Kurt Bell

A life of courage, joy and independence.

How could a “gay gene” survive natural selection?

Sometimes the conjecture of science is as funny as it is fascinating. Evolutionary biologists are struggling to explain how homosexuality might have a genetic component, as it seems rational that a “gay gene” should by it’s very nature be selected out of the gene pool. The following idea sounds plausible though it also sounds like a scene from a stone age comedy sketch:

Imagine a primitive tribe of hominid hunter-gatherers in an age of saber-toothed tigers, dire wolves and cave bears. It’s a rough and dangerous time when dominant men made important decisions such as who would go out on a hunt and who would stay behind to protect the women and children. Naturally, the leaders wouldn’t trust rival overtly heterosexual males to be left alone with the women and therefore they selected the “gay man” for the job. The argument then goes that these gay men were really bisexual and were making good use of the opportunity granted them by their unsuspecting rivals. In this way the “gay gene” could be passed along to succeeding generations through surreptitious union.

Nature is adept at finding and utilizing niche opportunities, and though the argument above may offend the sensibilities of some it seems entirely possible that it could be true. Rival arguments exist and none has yet seemingly moved from the sphere of speculation towards serious consideration. It’s when reading or listening to discussions like this that I wish I had stuck with my plans of becoming a scientist. I would so enjoy participating in such arguments and inquiry. :-)

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5 comments on “How could a “gay gene” survive natural selection?

  1. jesermay
    April 24, 2013

    It sounds plausible – but how would a scientist be able to prove this theory? Especially when, as you explained earlier on in your blog post, if there is a “gay gene”, then it would be selected out of the gene pool. This theory cannot be accurate without making the assumption that all gay men are secretly bisexual – this would be hard to generalise as a result.

    This is a very interesting topic, Kurt. :-)

    • softypapa
      April 24, 2013

      I don’t think this idea could be proven out and must remain as mere speculation. However, if a “gay gene” is discovered then some curious explanation may be needed if we are to understand how such a gene could possibly survive. Richard Dawkins was the speaker who presented this idea in the debate I was listening to. It was one of several ideas he posited, all of which were interesting. This particular example though kinda tickled my funny bone as I liked the idea of the tribal strong man secretly getting one upped by the gay cave man. :-)

      • jesermay
        April 26, 2013

        Haha – yes, it is quite a funny idea indeed. :P Thank you for sharing it. :-) Would it be possible for you to send me a link to the debate? It sounds fascinating. By the way, I’m Jesermay (from YouTube) and Jeremy (from Facebook). :D

    • softypapa
      April 27, 2013

      Hello Jeremy, I’m so sorry but I can’t seem to find the video in my YouTube history and I don’t even recall the title. I may have seen it embedded in some social media somewhere. I’m really sorry. I know that it was Richard Dawkins who was speaking if that is any help. Sorry. -Kurt :-)

      • jesermay
        April 28, 2013

        Ah, it’s okay. No worries. :-)

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This entry was posted on April 24, 2013 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , .
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