Pathogenic hypothesis of homosexuality

The pathogenic hypothesis of homosexuality (also called the gay germ hypothesis) suggests that homosexuality might be caused by an infectious disease. The speculative hypothesis was suggested by Gregory Cochran and Paul Ewald as part of a larger project advocating a number of pathogenic theories of disease. As evidence, they argue that because of the supposedly reduced number of offspring produced by gay and lesbian people, evolution would strongly select against it; they also draw an analogy to diseases that alter brain structure and behavior, such as narcolepsy, which are suspected of being triggered by viral infection. Cochran also argues that the prevalence of homosexuality in urban areas suggests an infectious disease causes homosexuality. They conclude that it is a "feasible hypothesis... no more and no less."

After being unable to publish this account in a peer-reviewed journal, the idea appeared in the popular press. An American Psychological Association newsletter the following year stated:

Despite some degree of logical plausibility, there is ultimately very little to be said in favor of these contentions. In its focus on the reduced reproductive rates of homosexual men and women, the account ignores other mechanisms by which genetic traits endure across generations. More importantly, the account is offered without any evidence whatsoever about which microbe might work how to generate homosexual interests. A peer-reviewed science journal turned this account away, but it nevertheless found its way into the pages of the public press.... the ease with which theories of homosexuality seep into public discourse raises important ethical questions about the way in which researchers ought to communicate their various theories to the public. Given that an unfounded theory of homosexuality can do more damage than good, researchers should raise the bar in regard to the views they propound about its origin.

An article in Out Magazine writes,

On the one hand, William Byne, a brain researcher at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York, suspects that Cochran and Ewald are guilty of pathologizing homosexuality. "It's hard for most people to entertain the idea that homosexuality might be a natural variant of human sexual behavior," says Byne. On the other hand, Michael Bailey, a professor of psychology at Northwestern University, gives Cochran and Ewald the benefit of the doubt. Bailey does worry that homophobes could use the germ theory as political ammunition-as "proof" that homosexuality is a disease. But that would be "a totally illegitimate conclusion," in Bailey's opinion. Not everything caused by a germ is a disease, he insists. "Suppose we found that a form of genius was also caused by a virus. Would that mean that genius is a disease?"

See also

External links

Index: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

This article is based on "Pathogenic hypothesis of homosexuality" from the free encyclopedia Wikipedia ( It is licensed under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation Licencse. In the Wikipedia you can find a list of the authors by visiting the following address: