Richard Pillard

Richard C. Pillard (born circa 1933) is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine best known for his work on biology and sexual orientation.

Early life and family

Pillard briefly attended Swarthmore College before transferring to Antioch College, where his father Basil H. Pillard was an English Professor. Pillard received his B.A. from Antioch. He then earned his M.D. from University of Rochester, with his internship at Boston City Hospital.

Pillard married a Vassar student in 1958, while he was in medical school. They later divorced when he was in his thirties, and Pillard now identifies as gay. He has three daughters. The oldest daughter, Vicky Pillard, is a pediatrician practicing in Amherst, MA. His second daughter, Nina Pillard, is a Georgetown University Law Center professor and was formerly assistant to Attorney General Reno. His youngest daughter, Eliza Pillard, is a social worker specializing in child psychiatric issues in Vermont.

Chandler Burr reported that Pillard jokes "he is uniquely equipped to investigate whether homosexuality has a biological basis: he, his brother, and his sister are gay, and Pillard believes that his father may have been gay. One of Pillard's three daughters from a marriage early in life is bisexual. This family history seems to invite a biological explanation, and it made Pillard start thinking about the origins of sexual orientation."

Heritability of sexual orientation

Pillard is well-known for a series of studies he coauthored with J. Michael Bailey, which examined the rate of concordance of sexual identity among monozygotic twins, dizygotic twins of the same sex, non-twin siblings of the same sex, and adoptive siblings of the same sex. In all studies they found rates of concordance variantly consistent with the hypothesis that homosexuality has a significant genetic component. The Council for Responsible Genetics and other researchers have criticized this work for using a self-selected sample, a problem which later studies have attempted to remedy.

Pillard feels that some of his most significant work deals with the incidence of homosexuality running in families.


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