Does Everybody Have a Gay Gene?

Does Everybody Have a Gay Gene?

Where does our sexual orientation come from? That's a question that we don't yet fully understand. However, a growing body of research suggests that it may be determined, at least in part, by our genetics. 

Scientists have been searching for years for a so-called "gay gene," and the results have been nothing short of fascinating.

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How Many American Adults Have Had a Same-Sex Experience?

How Many American Adults Have Had a Same-Sex Experience?

Since becoming an adult, how many Americans have ever had a sexual experience with someone of the same sex? And how has this number changed over time? According to a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 8-9% of American adults today have had a same-sex experience—a figure that has doubled since the late 1980s. Check out the infographic below for a closer look at the numbers and how they have changed over time.

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No, Homosexuality Isn't Contagious. You Can't "Catch the Gay"

No, Homosexuality Isn't Contagious. You Can't "Catch the Gay"

A lot of people seem to believe that homosexuality is contagious--that it can spread from one person to the next through simple social contact. For example, Pat Robertson of the Christian Broadcasting Network recently warned parents that they should be cautious about inviting gays and lesbians into their homes because, if they do, their children will probably grow up to be gay. Similarly, the leader of a group that calls itself the Islamic People Forum recently described homosexuality as a "disease" that is "contagious and harmful to our children." 

Is there any reason to believe that these claims about homosexuality being contagious are actually true, though? Can homosexuality really be transmitted through social contact? According to a recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, there doesn't seem to be anything to the idea that you can "catch the gay" from others. 

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Who's More Well-Endowed: Gay Men or Straight Men?

Who's More Well-Endowed: Gay Men or Straight Men?

A reader submitted the following question:

“Is it true that gay men have bigger penises than straight men?”

While some research suggests that there might indeed be some truth to this idea, the findings warrant a hefty dose of caution. Here why:

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Infographic: How Americans Feel About Homosexuality Today

Infographic: How Americans Feel About Homosexuality Today

Each year that he has been in office, U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (see here for this year's proclamation). As you may well know, the history of LGBT Pride Month traces back several decades before Obama took office. In fact, it goes back nearly 50 years at this point! In the 1970s, gay pride parades began to pop up each June as a way of commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots. 

In light of this being LGBT Pride Month, all of this week's posts will focus on LGBT issues. To kick off the week, I thought it would be worth taking a look at Americans' attitudes toward homosexuality and same-sex marriage today and how they have changed in the last few years.

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Five of the Most Absurd Sex Laws in History

Five of the Most Absurd Sex Laws in History

History is full of examples of governmental and religious authorities going to great lengths to regulate people’s sex lives. Of course, these efforts continue in the modern world--however, sex today isn't regulated to quite the same extent as it was in the past, at least in the Western world. 

By today’s standards, many of the older laws—and their corresponding punishments—seem, well, downright absurd. Below are five such examples drawn from the book, Sex and Punishment: Four Thousand Years of Judging Desire by Eric Berkowitz.

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Study: Gay Men are Shorter on Average Compared to Straight Men

Study: Gay Men are Shorter on Average Compared to Straight Men

In recent years, scientists have found that sexual orientation is related to a wide range of physical features. Among other things, studies have reported that sexual orientation is linked to facial symmetryfinger length ratios (specifically, the length of the second digit compared to the fourth digit), as well as which hand is dominant. A new study published in the Journal of Sex Research suggests that height is one additional physical feature we should add to this growing list, at least for men.

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A Surprising Look At Millennials' Sexual Attitudes (Infographic)

A Surprising Look At Millennials' Sexual Attitudes (Infographic)

Millennials are often portrayed in the popular media as an extremely liberal bunch when it comes to sex. The impression given is that, among other things, millennials are totally cool with homosexuality, they love their casual sex, and they're shunning the notion of marriage. However, this doesn't quite match up with the data. Believe it or not, millennials' sexual attitudes may be a little more conservative on average than you've been led to think.

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Setting The Record Straight On Sexual Orientation: 8 Myths Debunked By Science

Setting The Record Straight On Sexual Orientation: 8 Myths Debunked By Science

Each year that he has been in office, U.S. President Barack Obama has issued a Presidential Proclamation declaring June to be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month (see here for this year's proclamation). Of course, the history of LGBT Pride Month traces back several decades before Obama took office--in fact, it goes back to the 1970s, when gay pride parades began popping up each June as a way of commemorating the 1969 Stonewall Riots. In honor of this year's LGBT Pride Month, I thought it would be worthwhile to set the record straight with regard to a number of common stereotypes and misconceptions that many people continue to hold about sexual orientation. Below, I correct eight common false beliefs and provide links to more detailed scientific information debunking them.

