Homosexual Orientation and Mating Preference

Men are not the only ones who place a premium on their mate's attractiveness. Gay partnerships are a litmus test for the evolutionary foundation of sex variations in mate wants. The issues are whether homosexual men have preferences that are similar to those of other men, with the only difference being the sex of the person they want; whether they have preferences that are similar to those of women; or whether they have unique preferences that differ from the specific preferences of either sex.

Homosexual Orientation

Nobody knows the actual proportion of gays in any culture, past or contemporary. Some of the problems stem from terminology. Alfred Kinsey, a sexologist, estimated that more than a third of all males engaged in some homosexual behavior at some point in their lives, generally as part of adolescent experimentation. Significantly fewer people, however, indicate a strong desire for a mate of the same sex.

The disparity between the percentages of persons who have committed homosexual actions and those who express a core desire for partners of the same sex reveals a significant distinction between the underlying psychology of preference and the outward expression of conduct. Many men who prefer women as mates may still replace a male as a sex partner, either due to an inability to attract women or a temporary constraint prohibiting access to women, such as being in jail.

According to empirical studies, sexual orientation has a minor to moderate heritable component, and gay males have lower reproduction rates than heterosexuals.

The kin altruism idea was an early evolutionary explanation for male homosexuality. According to this argument, homosexual genes may have developed if gays invested sufficiently in their genetic relations to overcome the costs of preceding direct reproduction. According to this idea, genes for gay inclination can develop and persist because, while having a low direct reproductive output, homosexuals boost their reproductive fitness by extensively investing in genetic relations, such as their sister's or brother's offspring.

Theorists have expanded on this viewpoint, arguing that because male homosexuals have low heterosexual mating opportunities, the fitness costs of renouncing direct reproduction are not high. Two kinds of indirect evidence support the kin altruism theory of homosexuality.

First, homosexual men are born later in the birth order and frequently have elder brothers, implying the existence of viable relatives as possible foci of kin investment.

Second, homosexual males are more sensitive and feminine than heterosexual men on average, traits that may be associated with higher compassion.

However, the kin altruism hypothesis has severe conceptual and empirical flaws. To begin, the hypothesis fails to explain why people would be sexually attracted to members of their sex in the first place. Second, it is unclear if being more empathetic would translate into altruism aimed mainly towards genetic relations, a vital prediction that must be shown for the theory to hold weight.

Finally, even if we accept the theory's problematic premises for the sake of argument, the quantity of altruistic investment towards relatives would have to be enormous to compensate for the loss of direct reproduction. A study of homosexual and heterosexual males, however, found little factual support for the kin altruism idea. Gay males were no more likely than heterosexual men to direct resources toward family.

The cold, hard hand of actual evidence is the ultimate arbitrator of scientific theories, and psychiatrist David Bobrow and evolutionary psychologist Michael Bailey have tested them. They investigated the patterns and degree of investment in kin using samples of homosexual and heterosexual men matched for age, education, and ethnicity.

They assessed financial and emotional generosity towards family members; avuncular inclinations, such as the readiness to channel presents, cash, and psychological support to nieces and nephews; and general emotions of closeness towards genetic relatives. The findings were conclusive: there was no support for the primary prediction of the kin altruism hypothesis of homosexuality. Regarding allocating resources to family, gay men were no different from heterosexual guys.

Contrary to the kin altruism idea, gay men reported being somewhat more estranged from their genetic relatives than heterosexual males. Unless there is a significant new conceptual refinement or reversal of empirical data, the kin altruism hypothesis of sexual orientation may be safely buried.

Alliance Formation Theory

Frank Muscarella makes the case that rather than focusing on gay inclination, we should instead consider the purposes of homoerotic behavior or same-sex sexual activity, including pleasant genital touch. Muscarella suggests alliance creation as a particular purpose for homoerotic activity; several evolutionary primatologists have expressed this purpose.

According to the hypothesis of alliance formation, homoerotic activity developed to reinforce same-sex friendships since these interactions historically were significant for teenage boys. Adolescent males may be able to acquire resources, defend themselves against violent guys, move up the status ladder, and ultimately have more sexual access to women by teaming up with men of higher status. According to this idea, traits for same-sex sexual conduct developed as a result of the advantages alliances offered their practitioners.

The alliance-formation theory has several advantages, including an emphasis on a cross-species comparative framework and a focus on the functions of actual homosexual behavior (which are sometimes neglected by theories of homosexual orientation). Same-sex sexual contact is not only observed in humans but has also been seen in non-human primates. However, there are several conceptual and empirical issues with the hypothesis.

