Do you consider yourself to be a normal, conventional, regular, well-adjusted, average, run of the mill, standard or straight-laced human being? Sure, you’ve got your own unique set of characteristics and idiosyncrasies. But, when you get really mad and punch the door or wall, you end up sheepishly cradling your smarting hand just like the rest of us. You don’t morph into a large green raging monster that could give Chuck Norris a run for his money.
“Yes, I suppose so,” you say.
Okay. So, what if I told you that there was a hidden camera, Big Brother style, in your bedroom and it had been capturing everything you’d done over the past month? Would you reconsider your answer? Would you desperately flip through your memories to recall whether or not there could be any footage on those cameras that could have you criminally prosecuted or thrown into the loony bin? There was that time you excavated your nostril and wiped it on your partner’s side of the bed because she was being a bitch. Or what about that really weird habit of yours: you know, the one where you talk out loud when no one’s around and then answer yourself as Darth Vader.
The point is: we all like to think we’re fairly normal. That is, until no one is looking.
SO! It is when the topic of homosexuality comes up in conversation and someone says to me, “it’s just not natural” that I can’t help but wonder what their particular behind-closed-doors vice is. If only I knew, for then I would have the ultimate retort: “It’s not natural? Neither is that thing you do with the peanut butter, the dental floss and your schizophrenic-looking poodle…”
Alas, such solid gold one-liners are saved only for carefully-scripted Hollywood comedies. For our retort to those bigoted individuals who believe homosexuality is an aberrant behaviour, we shall have to use some solid scientific reasoning and the best way to begin any intellectual debate is to look for a precedent.
Where better to start looking than in nature?
What is ‘Natural’ Anyway?
“Present in or produced by nature.”
“Faithfully representing nature or life.”
“Of, relating to, or concerning nature.”
There are quite a few dictionary definitions to be found for ‘natural’. Some definitions relate to societal expectations: “established by moral certainty or conviction.” And some relate to the behaviour of hippies: “characterized by spontaneity and freedom from artificiality, affectation, or inhibitions.” Essentially, however, to be ‘natural’ is to have precedent in nature and in our surrounding physical and biological environment. All other definitions have been adapted or even warped to apply to our civilization in one way or another.
The next important step in this analysis is to determine whether homosexuality is in fact unnatural and whether or not there are any precedents of male-on-male or female-on-female love in Earth’s biosphere.
Lots of Animals Here are Queer!
Did you know that homosexual behaviour – as is defined by same sex courtship (wooing), affection (cuddling), shagging (*ahem*), bonding (bro’s before ho’s) and parenting – has been observed in almost 1500 different species of animals? Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl performed a comprehensive review of many creatures and critters and found a staggering number of cases of homosexuality between males of a species and females of a species. In 500 of these species, this behaviour has not only been observed, but is actually well-documented.
And forget obscure, little heard-of, abyssal-dwelling sea squishies… homosexuality has been documented in creatures ranging from lizards, giraffes, dolphins, domestic cats and barn owls to koalas, king penguins, salmon, killer whales and chimpanzees. Even LIONS dabble in the regular bromance with each other.
Talk about a gay pride… QUEENS of the jungle, more like.
In October of 2006, the University of Oslo’s Norwegian Natural History Museum hosted what must have been a fascinating exhibition on homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It was titled “Against Nature’s Order?” The academic advisor behind the exhibition was a man called Petter Bøckman who made the following brilliant statement:
“One fundamental premise in social debates has been that homosexuality is unnatural. This premise is wrong. Homosexuality is both common and highly essential in the lives of a number of species.”
You tell ‘em, girlfriend!
Animals engage in sexual behaviour for many different reasons. Sex is about so much more than just reproduction; it’s a language in itself. It’s a way to say “I love you”, “I’m sorry”, “you’re the boss” or “you’re MY bitch!” It’s a way of communicating love, anger, affection and power and it’s a way of resolving conflict; of reconnecting. No matter how above the animal kingdom you may consider yourself to be, it’s true even of the human race. There are only two kinds of people who believe sex should exclusively be an act of reproduction and those people either aren’t having any sex (the Pope) or are brought up by warped belief frameworks that permit you to marry your 12-year old niece.
Why, WHY would you believe them?
Case in Point(y Heels)…
- 90% of the time male giraffes are actually having sex it’s with another male giraffe.
- The Bonobo chimpanzee is a devoted bisexual. Boys love girls AND boys. Girls love boys AND girls. They are also one of our closest genetic relatives…
- One out of every ten couples of black-headed gulls is lesbian and will only copulate with a male in order to reproduce. They devote every other waking second of their lives to each other.
- Lions are notorious poofters! The males will hang out together in a rugged pack of manly maneliness, but, when the gazelles aren’t looking, they’ll shag around with each other as a way of building loyalty and camaraderie.
- Dolphins only engage very briefly with the opposite sex during mating time, but males will remain together for many years. Sometimes, just to dispel the mood of a bad day in the office, they’ll engage in bisexual sex orgies.
- Geese are constantly falling head-over-heels in love. And forget divorce. That’s just not a word in their genetic vocabulary. But 4% to 5% of the time, the two love birds are both male. No matter! They mate for life anyway and dedicate their efforts to raising the eggs donated to them by career girl geese.
- Female Bonobo chimpanzees are complete and utter Sapphic sluts. I can’t even include a picture for illustration here because my blog would get blacklisted for pornography. So, here’s a picture of a cute kitten instead…
Class Dismissed: Your Take-Home Message
For many animals, it is a regular and totally natural part of their behaviour to “get down on it” with other members of the same sex. Actually, it couldn’t possibly be said any more eloquently than in the words used by Petter Bøckman during the “Against Nature’s Order” exhibition:
“No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.”
Not an issue indeed. There are hundreds and possibly thousands of homosexual species in the animal kingdom.
But only one that is homophobic.