"born gay." Therefore, it’s impossible for anyone to change. This myth
is primarily based on two widely reported scientific studies:
1) The study
of slight differences in the hypothalamus region of the brain of
homosexuals as discovered by Dr. Simon LeVay at the Salk Institute in
San Diego, California.
2) The study
of identical twins done by Dr. J. Michael Bailey from the Department of
Psychology at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois and Dr.
Richard C. Pillard of the Family Studies Laboratory, Division of
Psychiatry, Boston University School of Medicine.
attempting to show a biological or genetic cause and effect for
homosexuality dates back almost a century. But over the years, no
research has ever proven a biological basis for homosexuality.1
The latest studies on brain research and identical twins are just
another attempt trying to establish a genetic link.
Media Perpetuates the Myth With Biased and Inaccurate Reporting
On August 30,
1991 the headlines in many newspapers and popular magazines claimed:
Stem Part Different in Gay Men: Studies Suggest Biological Basis for
Homosexuality" (Seattle Times).2
• "Are Gay
Men Born That Way?" (Time).3
• The cover
of Newsweek magazine asked, "Is This Child Gay—Born or Bred?:
The Origins of Homosexuality."4
Survey of Identical Twins Links Biological Factors with Being Gay"
(Los Angeles Times)5
Almost all of
the newspaper articles written concerning Dr. Simon LeVay’s brain
research concluded that he had found genuine scientific evidence that
homosexuality was both biological and genetic in nature—but this just
I. Dr. Simon
studied a certain group of neurons in the hypothalamus structure of the
brain (called INAH3 or interstitial nuclei of the anterior
hypothalamus). He examined 41 cadavers, 19 of whom were allegedly
homosexual men, 16 of whom were assumed to be heterosexual men, and 6 of
whom were assumed to be heterosexual women.
He found that
some of the neurons in the hypothalamus region of the brain of
heterosexual men were larger than those he found in homosexual men. He
therefore theorized that if homosexual men had smaller neurons, then
possibly these smaller neurons were responsible for causing these men to
heterosexual men had larger neurons, then possibly these larger neurons
caused them to be heterosexual.
that if the size difference in neurons could be shown to be true 100% of
the time, this would be evidence that homosexuality was biologically
based. But even his own statistical chart published in Science
magazine, revealed that his theory was flawed.
Statistical Chart Revealed Flaws in His Theory
chart revealed that 3 of the 19 homosexual men actually had larger
nuclei than did the heterosexual men. Also, 3 of the heterosexual men
had smaller nuclei than did the homosexual men. Thus, 6 of the 35 male
subjects he investigated, or 17 percent of his total study, contradicted
his own theory.6
Yet in spite of this contradiction, the Associated Press reported that
Dr. LeVay had always found that the nuclei were larger in
heterosexual men and smaller in homosexual men. Again, that simply
No Proof That
This Region of the Brain Is Related to Sexual Orientation
has ever proven that the particular region of the hypothalamus under
discussion causes sexual orientation. Consider the comments of Dr.
Joseph Nicolosi who specializes in working with male homosexuals. He has
appeared on several network television programs and has been interviewed
by prominent weekly news magazines.
Reparative Therapy of Male Homosexuality, has gained him world-wide
respect as an authority in same-sex attractions. Dr. Nicolosi
emphasized, "We’re talking about a general area of the brain that has to
do with emotions, including sexuality; but in this particular nuclei,
we have no clear understanding of what function it serves at this
Socarides, Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of
Medicine in New York, also emphasized the following, "I believe this
theory is completely erroneous. There’s no possibility of somebody
developing homosexuality from hereditary or organic causes. It’s just
noted that "the question of a minute section of the
brain—sub-microscopic almost—as.... deciding sexual object choice is
really preposterous.... Certainly...a cluster of the brain cannot
determine sexual object choice. We know that for a fact."9
Even if the
anterior hypothalamus area of the brain could be shown to relate to
sexual behavior, it still would not answer the question of cause and
effect. Scientific studies have indicated that behavior itself might
cause the size of the neurons to fluctuate—rather than the
neurons causing specific homosexual or heterosexual behavior.
Dr. Kenneth Klivington, assistant to the president of the Salk Institute
where Dr. LeVay did his study, has pointed to "a body of evidence
showing the brain’s neural networks reconfigure themselves in response
to certain experiences."10
Therefore, the difference in homosexual brain structure may be a
result of behavior and environmental conditions.
Orientation Not Verified: In addition, Dr.
LeVay did not know conclusively the sexual orientation of those he
studied. Some were alleged to have been homosexual; others may have been
bisexual; others may have been homosexual yet passed themselves off as
heterosexual. We simply don’t know.11
Dr. LeVay is on record as saying that he set out to prove a genetic
cause for homosexuality after his lover’s death. He is openly gay
himself and said if he did not find such a cause he might abandon
Therefore, it is not incorrect to say that his study was politically
biased to justify homosexuality, attempting to make it as acceptable as
heterosexuality. As Newsweek, February 24, 1992, stated, "He is
promoting the idea that homosexuality is a matter of destiny, not
choice. ‘It’s important to educate society,’ stated LeVay."
of Measurement Questionable
measurement that Dr. LeVay used is suspect. Do you measure the nuclei by
size, by volume, by actual cell count? Do you measure them by density?
What do each of these measurements mean? And again, has anyone
scientifically established that INAH3 has any impact at all on sexual
There is no
replication of this finding in any other scientific study. In fact, at
least one study by Dr. Schwab in the Netherlands flatly contradicts it.
Thus, there is no clear evidence to back up Dr. LeVay’s research. (Nicolosi
1 In a longer report we
have examined the biological theory and found no biological cause for
homosexuality. In the Family Research Report and other
publications, the Family Research Institute of Washington, D.C.
frequently evaluates the scientific literature on this topic.
Interested parties should contact the Family Research Institute, P.O.
Box 2091, Washington, DC 20013 for documentation. Dr. Nicolosi points
out that he has examined the entire range of literature relating to
the alleged biological foundations of homosexuality: "I myself have
reviewed all the literature, including LeVay’s study, and I certainly
don’t believe, and I don’t think any scientist really believes that
there is a biological predetermination for sexual orientation. There’s
much more evidence for early environmental factors that would set the
stage for a person’s sexual orientation" (Dr. Nicolosi Interview, The
John Ankerberg Show). Alfred Kinsey himself, as cited by W. B.
Pomeroy, his research associate, in Dr. Kinsey and the Institute
for Sex Research (New York: Harper & Row, 1970, p. 147) confessed,
"I have myself come to the conclusion that homosexuality is largely a
matter of conditioning." Perhaps this explains why Masters and Johnson
themselves emphasized, "It is of vital importance that all
professionals in the mental health field keep in mind that the
homosexual man or woman is basically a man or woman by genetic
determination and homosexually oriented by learned preference." (cited
in Gerhard van den Aardweg, Homosexuality and Hope: A Psychologist
Talks About Treatment and Change, Ann Arbor, MI: Servant, 1988. p.
2 Seattle Times, 30
3 Time, 9 September
4 Newsweek, 24
5 Los Angeles Times,
15 December 1991
6 "Homosexual Brains,"
Family Research Report, June/September 1991. See the evaluation of
the original report in Science magazine available from the
Family Research Institute.
7 Dr. Joseph Nicolosi,
taped Interview for "The John Ankerberg Show."
8 Dr. Charles Socarides,
taped Interview for "The John Ankerberg Show."
10 Dr. Kenneth Klivington,
Newsweek, 24 February 1992.
11 The homosexual reporter
M. Botkin concedes this in, "Salk and Pepper," Bay Area Reporter, 5
September 1991, pp. 21, 24, cf., "Homosexual Brains," Family Research
Report, June/September 1991, p. 1.
12 Newsweek, 24