is responsible for the bond with their children following birth. Furthermore, infants have phermone glands in their scalp that also stimulate oxytocin production in women. So if you've ever wondered why women love babies so much... :p
     
  10. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    As to the first part:
    Sometimes humans beings have mutations that serve no naturally advantageous purpose, but still occur naturally or biologically. I'm not saying homosexuality is a mutation (although you have also related it to genes and heredity) but I'm saying that it could be similar, thus occur naturally but still have no natural advantage.

    Second part:
    I was never very good in science class. I'm a literature major. Your idea makes sense and I agree. I was also only taking a cheap shot at the whole "heredity of homosexuals although they can't reproduce" bit; but I understand you now. Point taken.

    Last part:
    There's an old French idea known as "La petite mort:" the little death. It was a belief that every time a male ejaculated, a small part of him died. I know this is a dated belief, but for some reason I still think there is some deeper meaning behind it. Playing a rigorous sport like soccer is different than sex. For men, the excitement from getting laid (to use the parlance of our times; thank you Big Lebowski) is far more than the excitement of a soccer match (which is the case in my experience). The intense pleasure that results from climaxing is much greater and universal than that of scoring a goal. It's felt in every inch of the body, in every muscle and nerve. During sex the body tightens, preparing for the release. Sports are different; the body should be loose, fluid. The sensation of sex borders on the thin line of pleasure and pain. Personally, I think it's as close as a human being can come to experiencing both sensations at the same time. It is the height of physical stimulation.

    I didn't really present any scientific evidence there, so sorry.
     
  11. waif

    waif Member

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    I don't think you really need any, since every single account ever confirms what you said.
     
  12. kmik

    kmik Member

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    Wait wait, so ... there are people who are not biologically gay but are perverted and bisexual? As opposed to "authentic" gays?
     
  13. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    On another forum, I was criticising the "gay scene" and I was told that there are other "gays" who (so the respondent thought, but couldn't say from experience) would not like the way these revolting "gays" behave and he thought that the latter are genuine gays so I should not be anti "gay". And I said that if that is the case then then these "real gays" should make their presence known and make an objection to these imposter "gays" that give them such a bad name. Because it should disgust and worry them. :err:

    But there does seem to be a distinct possibility that the "gay scene" would attract men who are turned on by it merely as a sort of fetischistic perversion and who could just as easily be bi-sexual. Also some men may be seduced into it by other men, who warp their way of looking at things, or because they have spent their formative years around some particularly horrible women.

    I would say the biological gays are the limp-wristed effeminate sort (although guys who are effeminate don't have to be gay) and those who are the ultra-male sort are not biologically gay but just enjoy dominating other men in that way. Shame this has not been scientifically demonstrated one way or another. But if the conclusions agreed with what I said, I think it would be denounced as "homophobic".
     
  14. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    Why would men be "more biologically compatible" with other men? There are ways in which males are supposed to compete and dislike each other while feeling much more contented amongst women, plus the obvious sexual compatibility with women. So I don't understand this assertion.
     
  15. kmik

    kmik Member

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    I think all people in the so called "gay scene" are gay. Nobody is going to join it unless he's genuinely attracted to males. A lot of gay people are giving gays a bad name because too many gays are so outspoken about their homosexuality. I say don't ask, don't tell. But I don't think it has anything to do with biology or sexual attraction: rather, some people are disgusting in general so they have to let the world they're gay (Hi I'm gay and my name is so and so), and maybe people who tend to be gay might have different personalities or something, I don't know. I suppose you don't hear of the "good gays" simply because they prefer not to be outspoken... I've known gay people I didn't even know were gay for some time.

    What you say about dominating other men does not make a lot of sense. Gays are usually both "active" and "passive". :headbang::headbang::headbang:

    PS

    SHAKESPEARE / PROUST / CHOPIN
     
  16. Einherjar86

    Einherjar86 Active Member

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    Not entirely true. If you look at libertines like Lord Byron, de Sade, and John Wilmot, there's simply no distinction between males and females. They base their judgement purely on their perceptions of beauty. If a young boy is "handsome," then they'll tap that. They just don't draw a line. They see no difference between loving a woman or loving a man.

    To me, this is pretty fucked up; but to each his own.

    Also, I think that sometimes homosexuality has to do with the "alpha male" complex. Certain males feel inferior to other males (because of physical weakness or otherwise), and so submit their bodies to the wills of other males (thus becoming the "passive" homosexual, or the "woman").

    It's interesting; in ancient Rome, homosexuality wasn't frowned upon. Rather, only the man who was "passive" was frowned upon. It didn't matter if a relationship was homosexual; as long as a man was doing the fucking, he was still considered to be masculine and "aggressive."
     
  17. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    I never said that the effeminate (or "real"?) homosexuals would not be active or that they would always be on the receiving end - just that the more macho types are probably motivated by the desire to dominate. Dogs do this.
    http://www.google.co.uk/search?hl=en&q=dogs+mount+each+other+dominance&btnG=Google+Search&meta=
     
  18. kmik

    kmik Member

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    So how can you tell the difference between the genuinely gay and the perverted...?
     
  19. Norsemaiden

    Norsemaiden barbarian

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    It's not that important to make a distinction since the ideal situation would be that they all live separately from the heterosexuals. They can sort out their own differences.
     
  20. kmik

    kmik Member

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    That's not the point. You say there are two kinds of gays. I don't know how you came to this learned conclusion.
     

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