Sep 122017
 

Homosexuality May Start in the Womb  http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/12/homosexuality-may-start-womb

From a strictly Darwinian viewpoint, homosexuality shouldn’t still be around. It isn’t the best way to pass along one’s genes, and to complicate the picture further, no “gay genes” have even been identified. According to a newly released hypothesis, the explanation may not lie in DNA itself. Instead, as an embryo develops, sex-related genes are turned on and off in response to fluctuating levels of hormones in the womb, produced by both mother and child. This tug of war benefits the unborn child, keeping male or female development on a steady course even amid spikes in hormones. But if these so-called epigenetic changes persist once the child is born and has children of its own, some of those offspring may be homosexual, the study proposes.

Evolutionary geneticist William Rice of the University of California, Santa Barbara, felt there had to be a reason why homosexuality didn’t just fade away down the generations. Research estimates that about 8% of the population is gay, and homosexuality is known to run in families. If one of a set of identical twins is gay, there’s a 20% probability that the other will be, too.

Furthermore, Rice notes, “homosexuality isn’t just a human thing.” Among California gulls, which he watches from his office window, about 14% of pairs are female-female. In Australian black swans, some 6% of pairs are male-male, and 8% of male sheep are attracted exclusively to male partners.

Many examples of male penguins raising chics from unwanted eggs

But many genetic screens have failed to turn up genes that are responsible for sexual orientation. So to find out what makes homosexuality persist, Rice and colleagues began a comprehensive survey of the literature.

According to conventional wisdom, an embryo becomes a boy when a gene on the Y chromosome triggers the development of testes, which then begin to produce male sex hormones, including testosterone, at about the 8th week of gestation. With no Y chromosome and hence no testosterone, the embryo becomes a girl.

But testosterone doesn’t explain everything, the researchers found. For one thing, female fetuses are exposed to small amounts of the hormone from their adrenal glands, the placenta, and the mother’s endocrine system. At many key points of gestation, male and female fetuses are often exposed to similar amounts of testosterone. Levels of the hormone can even be higher than normal in females and lower than normal in males without any effect on genital or brain structure.

Rice and his co-workers were more intrigued by studies showing that male and female fetuses respond differently to the hormones that surround them, even when one hormone is temporarily higher. In their study, published online today in The Quarterly Review of Biology, the authors propose that differences in sensitivity to sex hormones result from “epigenetic” changes. These are changes that affect not the structure of a gene but when, if, and how much of it is activated—by chemically altering a gene’s promoter region or “on” switch, for example. Epigenetic changes at key points in the pathway through which testosterone exerts its effects on the fetus could blunt or enhance the hormone’s activity as needed, the authors suggest.

 

Although epigenetic changes are usually temporary, they involve alterations in the proteins that bind together the long strands of DNA. Thus, they can sometimes be handed down to offspring. According to the hypothesis, homosexuality may be a carry-over from one’s parents’ own prenatal resistance to the hormones of the opposite sex. The “epi-marks” that adjusted parental genes to resist excess testosterone, for example, may alter gene activation in areas of the child’s brain involved in sexual attraction and preference. “These epigenetic changes protect mom and dad during their own early development,” Rice says. The initial benefit to the parents may explain why the trait of homosexuality persists throughout evolution, he says.

“The authors have done a terrific job providing a mechanism for genetic variation, especially a variation that might not be expected to persist because it’s so tightly bound to reproduction,” says evolutionary biologist Marlene Zuk of the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. But she adds that to go from changes in gene expression to why someone is attracted to a person of the same sex is a question for which science may never fill in all the blanks.

Sep 122017
 

BREAKING: Edith Windsor Dies At Age 88

Edith Windsor, the gay-rights activist whose landmark Supreme Court case struck down the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013 and granted same-sex married couples federal recognition for the first time and rights to myriad federal benefits, died on Tuesday in Manhattan. She was 88. Her wife, Judith Kasen-Windsor, confirmed the death but did not specify a cause. They were married in 2016.

Four decades after the Stonewall Inn uprising fueled the fight for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights in America, Ms. Windsor, the widow of a woman with whom she had lived much of her life, became the lead plaintiff in what is widely regarded as the second most important Supreme Court ruling in the national battle over same-sex marriage rights.

