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‘Gay genes’ help straight people to have more sex, a study reveals

‘Gay genes’ help straight people to have more sex, a study reveals

A study has offered an interesting theory about the link between ‘gay genes’ and the number of sexual partners.

According to researchers at Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, there is a solid connection. They revealed the very same genetic factors that predispose people to be gay may also, when heterosexuals have them, lead to greater ‘mating success’.

The study, whose research plan was revealed in 2017, is yet to be published. However, its details have been discussed by researchers at a scientific meeting held in June at the Broad Institute.

Do ‘gay genes’ exist?

The study confirms being gay is partly due to genes. Despite previous attempts to locate said genes didn’t work out, this new study allowed to identify them as it was about ten times larger than any previous effort.

Behind the new social genetics are huge databases, researchers said. These include the British government-funded UK Biobank and the DNA of millions of customers collected by 23andMe, a consumer gene testing company.

The research

First, the study involved more than 300,000 heterosexuals. They had to answer several questions, including some regardings their sexual behavior and the number of sexual partners they’ve had.

Then, the team also identified about 28,000 people who had revealed to have had sex with a same-sex partner. They were surveyed to find genes linked to the so-called ‘non-heterosexual behavior’.

‘This is not saying that someone is going to be heterosexual or not,’ said Benjamin Neale, a geneticist at the Broad Institute. Neal is among the study’s leaders.

‘It’s really saying there is going to be a slightly higher or a slightly lower chance.’

The results

Team member Robbee Wedow of the University of Colorado explained the researchers found four positions in men’s genomes that statistically have a correlation with their ever having had gay sex. Moreover, they found about 40 correlated with whether heterosexuals had had more or fewer sex partners.

The team had less success finding genetic links among women who’d had sex with women.

That could mean they need a still larger number of volunteers. Alternatively, it could prove the study failed to capture the nuances of people’s sexual behavior.

Furthermore, researchers note that straight men with the gay-linked variants were, on average, judged more ‘physically attractive’ than others. Nonetheless, the researchers declined to say who did the judging.

A controversial outcome

Jeffrey Reid, who is head of genome informatics at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and openly gay, said media need to be careful when discussing such discoveries. He highlighted that results could have an outsize impact on already vulnerable people.

‘Supposedly “clear evidence” of a genetic basis for homosexuality may lead a parent to deem their gay son irrevocably broken and eject him from their life,’ Reid said.

‘Alternatively, maybe some evidence of a genetic basis of homosexuality may lead a parent to embrace their child as God made them, or lead someone struggling out of the darkness and into self-acceptance.’

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