Monday, August 13, 2012

Homosexuality... Natural?

Now more on our discussion on homosexuality. Someone I know was reading the paper and ran along a story about a gay pride gathering. His comment was that he's fine with people being gay, but why does he have to keep hearing about it. I reminded him that they are fighting for equal rights. In that way, they're just like woman's rights groups fighting for equality between the sexes, and the civil rights movement fighting for equal rights. Right now, gays are still having to fight for the right to marry. The only way to secure this right that is unfairly denied from them is to remain vocal. His response was, "But it's not natural". Not natural?

I guess the next question needs to be what one means by 'natural'. For the time being, lets assume he means that other animals aren't homosexual. There are actually species that are fairly homosexual in nature. Bonobo's are a good example of a species that regularly engage in homosexual acts, however they would more accurately be classified as bisexual. However there are species of gulls that are primarily favor homosexual partnerships. The females favor other females but will still mate with a male for the sole purpose of breading when that season comes along. But the vast majority of the time they favor other females. Research has also shown that about 8% of sheep will only 'mate' with their own sex. When we get to black swans, the figure jumps to 25%! A homosexual nature leads one to assume that they won't pass on genes and that the species or trait would have to die out. However, this isn't what we see. The bisexual species are easier to understand, yet species/individuals that are homosexual still appear to mate and pass on genes irregardless of the appearance of favoring their same sex. Also, sometimes genes carry a secondary trait. The gene for sickle cell anemia still exists. You would think that would be selected against as well, however the same gene is also linked to malaria resistance. Take the good with the bad, because the good may outweigh the bad. It's not outside the realm of possibility that the same may exist for homosexuality. We arrive at the point that we must decide what makes a person or animal 'homo', 'hetero', or 'bi'. Would the animals that briefly enter hetero partnerships solely for the purpose of breading be 'homo' or 'bi'? It they have 'homo' sex 364 days a year and 'hetero' only once, where do we classify them? Or do we even judge them on acts alone and rely on internal preference... whether the animal/person personally favors male/female? Is a man that gets married and has kids simply to comply to societal norms, yet secretly favors men (and possibly has one on the side), homo, hetero or bi? I'll touch more on this next time...

As we can see, homosexuality does exist elsewhere in nature, and has been observed in many more species than I mentioned here. Homosexuality may not be overwhelmingly common, but it certainly isn't unnatural.


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