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Concept: Homosexuality


We conducted a direct test of an immunological explanation of the finding that gay men have a greater number of older brothers than do heterosexual men. This explanation posits that some mothers develop antibodies against a Y-linked protein important in male brain development, and that this effect becomes increasingly likely with each male gestation, altering brain structures underlying sexual orientation in their later-born sons. Immune assays targeting two Y-linked proteins important in brain development-protocadherin 11 Y-linked (PCDH11Y) and neuroligin 4 Y-linked (NLGN4Y; isoforms 1 and 2)-were developed. Plasma from mothers of sons, about half of whom had a gay son, along with additional controls (women with no sons, men) was analyzed for male protein-specific antibodies. Results indicated women had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than men. In addition, after statistically controlling for number of pregnancies, mothers of gay sons, particularly those with older brothers, had significantly higher anti-NLGN4Y levels than did the control samples of women, including mothers of heterosexual sons. The results suggest an association between a maternal immune response to NLGN4Y and subsequent sexual orientation in male offspring.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, LGBT, Gender, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Heterosexuality


Humans are unique among primates for not only engaging in same-sex sexual acts, but also forming homosexual pair bonds. To shed light on the evolutionary origins of homosexuality, data on the occurrence and contexts of same-sex behavior from nonhuman primates may be of particular significance. Homosexual behavior involving females is poorly researched in most primate taxa, exceptions being Japanese macaques, rhesus macaques, Hanuman langurs and bonobos. We present data on homosexual behavior in female mountain gorillas in the Virunga Volcanoes (Rwanda) and test four functional hypotheses, namely reconciliation, affiliation, dominance expression and sexual arousal. Homosexual interactions between females involved both ventro-dorsal and ventro-ventral copulations accompanied by vocalizations and courtship displays. The only sociosexual hypothesis that received partial empirical support is the social status hypothesis, i.e., that mounting reaffirms the dominance hierarchy. There is also some limited evidence that same-sex behavior reflects an overall state of arousal or is triggered via a ‘pornographic’ effect. An adaptive function of female homosexual behavior is not readily apparent, and we tentatively conclude (until a more rigorous test becomes available) that it may simply be related to sexual gratification or that it is an evolutionary by-product of an adaptation.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Human, Macaque, Primate, Rhesus Macaque, Gorilla, Old World monkey, Homosexuality


Information about the health behaviours of minority groups is essential for addressing health inequalities. We evaluated the association among lesbian, gay or bisexual (LGB) sexual orientation identity and smoking and alcohol use in young people in England.

Concepts: LGBT, Sociology, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality


Objectives. We investigated health disparities among lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) adults aged 50 years and older. Methods. We analyzed data from the 2003-2010 Washington State Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (n = 96 992) on health outcomes, chronic conditions, access to care, behaviors, and screening by gender and sexual orientation with adjusted logistic regressions. Results. LGB older adults had higher risk of disability, poor mental health, smoking, and excessive drinking than did heterosexuals. Lesbians and bisexual women had higher risk of cardiovascular disease and obesity, and gay and bisexual men had higher risk of poor physical health and living alone than did heterosexuals. Lesbians reported a higher rate of excessive drinking than did bisexual women; bisexual men reported a higher rate of diabetes and a lower rate of being tested for HIV than did gay men. Conclusions. Tailored interventions are needed to address the health disparities and unique health needs of LGB older adults. Research across the life course is needed to better understand health disparities by sexual orientation and age, and to assess subgroup differences within these communities. (Am J Public Health. Published online ahead of print June 13, 2013: e1-e8. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2012.301110).

Concepts: Health care, LGBT, Epidemiology, Population health, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Gay


On July 13, 2015, U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter announced that the military anticipates lifting its ban on service by transgender persons, those whose gender identity does not match the sex that they were assigned at birth. Although an estimated 12,800 transgender personnel currently serve in the U.S. armed forces (see table for explanations of estimates), they must conceal their gender identity because military policy bans them from serving and prohibits military doctors from providing transition-related care. Although some transgender people do not change their bodies to match their gender identities, government agencies, courts, and scientists agree that for many, transition-related . . .

Concepts: Gender, Gender role, Gender identity, Transgender, Third gender, Armed forces, Homosexuality, United States Department of Defense


A variety of social, developmental, biological and genetic factors influence sexual orientation in males. Thus, several hypotheses have attempted to explain the sustenance of genetic factors that influence male homosexuality, despite decreased fecundity within the homosexuals. Kin selection, the existence of maternal effects and two forms of balancing selection, sexually antagonistic selection and overdominance, have been proposed as compensatory mechanisms for reduced homosexual fecundity. Here, we suggest that the empirical support for kin selection and maternal effects cannot account for the low universal frequency and stability of the distribution of homosexuals. To identify the responsible compensatory mechanism, we analyzed fecundity in 2,100 European female relatives, i.e., aunts and grandmothers, of either homosexual or heterosexual probands who were matched in terms of age, culture and sampling strategy. Female relatives were chosen to avoid the sampling bias of the fraternal birth order effect, which occurs when indirectly sampling mothers though their homosexual sons. We observed that the maternal aunts and grandmothers of homosexual probands were significantly more fecund compared with the maternal aunts and maternal grandmothers of the heterosexual probands. No difference in fecundity was observed in the paternal female lines (grandmothers or aunts) from either of the two proband groups. Moreover, due to the selective increase in maternal female fecundity, the total female fecundity was significantly higher in homosexual than heterosexual probands, thus compensating for the reduced fecundity of homosexuals. Altogether, these data support an X-linked multi-locus sexually antagonistic hypothesis rather than an autosomal multi-locus overdominance hypothesis.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gender, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Heterosexuality


