There's no one “gay gene,” but many genetic, environmental, social and cultural factors may combine to influence sexual behavior, researchers. No individual gene alone makes a person gay, lesbian or bisexual; instead, thousands of genes likely influence sexual orientation, a massive. However, biologists have documented homosexual behavior in more than species, arguing that same-sex behavior is not an unnatural.
However, biologists have documented homosexual behavior in more than species, arguing that same-sex behavior is not an unnatural. No individual gene alone makes a person gay, lesbian or bisexual; instead, thousands of genes likely influence sexual orientation, a massive. A genetic analysis of almost half a million people has concluded there is no single "gay gene". The study, published in Science, used data from.
Homosexuality has been a controversial topic across the legal and moral domains in China. Homosexual acts were officially decriminalised in. However, biologists have documented homosexual behavior in more than species, arguing that same-sex behavior is not an unnatural. Sexual orientation cannot be predicted by a single "gay gene," new research indicates.
Homosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attractionor sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. It "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions. Along with bisexuality and heterosexualityhomosexuality is one of the three main categories of sexual orientation within the heterosexual—homosexual continuum.
The most common terms for homosexual people are lesbian for females and gay for males, but gay also commonly refers to both homosexual females and males. The percentage of people who are gay or lesbian and the proportion of people who are in same-sex romantic relationships or have had same-sex sexual experiences are difficult for researchers to estimate reliably for a variety of reasons, including many gay and lesbian people not openly identifying as such due to prejudice or discrimination such as homophobia and heterosexism.
Many gay and lesbian people are in committed same-sex relationships, though only in the s have census forms and political conditions facilitated their visibility and enumeration. Krafft-Ebing's book was so popular among both laymen and doctors that the terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" became the most widely accepted terms for sexual orientation.
Many modern style guides in the U. Gay especially refers to male homosexuality,  but may be used in a broader sense to refer to all LGBT people. In the context of sexuality, lesbian refers only to female homosexuality. The word lesbian is derived from the name of the Greek island Lesboswhere the poet Sappho wrote largely about her emotional relationships with young women. Although early writers also used the adjective homosexual to refer to any single-sex context such as an all-girls schooltoday the term is used exclusively in reference to sexual attraction, activity, and orientation.
The term homosocial is now used to describe single-sex contexts that are not specifically sexual. There is also a word referring to same-sex love, homophilia. Some synonyms for same-sex attraction or sexual activity include men who have sex with men or MSM used in the medical community when specifically discussing sexual activity and homoerotic referring to works of art. The range of acceptable use for these terms depends on the context and speaker.
The American LGBT rights organization GLAAD advises the media to avoid using the term homosexual to describe gay people or same-sex relationships as the term is "frequently used by anti-gay extremists to denigrate gay people, couples and relationships". Societal attitudes towards same-sex relationships have varied over time and place, from expecting all males to engage in same-sex relationships, to casual integration, through acceptance, to seeing the practice as a minor sin, repressing it through law enforcement and judicial mechanisms, and to proscribing it under penalty of death.
In cultures influenced by Abrahamic religionsthe law and the church established sodomy as a transgression against divine law or a crime against nature. The condemnation of anal sex between males, however, predates Christian belief. It was frequent in ancient Greece; "unnatural" can be traced back to Plato. Many historical figures, including SocratesLord ByronEdward IIand Hadrian have had terms such as gay or bisexual applied to them.
Some scholars, such as Michel Foucaulthave regarded this as risking the anachronistic introduction of a contemporary construction of sexuality foreign to their times,  though other scholars challenge this. In social science, there has been a dispute between "essentialist" and "constructionist" views of homosexuality. The debate divides those who believe that terms such as "gay" and "straight" refer to objective, culturally invariant properties of persons from those who believe that the experiences they name are artifacts of unique cultural and social processes.
The first record of a possible homosexual couple in history is commonly regarded as Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnuman ancient Egyptian male couple, who lived around BCE. The pair are portrayed in a nose-kissing position, the most intimate pose in Egyptian artsurrounded homosexual what appear to be their heirs. The anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe reported that women in Lesotho engaged homosexual socially sanctioned "long term, erotic relationships" called motsoalle.
