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Regrettably, one of the more frequent questions I get asked is some variation of, “How can you tell someone’s sexual orientation from the birth chart?” I say regrettably because the short, and entirely accurate answer, “You can’t,” rarely satisfies anyone. It never satisfies astrologers who have their own pet theories about the “gay aspect” or the “gay signature” in a chart, and I’ve just about learned not to engage in those debates. At least not directly.

I was hoping to bury this particular land mine in one of the other articles I’m working on about understanding and defining the context of astrology. Alas, this specific issue has come up three times in the past week or so — twice in two different “Ask Kevin” questions, and once in an email exchange with another astrologer — and that’s the kind of coincidence I’ve learned to notice.

It is not my intention to make anyone wrong, and I’m also not invested in changing anyone’s mind about this subject. It is my hope that I can provide additional context and information about certain beliefs, which, in turn, may shift your perception about what they mean. I’m doing my best not to piss anyone off. Unfortunately, most of us have difficulty distinguishing between “In light of this new information, you may choose to reconsider your position,” and “You, personally, are wrong, and therefore, you are a complete idiot.”

Astrological Research: A Contextual Digression

Astrology is both an art and a science. A lot of astrological interpretation is subjective, which is part of the art of astrology. However, when you make assertions that there are specific correlations between astrology and behavior, that’s not subjective; it’s objective. It can be observed, tested, and demonstrated to be either right or wrong. It’s part of the science of astrology. At best, you have a hypothesis, but that hypothesis has to be able to withstand rigorous testing and challenges before it can be said to be true. And very few astrologers have any idea of what is required to be able to test and validate a hypothesis, such as “This particular signature in the natal chart means an individual is gay.”

The first hurdle is that you have to be able to define and isolate the variables that you’re testing. Essentially, you’re suggesting that “x = y” and the only way to be able to test this is if you can define the parameters of both “x” and “y”. In this example, “x” would be the astrological signature, and “y” would be “gay.”

Assuming you are able to isolate the variables and the parameters, you then have to be able to set up both a test group and a control group. The test group would consist of a large enough sample of people who fit the profile of “y”. You would need to find “x” in the charts of a statistically significant percentage of this group. But you also need a control group, of an equally large sample of people who do not fit the profile of “y”, and you would need to verify that “x” is absent from a statistically significant percentage of their charts. Finally, you would analyze the numbers, taking into account standard deviation, and other statistical terms, to see if your theory shows a statically significant connection between “x” and “y.”

And then you do it all again with new test and control groups to see if you get the same results.

In case you were wondering, this is why so few people pursue astrological research.

Statistical Significance, Correlation and Causality

One of the biggest problems with the idea of a “gay signature” is that the astrologers who put forth these ideas imply that there is an absolute correlation. In other words a person would be gay if and only if that signature were present in his or her chart. All that is necessary to disprove this hypothesis is to produce a sample of charts of individuals who are gay and don’t have that signature, and a sample of charts of individuals who are not gay, and do have that signature.

Fortunately, science is more flexible than that.

If you back off a bit, and suggest that there is a correlation between sexual orientation and a particular astrological signature, you’ve got more room to maneuver. All you would need to demonstrate would be statistical significance. This isn’t easy to do, because we don’t know with any degree of accuracy what percentage of the world population is gay. But for our purposes, we’ll use the most popular estimate that 10% of the world population is gay. So in order for there to be a “gay signature” in the chart, significantly more than 10% of the people with that particular signature would have to be gay and significantly fewer than 10% of the people without that particular signature would have to be gay.

This would demonstrate a valid correlation, but not causality. You would not be able to look for that signature in a chart and definitively determine that person’s sexual orientation. However, if you were able to show a valid correlation, it would mean that the hypothesis has merit, and is worth further study.

Now that I’ve established the context and defined the parameters, I’ll go through the five reasons why you can’t tell a person’s sexual orientation by looking at the birth chart. I’m presenting these reasons as a countdown because, even though the last reason is the most subjective, I personally think it’s the most important.

GayChartArt 5Sexual Orientation Isn’t Black or White

Human sexuality is varied, and complex, and can’t be reduced to simple labels. Before you can consider whether astrology can reveal a person’s sexual orientation — or, as it’s more commonly asked, whether astrology can determine if a person is gay — you must first be able to define what, precisely, “gay” or “homosexual” means.

