Social Question

silverfly's avatar

If homosexuality is mostly genetic, why don't we see it in nature among any other species?

Asked by silverfly (4045points) March 19th, 2010

Calm down… before you get all feisty, I’m truly curious. I’m not a hate monger, or homophobe, or a warlock. :)

It’s just interesting to me that homosexuality doesn’t exist in any other species than humans. Why is this?

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75 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

You are mistaken. It is ubiquitous in nature.

SeventhSense's avatar

We do. Our closest living relative the Bonobo chimp.

silverfly's avatar

@dpworkin It is? Explain, please.

escapedone7's avatar

I thought there were gay penguins at some zoo .

Likeradar's avatar

Not that wikipedia is the end-all research site, but this is a good place to start.

CMaz's avatar

Here we go. Let the speculation and theory fly.

“why don’t we see it in nature among any other species?”
We do, if you want to see it that way.

ucme's avatar

I’ve heard of gay penguins certainly, so it must be prevalent in other species to.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Um, it’s everywhere. My own domesticated and carefully bred doggie hasn’t had the homo bred out of him.

silverfly's avatar

@ChazMaz I like this. @Likeradar Yeah, it looks like homosexual behavior was documented, not necessarily intercourse. But then I guess we get into a whole debate of what actually constitutes homosexuality, sex, etc. Endless discussion.

SeventhSense's avatar

Here’s quite a quote from radar’s Wiki link:

“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 aphids. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue.”
—Petter Bøckman[3]
_

Trillian's avatar

I cannot answer to the first part of your question regarding genetics, I don’t know. But the second part is false. You can look here, and here for more in depth information. I have omitted the wiki sources, as they are notoriously unreliable, but these two are solid reference material.

dpworkin's avatar

I would have been glad to explain, but it looks like a ton of others have got the jump on me. You are merely undereducated on the issue. This does not need to be “proven”. It is widely known.

Trillian's avatar

As a matter of fact, my oldest daughter has a Pomeranian and her loser boyfriend has an English…big burly something or other with a pushed in face. He weighs about 120 pounds. And he licks Mr. Gramz’s balls. I guess I should add that Mr. Ted E. Gramz is the Pomeranian.

silverfly's avatar

These are good points, but it doesn’t seem the same to me. Just because there are sexual behaviors doesn’t mean there’s homosexuality. Do you ever see animals that only display this behavior with same sex? I wouldn’t think so, but perhaps I’m wrong again?

SeventhSense's avatar

@silverfly
The chimps are full speed ahead. Oral, anal etc. A regular bunch o’ freaks actually. They’re gettin’ busy all day AC DC incest. Anything goes.

bea2345's avatar

A fellow in my town beat his male pit bull because it was, he said, a “buller man” (homosexual). It would take absolutely no interest when introduced to a bitch in heat. Eventually the police seized the animal to save it from ill-treatment.

CMaz's avatar

Removed by me.

silverfly's avatar

Maybe homosexuality doesn’t actually exist and is just a word used to discriminate behavior that christians don’t understand. Case closed. Edit: you don’t really see christian behavior in nature. :-D

laureth's avatar

@silverfly re “Just because there are sexual behaviors doesn’t mean there’s homosexuality.”

In that case, I wouldn’t call animal sexual behaviour heterosexuality either, if you demand cultural behaviour along with the sex for homosexuality to occur in nature. I assume nesting behaviour and raising eggs together, for example, wouldn’t count for either kind of sexuality?

dpworkin's avatar

These are good points, but it doesn’t seem the same to me.
You haven’t seen it because you plainly don’t wish to see it. How do you disambiguate homosexuality from homosexual behavior?

Trillian's avatar

@silverfly What? You opened a can of worms, so grab a spoon and dig in. What do you mean “sexual behaviour doesn’t mean there’s homosexuality.”? What in the world could you possibly mean by “openly display this behaviour…”? Do you attribute “shame” to an animal? Because that is a human emotion, although as I understand it, it can be felt and evinced by animals as well. So let’s start back at the beginning, shall we?

