If homosexuality is genetic

  1. jcsd
  2. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,467
    Gold Member

    First of all, many traits are not just genetic or just social, and homosexuality is such an example that seems to have both components to it.

    But I'm not sure I understand your point about Greece and Rome. And was it actually more common than it is now? I don't think so. Certainly in the US we had a period of it being considered a mental disorder, and strong religious protest to the behavior without much state-sanctioned defense of homosexuals. Now we have state-sanctioned defense and public acceptance. According to polls, public acceptance of homosexuality was about 51% right when Obama endorsed it recently.

    But does any of this have anything to do with genetic tendencies in the human population? I doubt it. I think homosexuality has always been there, it's just the degree to which it's been private vs. public due to social pressures. Also, Greece and Rome aren't really that far away in terms of evolutionary time, so it's hard to make inferences from that short time ago.
  3. I think it was more common then, yes. It's ~10% now (high estimate) versus much higher in ancient Greece (you can see it in the text, grown males typically "adopted" an adolescent boy).
  4. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,467
    Gold Member

    Could you please quote where it says "much higher"?
  5. I'm no expert on this, so my belief could certainly be wrong but I think it was more of a life-style choice back then, especially in ancient Greece because, as you say, "adoption" was common, but the way in which you use "adoption" in quotes could be understood as implying that you think this was a purely homosexual thing. As I understand it, the homosexual relationship was secondary. Men took boys under their wing to mentor/train them and the homosexual relationship was sort of a community standard and most of these boys went on to have heterosexual lives.

    One thing that supports my belief is how unlikely it is that the percentage of innate homesexuals would have changed dramatically over only a couple of thousand years, especially given that survival traits had nothing to do with it since the men in question normally had heterosexual relationships in which they had children, so their genes WERE passed on.

    Also, there have been times in history when ANY sort of accurate reporting would have shown a very small percentage of homosexuals, but only because it was so fully repressed that reporting would not have caught it.

    In short, the heart of your question seems to be based on a significant genetic change and I don't believe there has been any.
  6. No, my question is based on whether homosexuality is genetic or not. Maybe I was not clear enough, it seems you have not fully understood my question.
  7. You can see it from the text. Adult men are spoken of as "would adopt an adolescent boy."
  8. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,467
    Gold Member

    How does that equate to homosexuality being "much more" prevalent than then now?
  9. You are correct. I was looking only at the text of your question and lost track of the fact that your subject line specifically said it was about a genetic link. Since that was your question, I can only say that you have brought in what I consider to be irrelevant information to use in discussing your question, and you continue to belabor that irrelevant fact. You have established no link and you have made no comment on my, and other, comments that your information is irrelevant or at best using a fact not in evidence in that you have jumped to an unwarranted conclusion, which I tried to explain to you.
  10. You didn't actually explain anything, you said I assumed a significant genetic change. I did the exact opposite. I asked IF homosexuality is genetic, why was homosexuality more common in Greece and Rome? Understand?
  11. Pythagorean

    Pythagorean 4,467
    Gold Member

    To me, it appears you're making assumptions about prevalence. You really have no number, just anecdotes that you are inferring from.
  12. Ryan_m_b

    Staff: Mentor

    Silenzer please start providing citations, and quoting relevant sections, that back up your claim that homosexual practices were higher in ancient Greek and Roman societies. At the moment you are just making assumptions based on a few anecdotes.

    Short on time atm but just a quick note: sexual orientation is different to sexual behaviour. Even if there was a higher prevalence of what we would judge to be homosexual behaviour that doesn't indicate a significant difference in the prevalence of homosexual orientation. Small example but same-sex kissing is regarded to be a sign of homosexuality in some societies but not in others. Someone from the latter observing the former could erroneously conclude a higher prevalence of homosexuality. Or to put it another way: men can have sex without either being homosexual in the same way a homosexual man can have sex with a woman without being heterosexual.
  13. At this point it seems you are just being argumentative to be argumentative. I was going to support that statement with pretty much exactly what Ryan just said, but he beat me to it. I felt that I had made exactly that point (that Ryan just made) in my previous posts and you were ignoring me, but it is true that I did not state it as explicitly as Ryan just did.
  14. Likewise, unrelated adult males walking down the street holding hands would be a likely sign of homosexual orientation in America but has nothing to do with that in the Arab world.
  15. Again, you didn't say anything of significance. You were wrong that the relationships were not of homosexual nature.