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10 Scientific Facts About Sexual Orientation

10 Scientific Facts About Sexual Orientation

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about sexual orientation concerning everything from the origin of homosexuality to the sexual behaviors of gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals. So let’s take a look at what the research actually says. Below, I’ve compiled a list of ten of the most interesting scientific facts about sexual orientation that everyone should know.

1.) According to the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, 7.8% of men and 6.8% of women in the U.S. identify as something other than heterosexual (check out this infographic for a more detailed breakdown of these numbers).

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Dear President Putin: Homosexuality And Pedophilia Are Not The Same Thing

Dear President Putin: Homosexuality And Pedophilia Are Not The Same Thing

In a recent media interview, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to reassure the world that gay and lesbian visitors should not be afraid of attending this year's Olympics in Sochi. However, he asks that they please "leave the children in peace." He then went on to say that "we have no ban on nontraditional sexual relations. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia, I want to underline that, on propaganda among minors." Putin's statements appear to conflate homosexuality with pedophila and child molestation, something that anti-gay folks have been doing for years (e.g., remember all of those people who tried to say that the Catholic Church's child sex scandals were a "homosexual problem" that could be solved simply by getting rid of gay priests?). In light of Putin's comments, I thought it would be worth taking a look at what the research actually says when it comes to homosexuality, pedophilia, and child molestation.

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Sex Question Friday: Can A Man Fantasize About Another Man And Still Be “Straight?”

Sex Question Friday: Can A Man Fantasize About Another Man And Still Be “Straight?”

Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a reader who wanted to know whether a guy can still be straight if he watches gay porn and fantasizes about being with other men.

If a boyfriend (of a female, so a "straight guy") appears to prefer gay male porn, gets incredibly turned on by it and fantasizes about anal sex (both giving and receiving) and oral sex (both giving and receiving) with a guy, is he really straight or is this a sign of something he's not sharing?

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5 Myths About Homosexuality Debunked By Science

There are countless myths and stereotypes about gays and lesbians spanning everything from their mannerisms to their sex lives to the nature of their relationships. In this article, I will review five of the most common myths and evaluate them in light of what scientific research has to say.

MYTH #1: Gay men sleep around a lot more than straight men.

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Oddities In The History Of Sex Research: Homosexual Necrophilia In The Mallard Duck

Oddities In The History Of Sex Research: Homosexual Necrophilia In The Mallard Duck

As discussed in previous blog posts, a number of unusual sexual behaviors have been documented in human beings, from cutting a hole in one’s pants in order to masturbate easily in public to letting insects bite one's genitals during sexual activity. However, humans aren’t the only ones with curious sexual proclivities—unusual behaviors also occur in the animal kingdom with some frequency. In this post, I’d like to share what is perhaps the most interesting scientific study of animal sexuality I have ever come across.

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Sex Question Friday: What Does a Gay Brain Look Like?

Sex Question Friday: What Does a Gay Brain Look Like?

Every Friday on the blog, I answer sex questions submitted to me by actual college students. This week’s question hits on a topic many people are curious about: the origin of homosexuality. Although we don’t know with certainty why variations in sexual orientation exist, there is growing evidence that biology is one of the biggest contributors. In this article, we will explore some of the science supporting this point.

Is a homosexual’s brain different from a heterosexual’s brain?

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What Percentage of the Population is Gay?

What Percentage of the Population is Gay?
Every semester, students in my Human Sexuality course ask me what percentage of the population is gay or lesbian. Before answering this question, I usually give the class an opportunity to guess. Although this invariably leads to a wide range of responses, the most frequent number that comes up is 10%, and many students who cite this statistic are convinced that it is a fact. But are they right? Probably not. The 10% statistic comes from research conducted by Alfred Kinsey in the 1940s, in which he found that 10% of the men in his sample were gay. However, Kinsey’s participants were not representative of the overall population (for one thing, they were all White and most lived in big cities). He also oversampled from the gay community. Thus, we have to view his findings with a bit of caution. More recent research employing better sampling methods has reliably found that the number of sexual minorities in the population is a bit smaller.
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