Still, the results are notable. But he also admits that genes likely play a lesser role in sexual orientation than the 40 percent estimate he gave me a decade ago. Now, he puts it around 30 percent, with lots of work still to be done on which genes may be involved and how.
That means two-thirds of the answer will have to come from somewhere else. And that leads me back to the area that seemed most revealing a decade ago: the environment of the womb. Here, the evidence for sexual orientation being inborn has become only stronger, though not as conclusively as I expected. In reality, even identical twins like Patrick and Thomas can have very different prenatal experiences and often differ significantly in birth weight.
Bodies in Motion
Patrick was 1 pound lighter than Thomas. Crucially, the fetal brain is being organized, with sex hormones keeping it in its default female state or sending it along the male path. Here there are all kinds of tantalizing clues. For instance, otoacoustic emissions, which are barely detectable sounds in the inner ear, are believed to have their levels set prenatally and are consistently different in males and females, suggesting the handiwork of hormone exposure. But lesbians show male-type patterns.
Then there are people with a condition called congenital adrenal hyperplasia, or CAH, the result of having been exposed to unusually high levels of testosterone during the prenatal period. Adult women with CAH have higher rates of lesbianism than the general population.
1. "So... How did you get into the business?"
That same effect of exposure to male sex hormones is believed to be at work with finger-length ratios, which are also set in utero. Men generally have shorter index fingers in relation to their ring fingers, while in women they are generally closer in the length. But lesbians typically have ratios closer to those of men.
During the Lethbridge conference, when one presenter mentions this so-called 2D:4D effect, I see the guy with a buzz cut sitting next to me, a grad student from UCLA named Matt Bramble , holding out his hand in front of him to check his finger lengths. It turns out his ring and index fingers are closer in length. In fact, despite the strength in this finding in lesbians, 2D:4D studies over the past decade have failed to reliably support the effect in gay men. And Bramble has been in the field long enough to know that the ultimate explanation for homosexuality will never be so simple.
Bramble, working in the lab of noted UCLA geneticist Eric Vilain , is leading a promising study of neural stem cells that could offer important answers about the interaction of genes and hormones during the very earliest fetal stages, even before the period when sexual differentiation has traditionally been thought to begin. Like the DNA sequences, the ingredient list remains unchanged. But Grandma includes instructions, such as when to fold in the bananas or when to cut back on the baking soda.
Vilain, who at one point in the conference had joked about being so frustrated with the slow progress that he was considering retiring, later tells me how excited he is about this work with Bramble. But William Reiner , a psychiatrist and urologist at the University of Oklahoma, told me in what he had found after evaluating scores of these cases.
It would be hard to design an ethical experiment that could more clearly demonstrate how nature trumps nurture when it comes to sexual orientation. During a recent phone call with Reiner, he tells me that he has since learned the sexual orientation of more of these approximately 70 genetic males who were raised as girls.
Only one of them has reported being sexually attracted to males. His sense is that something fundamental is happening when the brain is being organized. Finally, the indicator that has become more and more robust over the years is the so-called fraternal birth order effect, or FBO. In , Canadian researchers Anthony Bogaert and Ray Blanchard showed that the more older brothers a man has, the more likely he is to be gay. If a man with no older brothers has a 2 percent chance of being gay, that number scales up with each older brother, so that a guy with four older brothers would have a 6 percent chance of being gay.
In the two decades since, that finding has been consistently replicated cross-culturally, and numerous alternative explanations for the effect have been ruled out. In , Bogaert, of Brock University in Ontario, scored yet another victory for nature over nurture by showing this FBO effect applies even to biological brothers who had been raised in separate households, but not to adoptive brothers raised under the same roof.
But why? He and Blanchard have offered the maternal immune hypothesis, suggesting that a pregnant mother develops an immune reaction to something important to male fetal development, and this reaction becomes more likely with each male pregnancy. Though he tells me he is not ready to elaborate publicly on these early results, the other researchers in the room are clearly excited about his presentation.
Yet even this robust FBO effect has some serious limitations. It applies only to gay men, not lesbians. And, interestingly, although gays are lefthanded at a higher rate than straights, this FBO effect applies only if the gay younger brother is righthanded. Handedness is set before birth, Bogaert tells me, noting that prenatal images of thumb-sucking preferences beautifully match the general population breakdown of 90 percent righty, 10 percent lefty.
Birth order hardly tells the whole story. The portion of men whose homosexuality can be attributed to the FBO effect is estimated to be between 15 and 29 percent. So how can we integrate all of these disparate pre-birth signals into an explanation that makes sense? When we last spoke a decade ago, he and his coauthor were just finishing their book Born Gay. Another explains how fish can change their sex multiple times in their lives, in as little as 17 days.
See a Problem?
Clearly, not all gay men have feminine traits. And during the face study, accuracy remains high even after potentially revealing characteristics like hair and eyes have been removed from the photos. Yet the insights Rule shared with me about his personal life made a bigger impression. Growing up in rural Florida, he told me, he was often asked if he were gay. He would first identify as bisexual before realizing he was gay. Still, he resisted this recognition, not wanting to admit the bigots back home had been right about him.
Write a customer review. Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon. Verified Purchase. If the aim was really that of writing erotica I must say this short story failed miserably and deserved a one star review. A gritty realism, an understated tone, a faithful report of daily life in all its ordinary, obnoxious routine are difficult to handle ingredients for an erotic escape.
