Homosexuality: were you born this way? Is the question finally answered?

Has NatGeo already answered the unanswerable question while no one was paying attention?

The video below is part of a National Geographic documentary aired on December 21st, 2008. The episode explains how both identical twins could have the gene for a certain disorder, yet only one twin would actually have the disorder. Homosexuality has been ruled out of the disorders spectrum of course. But in the same vein, this part of the episode tackles the possibility of biological factors intervening in the result of one identical twin being gay and the other being straight.

The main idea revolves around Epigenetics, a new branch of genetics that studies how one’s DNA sequence is not the only factor in one’s phenotypic (actual) outcomes. NatGeo is speculating on how one’s sexual orientation is determined during embryonic development.

It is a known fact that identical twins have the same DNA sequence. The idea of Epigenetics revolves around the effects of particular proteins on gene expression. Will this new area of genetics answer the dilemma of the century: is homosexuality a work of biology or is it a plain choice?

Well, we still don’t know if there is a “gay gene”. But studies suggest the following:

Identical twins begin to develop differences starting 5 weeks in utero. The study run by the NatGeo took an example of twins, one straight and the other gay. Even though they were raised together (in the same household, with same parents, and in the same environment), the sample twins turned out to have different interests (one in dance and academia and the other in sports), knowing that they have identical physical traits.

In the general population, chances of being gay are less than 5%. But if one has a gay twin, the chances raise considerably: 25% if you share half the genes and 50% if you share all of them. This could indicate that there is a genetic component to sexual orientation but not exclusively, because, if so, all identical twins would be both gay.

Scientific reminder: at first we are all female by default. Then, after gonads mature and drop (in utero), testosterone is released in the fetal blood stream, the masculinization of the body initiates as well as the masculinization of the brain, which may determine sexual attraction. Some scientists believe that the more the hypothalamus is exposed to testosterone, the more the individual is inclined to women in the future. Therefore, homosexuality could be explained by insufficient testosterone release or it’s just that the brain doesn’t absorb enough of the hormone.

But that’s not all. Where are Epigenetics in all that? Well, first you have to know about Epigenoms: they are series of chemicals acting like switches capable of activating or deactivating individual genes. One of the switches works by a process called “DNA methylation” which consists of enzymes attaching a methyl group to a gene and therefore activating or deactivating it, depending on the conditions. But the gene remains intact, it’s just that it’s either expressed or not.

This concept explains many twists that can take place in character expression and why genetics are so random and unpredictable even within the same family.

And this might also elucidate why one’s brain absorbs more testosterone than another! Does this answer the gay/straight question?

So we can conclude that our traits are neither a product of genes nor of environment, but the two factors are linked by Epigenetics!

What do you think? Comments are for that!


1,000 Catholic Priests In England Sign Open Letter Railing Against Gay Marriage Proposal

More than 1,000 Catholic priests in England recently signed an open letter warning that proposed gay marriage legislation could reignite “centuries of persecution” for Roman Catholics.
The proposed legislation would allow churches in England and Wales to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies. U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has backed the gay marriage proposal and has pledged to legalize gay marriage by 2015.
The open letter warns that freedom of religion will become “severely” limited, traditional marriage will be upended and Catholics will be discriminated against if the proposal passes. The letter was signed by 1,054 priests, along with more than a dozen “senior Catholic figures,” reports the Telegraph.
“We believe that redefining marriage to include same-sex relationships will entail a dilution in the meaning of marriage for everyone by excluding the fundamental complementarity of men and women from the social and legal definition of marriage,” the Church said in a statement obtained by the BBC. The Church also said its opposition is “motivated by a concern for the good of all in society,” according to the BBC.
“After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country,” reads the letter. “Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.”
Catholics in Britain and Ireland were targets of oppressive regulations until the Catholic Emancipation in 1892, a process that alleviated 16th-century restrictions put in place by the Protestant Reformation. Before the restrictions were relaxed, discriminatory laws had prevented Catholics from purchasing land, holding office in Parliament or practicing their religion without penalties.
The Bishop of Portsmouth, Rt. Rev. Philip Egan, expressed his personal worries to the Telegraph.
“It is quite Orwellian to try to redefine marriage,” he said. “I am very anxious that when we are preaching in Church or teaching in our Catholic Schools or witnessing to the Christian faith of what marriage is that we are not going to be able to do it – that we could be arrested for being bigots or homophobes.”
“Such a thing could even prevent faithful Catholics from certain jobs,” claims a post on Catholic Online, a religious news aggregator and blogging platform. “Other Catholics might have to participate in gay marriages as part of their daily duties, such as signing certificates, for example. Ultimately, the proposed change in law makes no exception for Catholics and others who believe as a matter of faith that such deeds are anathema.”