Family and twin studies suggest that genes play a role in male sexual orientation. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of male sexual orientation on a primarily European ancestry sample of 1,077 homosexual men and 1,231 heterosexual men using Affymetrix single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) arrays. We identified several SNPs with p < 10-5, including regions of multiple supporting SNPs on chromosomes 13 (minimum p = 7.5 × 10-7) and 14 (p = 4.7 × 10-7). The genes nearest to these peaks have functions plausibly relevant to the development of sexual orientation. On chromosome 13, SLITRK6 is a neurodevelopmental gene mostly expressed in the diencephalon, which contains a region previously reported as differing in size in men by sexual orientation. On chromosome 14, TSHR genetic variants in intron 1 could conceivably help explain past findings relating familial atypical thyroid function and male homosexuality. Furthermore, skewed X chromosome inactivation has been found in the thyroid condition, Graves' disease, as well as in mothers of homosexual men. On pericentromeric chromosome 8 within our previously reported linkage peak, we found support (p = 4.1 × 10-3) for a SNP association previously reported (rs77013977, p = 7.1 × 10-8), with the combined analysis yielding p = 6.7 × 10-9, i.e., a genome-wide significant association.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Chromosome, Gender, Sexual orientation, Homosexuality, Heterosexuality


Recent research suggests profound sex and sexual orientation differences in sexual response. These results, however, are based on measures of genital arousal, which have potential limitations such as volunteer bias and differential measures for the sexes. The present study introduces a measure less affected by these limitations. We assessed the pupil dilation of 325 men and women of various sexual orientations to male and female erotic stimuli. Results supported hypotheses. In general, self-reported sexual orientation corresponded with pupil dilation to men and women. Among men, substantial dilation to both sexes was most common in bisexual-identified men. In contrast, among women, substantial dilation to both sexes was most common in heterosexual-identified women. Possible reasons for these differences are discussed. Because the measure of pupil dilation is less invasive than previous measures of sexual response, it allows for studying diverse age and cultural populations, usually not included in sexuality research.

Concepts: Male, Female, Gender, Sex, Sexual orientation, Transgender, Sexual arousal, Homosexuality


The last decade has seen a dramatic increase in the availability of sexually explicit media (SEM) on the Internet. Men who have sex with men (MSM) report near universal use of SEM. However, this widespread use of SEM among MSM may contribute to more condomless anal sex. To examine the association of viewing SEM on the Internet and the number of condomless anal sex encounters among MSM, in 2012, an online survey was conducted of 265 MSM from New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, or Washington D.C. who reported viewing SEM online in the past 3 months. Analyses were performed using negative binomial regression. Nearly all men reported viewing SEM featuring anal sex with (91%) or without (92%) condoms in the past 3 months. Neither viewing more hours of SEM per week or compulsively viewing SEM were associated with more condomless anal sex encounters. Rather, viewing a greater proportion of SEM containing condomless anal sex was associated with engaging in more condomless anal encounters (IRR = 1.25), while viewing a greater proportion of SEM containing anal sex where condoms were used was associated with fewer condomless anal sex encounters (IRR = 0.62). MSM reported that viewing SEM caused changes in their sexual fantasies, desires, and behaviors. These findings provide important insights for health policy and the design of interventions addressing SEM and condomless sex among MSM. The findings suggest that condom use by SEM performers may benefit not only actor health, but also have health implications for SEM viewers.

Concepts: Sexual intercourse, Human sexual behavior, Chlamydia infection, Condom, Internet, Homosexuality, Sodomy, Sexology


Can a single conversation change minds on divisive social issues, such as same-sex marriage? A randomized placebo-controlled trial assessed whether gay (n = 22) or straight (n = 19) messengers were effective at encouraging voters (n = 972) to support same-sex marriage and whether attitude change persisted and spread to others in voters' social networks. The results, measured by an unrelated panel survey, show that both gay and straight canvassers produced large effects initially, but only gay canvassers' effects persisted in 3-week, 6-week, and 9-month follow-ups. We also find strong evidence of within-household transmission of opinion change, but only in the wake of conversations with gay canvassers. Contact with gay canvassers further caused substantial change in the ratings of gay men and lesbians more generally. These large, persistent, and contagious effects were confirmed by a follow-up experiment. Contact with minorities coupled with discussion of issues pertinent to them is capable of producing a cascade of opinion change.

Concepts: LGBT, Sociology, Same-sex marriage, Homosexuality, Bisexuality, Conversation, Heterosexism, Homophobia