Most of us by now understand that homosexuality isn't a "lifestyle choice." It's something you're, well... Like Lady Gaga puts it, you're just born that way. I think most of us are coming around to that understanding, and it's made a huge difference in the lives of countless young gay people.
But science is here to throw a little wrench into that idea. We talk about there being a "gay gene" or homosexuality being part of your gentic makeup because, well, that just makes sense, right? But it's starting to look way more complicated than that. Researchers are now saying they think there isn't a "gay gene." Instead, all the action happens in the mother's womb, during pregnancy.
Okay, this gets super complicated, but this is the simplest way I can think of explaining it. Epi-marks, which are kind of like switches that can change how our genes express themselves after birth, are what's responsible for a person's sexual orientation. And the epi-marks that trigger sexual orientation are passed down from fathers to daughters and from mothers to sons. (Read more here if you're intrigued -- it's fascinating. GEE, SCIENCE!)
Anyway, so what? Does that change anything? I mean, for us parents. If it turns out your child is gay, does it matter if that "happens" genetically or while he's in the womb?
I can come up with plenty of nightmare situations where this gets all turned around for the worse: Homophobic family members blaming the mom for gestating a gay child. Or families trying to find out of their baby's sexual orientation before they're born, just like we can find out gender. We're a crazy bunch, we humans.
Or we could just continue loving and accepting our children, no matter who they are. It doesn't matter how they get here or what goes into their genetics or their epi-marks or any of it. They're here and it's our job to love them and help them become the best people they can possibly be.
What would you do if you could find out if your child's sexual orientation before he or she is born?
Image via johnny.hunter/Flickr