Can you tell a man is gay by his hair? By the number of brothers he has? By whether he’s left-handed?

To better understand sexual orientation from an evolutionary perspective, we investigated whether, compared to heterosexual men, the fewer direct descendants of homosexual men could be counterbalanced by a larger number of other close biological relatives. We also investigated the extent to which three patterns generally studied separately––handedness, number of biological older brothers, and hair-whorl rotation pattern––correlated with each other, and for evidence of replication of previous findings on how each pattern related to sexual orientation. We surveyed at Gay Pride and general community festivals, analyzing data for 894 heterosexual men and 694 homosexual men, both groups predominantly (~80%) white/non-Hispanic. The Kinsey distribution of sexual orientation for men recruited from the general community festivals approximated previous population-based surveys. Compared to heterosexual men, homosexual men had both more relatives, especially paternal relatives, and more homosexual male relatives. We found that the familiality for male sexual orientation decreased with relatedness, i.e., when moving from first-degree to second-degree relatives. We also replicated the fraternal birth order effect. However, we found no significant correlations among handedness, hair whorl rotation pattern, and sexual orientation, and, contrary to some previous research, no evidence that male sexual orientation is transmitted predominantly through the maternal line.

Source: “Biodemographic and Physical Correlates of Sexual Orientation in Men” from Archive of Sexual Behavior, Volume 39, Number 1 / February, 2010

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