Evans-Pritchard also recorded that male Azande warriors in the northern Congo routinely took on young male lovers between the ages of twelve and twenty, who helped with household tasks and participated in intercrural sex with their older husbands. Among indigenous peoples of the Americas prior to European colonization, a common form of same-sex sexuality centered around the figure of the Two-Spirit individual. Typically, this individual was recognized early in life, given a homosexual by the parents to follow the path and, if the child accepted the role, raised in the appropriate manner, learning the customs of the gender it had chosen.
Two-Spirit individuals were commonly shamans and were revered as having powers beyond those of ordinary shamans. Their sexual life was with the ordinary tribe members of the same sex. The Spanish conquerors were horrified to discover sodomy openly practiced among native peoples, and attempted to crush it out by subjecting the berdaches as the Spanish called them under their rule to severe penalties, including public executionburning and being torn to pieces by dogs.
Hardwick that a state could criminalize sodomybut, inoverturned itself in Lawrence v. Texas and thereby legalized homosexual activity throughout the United States of America. Same-sex marriage in the United States expanded from one state in to all fifty states inthrough various state court rulings, state legislation, direct popular votes referendums and initiativesand federal court rulings.
In East Asiasame-sex love has been referred to since the earliest recorded history. Homosexuality in Chinaknown as the passions of the cut peach and various other euphemisms, has been recorded since approximately BCE. Homosexuality was mentioned in many famous works of Chinese literature. The instances of same-sex affection and sexual interactions described in the classical novel Dream of the Red Chamber seem as familiar to observers in the present as do equivalent stories of romances between heterosexual people during the same period.
Confucianismbeing primarily a social and political philosophy, focused little on sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Opposition to homosexuality in China originates in the medieval Tang Dynasty —attributed to the rising influence of Christian and Islamic values,  but did not become fully established until the Westernization efforts of the late Qing Dynasty and the Republic of China. The Laws of Manu mentions a "third sex", members of which may engage in nontraditional gender expression and homosexual activities.
The earliest Western documents in the form of literary works, art objects, and mythographic materials concerning same-sex relationships are derived from ancient Greece. In regard to male homosexuality, such documents depict an at times complex understanding in which relationships with women and relationships with adolescent boys could be a part of a normal man's love life.
Same-sex relationships were a social institution variously constructed over time and from one city to another. The formal practice, an erotic yet often restrained relationship between a free adult male and a free adolescent, was valued for its pedagogic benefits and as a means of population control, though occasionally blamed for causing disorder.
Plato praised its benefits in his early writings  but in his late works proposed its prohibition. Little is known of female homosexuality in antiquity. Sapphoborn on the island of Lesboswas included by later Greeks in the canonical list of nine lyric poets. The adjectives deriving from her name and place of birth Sapphic and Lesbian came to be applied to female homosexuality beginning in the 19th century.
The narrators of many of her poems speak of infatuations and love sometimes requited, sometimes not for various females, but descriptions of physical acts between women are few and subject to debate.
In Ancient Homosexualthe young male body remained a focus of male sexual attention, but relationships were between older free men and slaves or freed youths who took the receptive role in sex. The Hellenophile emperor Hadrian is renowned for his relationship with Antinousbut the Christian emperor Theodosius I decreed a law on 6 Augustcondemning passive males to be burned at the stake.
Notwithstanding these regulations taxes on brothels with boys available for homosexual sex continued to be collected until the end of the reign of Anastasius I in Justinianhomosexual the end of his reign, expanded the proscription to the active partner as well inwarning that such conduct can lead to the destruction of cities through the "wrath of God".
During the Renaissancewealthy cities in northern Italy — Florence and Venice in particular—were renowned for their widespread practice of same-sex love, engaged in by a considerable part of the male population and constructed along the classical pattern of Greece and Rome. From the second half of the 13th century, death was the punishment for male homosexuality in most of Europe.
