PFOX: these twins prove no one is born gay…. ooops

Timothy Kincaid

December 13th, 2014

PFOX Billboard

The Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays – a small coalition of ex-gays and parents who are angry that their children are out, proud, and happy – are not good people. While most ex-gays are busy trying to change about themselves what they don’t like, these are vengeful anti-gay activists who are furious that instead of being seen as heroes for their sacrifice, they generally as dismissed with pity or scorn.

In their efforts to punish their disobedient children – or, in the cases of the ex-gays, punish those gay people who did not follow their lead – PFOX supports every anti-gay legislative effort that comes along. They also try to get publicity so as to advance their (rapidly failing) positions, pushing their two basic mantras, ‘ex-gays are victims of discrimination’ and ‘no one is born gay’.

In an effort to argue the second point, PFOX has hired a billboard to declare to the world their evidence that “No one is born gay”. As proof they present “Identical twins, one gay, one not” and “we believe twin research studies show no one is born gay”.

PFOX’s argument is simple. They contend that in order for sexual orientation to have a biological basis, all identical twins would have to have the same orientation. And, if biology (“born gay”) were restricted to the sort of direct genetic determination that gives shape to your nose, they would have a point.

But, of course, biology is more than genetics. And even genetics is more than the more obvious physical similarities found in monozygotic twins.

What the twin studies actually show is that the more genetically similar two men are, the more likely that if one is gay the other will be as well.

Roughly 4% of the general male population could be categorized as gay or bisexual. In dizygotic (fraternal) twins if one is gay then there is an increased chance that the other is as well. In monozygotic (identical) twins, those odds go up to about twice as likely as fraternal twins. (The actual rates differ from study to study).

This suggests that genes play a role in at least some of the determination of sexual orientation. Other factors (either biological or non-biological) may also play a role, including genetic expression, intrauterine hormonal influences, and a host of other things way beyond my understanding. Ultimately, there may be different paths for different people, which really shouldn’t be surprising in something as complex as sexuality.

Nevertheless, witness and observation, by both gay people and those who raised them, has presented a fairly consistent story: sexual orientation is evidenced from the earliest stages of life and if it isn’t inborn, it’s so damn close as to be indistinguishable.

But PFOX knows that most people don’t understand genetics and that a nuanced approach is difficult to articulate. So they sought to capitalize on that complexity with a one-glance simplistic response.

So they present a “logical” argument: “look, here are two identical twins, one is gay and one is straight. And that proves that it isn’t biological.”

And those driving by may find that argument to be convincing.

But PFOX had a small problem; they didn’t have two identical twins with differing sexual orientation willing to be used as their point in evidence. So they just pulled stock images.


NBC12 – Richmond, VA News

Ya see, the problem with simplistic illustrations is that they can backfire on you. So now PFOX looks like liars and fools. Oh, drats!

Just more evidence in my long-held belief that God loves a good joke.

Priya Lynn

December 13th, 2014

“Roughly 4% of the general male population could be categorized as gay or bisexual.”.

Given that many, if not most people won’t admit to same sex attractions(particularly bisexuals who can often easily express only heterosexuality) that number is almost certainly greatly underestimated.

Even from your own source you link to at the CDC, nearly 10% of the population doesn’t describe themselves as heterosexuals, its a virtual certainty that at least that percentage of people are gay or bisexual, particularly that many gay or bisexual people will claim to be heterosexual.

A study of men in New York city showed that out of all who claimed to be heterosexual 10% had only had same sex sex in the past year. A study of Canadian school children showed 14% considered themselves non-heterosexual.

In my own opinion (and for what its worth I am certain of this) the majority of people have at least some level of same sex attraction. Some mental health experts agree.


December 13th, 2014

But PFOX knows that most people don’t understand genetics and that a nuanced approach is difficult to articulate. So they sought to capitalize on that complexity with a one-glance simplistic response.

Oh Timothy, such a perfect paragraph. And such generosity. I, in my meaness, tend to think PFOX’ publicists have the dimmest tendentios grasp on the subject of genetics and a most cartoonishly simple comprehension of sexuality.

They appear to be so ignorant of biology that they post giant signage of their views with no reference to even so much as an anecdotal example, assuming that what is in their heads exists in reality. This is the very definition of idiocy.

Ben in oakland

December 13th, 2014

Regarding identical male twins, there is a majority chance that both are gay.

“A 2003 study by the World Policy Institute titled “Sexual Orientation and Human Rights in the Americas” noted that 52 percent of identical twins of homosexual men and 48 percent of identical twins of lesbians were found to also be homosexual. The statistics came from an exhaustive 1993 study published in the Journal of American Psychiatry.”

Ben in oakland

December 13th, 2014

I’m not at home right now, so I can’t pull out my usual quote from Francis Collins, evangelical Christian, head of the NIH, head of the human genome project.

what Collins says is that the incidence of gay twins is some 5 times the incidence in the general population. He says it’s hard wired. He expects the genetic basis to be found.

