Study: Older brothers influence sexual orientationI'm the fourth of four brothers, therefore simple math tells me I'm 100% gay.
BY BRYN NELSON
Newsday Staff Writer
June 26, 2006, 5:47 PM EDT
Men with more biological older brothers are more likely to be gay, according to new research by a Canadian scientist that supports the hypothesis that sexual orientation is primarily influenced by biological rather than social or environmental factors.
Multiple studies have suggested that the number of older brothers may influence a man's sexual orientation. Some estimates attached to this "fraternal birth order" effect have even suggested that for each older brother, a boy's chance of being gay rises by one-third. But the analyses had been largely unable to separate out potential social influences such as family dynamics.
Dammit. I guess now I have to auction off all my "straight stuff". What am I bid for a seventeen-year old product of my genetic material? And no, I don't mean a used Kleenex...
The new study, reported today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found a statistically significant correlation even when biological brothers were reared separately but saw no effect when older brothers were not biologically related to their younger sibling. Similarly, study author Anthony Bogaert of Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario, found that the length of time a boy was raised with his biological siblings had no effect on his sexual orientation, suggesting that the social influence of an older brother is irrelevant.Thus eliminating behavioral influences, since an adopted younger brother had no correlation to an increase in chances, and a family where the siblings were separated still showed this bump up in chance.
"These data, by elimination, strengthen the notion that the common denominator between biological brothers, the mother, provides a prenatal environment that fosters homosexuality in her younger sons," said Michigan State University neuroscientist S. Marc Breedlove and two colleagues in an accompanying editorial.(emphasis added) I've largely stayed out of this debate, because frankly, I'm not sure it makes much difference to my stance on gays: they're here, they're queer, get over it. So-called "degaying" programs, which equate innate sexual behavior with offensive habits such as smoking, are denigrating, since to tell someone to change their sexuality is on a par with telling someone they're breathing too much air or shouldn't be eating. To me, if it's such an integral part of someone's psyche, does it matter whether it's genetic or behavioral? Not to me, altho I respect that to others it might be.
The bigger argument to be made in terms of gays is how we treat people in general. I'm neither for nor opposed to gay marriage, for example, because I believe the institution of marriage needs to be carefully looked at: any structure that fails at least 50% of the time is in deep trouble, and going back to the nuclear family of the 50's by throwing up roadblocks to divorce will not solve that problem, anymore than sentencing a pot smoker to jail time will guarantee that pot smoker would give up his drug of choice. The best you can hope for is to delay it, and maybe a few people will work within that frame. But not most, to be sure.
Anyway, the gay marriage issue is a tiny facet of how America treats homosexuals in the first place. If I told you that you could be fired for falling in love with someone, you'd raise flags all over the place, screaming about privacy rights or discrimination.
Yet, the Supreme Court has ruled that precisely, gay men and lesbians can be fired for not other reason than having a homosexual lover. This is not grounds for discrimination. And it ought to be. Economic equality is first and foremost the grounds that we should be battling this particular civil rights conflict.
Marriage? In 1965, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., when asked about Southern miscengenation laws, said, "I would rather be the white man's brother, than his brother-in-law." Within four years, miscegenation was declared unconsitutional.
He got it. First, equal footing. Then we talk about the perks of being a fully integrated citizen.