Leitmotif

Reason as the Leading Motive

Flaming Gay Animals?

Posted by Jerry on June 14, 2006

Weltanschauung wrote up a post stating his definitive stance on homosexuality as being decidedly biological and therefore, not subject to moral scrutiny. He provided, as evidence, this book "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity."

Interestingly enough, however, the author of the very book that Weltanschauung puts forth as reason for his stance, would probably not agree with him entirely. Apparently, Bruce Bagemihl, the author, concludes that homosexuality among humans is "obviously both" nature and nurture.

Ofcourse, my own long-standing contention has been the very same thing (see posts filed under the category "Homosexuality"); sexual identity in humans must have some complex and dynamic matrix of reasons and causes. To me, it was clear that homosexuality had to have some biological basis because it was observed among animals. However, given that humans are radically different entities from other species–given the unique nature of our consciousness–it was also obvious to me that human sexuality could hardly be neatly reduced to purely and only biological causes. Any tenacious thinker would be able to easily conclude that there must certainly be a large amount of psychological and environmental influences on a human being's behaviors, especially the development of their sexual identity.

Moreover, the author of this book discusses the same argument from evolutionary "exuberance" that I had tried to convey as being the probable cause for the passing of the "gay gene"; evolution does not only "select" for survival and speciation/reproduction, but also for–among other reasons–diversity (also given that it is all a random process of selection, even non-functional genes are sometimes passed down the evolutionary chains)[note, this idea is not original to me, but I have long believed it to be the most probable one as, in my knowledge, it does not contradict any known scientific theories or fundamental philosophical principles].  

For those of you who might be interested in investigating Here's the review of the book on Amazon:

Bruce Bagemihl writes that Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity was a "labor of love." And indeed it must have been, since most scientists have thus far studiously avoided the topic of widespread homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom–sometimes in the face of undeniable evidence. Bagemihl begins with an overview of same-sex activity in animals, carefully defining courtship patterns, affectionate behaviors, sexual techniques, mating and pair-bonding, and same-sex parenting. He firmly dispels the prevailing notion that homosexuality is uniquely human and only occurs in "unnatural" circumstances. As far as the nature-versus-nurture argument–it's obviously both, he concludes. An overview of biologists' discomfort with their own observations of animal homosexuality over 200 years would be truly hilarious if it didn't reflect a tendency of humans (and only humans) to respond with aggression and hostility to same-sex behavior in our own species. In fact, Bagemihl reports, scientists have sometimes been afraid to report their observations for fear of recrimination from a hidebound (and homophobic) academia. Scientists' use of anthropomorphizing vocabulary such as insulting, unfortunate, and inappropriate to describe same-sex matings shows a decided lack of objectivity on the part of naturalists. [emphasis mine]

Astounding as it sounds, a number of scientists have actually argued that when a female Bonobo wraps her legs around another female … while emitting screams of enjoyment, this is actually "greeting" behavior, or "appeasement" behavior … almost anything, it seems, besides pleasurable sexual behavior.

Throw this book into the middle of a crowd of wildlife biologists and watch them scatter. But Bagemihl doesn't let the scientific community's discomfort deny him the opportunity to show "the love that dare not bark its name" in all its feathery, furry, toothy diversity. The second half of this hefty tome is filled with an exhaustive array of species that exhibit homosexuality, complete with photos and detailed scientific illustrations of the behaviors described. Biological Exuberance is a well-researched, thoroughly scientific, and erudite look at a purposefully neglected frontier of zoology. –Therese Littleton

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3 Responses to “Flaming Gay Animals?”

  1. Jason said

    I just don’t see how anyone could think it was either one or the other.

    I remember in kindergarten, I wanted to use my left hand to learn how to make my letters, but being the (intolerant, right-wing) Christian school that it was, I was made to use my right hand, as using my left was not only frowned upon, it wasn’t “normal.” I am proud to say I can write with either hand though my penmanship grades suffered for years, but it just goes to show how nature and nurture can have a profound influence on one’s life, no matter how small the detail.

    I would simply like to sum up by saying just because something isn’t majoritive in nature doesn’t make it unnatural or un-normal.

  2. Florian said

    Hi,
    I found your blog via google by accident and have to admit that youve a really interesting blog 🙂
    Just saved your feed in my reader, have a nice day 🙂

  3. kiran said

    The enormous difference between male and female sexual behaviour may be explained, in animals at least, by a tiny organ in the nose rather than by any gender difference in brain circuitry.
    Read more : http://www.drishtikone.com/?q=sex_its_all_in_your_nose

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