The homosexual scalp and hand

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Besides the research on central nervous differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals summarized above, some scientists have ventured into far more extravagant endeavors. For example, rather than exploring differences inside the skull, structural differences on the skull's outside have been proposed as signs of homosexuality. When the direction of the hair-whorl rotation on the top of the head was determined in homosexuals it was found that 29.8% of them had a counterclockwise rotation. This occurred only in 8.2% of heterosexual men. A noteworthy feature of this study was that the gay subjects were recruited while relaxing on Rehobot Beach, Delaware, and the direction of rotation was determined by discretely observing the heads of the subjects. Bald, long-haired and individuals wearing a cap were excluded for obvious reasons. The randomly chosen heterosexual men were observed in shopping malls, grocery stores, barber shops, gas stations and fast-food restaurants and at three airports in Maryland, New Hampshire and Massachusetts. This creative study concluded that there must be some biologic/ genetic factor contributing to homosexuality since such factors determine the direction of rotation of the hair-whorl (Klar, 2004). A replication of these spectacular findings is needed before their real importance can be determined.

Handwriting may be sexually dimorphic and it has been suggested that prenatal hormonal influences can affect it, at least in women (Beech and Mackintosh, 2005). No surprise, then, that the handwriting of homosexual men has been compared to that of heterosexual men. Curiously enough, homosexual and heterosexual men were found to have identical handwriting (Lester et al., 1977). The stereotype of homosexual men as effeminate in all aspects was, exceptionally, found to be false.

Homosexual men are more non-right handed than heterosexual men (Lalumiere et al., 2000). In my ignorance, I thought that non-right handed was a convoluted way of saying left-handed, but it is not so easy. There are also the categories of mixed-handers and non-consistent right handers. Anyway, the excess of non-right handed homosexuals is attributed to early neurodevelopmental disruptions that affects handedness as well as sexual differentiation. There is even a report on associations between handedness and masculinity and femininity (Lippa, 2003b), which fits nicely with the idea of the effeminate homosexual. There is much to say about these studies, but I cannot see how they can offer any information of relevance to the subject being discussed in this chapter, and probably not to any other subject either.

As a last piece of entertainment, I will mention that there is a sexual dimorphism with regard to the ratio between the ring finger and the index. Men are more likely to have the ring fingers longer than index fingers, while the opposite is true for women. Here, we have another example of a quantitative dimorphism of small magnitude. As always, this vital dimorphism is considered to be caused by differences in prenatal hormone concentrations between men and women. Homosexual men are similar to women in finger length (Lippa, 2003a). Another nice example confirming the stereotype that gay men are generally effeminate. However, homosexual women were no different from heterosexual women. These observations could not be replicated in a later study. In fact, the opposite was found. Finger length ratios in women but not in men were related to homosexuality (Kraemer et al., 2006). These results of tremendous scientific and practical implications must await confirmation before they can revolutionize human society.

Some other still more unbelievable studies on differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals have been published, but I will give them the benefit of ignorance. Instead, I will return to the first couple of studies I mentioned and to their failure to find a reliable difference between homosexual and heterosexual men. There are many potential causes for this failure. These same causes would most likely apply to studies on homosexual women, if they would be undertaken some day or another. During the next few sections of this chapter, I will discuss some of the potential causes. In addition to that, I will approach the mystery of why there is a search for a 'biological' cause at all. I already mentioned the lack of a convincing rationale a couple of pages ago. This lack becomes still more evident if the most limited relevance of homosexuality as a problem of public health is considered. Besides preferences for having sex with a certain kind of people, humans have preferences for things that may be far more important. Some people have a preference for fat or otherwise unhealthy foods, while others show a marked preference for healthy food. The consequences of food preferences for public health is certainly far more important than preferences for sexual partners, yet there is no search for differences in brain structure between high-fat and low-fat preferring people. A story could certainly be built in support for ideas about perinatal determinants of later food choice in the same way as it has been done with regard to sexual partner choice. Why has it not been done? In order to answer questions of this kind, the importance of which should not be underestimated, we need to put homosexuality in a social context. That is one aim of the following sections.

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