The Gay Gene: Is it really necessary research?

In a decade which has seen LGBT issues brought to the forefront of our public consciousness more so than ever a topic which continues to demand both our attention and our funding is the search for

In a decade which has seen LGBT issues brought to the forefront of our public consciousness more so than ever a topic which continues to demand both our attention and our funding is the search for the elusive “gay gene.”

Research into what decides a person’s sexual orientation has been inconclusive at best with scientists admitting last month that the results garnered from recent studies have been insufficient in providing a concrete answer to the question of what makes people gay.

Though I understand and respect the logic behind the scientific quest for knowledge I can’t help asking – do we really need to know?

Worthwhile investment?

Though unable to identify the specific gene that determines sexual orientation scientists are 99.9 per cent sure that the process happens before birth. Isn’t that enough? Why the avid fascination with discovering the exact gene that determines sexuality?

Inconceivable amounts of time and money have been spent on the search for the gay gene which seems ridiculous when compared with the overwhelmingly vague results these studies have produced. Wouldn’t all this funding and effort be put to better use finding a cure for Cancer or HIV? To be frank wouldn’t this money be put to better use in almost any other field of scientific research?

The optimist in me would be inclined to suggest that the desire for a specific answer stems from natural human curiosity but the cynic in me can’t help but worry about the Pandora’s box-esque consequences discovering the gay gene could bring about.

Let’s imagine for a moment that scientists did find it – what’s next? Once human sexuality has been compressed into a single strand of DNA the next step, though I’m certain nobody wants to admit it, would be to find some kind of “cure.”

Scientific principal declares that the existence of a cause suggests, in the very least, the possibility of a solution and once homosexuality becomes something even remotely avoidable what’s to stop people reverting back to the old view that it’s a disease?

This notion might sound unthinkable to young people growing up in these increasingly liberal times but when you take into consideration the fact that homosexuality was illegal in the UK less than 50 years ago the concept becomes much less far-fetched.

Even if (hypothetically speaking) scientists were to stop at simply finding the gay gene its very existence could cause unbelievable damage to the LGBT community. Consider, for a moment, the potential ramifications of for example healthcare professionals’ being able to offer soon-to-be mother’s and father’s the opportunity to know the sexuality of their child.

A straight forward concept

What would that mean? Homophobic parents finding out they’re having a gay baby at the 18 week ultrasound then suddenly deciding a week later they don’t want a baby anymore? Such a scenario might sound deeply unsettling but what it does not sound, more terrifyingly perhaps, is implausible.

This is not to suggest in any way that scientists searching for the gay gene are harbouring ill intent but it does raise a lot of questions about the necessity and indeed usefulness of their research. I’m simply confused as to what people are hoping to achieve from finding this mythical gene. You never hear anything about scientists searching for a paedophile gene or a serial killer gene i.e. something which could actually be useful to us.

It’s also worth mentioning that the majority of research conducted into what influences sexuality is solely focussed on men whilst the question of what makes women gay seems to have not generated much interest in the scientific community.

This fact alone opens up a whole separate debate which I won’t dwell on. However it is hugely concerning to me that today, even if on a subliminal level, male homosexuality is still awarded a level of deviancy that warrants this kind of urgency in identifying where it comes from.

It’s impossible to deny that the discovery of the gay gene could cause major problems for the gay community, one which is only just starting to break new ground in terms of public acceptance and understanding. For this reason I believe that it’s better left alone.

Sexuality is not black and white. Though we might try we can never fit everyone into a box, and that’s okay. Human sexuality exists across a range that encompasses a mind boggling variety of biological & environmental factors, genders, cultures, turn-ons and turn-off’s many of which simply defy categorisation.

Some people  like to sleep with men, some people like to sleep with women, some people like to get tied up, spanked and called Helga and  the sooner we all just accept that this is all perfectly okay, the happier we’ll all be.

What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.