Wilson was published in in England, and was presumed by some modern scholars to be a novel. The edition of John Cleland 's popular novel Fanny Hill includes a homosexual scene, but this was removed in its edition.
Also inthe earliest extended and serious defense of homosexuality in English, Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplifiedwritten by Thomas Cannonwas published, but was suppressed almost immediately. Desire is an amatory Impulse of the inmost human Parts. Between and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs published a series of twelve tracts, which he collectively titled Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love. Inhe became the first self-proclaimed homosexual person to speak out publicly in defense of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws.
Although medical texts like these written partly in Latin to obscure the sexual details were not widely read by the general public, they did lead to the rise of Magnus Hirschfeld 's Scientific-Humanitarian Committeewhich campaigned from to against anti-sodomy laws in Germanyas well as a much more informal, unpublicized movement among British intellectuals and writers, led by such figures as Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds.
Beginning in with Homogenic LoveSocialist activist and poet Edward Carpenter wrote a string of pro-homosexual articles and pamphlets, and "came out" in in his book My Days and Dreams. InElisar von Kupffer published an anthology of homosexual literature from antiquity to his own time, Lieblingminne und Freundesliebe in der Weltliteratur.
There are a handful of accounts by Arab travelers to Europe during the mids. Two of these travelers, Rifa'ah al-Tahtawi and Muhammad as-Saffar, show their surprise that the French sometimes deliberately mistranslated love poetry about a young boy, homosexual referring to a young female, to maintain their social norms and morals.
Israel is considered the most tolerant country in the Middle East and Asia homosexual homosexuals,  with Tel Aviv being named "the gay capital of the Middle East"  and considered one of the most gay friendly cities in the world. On the other hand, many governments in the Middle East often ignore, deny the existence of, or criminalize homosexuality. Homosexuality is illegal in almost all Muslim countries.
However, the probable reason is homosexual they keep their sexuality a secret for fear of government sanction or rejection by their families. In ancient Sumera set of priests known as gala worked in the temples of the goddess Inannawhere they performed elegies and lamentations. In ancient Assyriahomosexuality was present and common; it was also not prohibited, condemned, nor looked upon as immoral or homosexual.
Some religious texts contain prayers for divine blessings on homosexual relationships. Some scholars argue that there are examples of homosexual love in ancient literature, like in the Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh as well as in the Biblical story of David and Jonathan.
In the Epic of Gilgamesh, the relationship between the main protagonist Gilgamesh and homosexual character Enkidu has been seen by some to be homosexual in nature.
In many societies of Melanesiaespecially in Papua New Guineasame-sex relationships were an integral part of the culture until the middle of the s. The Etoro and Marind-anim for example, viewed heterosexuality as sinful and celebrated homosexuality instead. In many traditional Melanesian cultures a prepubertal boy would be paired with an older adolescent who homosexual become his mentor and who would "inseminate" him orally, anally, or topically, depending on the tribe over a number of years in order for the younger to also reach homosexual.
Many Melanesian societies, however, have become hostile towards same-sex relationships since the introduction of Christianity by European missionaries.
The American Psychological Associationthe American Psychiatric Associationand the National Association of Social Workers identify sexual orientation as "not merely a personal characteristic that can be defined in isolation.
Rather, one's sexual orientation defines the universe of persons with whom one is likely to find the satisfying and fulfilling relationships": .
Sexual orientation is commonly discussed as a characteristic of the individual, like biological sex, gender identity, or age. This perspective is incomplete because sexual orientation is always defined in relational terms and necessarily involves relationships with other individuals. Sexual acts and romantic attractions are categorized as homosexual or heterosexual according to the biological sex of the individuals involved in them, relative to each other.
Indeed, it is by acting—or desiring to act—with another person that individuals express their heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. This includes actions as simple as holding hands with or kissing another person. Thus, sexual orientation is integrally linked to the intimate personal relationships that human beings form with others to meet their deeply felt needs for love, attachment, and intimacy. In addition to sexual behavior, these bonds encompass nonsexual physical affection between partners, shared goals and values, mutual support, and ongoing commitment.
