Category Archives: Nature

Jesse’s Journal: The Nature of Mating

Gay-penguins-1 A
few years ago the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland conducted guided tours that
centered around homosexual behavior among the zoo animals. Unfortunately,
the one hour tours were held in the early evenings, at a time when most
animals
were asleep. But this did not stop the gay zoo tours from being a
success.  Though there was no same-sex activity in evidence, tour guide
Myriam Schärz assured her tourists that same-sex behavior is a common
part of
animal life: “I don’t know of any species that is exclusively
heterosexual,”
Schärz told “swissinfo”, Switzerland’s news and information platform. “Right here in Zurich we once had a gay flamingo couple who remained
partners
for life. In Cologne Zoo they have a pair of lesbian penguins who each
year steal an egg from one of their neighbors and treat it as their
own.”’
 
The last time I wrote about same-sex behavior among the so-called
“lesser”
species was in 1999. Later that year the standard work on the topic,
Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by
Bruce
Bagemihl, was published. “On every continent, animals of the same sex
seek
each other out and
Bio exuberance have probably been doing it for millions of years,”
Bagemihl
wrote. “They court each other, using intricate and beautiful mating
dances
that are the result of eons of evolution. Males caress and kiss each
other, showing tenderness and affection toward one another rather than
just
hostility and aggression. Females form long-lasting pair-bonds – or
maybe
just meet briefly for sex, rolling in passionate embraces or mounting
one
another. Animals of the same sex build nests and homes together, and
many
homosexual pairs raise young without members of the opposite sex. Other

animals regularly have partners of both sexes, and some even live in
communal
groups where sexual activity is common among all members, male and
female. Many creatures are ‘transgendered,’ crossing or combining
characteristics of
both males and females in their appearance or behavior.”

 
According to Bagemihl, “Homosexual behavior occurs in more than 450

different kinds of animals worldwide, and is found in every major
geographic
region and every major animal group.”  But we don’t need Bagemihl for
anecdotal evidence. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear stories
about
same-sex oriented otters or rabbits. You don’t have to go to the Zurich

Zoo to learn about “the indiscriminate and almost insatiable sexuality
of bonobo
apes” or “how gay male dolphins use their lovers’ blowholes for sexual
gratification.” Just last year a review paper by Nathan Bailey and
Marlene
Zuk of the Department of Biology at the University of California in
Riverside
concluded that “same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in
the animal
kingdom, common across species, from worms to frogs to birds.”

 
“Female western gulls sometimes pair off for several years and
mount each
other while incubating eggs,” Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson wrote in
Completely
Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia
.  “Similar behaviors have been
documented among female sage grouse, male mallard ducks, and female and
male

Outinalldirections greylag geese and turkeys.” According to the authors of Out in All
Directions: The Almanac of Gay and Lesbian America
, same-sex behavior
has been
documented in all kinds of animal species, including antelope, bugs,
butterflies, cats, cattle,  cockroaches, crickets, dogs, donkeys,
elephants, flies, geckos, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, hyenas, lions,
martens,
mice, moths, octopuses, orcas, porcupines, raccoons, rats and wasps. “In
1994,” according to the Almanac, “two male flamingos in the Rotterdam
Zoo in the
Netherlands got the nesting urge and set up a same-sex co-habitation. After the two repeatedly sought to steal eggs from female flamingos to
hatch
them as their own, the zookeepers decided to provide them with a
fertilized
egg.  he proud parents successfully hatched their own little chick, and

remained faithfully by the side of the baby flamingo for a while.” The
whole world knows about Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at the
Central
Park Zoo in New York who lovingly hatched and raised an adopted chick,
Tango.  (The story of Tango and her two daddies appears in 2005's
often-censored children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, by Justin
Richardson and
Peter Parnell.)