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The coupling itself was earthy, devoid of beauty or sexual tension. On the other hand, as a proficient account of ordinary life of ordinary gay men in ordinary small town US it was nicely done, well written, well paced. It was a little on the bleak side of fiction -always an enemy of real enjoyment for me- but neat and deserved five stars, even if I usually dislike this literary attitude. Some are set in America and some in Sri Lanka. They follow three generations and while there are none that focus o This is not the kind of book I usually read. The stories were also different in their format and execution.
One was journal entries, another was told in the second person and so on. Dec 05, Shannon rated it really liked it Shelves: short-stories , literary , romance. My chief complaint about this one is that there were too many stories - the collection really dragged in the middle and I am a very dogged reader, especially of late, so I made myself power through and reaped some rewards but I could have used some a little more up and down instead of just down down down That all being said, I really really loved and identified with some of the stories and I loved the back and forth betwee 3.
That all being said, I really really loved and identified with some of the stories and I loved the back and forth between Ceylon and America. Apr 11, Anna rated it really liked it. Well written short stories following a couple of families through several generations. The author flows seamlessly between first and third person, male, female, young, old. A fascinating glimpse into a culture of which I have no part. It seemed like every character was afraid to talk to their spouse, and I admit it can be tricky, especially if your pairing was arranged, but it's really important.
Oct 11, Dawn rated it it was amazing Shelves: collection. This book is the "first" for some funny definition of first book by a friend of mine. Mary Anne Mohanraj was one of the editors in residence at the Strange Horizons workshop I attended in ago and was really helpful. This book is a collection of short stories she wrote during her Ph. Mary Anne is of Sri Lankan descent aka Ceylon, a small island nation off the coast of India and her stories here trace two fictional Sri Lankan families from the s in Sri Lanka as they immigrant to America and some return to Sri Lanka in the late s.
The stories are gorgeous in terms of writing and stunningly evocative. There is an erotica element to most of the stories, or at least the frank depiction of sex. But this isn't the book you bring to bed with a vibrator. These stories will make you laugh, cry, hold your breath, wish for better things and inhale the rich curries. They are stories of life and love and sex and death.
They are stories of what makes us human. I enjoyed it muchly. I fully recommend anyone interested in immigrant literature check this book out. Jan 02, Chris Winters rated it really liked it. This is a collection of stories all loosely tied together, focusing on multiple generations of two extended Sri Lankan families. Each story chooses a different narrator or key characters, and the choices they face in a changing 20th Century, and the stories are meant to be read in sequence for maximum effect.
Along the way the members of the Vallipuram and Kandiah family grow up and older, marry, divorce, sever ties or reconnect with their families, and confront the challenges of civil war, ethn This is a collection of stories all loosely tied together, focusing on multiple generations of two extended Sri Lankan families. Along the way the members of the Vallipuram and Kandiah family grow up and older, marry, divorce, sever ties or reconnect with their families, and confront the challenges of civil war, ethnicity, love, homosexuality in a traditional culture, adapting or not to life in the United States or a much changed postwar Sri Lanka, and finding one's own way in life, in accordance with or against the expectations of family and culture.
Some of the stories are sparse, little more than character sketches at a point in time. Others are more fully developed stories with engaging twists and turns.
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All of them are written in poetic and engaging prose. The writing along makes the shorter pieces rise above mediocrity, even without much forward motion. The stronger pieces in the collection, including the title story and "Seven Cups of Water," simmer with emotion and erotic energy and are instantly memorable.
Oct 26, duck reads rated it really liked it Shelves: wc , coc-ic , ww , qc , woc-iw , fiction , short-s. This is a collection of short stories held together by family ties. The first two pages of the book hold two connected family tree diagrams, and each story features characters who appear on those trees. It's a structure that's interesting in that the reader ends up seeing different characters' perspectives on the same sets of events, and some stories answer questions raised by or give context to actions in others.
At the same time, the structure makes the gaps that much more obvious--there are This is a collection of short stories held together by family ties. At the same time, the structure makes the gaps that much more obvious--there are characters whose stories I was waiting to hear who never got time in the spotlight. Kili, Shefali, Kamala, Sushila. Also perhaps related to the family-tree conceit, the stories have a tendency to hinge on pregnancy and marriage as plot points, which becomes somewhat repetitive after a while.
The stories work best for me when they show a skill at taking the emotions in a situation, lifting and separating them and holding them up to look at all their facets. They don't always succeed, but they do often enough to be very pleasing. Feb 20, Amy Cousins rated it really liked it. I've been reading Mary Anne's blog for years now.
She's a very interesting woman, born in Sri Lanka and raised in the U.
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I have read a bunch of the stories in this book at different times over the years on her blog, and look forward to having them put in order for me and reading the new ones! Finished now and I definitely enjoyed it. I'm a sucker for multi-generational sagas so the wide range of stories connecting mem I've been reading Mary Anne's blog for years now.
I'm a sucker for multi-generational sagas so the wide range of stories connecting members of two families over the decades appealed very much. I also enjoyed her ability to write characters who find themselves behaving in mean or small ways without really intending to, but being unable to help themselves. It seemed very real. One of the first stories, told from the father's point of view, was one of my favorites. I felt very mentally in the space of an older paternal figure.
Nicely done all around. Jun 24, Molly rated it really liked it.