Nicholas Kristof wants to know why, if homosexuality is genetic, gays haven’t died out already:
Surprisingly few readers raised the most obvious question: if homosexuality is partly genetic, why are there so many gays?
After all, gays are presumably less likely to engage in heterosexual pairings — the behavior that passes down genes. So if there are genes linked to homosexuality (which is still not proved, but seems increasingly likely), then how have they been passed down to our day?
Kristof goes on to discount a few glib theories, and then offer some genetic gobbledygook as a possible reason why homosexuals abound today.
But to examine the issue in such a binary manner, I think, is to narrow the scope of discussion and miss the point entirely. While most people self-identify as gay or straight, many of them fall somewhere in between, being physically fixated on one sex but also finding themselves strongly attracted to certain attributes that can be manifested in either.
The fact that people are often pressured to embrace the label of gay or straight (or the equally simplified 50-50 bisexual) may explain why so few people acknowledge such a latent attraction.
There are certainly many, many people who are exclusively attracted to the same sex. Some of them would even declare, forcefully, that they have never ever felt any non-familial affection for someone of the same sex — no, not even a fleeting attraction during that confused and transitory period in junior high that everybody talks about. To them I respond, okay, okay, I believe you.
But for many others, sexuality is a far more complex entity, varying not only with genetic and biological traits, but also with one’s environmental and emotional circumstances.
That’s why I don’t put too much stock in theories of a “gay gene.” Sure, genetic factors can foment certain sexual traits. But overall, sexuality is far too dynamic be calculated and controlled through heredity.