So whom are you going to believe? homo hating homos, or an evangelical Christian.


December 13th, 2014

Here’s a quote from Francis Collins, which may be the one Ben in Oakland has in mind:

I think I’m going to go with the evangelical Christian in this case…

Ben in oakland

December 14th, 2014

That is indeed they one.


December 14th, 2014

Ben in Oakland and LJ, thanks for the links! This is the first I hear of this.

“The Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays – a small coalition of ex-gays and parents who are angry that their children are out, proud, and happy…”

“In their efforts to punish their disobedient children – or, in the cases of the ex-gays, punish those gay people who did not follow their lead – PFOX supports every anti-gay legislative effort that comes along.”

Brilliantly said, Jim!


December 14th, 2014

“So now PFOX looks like liars and fools.”

Wrong – they proved themselves to be liars and fools.

Ex ex

December 14th, 2014

So much talk about “ex-gays” as if there really are many people whose sexual orientation actually changed from homosexual to something else. Or has the term’s meaning been ceded to describe chosen behaviour rather than unchosen attraction.


December 15th, 2014

Ex ex; “Or has the term’s meaning been ceded to describe chosen behaviour rather than unchosen attraction.”

In many cases, “ex-gay” means only that the person has changed how they identify themselves, and implies a change neither in behaviour nor attraction.


December 15th, 2014

Congratulations, PFOX. You’ve finally made it beyond the point of being a joke.

My two cents:

I don’t know why most think it’s either one or the other.

“You weren’t born gay so you must have chosen to be gay.”

Sexuality is so complex. From my perspective, I wasn’t born gay. I wasn’t “molested/recruited into homosexuality.” I didn’t choose to be gay. It just happened. It happened long before I was even aware of it. I’ve come out to my coworkers (they asked why I never had a girlfriend and I wasn’t about to lie), and it’s always the same question, “choice or birth?” SMH

enough already

December 15th, 2014

I’m in total agreement with Priya Lynn on the statistics.

It makes me very angry (and this is me, not her) when gays in positions of influence make such statements as:
We are 4% of the population (that stupid literature review from California).
We are 1.8% of the population (based on that hit-job the CDC did on us).
We are….
You know what? We haven’t got a clue how many of us are queer. I don’t think we will ever have as long as the penalty for being openly out is as high as it is and remains in so much of the US.


December 15th, 2014

Timothy, thanks for telling us more than just “He’s not really a twin.” While that is funny it does not, as the PFOX spokesperson says, actually prove they are lying about the science. So it has irked me to no end when all the pro-gay websites focus ONLY on that fact. All it does is prove PFOX’s assumption to be correct – not enough of us know about genetics and the genetics of behavior to question their conclusions, including the LGBT people who should know better (to borrow from ‘enough already’s’ regular rant).

Complex traits are complex because they are controlled by many genes, at least some of which are influenced by environmental factors. Height, for example, is obviously influenced by environment (people who lacked adequate nutrition as children tend to be rather short). It is also influenced by genetic factors, as is often seen in the children of tall people. However, we can only explain a fraction of a person’s height with identified genes. And, if orientation is as much a continuum as EA and PL have reminded us, we should expect no less from it. Indeed, given that people are not likely to be 100% honest (or even capable of being so – the Kinsey scale would also have to be updated to a 100 point scale, rather than a measly six) about their real orientation, we are not likely to find very many clear determinants of human orientation.

Of course, I’m not sure there is much point. Frankly, I am surprised that anti-gay groups continue to insist orientation is not biologically determined. I would long ago have abandoned that line of thinking and started suggesting that the biological determinants of orientation are no more worthy of our respect than are genetic mutations that cystic fibrosis or cancer, or viruses and bacteria that cause pneumonia – something that we should seek to cure, if not eradicate from the human population. At least here, the evidence is not contrary to their opinion. Indeed, I am surprised that anti-gay groups aren’t cheering that orientation is biologically determined, and demanding to know what those determinants are exactly. Ultimately, as Rob reminded us recently, there are just some people we will never reach. Even if we concluded beyond a shadow of a doubt what biological determinants shape human sexual orientation, some people will only change their mind about what causes homosexuality, but they will continue to believe it is a disease that requires a cure. So for me, while it is fun to see where the science on this takes us, ultimately it won’t matter one way or the other with respect to my rights as a human being.


December 15th, 2014

Also, I was going to add that there is some evidence that identical twins are not 100% genetically identical either. We assume they are, but one must wonder how much of an impact generationally accumulated mutations have on such things.

Chris McCoy

December 15th, 2014

Why does it matter if we are born gay or choose to be gay? In the United States, at least, we have laws against discrimination based on religion, and military service, both of which are choices.

Maybe we should argue that discrimination against disability should only apply to people whose disabilities aren’t the result of “bad life choices”.

Ex ex

December 15th, 2014

Fyoung, the way I figure it, if they “changed how they identify themselves,” that not only implies a change in behaviour but clearly specifies a change in their behaviour, namely, their self-identification behaviour. Meanwhile, they may still be as gay as ever in the sense of their unchosen attractions, and thus not ex-gay. A tomato labeled “banana” is still a tomato, not an ex-tomato. Anyway, that’s how I figure it.

Richard Rush

December 16th, 2014

If heritability is a major factor in homosexuality, then there are possibly double ironies ~ one on the anti-gay side, and one on the pro-gay side.

Anti-gay side: Due to many centuries of persecution which forced homosexuals to live inauthentic heterosexual lifestyles involving breeding, many more homosexuals were probably created than there would have been if they had been allowed to live openly in accordance with their true orientation. So, the irony is that efforts to eradicate homosexuality may have actually been creating many more of us.

Pro-gay side: Our efforts to achieve full social acceptance and thereby eliminate the perceived need to live inauthentic heterosexual lifestyles involving breeding, may, over the long term, greatly reduce the number of gay people. So, the irony is that our efforts may eventually lead to our extinction . . . well, probably not, because the heritable factors (gene(s)?) have already been widely distributed throughout the general population . . . thanks to those who have persecuted us for centuries.

Perhaps the next phase of the Gay Agenda will need to be the establishment of a national surrogate breeding program.

enough already

December 16th, 2014

Nathaniel, I don’t refer to your comments as ‘rants’, it would better suit your claim to being a dispassionate, rational person if you stopped referring to my comments as such.

Richard, most of the current evidence points to male homosexuality being an advantageous side-effect of the genetic make up which results in a woman being especially fecund. This appears to be a set of characteristics born on the ‘X’ chromosome.

Because children born into families with gay close relations have a better chance of living to breed, it stands to reason that male homosexuality won’t die out and is, indeed, independent of our breeding.

It’s worthy of note, too, that all high-order mammals have roughly the same number of gay males. We’re advantageous to the young of the species surviving to breed. I suspect the genetic makeup which led to male homosexuality predates our species and is probably not going to be that easy for the Christians to remove.

enough already

December 16th, 2014

sigh. ‘borne’ not ‘born’.
I don’t know what’s worse, autocorrect or not having an edit function on this site.

Priya Lynn

December 16th, 2014

I agree with enough already. The existence of genes leading to gayness is not due to gays themnselves having children but rather is a byproduct of natural selection pressures on heterosexual parents.


December 17th, 2014

EA, I don’t recall making such a claim, but I am flattered that you have concluded it. I do not intend “rant” to be meant as a pejorative. However, if it displeases you, I will try to refrain from employing that word in the future.

And, when it comes to the genetics of sexual orientation, you and PL are right. The origins of orientation are not nearly so simplistic as Richard implies with his ironies (although, under the fecundity hypothesis, if we force gay males to breed, the cost/benefit ratio of the fecundity alleles would be reduced, improving their chances of fixing in the population). But ultimately, I agree with Chris – it shouldn’t, matter. Unfortunately, the people we have to fight for our freedom are not so rational.

enough already

December 18th, 2014

Nathaniel, here’s what the OED says about ‘rant’:
Definition of ranting in English:

(usually rantings)
A long, angry, and impassioned speech:
the reactionary rantings of an embittered old man

That you don’t regard the term as pejorative may well explain many of the conflicts between us. I may not always succeed, but I do try to use words in their conventional sense.

But, heh, this is the very first time on this blog I’ve ever seen any of the ‘core’ commentators ever even suggest that they were willing to work with one of the commentators who is unpopular.
I’ll take it and thank you, sincerely thank you, for it.

Pam’s Coffeehouse was one of the best blogs, period. She’s brilliant. Unfortunately, her moderators made the administration of Marquette University look tolerant.

Towleroad has great material, his commentators, however, are notorious throughout the gay blog-o-sphere of similarly inclined bloggers.

It can’t be easy for this blog to maintain order. Many gay men (such as I) are so furious at the torture we suffered at the hands of Christians (they tried to make me straight as a teenager) that even the slightest hint there’s something to be said in defense of Christians is going to lead to very strong reactions.
At the same time, boxturtle definitely has played a role in stopping the worst of the Ugandan attacks upon gays and base their opposition on their Christian faith.

I’m not really a fatalist, my training is in the natural sciences (the real, hard sciences) so I do get testy with people who try to equate the ‘findings’ of the social sciences (not real science) with observations capable of independent disproof.


December 18th, 2014

I think, EA, our difference may be in how we view “angry”. I have been using the word “rant” in the sense so defined. However, there is nothing wrong with being angry or impassioned. I don’t always agree with your conclusions, but I understand how they can be reached given what few glimpses you have shared of your past. And I understand how those experiences and conclusions could have filled you with a passion for calling out what you see as BS; even your online name declares that you are done with taking people’s crap. So, hopefully, you can see how one might view your comments as impassioned, and maybe even a little bit angry, against the injustices of this world. There is certainly nothing wrong with it.

However, my aside use of “rant” was not necessary to my point, and rarely is, so I will try to avoid it.

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