Saturday, April 19, 2014

My Gay Story [part 5]

A continuation of my story. Originally written 29 October 2013. 
Read part 1 / en español
Read part 2 / en español
Read part 3 / en español

I became passionate about the topic, searching hours into the early morning, looking for DNA sequences of homosexual men in online genetic databases so I could run some statistical software. Despite not finding anything, I didn't lose determination. After all, currently it takes about $10,000 to sequence one whole genome, $1,000 to sequence an exome (the set of DNA base sequences that are known to actually code for proteins), and about $100 to screen for commonly mutated Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP, a single-point mutation in a DNA sequence) that are associated with certain diseases. 

A Single-point mutation
I figured, there are lots of statistics, and a common one is that about 10% of a random population is gay. Maybe we are the Lord's tithing...the 10% set apart for a different purpose, I amusedly thought. Anyhow, that means that to achieve statistical significance, you have to have a large enough sample size to get lots of gay individuals and the proportional number of straight individuals as well. You'd then have to quantify the phenotype (put a number on just how gay someone is), sequence the entire genome of all in the sample ($10,000 each), and find any correlations between the degree of gayness and certain mutations in the genome. 

However, sequencing an entire genome is inefficient and cost-ineffective for a company because two unrelated humans have somewhere in the ballpark of 99.5 percent identical genomes. So most companies just screen that .5% difference for common disease-associated mutations. But, with all the studies that have been done to find a definite "gay gene", nobody has been able to pin down reliable and reproducible results. 

Now I was frustrated. Hours and hours more of researching, and still finding nothing, I went to God in prayer. Why? You've guided me here this far, you've taken care to protect my emotions by letting me hide behind Jimmy, the super out guy. I'm happily researching away my topic, but I'M NOT FINDING ANYTHING! WASN'T THE WHOLE POINT OF YOU LEADING ME HERE TO HELP ME?

Dan Bunker

1 comment:

  1. I've never been a huge proponent of genetics being a prime factor in orientation due to twin and sibling studies that show environment and birth order might have a stronger influence. This article points out some interesting ideas, though:

    I believe that certain genes will be shown to be statistically significant, but that the measurable effects will not be very strong -- and very poor predictors.