The question of what makes us straight, gay, bisexual – or anything else – is one of those really interesting things that science still doesn’t have a proper, definitive answer to.
And just as interesting: why are certain people gay, in evolutionary terms?
Well, new research is now suggesting that there could be a link between so-called ‘gay genes’ and ‘mating success’ in heterosexual people.
According to scientists at Broad Institute in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the genetic factors that are thought to predispose people to being gay might also, when found in heterosexuals, lead to improved chances of finding a partner and having kids.
The research, which used the British government-funded UK Biobank and the DNA of customers collected by 23andMe, involved more than 300,000 people.
According to an abstract the research team submitted to the American Society for Human Genetics, “the DNA signals linked to gay sexual experiences appeared more often in straight men who had a larger number of sex partners.”
The team also points out that straight men with the gay-linked genetic variants were, on average, judged more “physically attractive” than others.
This, the scientists conclude, could mean that these variants “confer a mating advantage to heterosexual carriers.”
So basically, if you carry these ‘gay genes’ you’re probably better looking and having more sex.
You’re welcome, straight people!
And explaining why these ‘gay genes’ exist from an evolutionary standpoint, the researchers suggest that it’s effectively a trade-off of evolution.
For example, as Technology Review says, gene variants that can cause sickle-cell anaemia (which is bad) also lend protection against malaria (which is good), meaning that the sickle-cell gene doesn’t die out.
So it looks like us gays have still got a good run ahead of us.