With LGBT coming out day happening last week, I began to wonder if people are born liking a certain gender, or if their environment in which they grow up in has an effect, making them act and become a certain way. I personally have a few friends who are openly gay and have talked briefly about this topic with them. I have asked them if they have always known they are gay, or at what time did they find themselves to be gay. All of them answered that they always knew they were gay, leading me to believe that people are born liking a certain gender. I decided to do some research.
The controversy over whether people are born gay is related to the nature vs. nurture debate. Since the early 1990s, scientists have conducted numerous studies in an attempt to determine a genetic cause for homosexuality. This research continues as it has not yet been proven to be valid evidence, i.e. causation does not equal correlation. As there is no science or DNA test to specify if a person is homosexual or bisexual, people believe that sexual orientation is a matter of how one defines oneself from the interaction of psychosocial and environmental factors throughout their life.
In November of 2014, the North Shore Research Institute conducted the largest study examining the debate of whether people are born gay. The study consisted of 409 sets of gay brothers and identified two genetic regions – Xq28 and 8q12 – that seem to correlate to homosexuality in men. This study follows the report done by geneticist Dean Hamer in 1993, suggesting the existence of a “gay gene.” Neuroscientist Simon Levay believes the DNA we are born with determines the theory of homosexuality.
Some people also believe that being gay runs in families. Researchers have found evidence for this belief, as well as the idea that it is more likely for two identical twins to be gay than it is for two fraternal twins since they share all of their genes rather than just half of their genes. A study done in 2012 suggested that epigenetic genes play a role in homosexuality. Since this type of gene regulation can be influenced by environmental factors or conditions during prenatal development, it is said that this epigenome can be passed down, explaining why being gay seems to run in families.
Many believe that the environment in which they grow up in affects people’s homosexuality. For example if a boy were to grow up with five sisters and played with all their barbie dolls, watched them all get ready and interact with each other, talking about having crushed on boys, etc. would the boy turn out to be more feminine and in essence lead him to be gay?
After researching about this debate, I am still unsure, like the world, whether people are born gay or not. But I am leaning toward the idea that they are because if people were to have the “choice” to be gay, then there wouldn’t be so many cases where people are attempting to change their orientation. Also, after talking to my friends who are gay who have said that they have always known, it furthers my belief. But anyways, no matter what, everyone who is straight, homosexual or bisexual, should all have the same rights and all be able to love whomever they want!