LeVay talks sexual orientation

November 11, 2010

What makes a person gay? Is it genetic, cultural influences, or a combination of the two?

Those were the questions posed by neuroscientist Dr. Simon LeVay on Tuesday when he argued to a room of about 200 Georgetown students and faculty members that, though the details remain unclear, a person’s sexual orientation is at least partially determined by biological factors before he or she is born.

LeVay, who was invited as a guest lecturer for the Neurobiology major capstone program,  discussed evidence for biological influence on sexual orientation included in his latest book Gay, Straight, and the Reason Why: The Science of Sexual Orientation. His research includes genetic patterns, linkage between sexual orientation and physical gender-atypical traits, and the impact of sex hormones on the development of cells.

“There is some controversy surrounding the way Simon thinks about sexuality,” Maria Donoghue, the co-ordinator of the Neurobiology major, wrote in an email. “Some would say that trying to understand why people are gay takes away from the fact that they are homosexual and deserve to be treated fairly.”

Even as LeVay presented the results of his work, he acknowledged that “you can’t predict someone’s sexuality on any one thing,” referring to a “kaleidoscope of characteristics” that determine preference.

“I expected it to be kind of controversial but it really wasn’t at all,” GU Pride Publicity Chair Blake Johnson (COL ’14) said. According to  Johnson, some falsely assume that LeVay is searching for the gene behind homosexuality and that his research may lead to calls for a “cure to being a homosexual.”

LeVay said that ultimately biological diversity is something that should be celebrated.

“I would prefer that people welcomed and accepted the value of gay people in their communities for what they are rather than on the basis of some theory of how they come to be that way,” LeVay said.

Read More

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments