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?
tamarins.jpgGay 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?

Other coverage:
USA TODAY - Animals often in Same-Sex Relationships
The UK Register: Gay animals going at it like rabbits
Wired: Keeping an Open Mind to Animal Homosexuality

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!

by Sarah Mirk
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Sarah Mirk is the former host of Bitch Media’s podcast Popaganda. She’s interested in gender, history, comics, and talking to strangers. You can follow her on Twitter

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5 Comments Have Been Posted

And they want to convert

And they want to convert your pets!



Homosexuality, bisexuality,

Homosexuality, bisexuality, heterosexuality - who needs a label? Sexuality is natural. The "traditional familiy" is not. In fact, it is a fairly new social paradigm created by men in the 17th and 18th century. The nuclear family is a structure created as the result of economic shifts. It has nothing to do with values or traditions - just a financial arrangement leading to confined gender roles, both of which are severely outdated. I say we take a hint from the animals about what is "natural." Live and let live! Love and let love!

Sexuality fluid? yes.

Sexuality fluid? yes. "Traditional family" birthed in the 17th century? I call BS. Family units existed in the peasant classes of Europe well before the plague. Less than uppercrust patricians of the classical eras also held to a form of the nuclear family when they couldn't afford more than a single wife. Let's not trot out tripe and hamper or real points.

Dogs can be gay too

In a world of labels, people try to attach those to their animals as well. Dogs that mount another of the same sex, is showing their dominance and not necessarily gay. But, I am a gay dog by choice. More a frame of mind, actually. I have a great time being gay and have more fun. Gay Dogs Unite at A fun place to visit

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