Homosexuality

Main Entry: ho·mo·sex·u·al·i·ty
Pronunciation: \ˌhō-mə-ˌsek-shə-ˈwa-lə-tē\
Function: noun
Date: 1892

1 : the quality or state of being homosexual
2 : erotic activity with another of the same sex

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/homosexuality

So there we have the definition. So are you saying that because you don’t see a dog sashaying down the street somewhere and getting into a slap fight with another male dog you’re not seeing the behaviour? Please accept my apologies for the hyperbolic and rather stereotyped description to any gay males out there, or anyone else who may take offense. I engage in hyperbole to make the point, and no other intention is behind my words.
Wherre was I? Oh, @silverfly, you asked a legitimate question, nobody gave you any crap for it, we all jumped in and answered you with a gentle correction and backed up what we had to say with documentation from reliable sources. You can choose not to accept the evidence if you wish. We all had given you credit for having more intelligence than that.
Were we mistaken?

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

Animals are so gay.
They do it frequently.

SeventhSense's avatar

@Trillian
He was simply making a distinction between a label and a behavior.
Ease up there Slappy.

Trillian's avatar

@SeventhSense Oh yeah, right And you’re gonna tell me to ease up? Mr. “Now that you have energy go buy some bullets?” Sheesh! I missed you by the way. ;-)

Berserker's avatar

Man you haven’t seen what my two male cats do to one another…XD

cockswain's avatar

Last summer I was having a beer and watching a couple squirrels in the yard. One of them mounted the other for a little bit, but then they reversed positions. So there you have it, gay squirrels.

ucme's avatar

They may have been admiring each others nuts.

cockswain's avatar

With their penises?

Trillian's avatar

@cockswain It was a deep admiration!~

SeventhSense's avatar

@Trillian
LOL- well wait a minute. I just thought that now that he was up and around he could go to the firing range…take his mind off things..

ucme's avatar

@cockswain I used to think they were crazy but now I see their nuts.Oh behave!

Trillian's avatar

@SeventhSense Hehehe. Liar. And I thought this person was a girl. The links to music I used were kind of girly music… except for the first one. Doh!
Do you really think I was too rough on this guy? He dismissed everything we said and said ”...case closed”. I just wanted to restate the points and clear up his definitions for him. I don’t think that you can make a distinction between the label and the behaviour. I’m going to be graphic for a moment here; A penis up the anus of another male seems to be definitive “homosexual behaviour”, regardless of the species. What more did he want, an imitation of human stereotyped homosexual behaviour? That was all I was trying to say.

silverfly's avatar

@Trillian I don’t think you were too rough on me… I wanted this kind of dialogue and I said case closed because I think I actually gathered my own thoughts on the matter which is to say that homosexuality (to me) is just a label that our society has put on behavior that we don’t understand. Before this discussion, I really thought homosexuality didn’t exist in nature. Now I just think it doesn’t exist… It’s just a word. Thanks for your input.

So just like @dpworkin was saying, we can choose to see it however we want. So I’m going to blame society and religion for yet again putting another label on behaviors that seem wrong to further along agendas.

Trillian's avatar

@silverfly But then you are still dismissing something that clearly does exist.Defining something and giving it a label is not, in and of itself, a bad thing. Animals and humans display all kinds of behavoiurs. Attention seeking, mate seeking, they display affection for their young you see where I’m headed with this? They also clearly display homosexual behaviour. Your stating that something does not exist seems to stem from your dislike of the word “homosexual” but by definition, that’s what it is. To say otherwise is ludicrous. We have a very clear understanding of homosexual behaviour consists of. We may not ever understand the motivation behind this behaviour in animals, but we cannot deny something that clearly exists, whether we like the label or not. The label is a way of categorizing and classifying. It is not a condemnation.

silverfly's avatar

This is chicken and egg stuff. I don’t think the behavior would exist without the label. Just like ADD didn’t exist many years ago. Just like the world used to be flat. Just because humans call this behavior homosexuality and define it, doesn’t mean it is what we say it is. Why isn’t it just called love or affection?

