Gay Genes

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I’ve got to get this post out of my system… the gay gene thing.

I was interested to see this comment at the bottom of a “scientific” blog post:

While on the subject of press reports, I can’t resist repeating the classic headline from Sunday’s über-tabloid, The News of the World: ‘Cocaine Kate’s 3-in-Bed Lesbian Orgy’. (The ‘Kate’ is Kate Moss, in case you hadn’t guessed.) Nothing to do with GNXP, but it’s a dream come true!

This triggered a discussion on why lesbians make men so horny.

I have a number of “how does evolution account for xxx” questions but the attraction of men to lesbians has never been one of them. The answer seems obvious: guys who were attracted to lesbians and twosomes passed on more of their genes.

What is more interesting is why there so many men and women who are gay. I have heard a number of theories beginning with “The reason for gay people is …” but this is wrong. This “reason for” thinking is such a trap. In the context of evolution, there is no reason for anything. Things just ARE. The question is “How would this trait result in a successful strategy for perpetuating genes in the next generation?” For those in the know this is pedantic, but to a lot of people this explanation is essential.

For starters, I’m not going to debate the fact that homosexuality is heritable because I think that has been well documented elsewhere.

So what of the genes? It’s possible that there is a single or combination of genes that results in homosexuality regardless of gender… or there could be gender specific gay genes. Given the different roles of men and women in reproduction, I’m going to assume that the gay genes are gender specific. Saying that, I know a number of families where the siblings of both genders are gay.

A few points which theorists may like to address but which I just add as a mental note:

  • there are way more predominantly gay men than predominantly gay women
  • men tend to be gay or straight – few men are bisexual
  • a large number of women are bisexual and few are exclusively gay

Untested but worthy of further investigation:

  • Gay men are better looking than straight men. Has anyone done a symmetry test?

Ok the theories…


  1. Women who bonded as a couple would have been more successful in rearing children than women who were alone. With men buggering off on silly hunting trips or otherwise indisposed due to war and the like, this may have proven a successful survival strategy.
  2. Where men had multiple wives, the wives were less likely to kill each other if they were having sex together.
    [Somewhere in the middle here I assume that the male taste for lesbians evolved. Men who got jealous seeing their wives at it would have passed on less genes than those who joined the party]
  3. And here’s the very politically incorrect “I know my friends won’t speak to me for 3 months” theory. Let’s say that in every tribe, there are a few women who are unable to find a mate. The men aren’t selecting them (we’ll assume there is some modicum of male choice at work). If the rejects just go about their business and become spinsters so be it. But lets say a couple of them get together. If the male trait for attraction to lesbians and threesomes has already developed, this girlie action could be all the extra incentive some guy needs for getting them pregnant.

Gay Men

I think the only thing that makes sense here is kin survival ie if a gay man helps provide for his sibling’s family, his genes may be more successful in the next generation.

Ironically, religious pressure to marry and procreate may have helped propagate gay male genes as it no doubt does today. All those X-gays are just a breeding ground for little gay boys and girls!

From these theories, it would seem there would be many more avenues for a lesbian gene to propagate than a gay male gene and yet the opposite seems to be true. Saying that, there are likely many more bisexual women than gay men.

There are probably mathematical ways this would work out… the genotype of a woman need only have one lesbian gene to be bisexual but needs two to be a hard core “men stand back 300 feet” type. With men, on the other hand, the gene may be completely recessive and when it shows, it’s the real deal.

And that’s THAT.

To end off, perhaps you could answer a question for me…

How does evolution account for the fact I find baby mammals of other species so damn cute?

Further discussion here.