Tuesday, November 20, 2012

What Accounts for the Continuation of Homosexuality? Why Hasn't Evolution Weeded Out the 'Gay Gene'?

The following is pure speculation as I'm not an expert on evolution or homosexuality. It is a response to the article, "The Evolutionary Mystery of Homosexuality"
By David P. Barash

Maybe homosexuality results from the complex and unstable process(es) involved in the very nature of sexuality. After all, everyone is a combination of maleness and femaleness. Males just happen to far more male than female, and females just happen to be far more female than male. But all males some degree of femininity, and all females have some degree of masculinity. If we put it in Eastern Mystic terms, there's a bit of yin and yang in everyone. Even straight guys can find certain men attractive, and straight girls can find other women attractive. Indeed, if a straight guy was given a choice between humping a fat, gross, and disgusting woman and humping Tom Cruise, I'll bet a whole bunch of guys would opt for the latter. While straight guys will take a pretty girl over any guy, he may still prefer a pretty guy over a fat, gross, and disgusting woman. 

Suppose homosexuality is generally the result of unstable processes involved in sexuality. 
Consider a product that is made by mixing certain chemicals. Suppose the mixing of the chemicals is tricky and can easily go wrong. Suppose the process is 'perfected' over the years but, even so, can never be foolproof. So, even though mixing chemical A with chemical B should ideally produce Item C, sometimes the chemicals just don't mix properly, or the process of mixing doesn't always go according to plan. 

Nature probably works the same way. There are certain processes that are meant to produce certain  outcomes, but the processes don't always work out the way they should, especially if they happen to be highly complex and unstable by nature. Among chefs, making mashed potatoes is a lot simpler than certain French cuisines. Humans are complex cuisines, not simple dishes, and that means there's always a chance of things going wrong. Even a master chef who's 'perfected' his skills over many years sometimes turns out a bad dish, especially if the preparation involved is highly complex and tricky. He could use the same ingredients and materials, but the process could have been disrupted by stress, distraction, accident, anxiety, and etc. 
Over 100,000s of years of evolution, the process of creating men and women have been 'perfected' among humans, but it can never be foolproof since the processes involved have remained--or have gotten even more--complex. Genetics may work like machines, but then, machines don't always produce the things they are meant to produce. Even robots sometimes churn out defective products. 

The instability inherent in human sexuality is due to the fact that all humans are the product of opposite tendencies, i.e. all humans are the product of mixing of male and female genes. Generally, the offspring is male(or mostly male) or female(or mostly female), but the process is so complex and unstable that it may sometimes yield someone who is neither strictly male or strictly female. So, you end up with men who feel like women and women who feel like men.
So perhaps, the main reason for homosexuality is not so much the genetic ingredients as the complex processes involved in mixing those ingredients. Such a process of mixing unstable and opposite elements--'maleness' and 'femaleness'--may not always go according to plan. (If this is true, even if the world were to be rid of all homos and their supposedly 'gay genes', homosexuals may yet arise again from the simple fact that the process of sexual differentiation in reproduction is incredibly complex and therefore shall always remain prone to errors and 'accidents'. Thus, homosexuality may be unlike other genetic characteristics. If we were to rid the planet of all blacks or all Asians--along with every last genetic vestige of blackness or Asianness--, there would indeed be no more black people or Asian people. But even if we were to eliminate all gay people and their supposed gay genes--and the recessive 'gay genes' among straight people--from the earth, there may still be homos in the future because the processes involved in the mixing of male genetic ingredients and female genetic ingredients are so complex and prone to 'things going wrong', e.g. resulting in homosexuals. Non-blacks don't need to mix with blacks to produce life. White people can have sex only among themselves and survive as a race forever. Or blacks can have sex among themselves and survive as a race forever. And this is true of every race, every ethnicity, every nation. But, men cannot have sex with men and survive as a 'race' of men, and women cannot have sex with women and survive as a 'race' of women. Men must mix with women to produce life, and so, all humans are the combination of maleness and femaleness. Ideally from a biological point of view, the product of male and female sexual mixing should be a boy or a girl, but some boys end up girlish and some girls end up being boyish. The mixing of opposite elements is always an unstable thing. Now, since gay men prefer having sex with other men, they cannot produce life. So, it's logical to ask how homosexuality could have survived throughout the course of evolution if 'gay sex' between gay men cannot produce life. But, such an approach could be barking up the wrong tree. Homosexuality may actually be the defective byproduct of the complex and unstable process involved in straight sexuality that combines the male genes/principle with female genes/principle.) 