First, it would seem to anticipate that gay activity would be ubiquitous across civilizations and that most people in any country would regularly engage in it. There is no proof that most young men in most societies frequently satisfy older men sexually. At the same time, it could explain activities in a minority of civilizations like ancient Greece and some tribes in New Guinea.

Second, if forming coalitions is adaptive, selection should reward people who do so in the most efficient way possible. Why not just join forces and forego the expense of sex?

Moreover, both among humans and non-human primates, same-sex non-sexual relationships are relatively prevalent, indicating that such connections do not need sexual engagement. Lastly, the alliance formation hypothesis fails to address a much more complex evolutionary conundrum than gay behavior that does not prevent heterosexual reproduction—why men or women would have an exclusively homosexual inclination.

Last but not least, there is no proof that males who act homosexually genuinely benefit from the alliance benefits the theory suggests, such as elevated status or later access to women for sexual purposes.

The Nice-Guy Theory

The gay nice-guy idea by Edward Miller Contrary to the significant assumptions of earlier theories, his starting point is that neither homosexuality nor homoerotic activity per se is an adaptation. However, homosexuality is an uncommon side effect of genes that produce "feminine" characteristics like empathy, sensitivity, tender-heartedness, and compassion. According to Miller, having these "good guy" attributes makes men alluring to women since they enable them to be better parents and providers than those lacking them. Men naturally vary in the quantity of nice-guy genes they carry if several distinct genes contribute to these traits.

Most males will have a modest amount, moderating their masculinity to an ideal masculine-feminine balance that appeals to women. However, certain men—say, let us two or three or four percent—happen to pull an unusually high number of these "feminine" features from the genetic lottery, which shifts their brain circuits towards homosexuality.

In theory, these genes can survive evolution because, when they reside in the bodies of heterosexual males, they frequently result in higher levels of reproduction. Because women often thought their developmental results were more appealing, the genes were preferred. In a nutshell, a homosexual inclination is a rare byproduct of the good-guy genes that generally thrive because women prefer them.

Lesbian Sexual Orientation

Although various ideas have been proposed to explain male homosexual inclination, little effort has been made to explain the mystery of primary or exclusive lesbian orientation, which occurs in 1 to 2% of women. Homosexuality is not unique, as several thinkers have pointed out, including Mike Bailey, Frank Muscarella, and James Dabbs.

Lesbianism and male homosexuality, for example, appear to be opposed: Male sexual orientation appears to emerge early in development, but female sexuality appears to be significantly more malleable throughout life. Future theories may address the significant individual disparities among people now labeled as "lesbian" and "gay." Mate choices, for example, differ between lesbians who identify as "butch" vs. "femme."

However, butch lesbians are more masculine, domineering, and aggressive, whereas femme lesbians are more sympathetic, joyful, and feminine.

Butch lesbians had more significant amounts of circulating testosterone, more masculine waist-to-hip ratios, more permissive views towards casual sex, and a lower desire to have children than their feminine counterparts. Femme lesbians place a higher value on financial resources in a possible love relationship than butch lesbians, and they experience sexual jealousy over the physically appealing competition.

Butch lesbians place less weight on financial resources when looking for relationships, but they are more envious of financially successful competition. The psychological, morphological, and hormonal connections suggest that "butch" and "femme" are not arbitrary labels but represent substantial individual variations.

Butch lesbians exhibited higher circulating testosterone levels, more masculine waist-to-hip ratios, more permissive attitudes towards casual sex, and a lesser desire to have children than their feminine counterparts. Femme lesbians value financial resources more than butch lesbians in a potential love relationship, and they suffer sexual jealousy over physically appealing rivals.

Butch lesbians lay less emphasis on financial resources while dating, but they are more jealous of financially successful competitors. The psychological, morphological, and hormonal links show that "butch" and "femme" do not reflect arbitrary labels but actual individual variances.


Kinsey estimated that more than a third of males engage in homosexual behavior, but few strongly desire a mate of the same sex. The kin altruism idea was an early evolutionary explanation for male homosexuality. It argued that homosexual genes may have developed if gays invested sufficiently in their genetic relations to overcome the costs of preceding direct reproduction.

Muscarella's hypothesis of alliance formation suggests that homoerotic activity developed to reinforce same-sex friendships. Edward Miller's gay nice-guy idea suggests that homosexuality is an uncommon side effect of genes that produce "feminine" characteristics.

Updated on: 11-Apr-2023


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