Edit: this is kind of getting off topic and into a much deeper philosophical topic. We might have to start a new question. :)

Trillian's avatar

@silverfly The animals have no idea about us and our use of vocabulary. They don’t know that we see them and observe their behavoiurs. Are you saying that before we watched them and labeled their behaviours that they didn’t exist? That the first bird courtship dance didn’t happen until we watched and put a label on it? This is not anything to do with philosophy. We observe and classify. Period. It may very well be love or affection as the animals define it. I already said that we may never know the motivation behind the behaviour. It may just be their way of saying “hello”. But until we know differently, a male animal putting its penis into the anus of another male is rightly classified as “homosexual” behaviour.
I don’t understand your desire to state otherwise. As I said, this is not a condemnation. You can’t call it perpetuation of the species, and the hardened penis released from its sheath certainly points in the direction of sexuality. Whether it is dominating behaviour or affectionate or something else is completely beside the point, as is our labeling of it. It certainly has existed and will continue to exist in nature whether we observe and classify or not.

silverfly's avatar

I think we need another question posted: would the world exist if you did not? The answer seems obvious, but it’s a fun topic to discuss.

The homosexuality bit is clear now. I understand that it exists in nature under our definition.

Draconess25's avatar

Bats give each other blowjobs….Just throwing that out there…...

syz's avatar

Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity

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. -Amazon.com review.

A brilliant and important exercise in exposing the limitations of received opinion, this book presents to the lay reader and specialist alike an exhaustively argued case that animals have multiple shades of sexual orientation. The book is broken into two sections, the second containing species “portraits” detailing recorded homosexual/transgendered behaviors. The main portion of the book sets out to reveal and, indeed, revel in the documented evidence to date that some 450 species engage in both sustained and occasional “gay,” “lesbian” and transgendered pairing, parenting and play. Animals (both heterosexual and homosexual) also rape and divorce, commit “child” abuse and infidelity and can be lifelong celibates. Human claims to uniqueness in this arena are shown to be increasingly difficult to maintain. The overall effect is to detonate the myth that animals are solely driven by heterosexual reproductive urges, as Bagemihl, a biologist, amasses evidence with case study after case study of species ranging from whiptail lizards to bottlenose dolphins, flamingoes, vampire bats and giraffes. But his book offers more than a zoological laundry list. Biologists who have long classified these behaviors as taking place only in “abnormal” conditions or as “pseudo-copulation,” “mistakes,” “practicing” and domineering sexual bullying are frequently shown to be willfully ignoring behavior that does not reflect their own worldview or accepted scientific thought. What might so easily have turned into a tub-thumping activist tract hitched to the need for acceptance of homosexuality among humans is instead elevated to a hugely inclusive, celebratory biological interpretation of the world. Bagemihl convincingly overturns previous inviolable “truths” that scarcity and functionality are the prime agents of biological change, and advances instead the idea that abundance and extravagance?“biological exuberance”?are just as crucial to the mosaic of life. From Publishers Weekly

faye's avatar

My stepfather bought a bull for breeding who showed no interest in the ladies but did show interest in the young bulls. Sold for roasts, that one.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

I want to know where you get the idea that homosexuality is mostly genetic. Because that’s the first problem. The second problem has been superbly addressed above.

dpworkin's avatar

There does seem to be some serious support now for the idea that there may be a polygenic component to homosexuality in some cases. However, it should be noted that all data emphasize a considerable interactive effect with environmental factors. (This type of study often uses monozygotic twins who were raised by different sets of parents, e.g. adopted monozygotic twins.)

SeventhSense's avatar

@syz
Good points. I would love to hear some of your own observations. You work with big cats yes? I saw a documentary on adolescent male lions who will engage in homosexual behavior before they have a pride as a means to while away those lonely hours out on the Savannah. Brokeback Mountain a la Leo.
Of course captivity is not the same environment but have you observed?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@silverfly Nothing in that q provides evidence for the fact that it’s mostly genetic – there are some links to biology when it comes to homosexuality and at best genetics might have a small role but it’s certainly something we can’t link for sure to any one thing and there is no reason to do this. Funnily enough, people like Nullo who also say there’s no genetic link to homosexuality (because they want it to not exist) sound similar to when I (a queer person) say it’s mostly about the social environment. Oh, the irony.

silverfly's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir I initially thought it was all circumstances from upbringing, but people really don’t like that thought. So I just accepted that it was more genetic and that they had no choice. It’s just the way they felt. I’m realizing now that this is such a heavy and deep topic. No one answer exists.