    So, you are both wrong. This was an erotic relationship. Both parties involved in this kind of relationship were referred to as "lovers." If that doesn't imply homosexuality, I don't know what does.

    The Sacred Band was not an adequate example, but I believe this one is:


    So, there you have it. He should have joined lovers and their beloved. That could only have had any considerable effect if a significant portion of the army had lover pairs.
  16. Drakkith

    Staff: Mentor

    First, what exactly do you mean by "homosexuality"? Is it only physical acts? Is it only emotional feelings? A mixture of both?

    As has been said, different cultures today and throughout history have had different social standards when it comes to sex, gender, and sexual orientation. What we consider to be "homosexual practices" are not necessarily the same as another culture.

    My personal opinion based on my own reading:

    The accepted physical acts and relationships between people are defined by the society the live in. But the internal feelings and preferences of the person are probably determined by an interaction between genes and the environment they are raised in. By this I mean that two people with identical genes would not necessarily turn out to be the same sexual orientation or gender when raised in different environments. (Here gender means a societal role that people of either sex can fit into, with sex being determined biologically)

    Also, you really, really need to make sure you take anything in ancient history within the context of that time period. For example, sexual orientation wasn't even the same concept in ancient greece as it is today: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homosexuality_in_ancient_Greece

    Pederasty in ancient greece and rome is NOT the same thing as homosexuality is today. In fact, one of the concerns of ancient greeks was that the eromenos, the youth, would become a kinaidos, the passive, penetrated partner in adulthood, which is what women were. So even though sexual relationships between members of the same sex were allowed (homosexuality in today's world, or at least here in the USA), and even encouraged in certain circumstances, there was still worry that the boys would turn into men who preferred to be "submissive" and "passive", instead of dominant like adult men should be. Homosexual relationships between adult males of similar social status were generally not approved of.

    Homosexuality has less to do with the physical acts, and more to do with gender roles in society. It's more about masculinity and femininity (gender), and less about male and female (sex). Hence the stereotype of the gay man who acts with a lot of femininity, or the butch lesbian. I'd propose that most people who are uncomfortable with gay people have more of a problem with this reversed gender role than with the actual physical acts.

    (The different uses of gender and sex are merely one use of them. The way I use them is not meant to be argumentative, but to clearly differentiate between the physical and emotional/behavioral differences between people. People are born male or female, but masculine and feminine features and behaviors vary widely between different people of the same sex)
  17. micromass

    micromass 19,789
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    None of that says that homosexuality was more prevalent in Ancient Greek and Roman societies. You just listed some examples of homosexual relationships.

    It is probably true that homosexual behavior was more prevalent in ancient times. But homosexual behavior is also very prevalent in modern prisons, does that mean that there are more homosexuals in prisons as opposed to the total population?
  18. It's worth remembering that historical writings typically concerns the acts and the culture of the elite of any particular society, by virtue of being those educated enough to read and write. Extrapolating what we know of pedastery and homosexuality in the elite military and social units of Ancient Greece and then applying that to the average Grecian is rather like assuming that a large percentage of Americans are Scientologists because a large fraction of Hollywood actors are.
  19. Erotic love (which is how it was described back then) between two sexual partners can only mean one thing, no matter how you look at it.

    So homosexuality is a choice?

    What does that matter for this discussion? Homosexuality is not mentioned in the ancient texts, and I do not claim it does. But the concept the ancient texts speak of does fit our description of homosexuality.
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