 
Gay animal behavior seems to alarm religious conservatives almost
as much
as the human variety, and they have tried their best to deny it. Those
who
do admit that same-sex behavior exists in the animal kingdom try to
explain it
away as being playful antics or dominance behavior to assert hierarchy. “Some conservatives and religious groups now admit that homosexuality is
common
in the animal kingdom, but many of them have also put forward theories
to
explain the phenomenon,” said Myriam Schärz of the Zurich Zoo. “Some
argue
that homosexuality only occurs when animal populations become too large,
or that
animals only turn to homosexuality when they have no other alternative ,
, , But
there is no evidence to back up the population theory, and there is
plenty of
proof against the harem argument. Dominant silver-back gorillas, for
instance, have frequently been seen engaging in homosexual activity and
deliberately shunning available females.”
 
“Humans seem to be the only species where homosexuals are not
readily
accepted in society,” Schärz said. “Animal societies tend to stay
together and accept each other. Of course, animals do get excluded
occasionally
but that tends to happen if they get injured or if they are not liked,
rather
than because of their sexuality.” Here is another instance where we
humans
could learn from the animals.
 
 
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and animal lover who lives
in South
Florida.  Send all gay animal tales to him at jessemonteagudo@aol.com.

A Skeptic Comes Out

RandiPeople may or may not be aware of the magician and professional skeptic, The Amazing Randi, but he has recently decided to come out and we think it's a fascinating conversation…listen here. He comes out as a gay man and has a rather nice conversation about it with the interviewer. He has always been a personal favorite of mine, a debunker of scams shams and magical thinking, including the $1,000,000 Paranormal Challenge...which has yet to be awarded.

I can't help but wonder if the caricature portrait of Arthur C. Clarke (another gay man and long-time White Crane subscriber) in the background on the right might be an old boyfriend?

The conversation in the interview takes some interesting turns when they posit that rationalism (i.e. non-deism) might be as powerful a tool in the gay rights struggle as assimilationist gay religiosity and gay "spirituality"; Both have an interest in debunking pseudo-science (i.e. Right Wing creationism). Here's the quote:

"I think there is something that skepticism can do with homosexuality. A
lot of cultural conservatives use a kind of pseudo
science to argue against gay wrights. And people who rail against pseudo science
should want to argue against it even if it has to do with culture war
questions like gay rights. Cultural conservatives use junk science to
argue that gay parenting leads to mentally ill children.

They use fake
science to argue that being gay is not natural; t
hat homosexuality
is an aberration when in fact you find it widely among many different
species. So, in a real way I think gay issues are skeptic's issues."

D.J. Grothe, President of the James Randi Educational Foundation, the
international educational non-profit founded by celebrated social critic
and activist James Randi.

RFD: 35 Years – Remarkably Festive Divas

Bluestockings


Join the NYC Circle of Radical Faeries for an evening of readings, ritual, high drag and magic! Celebrate the 35th anniversary of RFD,

the digest of the Radical Faerie community.

Saturday, May 30th at BLUESTOCKINGS

6:00 PM Meet, Greet, Drum and Chant

7:00 PM Readings…and…

DRESS WITCHIE!

RFDIssue132 The current issue explores the relationship between the Radical Faerie's ritual practices and Starhawk's Reclaiming Collective. It includes articles on the life of Faeries and Witches in the 1970', 80's and 90's
as well as meditations on the current practice of Faerie Ritual. Rare back copies from the last 35 years of quarterly publication will also be available for sale. 
 

BLUESTOCKINGS
a bookstore, fair trade cafe, and activist center
in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.
172 Allen St.
New York, NY 10002
212.777.6028 
Directions:
Bluestockings is located in the Lower East Side of Manhattan at 172 Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington, one block south of Houston and First Avenue.

By train: F train to 2nd Ave , exit at 1st Ave , and walk one block south.

By car: If you take the Houston exit off of the FDR, then turn left onto Essex
(a.k.a. Avenue A), then right on Rivington, and finally right on Allen, you will
be very, very close.

News Flash: Gay Priest! …oh…nevermind.

Weakland It comes as no big surprise to hear of the memoirs of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, former Catholic prelate of Milwaukee, and his admission therein that he is a gay man. Imagine that?! A gay priest.

What a shock.

