Sex talk
Speaking of Nature

Simon Sheppard, QSyndicate.com

Photo: badpuppy.com When homophobes run out of other insults to hurl, they tend to fall back on "unnatural." "Have you ever seen a gay dog?" they taunt. Well, Rover does seem more interested in humping legs than listening to Cher. It's kind of a weird-ass argument anyway: Cows don't drive cars, but that's no reason to sell your Taurus. And, come to think of it, Mr. Musk Ox doesn't often go to church.

But there are queer animals, lots of them. From penguins to elephants, from the Australian outback to right outside your window, Mom Nature often gets quite queer.

Same-sex behavior has been observed in many species for centuries, but bias often colored scientists' reports. If, after necking, George Giraffe mounted Jerry Giraffe and shot his wad, that bit of hanky-panky was explained away as "dominance behavior." Male-animal "perversion" was often attributed to a shortage of fuckable females. Yet even in situations where heterosex is readily available, many beasties still go homo. If bottlenose dolphins - a species in which long-term male/male couples are common - are taken from coed groups and placed in all-male environments, homosexual couplings actually are less frequent, not more.

And it's not just Flipper. Bighorn rams love to ram into butt; homosex accounts for about a quarter of their erotic activity during the mating season. African elephant males affectionately frolic in pairs around the waterhole, often with big old hard-ons, before one mounts the other. Pairs of male gray whales have been photographed intertwining their penises - Moby Dick, indeed. Even ugly old warthogs get gay and lesbian crushes. And then there are bonobo apes, who are, genetically speaking, our closest relatives; virtually all of those tree-swingers, male and female, are actively, hornily bisexual.

While bonobo hanky-panky has been widely documented, it wasn't till Bruce Bagemihl's authoritative 700-page book, Biological Exuberance, was published that most of us realized just how widespread animal homosexuality really is, occurring in more than 450 species. While it's important not to draw too many animal/human parallels - gay orangutans rarely moisturize or hang around in leather bars - it's more than clear that the birds and the bees are often kinda queer.

When faced with the facts, homophobes have been known to sleazily change their attacks. "Yeah, animals do it," they taunt. "So you want to be no better than animals?" You can't win: It's a clear case of "damned if deer do, damned if dogs don't." Opponents of gay parenting might (or might not) be interested to know that pairs of female squirrel monkeys frequently raise infants together: Heather Has Two Monkeys. But bias resists science, and the bullshit about "unnatural" will probably persist, facts notwithstanding.

Still, it's nice to know that we queer humans are not alone. Same-sex sex occurs throughout the wide, wide world, and it's not just creatures fucking, but often courting, showing affection, and even forming lasting pair-bonds. Homosexual and bisexual behaviors are not just odd aberrations or sinful willfulness. They're a part of creation now, most likely always have been, and will be until Earth is a cinder. When you're under attack from fundamentalists, it can be somehow reassuring to think of two male ostriches in love. Or baboons giving blow jobs.

So next time you turn on the TV, remember what doesn't make it to the Discovery Channel: scenes like the one in Biological Exuberance of tumescent guy walruses doing the butt thrust. As the Beatles would say, goo goo goo joob.

Simon Sheppard is the author of Kinkorama: Dispatches from the Front Lines of Perversion

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