This roundtable analyzes the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) that sought to identify the genetic variations that correlate with same-sex sexual behavior. Drawing on over 450,000 individuals’ genetic material from the UK Biobank and 23andMe, the 2019 study concluded that “many loci with individually small effects,” which are spread across the entire genome, contribute in statistically significant but highly unreliable ways to an individual's sexual behavior. The study was thus greeted by geneticists, science journalists, and even some LGBTQ+ advocates as heralding the demise of the mythical “gay gene.” However, the study itself did not drive a stake through the heart of the “born this way” idea. In fact, the researchers framed their efforts as having revealed the “genetic architecture”—which is to say the blueprint or design—of same-sex sexual behavior. Stephanie Clare, Patrick R. Grzanka, and Joanna Wuest argue that the 2019 GWAS marks a moment of both flux and continuity: a recognition of sexuality's complexity and contingency alongside a continued affective, ideological, and economic investment in biology's role in telling fundamental truths about behavior and identity. The study's recognition of the complexity of sexuality should not be mistaken as some wish fulfillment of queer theory; rather, the dream of bioessentialism, entangled with its continued production of inequality, is still alive in the postgenomic era.

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