In a message dated 10/6/00 5:44:03 PM, email@example.com writes:
> Beginning of a better theory: I've read that women who identify themselves
>as lesbians (not bisexual, but lesbians) have actually had more sex with
>more men then women who identify themselves as heterosexual. This is
>paradoxical, I don't know why it would be like this. I have not read the
>equivalent stat for gay males, but I think it wouldn't surprise me to learn
>that men who consider themselves gay have had sex with more women then have
>men who consider themselves straight, but (obviously) the number of sexual
>encounters with the opposite sex would be much less. So if this were true,
>the evolutionary benefit is easier to figure out, but why would it be like
>this? Can anyone think of reasons why a homosexual would actually lead to
>more heterosexual partners then a heterosexual?
I posted a hypothesis here relating to this some years ago. Basically, humans
are unusual in that a great deal of our sexual selection cues are learned. We
do like other people with bumps in the right places, but we are also attracted
to good singing, witty conversation, stylish clothes, fascinating music
etc. So it would benefit us to pay more attention to the sexually attractive
of our own sex, to learn how to attract the opposite.
One obvious way for genes to induce us to pay more attention to attractive
members of our sex is to turn on the attraction mechanisms normally on
in the other sex. Normal humans carry all the genes for both sexes, except
for one maleness switch gene absent in women because it's on the Y
chromosome. The genes that produce the physical and psychological charac-
teristics of the other sex are just off, or at least less active. It would
be an evolutionarily easy process for some of the off switches relating to
sexual attraction drives to get leaky. Some sexual activity with the same
sex is no problem at all for the genes, as long as on average they produce
more reproductive sexual activity, or activity with more desirable people.
By my hypothesis, the "optimal" phenotype would presumably be bisexual.
Purely straight people would be, on average, less able to make themselves
desirable; purely gay people would not bother to take advantage of their
desirability to the opposite sex. I think it's unlikely that purely
orientation is genetically advantageous because otherwise it'd be more common.
I can also hypothesize a gene-meme coevolutionary reason for why most
cultures disapprove of homosexuality. A meme inducing its carriers to
refrain from sexual activity with the same sex would presumably produce
more desire for activity with the opposite sex. If the carriers still *want*
it with the same sex, then they'll still pay attention, and still derive the
desirability advantages. The carriers may be miserable, but that's not the
meme's or the gene's problem. If the meme is often transmitted vertically
(which includes most religions) then it derives a transmission benefit and
tends to spread.
Just as a meme suppressed same-sex activity without suppressing same-
sex desire can be selectively favored, a gene with similar effects could too.
The homophobic indeed tend to be aroused by same-sex erotica more than the
population in general. I think there's a strong genetic component to homo-
phobia just as there is to homosexuality.
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