"Gay Gene" Critique Quotes

To date, no researcher has claimed that genes can determine sexual orientation. At best, researchers believe that there may be a genetic component. No human behavior, let alone sexual behavior, has been connected to genetic markers to date.
—PFLAG (Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians And Gays), "Why Ask Why: Addressing the Research on Homosexuality," 1995
It is amazing to observe how many psychologists and psychiatrists have accepted this sort of propaganda, and have come to believe that homosexual males and females are discretely different from persons who respond to natural stimuli. Instead of using these terms as substantives which stand for persons, or even as adjectives to describe persons, they may better be used to describe the nature of the overt sexual relations, or of the stimuli to which an individual erotically responds.
—Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948, pp. 616-617
There are probably very few people who have not felt, at some time or another, some sexual attraction to both men and women. . . . A person's sexual orientation is not necessarily a fixed, life-long attribute. Sexual orientation can change: for example a woman may be predominantly attracted to men for many years, and perhaps have a happy marriage and children during that time, and then become increasingly aware of same-sex attraction in her thirties, forties, or later. This does not mean that she was concealing or repressing her homosexuality during that early period. To argue that she was really homosexual all the time would be to change the definition of sexual orientation into something murky and inaccessible.
—Simon LeVay and Elisabeth Nonas, City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America, 1995, p. 5
[Dr. Richard] Isay's goal in endorsing the genetic determination of homosexuality is to ensure that homosexual men are not pathologized simply on the basis of their same-sex desire. It is his hope that acceptance of the "gay gene" will imbue homosexuality with the same "natural" status accorded reproductive heterosexuality. (Perhaps this is why he disregards the abundant literature criticizing the research he cites.) However, this strategy can never work, because what Isay ignores, or believes he can somehow bypass, is that reproductive sexuality (conflated with heterosexuality) is the absolute bedrock of biologically deterministic theory. Without the cornerstone of a biologically inevitable reproductive sexuality, there would be no mechanism to guarantee the transmission of genes, and that is precisely the point of biological determinism. The biological inevitability of reproductive sexuality is the principle without which biological determinism would fall apart. Reproductive heterosexuality is not simply another trait that is genetically transmitted; it is the foundational principle of the entire theory. It must be presumed as the imperative of life itself for the transmission of biological traits to even be possible. Given this fundamental and exalted position, it is difficult to see how reproductive sexuality and homosexuality can ever be presumed "equal" but "different" within a biologically deterministic framework. The logic of biological determinism can only debase homosexuality as deviant—precisely the position Isay is striving to counter.
—Ona Nierenberg, "A Hunger for Science: Psychoanalysis and the 'Gay Gene,'" differences, Vol. 10, No. 1
For the last half century . . . a growing body of social science has suggested that homosexuality and heterosexuality are neither absolutes nor opposites but rather fall along a continuum, with individuals moving along that continuum at different points in their lives and falling at different points on the continuum depending on whether researchers measure sexual fantasies, experiences, self-identity, or some other aspect of sexual orientation. This research is reflected in [all] the sociology textbooks in print in 1995 (compared with 75% in print in 1980). [Yet] 69% . . . of the psychology textbooks in print in 1995 describe homosexuality in absolute terms—an increase from the 41% that did so in 1980.
—Rose Weitz and Karl Bryant, "The Portrayal of Homosexuality in Abnormal Psychology and Sociology of Deviance Textbooks," Deviant Behavior: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 18, 1997, pp. 40-41
In the early 90's, three highly publicized studies seemed to suggest that homosexuality's roots were genetic, traceable to nature rather than nurture. . . . More than five years later the data have never been replicated. [And,] admits biologist Evan Balaban, "I think we're as much in the dark as we ever were."
—John Leland and Mark Miller, "Can Gays 'Convert'?" Newsweek, p. 49, August 17, 1998
Homosexuality is not defined[;] what one person call[s] homosexual, is not called homosexual in the next study.
     And people don't do the necessary statistical experiments, and what really bugs me is that it is possible to do them. When you *have* [a] genetic marker [as Dean Hamer claimed to have found], then there is no excuses for not testing the reverse; i.e[.,] how many people having the marker are homosexuals. [Dean Hamer never tested for this.]
—Henrik Ernoe, posted in soc.culture.nordic, 20 March 1997
If all persons with any trace of homosexual history, or those who were predominantly homosexual, were eliminated from the population today, there is no reason for believing that the incidence of the homosexual in the next generation would be materially reduced. The homosexual has been a significant part of human sexual activity since the dawn of history, primarily because it is an expression of capacities that are basic in the human animal.
—Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell P. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, 1948, p. 666
To my mind, a more parsimonious and unifying evolutionary explanation for human homosexual behavior is that it is a neutral, concomitant by-product of direct selection for a more generalized trait such as sexual pleasure. In line with this reasoning, it will frequently be manifested for no other reason than sexual gratification. In such cases, homosexual behavior will have no evolutionary "function." So long as such interactions do not interfere with the actors' reproductive efforts, they will not be selected against. As part of a pool of neutral behavioral variation homosexual behavior could, however, be co-opted to serve any number of sociosexual roles (e.g. alliance formation, reconciliation) that mght incidentally augment the participants' fitness. In such cases, homosexual behavior could best be described as an "exaptation," that is, a characteristic which was not built by natural selection for the fitness-enhancing role that it currently serves but instead was co-opted for that role. Although exaptations are not the products of direct selection, they may eventually come under positive selection because of their beneficial effects on fitness, at which time secondary adaptive modifications will occur.
—Paul L. Vasey, commentary on "The Evolution of Human Homosexual Behavior" by R. C. Kirkpatrick, from Current Anthropology, Vol. 41 No. 3, June 2000
There is no evidence that same-sex sexual acts per se are under direct [evolutionary] selective pressure any more than is masturbation, anal sex, bestiality, pedophilia, vaginal entry from the front or rear, or any other sexual practice. Sexual desire, arousal, orgasm (especially in men), and male ejaculation, all basic human capacities, are selectively maintained through production of offspring. But these capacities are not specific to reproduction . . . [The strong human] sex drive, maintained by its guarantee of reproduction, is available for elaboration in socially condoned, prohibited, or ignored forms for social, emotional, and physiological satisfaction. . . .
     It is a common "Darwinian" fallacy to assume that all components of a behavioral act are under equal selective pressure. This leads to treating behavioral acts as discrete adaptive units when in fact they usually have both adaptive and nonadaptive or neutral components. Language, for example, aids in survival and reproduction, but not all linguistic acts provide direct reproductive gain. There is no direct selection for, nor are there genes for, the creation of poetry. The direct, genetically inherited components of homosexuality are those listed above, common to all sex acts.
—Jeffrey M. Dickemann, commentary on "The Evolution of Human Homosexual Behavior" by R. C. Kirkpatrick, from Current Anthropology, Vol. 41 No. 3, June 2000
The genetic theory of homosexuality has been generally discarded today. . . . Despite the interest in possible hormone mechanisms in the origin of homosexuality, no serious scientist today suggests that a simple cause-effect relationship applies.
—William H. Masters, Virginia E. Johnson and Robert C. Kolodny, Human Sexuality, 1984
I agree that there are people that *consider* themselves as obligate [i.e., "exclusive"] homosexuals, (both men and women, btw). [The] problem is whether or not that [has] any biological relevance. People can be obligate homosexuals, because they have chosen to be it, or they are obligate homosexuals because they have been predetermined by their biology to be so.
     If they are OHs because they chose to be that, then a model focusing on the evolutionary cost/benefits of OH is rather irrelevant. (And I could mention that a friend of mine was an obligate homosexual for 16 years, (8 [of] which he lived together with a "life"-companion), then one day he met a woman, [fell] in love with her, left his partner and married the woman. If you had asked him before he met her, he would have denied the possibility of him loving a woman). It was a big scandal in his circles, and it did cost him a lot of soulsearching.
     So for that and other reasons I don't belive that obligate homosexuality is a phenomenon pre-determined by biology.
     If they are OHs because of their biology, then it makes some sense to make the darwinistic modeling you outline. But, still to discus homosexuality in human evolution, by limiting it to OH, is still in my eyes an extremely reductionistic approach. And since we *know* that human sexuality is a continuum ranging from obligate homosexuality over bisexualty to obligate heterosexuality, then *I* [consider] the results of a study limited to OH rather uninteresting and naïve. (a polite way of saying a waste of research funds).
—Henrik Ernoe, posted in soc.culture.nordic, 20 March 1997
Pop-documentaries on research "proving" that there is a "gene for" everything from homosexuality to aggressive behaviour are part of regular TV programming. Far less publicity is given to alternative research, even when widely-disseminated results which have been judged definitive ignominiously collapse in the face of later studies. A few years ago the discovery of a "gay gene" was given a huge amount of news coverage. When this research was recently discredited, other scientists being quite unable to replicate the results, it warranted only a few small articles in the press.