Anther instability inherent in sexuality is that maleness and femaleness may not really be opposites. If they are opposites, they are opposites that attract one another. Before the division of life into male and female, life was asexual. Sexuality grew out of asexuality when asexual organisms split into 'male' and 'female'. So, both maleness and femaleness are outgrowths of asexuality. Though asexual organisms split into male and female, the purpose was not to keep the male and female separate but to bring them together to reproduce even more effectively. It is the central paradox of life. Life was separated into male and female in order to facilitate better replication by uniting the male and female. Thus, maleness and femaleness arose not to go their separate ways but to come together in a more powerful union. They are like magnetic opposites.
Among homosexuals, it's as if maleness and femaleness exist side by side within the same person. So a gay guy looks and may even act like a guy, but he has feminine-like feelings in his heart. He's kinda whoopsy-doopsy. 

If homosexuality is the product of genetic ingredients, certain groups should have more homosexuals than other groups. But the article above says that rates of homosexuality are more or less constant across cultural groups.  Paradoxically, if homosexuality is genetic, there should be more homos in repressively anti-gay cultures than in relatively permissive ones. Why? Because in a repressive social order that is highly anti-homosexual, homos are forced to remain in the closet, get married, and raise a family. Given the intensely anti-homo creed of the Jews and Muslims, there should be more homos in the Jewish community. In a social order that is relatively tolerant of gays, gays could go off on their own and do their gay stuff. But in a social order that persecutes or even executes homos, homos cannot risk being suspect of being gay, let alone practice homosexuality out in the open. Among traditional Jews, homosexuality was a capital sin against God. An outed homosexual could be stoned to death or, at the very least, exiled from the community. So, there would have intense pressure on traditional Jewish gays to remain in the closet, get married, and raise a family, i.e. conform to socio-sexual norms. Thus, more homo genes would have passed down the bloodline of Jews. If indeed there are more gays among Jews than other groups, one might say genetic ingredient is the key to homosexuality. But if the rates of homosexuality is same among Jews as among groups where homosexuality has long been relatively tolerated, then homosexuality may be more the result of normal reproductive processes--their complexity and instability that increases the likelihood of defectiveness and accidents--than of the impact of 'gay' genetic material or ingredients. 

Could there have been cultural reasons for the continuation of homosexuality? Perhaps, natural homosexuals--as opposed for socially coerced homosexuals like the Spartans--tended to be less warlike and therefore less likely to serve as warriors. So, if a whole bunch of tough straight guys went to battle and got killed, maybe homo guys had a higher survival rate by staying at home with the ladies. Since he was so close to the ladies, maybe he humped some of them EVEN IF his sexual preference was with men. Since most men were not gay and refused to have 'sex' with gays, the gay guy might have had to make do with women, or at least with women who looked man-like. Or the gay could close his eyes while humping the woman and pretend she was a he. And gay or not gay, many people eventually want children. Since gay men cannot have kids through homo 'sex', they would have had sex with women to have their own children. A gay guy might have 'sex' with other men for fun, but he could still have sex with women to have kids.
Indeed, a similar arrangement was common among many aristocrats across cultures. A privileged guy would marry a respectable woman to be his wife and mother to his children, but he may have no special feeling for her, sexual or otherwise. His real fun would be with his mistresses, with the 'hos'. So, just like powerful men had both a respectable life--with wife and kids--and a fun life--with a bunch of mistresses, gay men could have played the same game. They could have had most of the fun with male sexual partners, but for the sake of having kids--because even gays want children--, they might have humped some women. It's 'having sex for fun' vs 'having sex for kids'. 

Also, a disproportionate number of gays were likely to be powerful and privileged, even in societies that were hostile to open homosexuality. Why would this have been so? Because the rich and powerful like nice and fancy things. If the sensibility of your average straight guy is to be crude macho man who likes to play warrior, the sensibility of many homosexuals tended to be finer, more creative and expressive, more visionary. Sublimity after all arises from the friction/fusion of seemingly opposite elements. So, twilight and daybreak are more special than plain day and plain night. While most guys are simply masculine and most girls are feminine, some homos--especially the males--tend to have that sublime blend of male aggression and female grace. It means gays had the advantage in design, art, and etc, and that means they were favored by the privileged classes that wanted fine things to wear, hang, display, and show off. Even the most conservative guy wants his wife's dresses to be designed by a gay guy than by Big Boss Man. Italian society was officially anti-gay during the Renaissance, but consider the number of famous homosexual artists who were patronized, favored, and protected by the privileged class. With greater wealth, gays could have practiced a kind of aristocratic sexual lifestyle. They could have kept wives for the sake of producing children while having the real fun with other men--just like aristocrats had children with their often-not-very-exciting wives while having the real fun with a whole bunch of mistresses. 

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