The Windsor decision was limited to 13 states and the District of Columbia. But in 2015, the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to marry anywhere in the nation, with all the protections and privileges of heterosexual couples. Its historic significance was likened to that of Lawrence v. Texas in 2003, which decriminalized gay sex in the United States.

A TRUE legend. And so kind and amiable in person.

Sep 122017
 

Kate Millett, author of the groundbreaking bestseller Sexual Politics, was the feminist who launched the second wave of the women’s liberation movement.  Kate was celebrating the birthday of her wife, photojournalist, Sophia Keir.  Kate died at the age of 82.

Young Kate

Her doctoral thesis at Columbia University was entitled “Sexual Politics,“and it stated the theory that for women, the personal is political.  Her book outlines the clear facts that men have institutionalised power over women, and that this power is socially constructed as opposed to biological or innate. This theory was the foundation for a new approach to feminist thinking that became known as radical feminism.  In other words, men know what they are doing to women from other men.  Kate called this male dominance as institutionalized oppression.

Certain Men React to Kate

The well-respected critic Irving Howe  wrote that Sexual Politics was “a farrago of blunders, distortions, vulgarities and plain nonsense”, and its author guilty of “historical reductionism”, “crude simplification”, “middle-class parochialism”, “methodological sloppiness”, “arrogant ultimatism” and “comic ignorance”.   All I can say is “if the shoe fits -wear it.”

Kate always stated that she never wished to be a leader of any movement – let alone the Feminist one.

Time Magazine Seeks to Discredit Kate.

In December 1970, Time claimed Kate to be “bisexual”

That December, Time publication outed Millett as bisexual, and claimed that “[the] disclosure is bound to discredit her as a spokeswoman for her cause, cast further doubt on her theories, and reinforce the views of those sceptics who routinely dismiss all liberationists as lesbians”.

Background.

Born in St Paul, Minnesota, Kate was raised by strict Catholic parents. Her mother, Helen (nee Feely), worked as a teacher and an insurance saleswoman to support her three daughters after her alcoholic husband, James, an engineer, abandoned the family when Kate was 14. Millett went to the University of Minnesota, graduating in English literature in 1956, and then to St Hilda’s College, Oxford. She taught briefly at the University of North Carolina before focusing on sculpture in Japan and then New York. In 1965, she married the Japanese sculptor Fumio Yoshimura. During their open relationship, Millett had sexual relationships with a number of women.

The Lesbian!
In 1976, Kate wrote “Sita” about her relationship with an older woman.
Mental Health Issues.
Kate had a history of mental illness.. She wrote about her experiences in The Loony-Bin Trip (1990). She also wrote The Politics of Cruelty (1994), in which she railed against the use of torture, and Mother Millett (2001), about her relationship with her mother.
The Later Years

In her later years,  Kate and Sophia  lived on a farm in Poughkeepsie, New York state, where at first they sold Christmas trees, and later established a women’s art colony. In 2012 she received the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage award for the arts, and in 2013 she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in New York.  Kate continued to  take on  social issues, including advocating for women and girls in Iran and documenting the governmental abuses in places like the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, and Apartheid South Africa.

Millett’s marriage to Yoshimura ended in 1985. She is survived by Sophie Keir, whom she married in later life.

Sophia Keir (only image I could find)

Coming Out as Gay – Freeing Moment

During  a speaking engagement at Columbia University, she was asked about her sexual orientation.  She recorded her thoughts:

‘Five hundred people looking at me,’ Millett wrote of the experience. ‘Everything pauses, faces look up in terrible silence. I hear them not breathe. That word in public, the word I waited half a lifetime to hear. Finally I am accused. “Say it. Say you are a Lesbian. ‘Yes I said. Yes. Because I know what she means. The line goes, inflexible as a fascist edict, that bisexuality is a cop-out. Yes I said yes I am a lesbian. It was the last strength I had.’

Famous Quotes by Kate

A sexual revolution begins with the emancipation of women, who are the chief victims of patriarchy, and also with the ending of homosexual oppression.
Aren’t women prudes if they don’t and prostitutes if they do?
Men and women were declared equal one morning and everybody could divorce each other by postcard.