—Clive Bradley, "There's More to Life than Genes: Clive Bradley Reviews the Arguments of Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould," Workers' Liberty, Vol. 59, 2000
Q. Is there a gay gene?
A. Recent research by Professor Blank Hartlepool at the University of Taxpayers' Money has shown that there is a 100% correlation between the Xq28 area and homosexuality.
When asked how he had defined the homosexual group, Hartlepool explained 'you can tell just by looking at them'. He later revealed that many of them were in fact 'latent' homosexuals, a condition first identified by Freud and characterised by exclusive attraction to the opposite sex.
Q. So are gays born that way?
A. No. They're born through the vagina like everyone else.
—Neil Hudson, "Notes and Queeries: Readers' Questions Answered," from Bi Community News, No. 10, U.K., August 1996
Because of problems with statistics and sampling, nearly every report of a 'behaviour gene' located in this way—including those supposedly associated with schizophrenia, manic depression, criminality and alcoholism—has been retracted or called into question when later investigators failed to replicate the results. A famous example is Dean Hamer's 'gay gene,' announced with much fanfare in 1993, when his group found an association in 40 families between a marker on the X chromosome and male homosexuality. Because of the high political stakes and levels of public interest, Hamer's results immediately hit the headlines, followed quickly by the publication of his popular book, The Science of Desire: The Search for the Gay Gene and the Biology of Behaviour. The expected uproar ensued: many gays rejoiced that homosexuality could no longer be seen as a sinful choice, and some conservatives spoke darkly of pre-emptive abortion. Since 1998, however, two independent research groups have failed to find any evidence for Hamer's gene, which now seems likely to be an artefact of sampling. Unsurprisingly, the press has largely ignored these later studies.
—Jerry Coyne, "Not an Inkling" (review of Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters by Matt Ridley), London Review of Books, Vol. 22 No. 9, April 27, 2000
Somehow it always seems that the crummier the test, the higher the heritability it produces.
—Peter Schönemann, Purdue University, quoted in "Behavioral Genetics in Transition" by C. Mann, Science, Vol. 264 No. 17 vi., 1994
One of the central things here [in a discussion of "gay gene" research] is the feeling of love towards other persons. I think that a central "force" in human evolution [has] been the evolution of love. That feeling [has] been the cement in a whole lot of human relationships, man-woman, parent-child, among close kin, among friends etc, etc. In fact, in all those relationships that makes us human, and is the foundation of all that came after in terms of culture, arts, science and you-name-it. I think that the only thing that makes homosexuals different is that they have chosen to include sexual desire and perhaps satisfaction in the love between to persons of the same sex. In short, the only thing setting a pair of homosexuals apart from a pair of same sex friends, is that the homosexuals have sex together. . . . I think it is an extremely reductionist approach, to discuss homosexuality as different and excluded from other forms of sexuality and emotional b[o]nding between humans. If you want me to be honest, then I will even go as far as to say that approach is so reductionist, that it in my eyes is not honest science anymore. If you want to understand homosexuality biologically, then you have to understand in terms of the total[ity] of human sexuality and emotions.
—Henrik Ernoe, posted in soc.culture.nordic, March 17, 1997
The myth of the all-powerful gene is based on flawed science that discounts the environmental context in which we and our genes exist. . . . Many modern researchers continue to believe that sexual preference is to some extent biologically determined. They base this belief on the fact that no single environmental explanation can account for the development of homosexuality. But this does not make sense. Human sexuality is complex and affected by many things. The failure to come up with a clear environmental explanation is not surprising, and does not mean that the answer lies in biology. Such studies are bound to come up with plenty of meaningless correlations which will get reported as further evidence of genetic transmission of homosexuality.
—Ruth Hubbard and Elijah Wald, Exploding the Gene Myth, 1993
Recent studies postulate biologic factors as the primary basis for sexual orientation. However, there is no evidence at present to substantiate a biologic theory, just as there is no compelling evidence to support any singular psychological explanation. While all behavior must have an ultimate biologic substrate, the appeal of current biologic explanations for sexual orientation may derive more from dissatisfaction with the present status of psychosocial explanations than from a substantiating body of experimental data. Critical review shows the evidence favoring a biologic theory to be lacking.
