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Did Dr. Dean Hamer Prove the Existence of a Gay Gene?

“‘The phone rang off the hook with calls from reporters; there were TV cameramen lined up outside the lab; the mailbox and e-mail overflowed,’ Dean Hamer later remembered the reaction to his July, 1993 paper in the journal Science. ‘Rarely before have so many reacted so loudly to so little.’ Hamer’s paper—‘A Linkage Between DNA Markers on the X Chromosome and Male Sexual Orientation’— had the modest ring of science, where change is often slow and incremental. But the underlying idea seemed to carry enormous implications: Homosexuality was not a choice—‘the wrong choice,’ as many religious and political leaders have demogogued on the issue. Instead, homosexuality was as much a biological fact as eye color.” This was part of a PBS report on the gay gene debate, and it is representative of the mainstream media’s coverage of what has been erroneously called “the gay gene.” For years, scientists have sought to discover a genetic cause for homosexuality which would substantiate the oft heard claim that homosexuals are born gay, and as such, have no choice regarding their behavior.

Certainly, the most renowned of these studies is that of Dr. Dean Hamer who, while with the National Cancer Institute, claimed to have found a genetic link to homosexuality. After studying 40 pairs of homosexual brothers, he found that 33 of them shared the same set of DNA sequences in the Xq28 region of the X chromosome. However, in 1995, Dr. Dean Hamer was accused by one of the study’s collaborators of selectively reporting his research and data. He was charged with research improprieties and was investigated by the National Institute of Health’s Federal Office of Research Integrity. The results of this study were never released, but Dr. Hamer was shortly thereafter transferred to another section; and it is believed by many that his study amounts to little more than pseudo-science.1

More importantly, Dr. Hamer’s results have never been reproduced. Rather, a study by the University of Western Ontario in 1999 of 52 pairs of homosexual brothers found the genetic markers cited by Dr. Hamer in exactly half of the brother pairs, which is consistent with the laws of chance. They concluded that the results of Dr. Hamer’s study “did not support an X-linked gene underlying male homosexuality.”2 Nevertheless, the media and gay activists continue to cite Dr. Hamer’s study as proof of a gay gene.

Interestingly enough, even Dr. Dean Hamer has admitted that his study did not prove that homosexuality is the result of genetic determinism, saying, “[T]here is a lot more than just genes going on.”3 He believes that genes are a factor in determining homosexuality, but environmental influences are also an important factor.4

Finally, the American Psychiatric Association has confirmed that Dr. Dean Hamer’s study failed to scientifically prove the existence of a gay gene, saying, “No one knows what causes heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality. … Currently there is a renewed interest in searching for biological etiologies for homosexuality. However, to date there are no replicated scientific studies supporting any specific biological etiology for homosexuality.”5 In other words, despite the reality that the born gay argument is touted as proven fact by gay activists, genuine science has no idea what causes homosexuality.


1. Sorba, “The ‘Gay Gene’ Hoax.”
2. Ibid.
3. Diggs Jr., “The Health Risks.”
4. Marlboro College, “Dean Hamer.”
5. “LGBT-Sexual Orientation.”

Works Cited

1. Diggs Jr., John. “The Health Risks of Gay Sex.” Corporate Research Council, 2002, Reprinted by Catholic Education Resource Center. Accessed March 18, 2014.
2. “LGBT-Sexual Orientation.” American Psychiatric Association. Accessed April 28, 2014.
3. Marlboro College. “Dean Hamer – Gays, God and Genes.” YouTube video, (accessed June 19, 2014.)
4. Sorba, Ryan. “The ‘Gay Gene’ Hoax.” World Net Daily, June 3, 2010. Accessed June 19, 2014.


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Author: Timothy Zebell, 2015