Alfred Kinsey was one of the first researchers to give serious study to the field of human sexuality, and one of the bigger discoveries he made was that sexuality occurs on a spectrum. He created the “Kinsey Scale” where subjects were subjects self-identified and were rated based on their degree of attraction towards same or opposite sex partners. The scale goes from 0 (exclusively heterosexual) to 6 (exclusively homosexual), and has various gradations that include “incidental” and “more than incidental.” So when you ask if there is a signature or pattern in the birth chart that indicates a person is gay, what is it that you’re asking? Would they have to be a Kinsey 6, and be “exclusively homosexual”? Or would it extend to a Kinsey 3, which describes a person equally attracted to members of either gender?

Even if you limit the sample to individuals who self-identify as “gay,” you still don’t have a true representation to prove or disprove your theory. No one knows what percentage of the population is in the closet. There are such cultural stigmas against any form of homosexuality, especially among men, that many men are forced to hide or suppress their sexuality out of fear or shame. If there were a valid astrological signature that identified a person as being gay, it would also have to be present in the charts of individuals who may never act on their desires, let alone acknowledge them publicly. Therefore any research study that attempted to prove the validity of this signature would be invalid. You could never be certain that you had a genuine control group of individuals who not only claim to be heterosexual, but who, in fact, are genuinely heterosexual, and not hiding their true sexual orientation.

In other words, this theory doesn’t even clear the first part of the first hurdle, because it’s not possible to define “gay” in such a way that you could isolate the variable and assemble valid test and control groups.

GayChartArt 4You Can’t Isolate Sex in the Chart

When you approach the question from the astrological perspective, you hit pretty much the same problem. You can’t isolate sex in the chart. There is no single planet, sign, house or aspect that is in charge of human sexuality. Sex is hard-wired into every cell of our bodies, and every facet of our personalities. Every single personal planet in the chart is involved in your sex drive, which is one of the reasons that sex is, at least potentially, one of the most important and fulfilling experiences we can have as human beings.

If you go ahead and choose a signature anyway, it still has to be exact and specific. Every theory about the “gay signature” that I’ve encountered has been incredibly vague. You can’t just look for “hard aspects” from Uranus to the Moon (for example). You have to establish the exact parameters of those aspects, including the orb of the aspect. This is where most of the “proof” that astrologers cite to back up their pet theories breaks down. If you say that the aspect has to have less than a 3-degree orb, then you can’t fudge it when you have a chart that should fit the pattern, but the orb is too wide.

This is where statistical significance and correlation are your best friends. If there is, in fact, a correlation, it will show up when you use the tight orb, and explore those charts to see if significantly more than 10% of the test group is gay. If you don’t get this result with the tight orb in the test group, then there’s nothing to your hypothesis. The orb would only affect the statistical significance of the control group because you would have charts of gay individuals who almost have the signature in the control group, instead of the test group. You would simply adjust the parameters of the test, and run it again until you find the orb that gives you the most significant results with both the test and control groups.

GayChartArt 3There Are No “Gay Days”

I’m very happy for those astrologers who claim to be able to support their pet theories about the gay signature in the natal chart with their sampling of a few hundred or even a few thousand charts. But the sample size is not large or diverse enough to be considered even remotely valid. The problem with asserting that there is a gay signature is that the population it has to be measured against is, quite literally, the entire population of the world. In order to produce a study that had any statistical significance, you would need a representative sampling of hundreds of thousands of individuals from every major culture and continent in both the test and control groups.

You could, however, put together a study with a smaller population sampling that would quickly disprove the hypothesis. And all it takes is a little application of critical thinking.

Generally, hypotheses of a “gay signature” involve some planetary aspect. What few astrologers consider is how many other people have this same aspect. Yes, each birth chart, when considered as a whole, is unique. But a single aspect lasts for an extended time, and by current estimations, 251 babies are born worldwide every minute. Remember, in order to demonstrate any correlation between an aspect and sexual orientation, significantly more than 10% of the individuals around the world born during that specific aspect would have to be gay.

First, you have to be very precise about the orb of that aspect. For argument’s sake, let’s consider only aspects with orbs of 2 degrees or less (applying or separating). If the aspect in question does not involve the Moon, that aspect would be in orb for a minimum of four days. With an estimated 360,000 people born worldwide every day, you would have a population of 1,440,000 subjects to draw from. Now, a good representative sample would need over 100,000 charts, but you could do a test with say 3,000 charts. If significantly more than 10% (300) of those individuals are gay, there might be a correlation, and it would merit additional study.

