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You like musicals? Thank your mum

Much before Brokeback Mountain or Section 377 of the IPC, there were genes. Or that's what new research is pointing to. In the age-old 'nature vs nurture' debate about homosexuality, science seems to be increasingly putting its money on the 'nature' horse.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 01:12 IST
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Much before Brokeback Mountain or Section 377 of the IPC, there were genes. Or that's what new research is pointing to. In the age-old 'nature vs nurture' debate about homosexuality, science seems to be increasingly putting its money on the 'nature' horse. Researchers in California, studying the phenomenon of 'X chromosome inactivation' have found that mothers with at least two gay sons have a different genetic make-up from the rest of their clan. That suggests that it's not just playing with too many Barbie dolls, growing up in a family of dominating women and reacting to an abusive father that has made you gay. So the credit for you absolutely adoring The Sound of Music should go to your mum.

Women have two X chromosomes, while men have only one. Early in the embryonic development in females, one of the two X chromosomes is randomly and permanently inactivated in somatic cells (all cells except egg cells). This phenomenon is called X-inactivation or Lyonisation, which ensures that females, like males, have one functional copy of the X chromosome in each body cell. This inactivation is usually a random process. The study, however, showed that in mothers with two or more gay sons, the same X chromosome is always inactivated.

In 1997, Murray Barr had discovered that inactive X chromosomes ('Barr bodies') in women may actually be more biologically active than earlier assumed. The latest study underlines that possibility and perhaps leads us closer to the till now elusive (and debatable) 'gay gene'.

So even as a heterosexual beer-chugging man whose fondness for Fashion TV is overwhelmingly more than your interest in the couture they show on the channel, relax, it's your mother's Barr bodies that made you buy the DVD of Chicago.

First Published: Feb 28, 2006 01:04 IST