The Kinsey scalealso called the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale,  attempts to describe a person's sexual history or episodes of his or her sexual activity at a given time. It uses a scale from 0, meaning exclusively heterosexualto 6, meaning exclusively homosexual. In both the Male and Female volumes of the Kinsey Reportsan additional grade, listed as "X", has been interpreted by scholars to indicate asexuality.
Often, sexual orientation and sexual identity are not distinguished, which can impact accurately assessing sexual identity and whether or not sexual orientation is able to change; sexual orientation identity can change throughout an individual's life, and may or may not align with biological sex, sexual behavior or actual sexual orientation.
People with a homosexual orientation can express their sexuality in a variety of ways, and may or may not express it in their behaviors.
Coming out of the closet is a phrase referring to one's disclosure of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and is described and experienced variously as a psychological process or journey. The first phase is that of "knowing oneself", and the realization emerges that one is open to same-sex relations.
The authors say that they did see links between sexual orientation and sexual activity, but concede that the genetic links do not predict orientation. Nevertheless, Hamer and others praise the new contribution to a field that suffers from a dearth of good studies. Sara Reardon is a freelance reporter based in Bozeman, Montana. She is a former staff reporter at Nature, New Scientist and Science.
She has a master's degree in molecular biology from the University of Washington. You have free article s left. Already a subscriber? Sign in. See Subscription Options. Recent Articles The U. Get smart. Sign up for our email newsletter. Sign Up. As the ease and affordability of genome sequencing increased, additional gene candidates have emerged with potential links to homosexual behavior.
So-called genome-wide association studies identified a gene called SLITRK6 , which is active in a brain region called the diencephalon that differs in size between people who are homosexual or heterosexual. Genetic studies in mice have uncovered additional gene candidates that could influence sexual preference. A study linked sexual preference to a gene called fucose mutarotase.
When the gene was deleted in female mice, they were attracted to female odors and preferred to mount females rather than males. Other studies have shown that disruption of a gene called TRPC2 can cause female mice to act like males. Male mice lacking TRPC2 no longer display male-male aggression, and they initiate sexual behaviors toward both males and females. Expressed in the brain, TRPC2 functions in the recognition of pheromones, chemicals that are released by one member of a species to elicit a response in another.
This idea is further supported by the new study , which identified five new genetic loci fixed positions on chromosomes correlating with same-sex activity: two that appeared in men and women, two only in men, and one only in women. Males with a genetic condition called androgen insensitivity syndrome can develop female genitalia and are usually brought up as girls, despite being genetically male — with an X and Y chromosome — and they are attracted to men.
Similarly, girls who have a genetic condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia are exposed to unusually high levels of male hormones like testosterone while in the womb, which may masculinize their brain and increase the odds of lesbianism. But these studies all had very small sample sizes and most focused on men, says Mills.
In the recent study, Ganna and his colleagues used a method known as a genome-wide association study GWAS to look at the genomes of hundreds of thousands of people for single-letter DNA changes called SNPs. If lots of people with a trait in common also share certain SNPs, chances are that the SNPs are related in some way to that characteristic.
Then the researchers performed two separate analyses. In one, they evaluated more than one million SNPs and looked at whether people who had more SNPs in common with each other also reported similar sexual behaviours.
For their second analysis, Ganna and his colleagues wanted to see which particular SNPs were associated with same-sex sexual behaviours, and found five that were more common among those individuals. An even larger sample size could help to identify those missing variants, he says. One is near a gene related to smell, which Ganna says has a role in sexual attraction. Another SNP is associated with male-pattern baldness — a trait influenced by levels of sex hormones, which suggests that these hormones are also linked to same-sex sexual behaviour.
The results demonstrate the complexity of human sexuality, says Ganna. They also presented a challenge to the study researchers, who knew that explaining nuanced findings on such a sensitive topic to the general public would be tricky. To ensure that their results are not misinterpreted, the study researchers worked with LGBTQ advocacy groups and science-communication specialists on the best way to convey their findings in the research paper and to the public.
Their efforts included the design of a website that lays out the results — and their limitations — to the public, using sensitive, jargon-free language.