Sunday, December 12, 2010

Gay extinction, to a degree?

Homosexuals across the world are celebrating their sexuality, expecting their numbers to increase in the near future as tolerance spreads from one corner of the globe to another. However, it should be at least considered that the result of this tolerance may be the exact opposite of what they're expecting: that homosexuality as a biological trait may, in fact, become endangered as a result of this tolerance. Let's establish a few facts first:

First, it'd be ludicrous to claim that homosexuality is, by and large, a choice. Some Christians want it to be so, so that the "naturalness" of homosexuality would not conflict with their "God created man in his image" view.

Second, as implied above, homosexuality is, to a degree, hereditary, i.e., the offspring of a person with "gay genes" (but who's not necessarily gay) is more likely to be gay than the offspring of a straight person. Obviously genes are not the only biological factor affecting sexuality but they are a significant factor nevertheless.

Third, one reason why homosexuality has survived this far despite its obvious selective disadvantage is precisely because of the society's negative attitude toward homosexuality in the past. When gays weren't tolerated and it was assumed that everyone marries at one point in their lives, this effectively ensured that homosexuals too managed to pass on their genes even if in an unwanted union with a straight person.

Combine these and you've got a situation where the "coming out" of gays might contribute negatively to the overall number of homosexuals. If homosexuals are no longer under societal pressure to procreate with the opposite sex then they won't whileas their own sexual desires are an evolutionary dead end.

This isn't to be misunderstood. Genes influencing homosexuality can spread even if there are no homosexuals left and even if we disregard genes, homosexuality may still result from fetal-stage disruptions. But the point I'm making is that the recent openness toward homosexuality may have a negative effect on the proliferation of those genes, not that gays will go extinct.

This also makes all fears of homosexuality overblown. The reason why homosexuality seems to be on the rise is because of the "coming out" factor, not because homosexuality as a biological feature is on the rise. The latter would be ludicrous as there are no evolutionary benefits to being gay. (In fact, there may be some but hardly anything that'd lead to a notable proliferation of homosexuality.)

And for the same reason it's stupid to claim that "heteronormativity" is a social construct. People are not heterosexual because society forces them to but because heterosexuality is the only kind of sexuality that makes sense from an evolutionary point of view. If, as a result of genetic drift (chance) maybe, bisexuality were the norm, it wouldn't take long for evolution to take us right back to "heteronormativity".

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