You Better Thank Your Uncle For Being Gay

Ellie McFarland | @El_FarAwayLand

In 2019, equality for the LGBT community is at the forefront of legal and societal conversations. Although there is still a long way to go, The West has come a long way from the era of widespread homophobia. Despite this, the LGBT community is not fully protected against discrimination in 30 states. Although this is an immutable characteristic just like race, sex, or nation of origin, an argument made against this legislation is that being gay or LGBT “isn’t natural”. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Indeed, it seems that gay and bisexual people serve an important reproductive utility.

The Genetic Utility of Gays and Bisexuals

Is There a Gay Gene?

The existence of a single “Gay Gene” is disputed, but it has been found that there is more of a related group of “gay genes” that actually influence sexuality. At first, it’s natural to wonder why this gay gene hasn’t died out. After all, only with the advent of modern medicine can gay couples traditionally reproduce. It is counterintuitive to think that a gay gene would exist in straight women, or that a lesbian gene would exist in straight men. However, science suggests just that.

Rather than being a proper gay or lesbian gene, these are actually more like attraction genes. “Lesbian genes” present in a woman elicit an average attraction to women, and in men, elicit a very strong attraction to women. They carry the same gene, but because of their sex, the result of the gene is different. This works the same way with gay men, whose “gay gene” elicits a stronger attraction to men in women. This, in a way, explains the “Gay Uncle” trope often seen in media as well as in real life.

A so-called gay gene alone would have been bread out of a population given enough generations. On the surface, the gay gene collection seems like a reproductive detriment. But according to evolution so far, the cost of the gay gene doesn’t outweigh the benefits. The gay gene is not only natural and not reproductively detrimental, but it’s actually beneficial to the reproduction of straight couples. When men have the “lesbian gene” or when women have the “gay gene” they have higher attractions to the opposite sex. They have a higher chance of reproduction.

A Natural Preference

The argument that being gay is somehow unnatural is wrong all on its own. It is doubly wrong when paired with an argument about the utility of gay people. Not only is homosexuality not harmful, but it is also a reproductive aid to heterosexual individuals. The discomfort around adequate rights for the LGBT community around this argument extends less from a place of concern for evolution and biology, and more a detestable prejudice against gay people.

What is most interesting is how this state of affairs relates to bisexual people. It is clear that there is a gene (a group of genes) that make a person gay, but it’s not really determined if there is a gene that connects to bisexuality in the same way. It’s said that being gay is natural because we can look at the animal kingdom and see same-sex sexual activity. “Gay animals” is an inaccurate way of putting the phenomenon though. These are less gay animals and more animals engaging in gay behavior.

Most animals seem to be pretty bisexual. Many male lions seen mounting other male lions are successful members of the pride. More importantly, they are reproductively successful. This is seen in virtually all other animals who exhibit same-sex sexual behavior. Only in a few species is it common for individuals to be exclusively homosexual and it usually serves the same purpose it does in humans. Bisexuality, on the other hand, serves a whole host of different functions in and between species. These include social bonding, social domination, sexual practice, and most interestingly, for attracting a mate of the opposite sex.

Although all of these can be observed in humans, the most contentious issue of bisexual acceptance is opposite-sex attraction. It’s clear that according to biology and evolution, being bisexual is a good reproductive strategy. Being seen with other mates, in general, is good for reproduction and an individual in any species. It lets other potential mates know you’re desirable and can be a good partner. This is not at all to say that bisexuality or the inclination to same-sex sexual behavior is in any way a choice. It has been proven over and over that attraction in any capacity is not a choice.

It is to say, however, that bisexuality, just like homosexuality, serves a genetic and reproductive purpose. Sexuality, like race, body type, and other inherent characteristics serve or have served some purpose in the survival of the human species. The argument that being gay or bisexual is a choice, is unscientific nonsense that deserves to hit the ash-heap. It becomes a lot easier to accept people who we are different from when we look at things through a biological lense. People’s differences begin to show themselves off as examples of nature, genetic diversity, and inspiring adaptation. It is hard to hate your neighbor for an unalterable characteristic of themselves when you recognize that characteristic as a part of what keeps the human genome healthy.

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