originally published November 24, 2012
Over the past week, a number of people have shared with me this video, in which Russell Brand speaks to (and mocks) a pair of religious zealots from the Westboro Baptist Church on his talk show. My first response was, “Russell Brand has a talk show? When the hell did this happen?” Then I settled in to the same response that most of my friends had expressed, them being of a generally rational frame of mind and not devoted to bigotry and judgment like those Westboro freaks.
I was saddened by the display of the unevolved mind, still dragging down the back-end of our species in close-minded rhetoric and unenlightened adherence to an utterly selective interpretation of their faith. Brand was amusing, but it was hard to tune out that vacuum of ignorance. Also, why the hell is he hosting a talk show? Seriously, don’t we have enough of those yet?
Ms. Wiki generously offered some research into the supposed ‘unnatural’ acts that inexplicably drive these people to such proud stupidity. Her ‘Random Article’ button dropped me into the vast, clearly God-approved world of homosexual behavior in animals.
(I always had my suspicions about the peacock)
The first problem in this research is that scientists don’t really know all the reasons animals have sex. Yes, it propagates the species, but presumably it also feels good. With no such thing as social norms, why wouldn’t an animal simply do what feels good whenever it can? (This, by the way, will not work as a pick-up line. Trust me.)
So far, the only species they have found that never engage in same-sex boinking are the ones who abstain from boinking completely – asexual beasts like sea urchins and such. But who wants to behave like a sea urchin anyway? Groveling around the ocean floor, looking for handouts and free meals.
Some researchers believe that same-sex encounters among beasts of the wild take place in order to display dominance, along the lines of human behavior in prison (Butch wildebeest vs. Bitch wildebeest). Others would disagree, suggesting that the sexual acts are actually used to strengthen alliances and social ties within a group of animals (“You want to join the herd, you gotta get with Clyde over there.”).
One study involving hot sheep-on-sheep action (probably not how they worded it) revealed that roughly 8% of rams actually preferred sex with other rams, even when presented with the opportunity to copulate with a female. No doubt this will inspire the Westboro people to protest sheep farms, sweater stores and St. Louis football games.
Penguins, who are known for exhibiting monogamous behavior, will occasionally select members of the same sex with whom they’ll mate for life. Females come along, but these penguins turn away, waddling back to the penguin they’ve opted to remain hitched to.
I should point out that there appears to be a strong bias in this article toward male-male same-sex relations. I’m not sure why that is – maybe lesbian coupling in the wild is simply less common. It does happen – the article includes a photo of hot girl-on-girl puppy action – it just doesn’t get much attention in this particular trough of research.
They haven’t settled upon a physiological basis for homosexuality among animals. In the sheep study (maybe the same one, maybe there are thousands of gay sheep studies), the bisexual rams were found to have lower levels of testosterone and smaller cajones. Similar tests with gulls showed no such correlations. To put that in scientific terms, they are fuck-tastically baffled.
Well, not completely. They figured out that if they disable a certain gene in lab mice – one that is linked with estrogen production – it will make the female mice grow up behaving more like males, at least in terms of sexual preference. Another gene, when tweaked in a fruit fly, can effectively induce homosexuality. Apparently it also induces “several abnormal behaviors” as well. I’d like to elaborate on this, but the online source for this quote requires authentication to gain access. I tried entering ‘guest’, but that failed, so we’re out of luck. I’d like to think “abnormal behaviors” means something truly weird; maybe the fruit flies turned yellow, sneezed a lot and formed a water polo league.
So who are these gay animals, and should the Christian Right be mobilized to defend the rest of us from this clear threat to our freedom?
Black swans, first of all. Experts figure one quarter of all black swan pairings are homosexual male couples. They’ll either steal nests or lure some unsuspecting female into having a threesome before taking ownership of the eggs and driving her away. So in the black swan community, the gay swans are also the dickish swans. And just as the dickish among us tend to prosper, the cygnets raised by same-sex parents tend to do better in the swan world, probably because they were raised to be territorial assholes.
Mallards are just as bad. The male tends to take off as soon as the female has eggs, with as many as 19% of them within a habitat forming a couple with another male. Wow.
I already mentioned penguins, but feel I should bring them up again because everyone loves penguins. Well, everyone except George Murray Levick, British Antarctic explorer, who discovered penguin homosexual tendencies in 1911. He called them ‘depraved’ and suppressed that portion of his report, believing it to be too shocking for the public. In fact, he translated this report into Greek and destroyed all English copies so that his contemporaries would be kept in the dark. They remained hidden away until they were discovered and translated this past June. It was a penguin conspiracy.
This loving couple is Roy and Silo. They live in the Central Park Zoo in New York, and in 2004 they successfully incubated an egg right up through hatching, then raised the chick as their own daughter. Think about it – penguins are doing it. How can it be unnatural?
Dolphins are all about sex for fun. They often have group sex with up to five participants, all bangin’ and bumpin’ and grindin’ off one another, regardless of gender. Over on land, the Mandon Nation, a tribe of Native Americans in North Dakota, conclude their annual Okipa Festival with a ceremonial enactment involving two male bison bulls engaging in anal sex. Okay, that’s one of the stranger Native American traditions, but why not?
The list keeps going – monkeys, apes, elephants, giraffes, lions, hyenas, lizards, insects – and not just same-sex sex, but affection, nuzzling, courtship. We’re talking elephant trunks intertwining here, postcard images. And the other elephants, the ones who are all about getting it on with elephants of the opposite sex, they don’t judge, they don’t scowl, they don’t label their fellow herd-mates or go on Russell Brand’s talk show to inform the world of the high potential population of Elephant Hell.
Maybe some of us just aren’t as evolved as the animals lower than us on the food chain.*
(* I know – these nutjobs don’t believe in evolution either. Caught that irony as soon as I wrote it.)