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“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
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Posts for September, 2009

The Guardian Revisits Hair Whorls

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2009

hair whorlThe Guardian has an article today revisiting the somewhat unorthodox study of Dr. Amar J S Klar and his observations about hair whirls.

Dr. Klar is a geneticist working at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland. One day on vacation he ended up on a gay beach. And there he noticed a peculiarity: gay men seemed to have counter-clockwise hair-whorls more frequently than could be expected. Far more frequently.

So the next year he went back and checked again. And, yep, gay men have gay hair.

He reports that “altogether in a combined sample of 272 mostly gay men observed, 29.8% exhibited counterclockwise hair-whorl orientation”. This, he says, is “vastly different from the value of 8.4% counterclockwise rotation found in the public at large, which included both males and females”.

Although Klar’s paper, Excess of Counterclockwise Scalp Hair-Whorl Rotation in Homosexual Men (pdf), was published in 2004, it didn’t seem to catch much attention in the gay community or among mainstream media. In fact, I don’t know whether psychologist Richard Lippa was entirely aware of Klar’s paper when he conducted similar research at Long Beach Pride in 2007 (his results – 23% counterclockwise).

Although none of this is new, it is important. One of the primary arguments against gay equality is that it is not biological in origin and thus is mutable. There is no gay gene! You can change! (So you don’t deserve civil rights!)

And as part of their argument, many anti-gays will create interesting hypotheses as to how physical distinctions are created without biology. Recently some NARTH affiliates sought to discredit measured brain variances by arguing that the brain is plastic and therefore such differences were the result of conditioning based on behavior.

But hair whorls, well there’s just no way to learn ‘em. They’re pure biology. And there’s just no credible way to explain them away.