—William Byne and Bruce Parsons, "Human Sexual Orientation: The Biologic Theories Reappraised," Archives of General Psychiatry, Vol. 50, No. 3, pp. 228-239, March 1993
In the first place, since Alfred Kinsey researched the sexual experience of American men in the 1940s, it has been known that human sexual behavior is more varied and complex than suggested by the simple concepts of hetero and homosexuality. How would LeVay's cells account for bisexuality? Do the nuclei change in size according to mood? Can they change suddenly and once and for all when a middle-aged married man 'comes out' as gay? Or do bisexuals fall in the middle of the size range?....And what about people who've got a thing for sheep, or men who like to have cream cakes thrown at them by prostitutes wearing Nazi uniforms?......You don't have to go to the wider shores of desire, either. Apparently there are heterosexuals who get off on pretending to be football players during copulation, and why not? But exactly which gene is it that accounts for that?
     Difference will always mean inequality in a social order as oppressive as capitalism.
—Peter Ray, "It's Not Natural: New Research Claims to Prove That Homosexuals Are Born and Not Made. Peter Ray Thinks That Idea Is Unscientific, Irrational—and Very Dangerous," Living Marxism, No. 50, December 1992
[Although biologists usually claim that they] treat homosexuality as a "natural," biologically derived variation, like left-handedness, the research they cite to support the biological position is not only flawed but views homosexuality as the outcome of a pathological condition: excessively high or low androgen levels during prenatal development.
—Richard R. Troiden, Gay and Lesbian Identity: A Sociological Analysis, 1988, p. 118
Rotello's scientific jargon and progressive credentials do not make his biology-as-destiny argument any less reactionary or more believable. . . . Arguing for civil rights by using a foundation that is basically sociobiology—a false science once discredited, now resurgent—leads down a slippery slope. It winds toward the theoretical camp that produced the infamous 1994 book The Bell Curve, whose authors explain why Blacks "can't help" being second-class citizens; it's hereditary.
—Su Docekal, "Gay Family Values: A Lesbian Rebuttal," The Freedom Socialist: Voice of Revolutionary Feminism, Vol. 19, No. 1, April-June 1998
Increasingly it is the conjecture that a particular trait is genetically or biologically based, not that it is "only cultural," that seems to trigger an estrus of manipulative fantasy in the technological institutions of the culture. . . . And in this unstable context, the dependence on a specified homosexual body to offer resistance to the gay-eradicating momentum is tremblingly vulnerable. AIDS, although it is used to proffer every single day to the news-consuming public the crystallized vision of a world after the homosexual, could never by itself bring about such a world. What whets these fantasies more dangerously, because more blandly, is the presentation, often in ostensibly or authentically gay-affirmative contexts, of biologically based "explanations" for deviant behavior that are absolutely invariably couched in terms of "excess," "deficiency," or "imbalance"—whether in the hormones, in the genetic material, or, as is currently fashionable, in the fetal endocrine environment. If I had ever, in any medium, seen any researcher or popularizer refer even once to any supposedly gay-producing circumstance as the proper hormone balance, or the conducive endocrine environment, for gay generation, I would be less chilled by the breezes of all this technological confidence.
—Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, "How to Bring Your Kids Up Gay," 1989, as reprinted in Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory, edited by Michael Warner, 1993, and also reprinted in Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's book Tendencies, 1993
Of course, [psychologist Dr. Richard] Isay's appeal to biological determinism is a reaction to the decades of viciously homophobic theorizing that took place within psychoanalysis, particularly in America after Freud's death. It is understandable how Isay could imagine that deploying the idea of a "gay gene" might oppose post-Freudian theories situating the supposed cause of homosexuality within the field of early familial dysfunction, constituting homosexuality as an effect of "nurture gone awry." Nevertheless, viewing biological determinism as an attack on this homophobic discourse is quixotic, because, just like biological determinism, such theories are grounded on the premise that heterosexual reproductive sexuality is biologically given, "natural," and "normal." That is, the theory that homosexuality is genetic converges with the theory that homosexuality is "environmental" at the nodal point where human reproductive sexuality is constituted as a biological given. And this is exactly the source of the difficulties. What is ironic is that Freud argued his way out of precisely this impasse nearly a century ago by radically severing human sexuality from genitality and reproduction.
——Ona Nierenberg, "A Hunger for Science: Psychoanalysis and the 'Gay Gene,'" differences, Vol. 10, No. 1
Wherever the theory of inheritance of human behaviour exists there is also the possibility of the emergence of fascism.
—E. Bell & J. Seramki, The Social Foundation for Human Behavior, 1964
Glorification of the 'natural' is part of the ideology which protects an unnatural society in its struggle against liberation.
—Herbert Marcuse
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