Putting the Sexuality in ScienceJan 16
Was 2013 a good year for you? Because it was a good year for science but for all of the pop-culture geeking out that we do, I don’t think we do nearly enough science geeking out. I intend to rectify that, starting now and starting with how science stood up for the LGBTI community last year with two important findings. I present them here in laymans for all people to see and understand. Two questions in particular were tried and tested and had their results published last year:
1. Are homophobes secretly attracted to the same sex?
Short Science Answer: Yes
Long Science Answer: A couple of studies undertaken from 1996 (Adams, Wright & Lohr) to this year (MacInnis & Hodson, 2013) have found evidence that individuals having bias against homosexuals (more commonly known as homophobia) is tightly correlated to them also having repressed sexual desires for the same sex. The study (unfortunately) only focussed on male attraction, possibly due to the fact that it’s a lot easier to study men’s sexual response thanks to phallometry. Possible psychological explanations include that these men are homophobic because they feel intensely sexually attracted to other men but feel like they shouldn’t and are ashamed of their feelings. The heightened aggression against homosexuals could be due to the need to justify their heterosexuality in the face of same-sex attractions that they can’t explain or simply outright deny.
Yes, this has been a folk suspicion for decades, even centuries. Now we live in an era where we have things like advanced scientific techniques and rigorous research to back up the truth.
2. Is homosexuality a personal choice?
Short Science Answer: No
Long Science Answer: A recent study found that a branch of genetics called epigenetics may be the underlying cause of not just homosexuality but also trans* identities. The ‘epi-marks’ – the focus of study in epigenetics – are the backbone of our genes and control their expression. Some of these epi-marks serve the purpose of protecting the foetus from the natural variation in testosterone. This allows a female feotus with abnormally high testosterone to remain feminine and and male foetus with abnormally low testosterone to remain masculine, but more importantly it also affects fertility/virility, gender identity and sexual partner preference. Epi-marks passed down from father to daughter can cause masculisation of the foetus, while epi-marks passed down from mother to son can cause feminisation. However the thing is, those same epi-marks, when passed from father to son or mother to daughter, can cause increased fertility and virility, which is why they will never go away. They’re an evolutionary advantage to parents and their same-sex offspring but not to their opposite-sex offspring. This explanation also covers the mystery of how it’s possible for even identical twins to have different sexual orientations, since no two people have the same epi-marks, even if they have the same genes.
What you need to take away from that explanation is that you certainly were born that way and that it came as a result of a process that is actually beneficial to the human race.
[Image: Tips from Town]
MacInnis & Hodson, 2013, Is Homophobia Associated with an Implicit Same-Sex Attraction? Journal of Sex Research, 50(8), 777-785
Adams, Henry E.; Wright, Lester W.; Lohr, Bethany A., 1996, Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal? Journal of Abnormal Psychology, Vol 105(3), Aug 1996, 440-445.
Rice WR, Friberg U, Gavrilets S., 2012, Homosexuality as a consequence of epigenetically canalized sexual development. The Quarterly Review of Biology, Published online.