SeventhSense's avatar

There has been no genetic homosexual marker found to date in DNA but that’s not to say there is no genetic predisposition with a greater proclivity for homosexual behavior which would essentially be the same thing.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@silverfly I agree. To me, it makes no difference what the ‘source’ of it is, whatsoever – I don’t need to fight discrimination against LGBT people because it’s genetic or because it’s not genetic – I don’t get all the money that goes into all this research – what’s it for other than what it should be for and that is scientific curiosity? So that people out there can say ‘look, it’s biological, it’s not their fault’ or others can say ‘look it’s biological, it’s a disease we must cure’...ugh…

silverfly's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir It is irrelevant. As long as people are loving to each other, all is irrelevant.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@silverfly well then we agree, :)

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

I believe homosexuality does exist in other animal species, but the homosexuality in those species is strictly “sexual”—-whereas the homosexuality in human beings encompasses both sex and romance. In nature, you might see two male lions humping each other, but that’s only because they are driven by the sexual impulses, not by romantic love. Humans have the advanced capacity for romance and sensuality. Some animals like dogs show a caring and loving capacity to their owners, but they are not capable of loving “romantically” like humans can——that’s what separates us from the other animals. Thus, homosexual love is a higher form of sexuality, maybe even higher than heterosexual love, because heterosexuality is more common among the wild animals! Lol.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES It’s also telling that people make homosexuality much more about sex than they do heterosexuality.

Coloma's avatar

I want to know more about the sea urchins and aphids. lol

Coloma's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES

Hmmmm…think you’re going waaay out on a limb there.

‘Love’ is love, regardless.
Whether it is between two men, or two dogs, or a dog and a man. lolol ( you know what I mean, I assume. haha )

‘Love’ is not sex, sex is not love.

Just like pain is pain….is my smashed finger a ‘higher’ form of pain that your smashed toe?

So maybe you mean to say a higher form of sexuality, but that makes no sense either, sexuality is just sexuality, birds do it, bees do it, homosexuals do it.

Soooo….my conclusion….it just is what it is. Not higher, not lower…it just is.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@Coloma I’m just reiterating the view that the ancient Greeks and ancient Chinese had about homosexuality——that is was a “purer” form of love than heterosexual love, but my definition adds a little twist——because almost all wild animals engage primarily in heterosexual or opposite sex sexual relations, not homosexual relations, homosexuality is “rarer” in the animal kingdom than heterosexuality. And because human beings are the only animals that express their love with sex, it’s my theory that homosexuals express a more “superior” form of love with sex than us heterosexuals do. Just my theory, that’s all. Lol. Don’t take it too seriously. :D

Coloma's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES

lol….no, never….nothing is all that serious!

Interesting theory….so homosexuals are really uber evolved love gurus.
Okay…why not?
Makes as much sense as any theory. And boner ( I mean bonus ) points for creativity! I’ll give it a B+

I have a theory that geese that imprint on blondes with pigtails are more highly evolved and perhaps working towards a new cross species. lolololololol

CMaz's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES – Is the closes to hitting the hammer on the nail. But there are too many people that “really don’t like that thought”.

This in one of those jump the shark moments. Having the egg before you get the chicken.
Homosexuality, there is no question something is going on. Been going on for a long time. Can’t think of another way to say it without using words that are either good or bad. Then you open up a whole other can of worms.
We don’t know why. But it is here. It is not going anywhere. Cool, great, no big deal.

But until we know how and why. Everything is speculation. And sometimes desperation, being tired of the argument. Seeing animals as gay or sexuality as fluid is reverse engineering to get to a solution.
You can site all your “observations” to describe homosexuality in animals and it comes down to a guess. A theory. So many things around us make sense with out having to have a doctorate behind you to push others around, because you really don’t like that thought. Nature is not that complicated. We just make things complicated, we create a big deal out of it. On both sides.

Reminder: This is an open forum, as long as we are not attacking one another or taking things personal. There is always something to learn. And you can’t learn anything without questions or answers.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@ChazMaz That’s just one of my many funny theories that I have running around in my head. Lol. I have always thought about this too——I figure that two men or two women, because they are of the same sex, “know” what the other partner “sensually” feels, since the other man or woman has the same physiology. One man knows what the other man “senses” pleasure-wise, therefore, homosexual relationships have the potential for being more mutually satisfying and “connecting” than heterosexual relationships. In heterosexual relationships, we men are usually struggling to find what women want from us, and women are trying to figure out how to please us too. That’s how homosexual relationships may be slightly superior to heterosexual ones. Also, in heterosexual relationships, because men and women are different physiologically, the two sexes sometimes have problems satisfying the other sexually because men have such high sex drives and want it physically whereas women want their emotional needs met first. Homosexuals usually don’t have that problem because a gay man is often willing to satisfy his partner’s sex drive because he himself wants it too. Hard for me to explain my silly theory but oh well. Lol.
Yes, I agree ChazMaz that we should be open and non-attacking. That’s what makes this site fun. (By the way, I want to let everyone know I am not homosexual. Lol.). ;)

CMaz's avatar

“homosexual relationships have the potential for being more mutually satisfying”
As in better?

