What is the big deal with being a gay man?

A new study of gay men in the US has found evidence that male sexual orientation is genetically influenced, proving that Lady Gaga was right all along when she sang about homosexuals being “b

A new study of gay men in the US has found evidence that male sexual orientation is genetically influenced, proving that Lady Gaga was right all along when she sang about homosexuals being “born this way.”

Scientists tested the DNA of 400 gay men and found that at least two chromosomes affect whether a man fancies women or men. The genes in question are “chromosome 8” and “Xq28.” It has been speculated for numerous years that genes linked to homosexuality in men may have survived evolution because they happened to make women more fertile.

Connotations in the wake of progress

This may be true in the case of the Xq28 gene, as the X chromosome is passed down to men exclusively from their mothers.

However, these studies are not conclusive as studies of identical twins with one gay man show that they are more likely to be straight than gay, despite carrying an exact replica of their brother’s DNA. Meaning a perfect genetic test which picks up every gene linked to sexual orientation would still be less effective than flipping a coin.

So why does this kind of genetic study exist?  

We don’t read about extensive studies being carried out on why women prefer bald men or why people prefer certain sexual positions over another. So why is society obsessed with finding out why men choose to sleep with other men?

Lesbianism, bisexuality, transsexuality and asexuality all fade into the background. A possible explanation could be that these identities are prevalent amongst both sexes. When Vladimir Putin says he doesn’t mind gays, but wishes they would leave children alone, he is only referring to gay men. Likewise when countries criminalise homosexuality, persecution is distributed to those involved in the act of buggery.

It’s such a shame to read something like this, particularly at a time when it’s evident that society has moved along in leaps and bounds in its approach to homosexuality. The campaign for gay marriage is succeeding and the widespread horror over Russia’s homophobic behaviour suggests that homophobia is slowly becoming as unacceptable in the developed world as racism or sexism.

A question of context

However, it doesn’t stop portrayals of the word “gay” carrying negative connotations.

I was in the pub with some students off my course when one mentioned that something was “gay.” Immediately she apologised to me saying she didn’t mean any offence. I accepted her apology because it didn’t offend me and I understood that people use the word in that way. But should we just accept this use?

Will Young, who has recently joined Stonewall in their drive to reduce homophobia abuse in schools, says: “The word ‘gay’ has become a negative connotation, it’s used a lot, ‘that’s so gay’. It means rubbish, defunct.”

“I think there’s out and out homophobic bullying, and then there’s this use of the word ‘gay’, which has become everyday vocabulary, people don’t think it’s homophobic. 60% of secondary school teachers don’t challenge it because they don’t think it’s homophobic. Just under 60% think it’s used so much they can’t challenge it.”

He continued: “These are the really harrowing statistics: 23% of young gay people will try to kill themselves and 56% will self-harm. My point is we’ve come so far with gay rights, we now really need to look at the use of language. If you are a young gay person and grow up hearing ‘gay’ used as a derogatory term you’re going to immediately think you’re defunct.”

At the same time, like using the N-word seems to be acceptable amongst black communities, the word “gay” has become a way that homosexuals address themselves. This I find, which some may find controversial, completely contradictory to those that are trying to change perceptions.

As a bisexual man, I am not attracted to someone that throws the fact they are “gay” down my throat over characteristics like “friendly”, “loyal” and “kind.” A friend recently used the caption “When vain gays steal your phone” for a picture.

I couldn’t help but question her choice to use “gays” instead of “guys.” If two heterosexual males had taken the same picture, it wouldn’t deserve the caption: “When vain straights steal your phone.”

That just seems absurd. So why does our sexual orientation dictate what kind of person we are?

It’s that person’s business

Studies like this one will hinder society’s progression, feeding the hatred against homosexuality. The only way something like this will come about is when being gay is regarded to be a problem worthy of study, and eventually fixed, and the continual obsession with finding out what makes men fancy other men is nothing but morbid fascination.

A fascination with a dangerous twist. What happens when definitive genetic markers are discovered? Will there be a market for foetus selection determined by sexual preferences? Will genetic evidence be provided in court to punish those where homosexuality is a punishable crime?

There is not one single positive application for such research, other than a curiosity to understand the human race a little bit better. And the only way people can understand things is by having an open mind. I mean those that regard homosexuality as wrong and being responsible for the flooding, are hardly level-headed.

Shouldn’t we be spending our time and money on finding cures for untreatable diseases and medical conditions? I’m sure those victims of life-threatening ailments would be more interested in spending time with their loved ones rather finding out why I choose to sleep with the people I do.


What do you think of these studies? Why is there interest in why people who sleep with who? Have your say in the comments section below.

Image: Ludovic Bertron / Wikimedia Commons