But on the face of it, it’s silly.

There are no “gay days.” If there were, someone would have noticed the trend long before now. Also, aspects that don’t involve the Moon don’t repeat with much regularity. It might be months before the two planets make another aspect to each other, and during that time, there would also have to be significantly fewer gay people born.

If we consider aspects to the Moon, particularly between the Moon and an outer planet, the numbers are a little more promising. Lunar aspects last only between 6 and 8 hours, and because the Moon cycles through the entire zodiac once every month, these aspects are distributed through a broader range of the general population. If you include all of the major aspects from the Moon, the Moon is in some kind of aspect to a given planet 12% of the time — a percentage that is very close to the estimate of the percentage of the population that is gay.

However, we’re faced with the same problem. There would be 6- or 8-hour blocks of time, several days each month, when far more than 10% of the people born would have to be gay, and fewer than 10% of the people born at any other time would have to be gay. This is highly unlikely. There are no “gay hours” either.

Not every theory of a “gay signature” that I’ve come across is based on aspects. One of the “Ask Kevin” questions I received that prompted this article wondered if having Uranus in the 5th house indicated a person might be gay.

The idea that having Uranus in the 5th house (or any house, for that matter) is a gay signature fails for the same reasons. Yes, approximately 8.3% of the world has Uranus in the 5th house, but it would be there for about 2 hours at a time (albeit staggered across different time zones), and it still amounts to a set block of time during which a statistically significant percentage of the gay population would have to be born. I also believe that this particular hypothesis is invalid for bigger reasons: Uranus is not a personal planet. Unless it makes an aspect to a personal planet, it has no effect on one’s individuality or personality.)

GayChartArt 2Bias, Judgments, and Intrinsic Homophobia

We live in a world that is fundamentally homophobic. Yes, we’re in a time of unprecedented social change and acceptance, and that will make a huge difference for the generation being born right now. But today’s adults grew up among explicit and implicit homophobic messages that everyone — including gay individuals — has internalized to one degree or another. I bring this up to make it clear that I’m not accusing anyone of overt homophobia or bias; I’m merely pointing out how this bias exists, and is rarely, if ever, questioned.

Why is this relevant? Because every single hypothesis I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot) that claims to be the “gay signature” is inherently and subtly homophobic. In astrological terms, the signatures always involve planets or aspects that are universally considered to be negative. The vast majority of the theories involve Uranus in some way, presumably because Uranus is unusual, and associated with aberrant behavior.

Am I reading too much into this? It’s possible. But I still find it worth questioning. Why would anyone associate hard aspects from Uranus with something unless they perceived that thing to be unusual, disruptive, eccentric, or simply unconventional?

I don’t believe this is conscious, and I don’t assume that astrologers who follow or suggest these theories have any overt bias or prejudice. But I still have to question the context, and wonder what it is about that particular astrological signature that seems to capture the essence of homosexuality in the first place.

GayChartArt 1Astrology Protects Privacy

The final reason that you can’t look at a person’s birth chart and determine his or her sexual orientation is one that gives me great comfort. Even in this age of information and over-sharing, there are still a few shreds of privacy afforded us.

Astrology can be a powerful predictive tool. For thousands of years, astrology was used to provide answers to a myriad of questions. Horary astrology is still very popular today, although it’s not nearly as well known as natal astrology. With horary astrology, you can ask a question, and the chart of the moment when you asked the question will reveal the answer to the question.

But there’s one big catch.

In order to get a valid and accurate horary answer, must have standing to ask the question in the first place. If you’re just being nosey or curious and you don’t have any personal stake in the question, it will show in the chart, and you won’t get an answer (usually because a skilled horary astrologer will refuse to interpret the chart).

Dr. David R. Hawkins discovered that this also applies to the test to calibrate the level of consciousness or determine the truth (or lack thereof) of any situation. The test only works if the motivation for asking the question is in integrity.

So what it boils down to is that there’s no way to determine a person’s sexual orientation by looking at the birth chart, because it’s none of your business.

Your birth chart respects your privacy, and will never kiss and tell.

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