“homosexual relationships may be slightly superior to heterosexual ones.”
Superior?

That type of talk will do noting more then cause everyone to chase each others tails.

I prefer the word balance. Like I said. Something is going on. In nature there is always the need for equilibrium.

You get a GA for your freedom to express your thoughts. :-) With out any persecution.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@ChazMaz Sometimes when people post things, I included, it’s hard finding the right words to define what you’re trying to say. “Superior” is perhaps not the best word to use, but that’s the one that came into my head first. Lol. I wish sometimes people wouldn’t take one or two written words so seriously, because words are very subjective and “out of the blue” sometimes. I’m not saying you’re like that, but you know what I mean my friend. ;)

SeventhSense's avatar

@MRSHINYSHOES
One man knows what the other man “senses” pleasure-wise, therefore, homosexual relationships have the potential for being more mutually satisfying and “connecting” than heterosexual relationships. In heterosexual relationships, we men are usually struggling to find what women want from us, and women are trying to figure out how to please us too.

This seems like a bias more than anything. The chemical and pheromone response just from being in the vicinity of a women it has been shown raises the testosterone of a heterosexual male. And I completely concur. When I’m in that zone there is almost nothing that she does that doesn’t turn me on. My last girlfriend and I were so synchronous we would come at the same time. My coming would trigger her orgasm. It was amazing. On the contrary a male could tickle my ass with a feather and hum Yankee Doodle Dandy on my balls and it would just be like- meh…I think I need a shower.

MRSHINYSHOES's avatar

@SeventhSense Lol. I think you know what I mean though, my friend. Of course another male wouldn’t tickle your fancy no matter what he does——you’re heterosexual. But between two males or females of the same sexual orientation, that’s a different story. Their physiologies are virtually identical, being of the same sex, so what one feels sensually the other one “knows”. And because of this, each has the ability and potential to please and satisfy his or her same sex partner better. I’m not talking pheromones or chemistry here, but actual “sensual” feelings——the male orgasm as men know it, and the female orgasm as women know it, and between themselves they are on par. ;)

In addition, there is the added argument put forth by some gay men that in heterosexual relationships, because men’s sex drives are generally higher than women’s sex drives, heterosexual men often find it hard to get all the sex they need and desire from women, because women don’t want sex all the time, whereas most men do. Hence all the fighting between men and women. Gay men don’t experience those conflicts as much, so according to the theory, which makes sense to me. Sigh, makes me green with envy. lol.

SeventhSense's avatar

Yes but in theory only.

mattbrowne's avatar

We got 2 female rabbits for many years. After a year or so they became lesbian one playing the male.

bea2345's avatar

My mother’s pit bull (female) was totally uninterested in sex. Even when in heat, she would drive off all suitors. She died, as she lived, a spinster. She was a good watch and dearly loved my mother.

Riguy's avatar

Silverfly I have to agree with you. I believe homosexuality is a title humans made to explain this behavior. Quick question: has homosexuality always been around? I believe homosexuality is not something you are born with, I believe it’s a behavior you pick up depending on you situation and cercumstances in life. This could possibly explane the behavior of animals as well. “monkey see monkey do”

Draconess25's avatar

@Riguy Explain how I just “picked it up”. Everyone in my family is a homophobe, & I never met another gay (or even bi) person in my life, until I started middle school. Yet, I had the hots for girls when I was a child. From where did I “pick it up”?

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Draconess25 Oh oh I know – you are just doing it to rebel!

Draconess25's avatar

@Simone_De_Beauvoir <<sigh>> No, I didn’t realize how it could be considered “rebellious” when I was younger. Until my mom & grandma gave me a lecture about how “you’re only supposed to say that about boys”.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@Draconess25 Well, well..but then..it must be a phase! ~

liminal's avatar

I bought my gayness for just 9.99. I can forward the source to any interested.~

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