Gay Animals: They're All Around You!
Not only is it natural to be gay, but biologists this week reported that same-sex mating is a nearly universal phenomena. It turns out 30 percent of one type of female Hawaiian albatross rears chicks with, well, other chicks. Let's hear some cheers for the queers!
In an article published this week in journal Trends in Ecology and Evolution researchers Nathan Bailey and Marlene Zuk basically say that scientists (and, what the heck, everyone else too) need to look at homosexuality in animals from a more nuanced perspective. We've known for a while that members of an estimated 1,500 species play it gay sometimes but, Bailey and Zuk point out, animals ditch the straight life for all different reasons. Some creatures adapt to being gay, some are genetically programmed so they can't even distinguish between gender.
Apparently for the animal world, our words "gay" and "straight" just aren't going to work. Does that mean they don't quite fit for humans, too?
Gay tamarins by Nicole Georges.
While a certain number of simple species, like fruit flies, just cannot genetically determine any difference between their own specie's genders, it looks like a lot of animals adapt to gay lifestyles because it's better for the community. Though right-wingers argue that homosexuality doesn't make any sense because it doesn't lead to reproduction, biologists have discovered many benefits to gay coupling in animal societies.
The lesbian albatrosses, for example, have a shortage of males. They often pair up with other females to raise kids, which makes sense because every child needs two parents, right?
For some animals, like bonobos, almost half their sexual activity occurs with the same gender. In bonobos, researchers think gayness might be a peacekeeping strategy to reduce competition. "The more homosexuality, the more peaceful the species," asserts Petter Böckman, of the University of Oslo's Museum of Natural History in Scientific American.
But recently, scientists have speculated that there are no "gay" but just a lot of bisexual ones – most critters do not have a sexual identity, it's thought, they just have sex with whomever they so desire.
Maybe it's time to stand up and recognize some LGBT giraffes?
For those of you lucky enough to be in Portland, local artist Nicole Georges is presenting a Queer Animal Slideshow at In Other Words this Saturday at 7PM. Check it out to learn about totally queer deer and other adorable critters!
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