Meanwhile, down Miami way, Father Cutie (pronounced "cue-tee-ay" no matter howFather Cutie cute he is) allows as how he's fallen in love with a woman, and "doesn't want to become the poster boy for anti-celibacy." Don't worry cutey. You won't.

We return once again, to the anti-sex of yesteryear…somewhere around the 16th century, when the Roman Catholic Church was worried about what was going to happen to all that real estate. Suddenly scriptural support for the celibacy of the priesthood was discovered….how conveeeeeeeeeeenient. Presto! No real estate problems. All the deeds stay with the church.

What is it that makes celibacy so desirable in a priest or a nun? Why is a lack of human, physical intimacy a recommend for spiritual superiority? 

Once again the Roman Catholic Church's wisdom in the area of sexuality and human intimacy is reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church's wisdom in the area of astronomy. 

Which is to say: zero.

Space-06

Papal Rectal Cranial Inversion

It's gratifying to see a scientific journal with the intellectual heft of The Lancet taking on the pope and his recent idiotic rantings in Africa and how condoms "contribute to HIV/AIDS":

Pope_condom_hat "Whether the Pope's error was due to ignorance or a deliberate attempt to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology is unclear. But the comment still stands and the Vatican's attempts to tweak the Pope's words, further tampering with the truth, is not the way forward. When any influential person, be it a religious or political leader, makes a false scientific statement that could be devastating to the health of millions of people, they should retract or correct the public record. Anything less from Pope Benedict would be an immense disservice to the public and health advocates, including many thousands of Catholics, who work tirelessly to try and prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS worldwide."
 

But they're being nice. Or tactful. Or something. I'm sorry, but is it really "unclear" if his intent was to manipulate science to support Catholic ideology? Really? Unclear to whom? 

Note to Galileo: About 1.7 million people, mostly women, in sub-Saharan Africa became infected with the HIV virus in 2007, bringing the total number of infections in the region to 22.5 million, according to the latest report by UNAIDS, the United Nations program that deals with HIV/AIDS. That’s two-thirds of the global number of people living with the virus.

The pope's comments are nothing short of an outrage, and frankly are as much a "crime against humanity" as any genocide. Medieval rot.

Of course, it wouldn't be the first time…and the Vatican's record on astronomy would be enough to give anyone pause when it came to listening to papal science (which, interestingly, if you Google "papal science" the first thing that comes up is Paypal. Somehow perfect.) 

"Papal science"…Is that an oxymoron? Or just a moronic?

Crimes Against Nature

One of the most common slurs aimed at Gay folk is the "crime against Nature" accusation…the idea that homosexuality doesn't occur "naturally." Now, of course, we all know that's a bunch of heteronormative bunkum…Gay penguins, Lesbian seagulls, Bonobos (known taxonomically as Pan paniscus, or the "diminutive Pan"), dolphins ("birds do it, bees do it, even educated fleas do it!")…all you have to do if you're looking for instances of homoeroticism in Nature is look for it and be willing to actually see it.

Apu - Eight is Enough! On the other hand, am I the only person in the room who is mildly disturbed by these stories of multiple births (eight at last count in California, to a woman who apparently already had six children…and they are questioning whether fertility drugs were involved. Well duh!…ya think!?) and, this morning, a 60 year old woman who gave birth. Now…I'm going to be 59 myself this year, and I can tell you, the idea of getting up for middle-of-the-night feedings, to say nothing of diapers, is the very last thing I would welcome. The story mentioned that this 60-year-old woman had turned to fertility drugs after decades of attempting to conceive… ahem… naturally. In my humble opinion, these aren't births…they're litters.

No one is supposed to question the aching desire of these women. Nevermind how self-centered and entitled it all is. My favorite part of all of these stories is how the mother in question always manages to see herself and her conception as something for which god needs to be involved and thanked, completely ignoring the fact that none of it would have happened without the science of in vitro fertilization. One wonders how many of these women who see their wombs as "miracle sites" would in the next breath condemn evolution. Or the women who, with multiple embryos crowding their otherwise unfertile wombs, decline what the doctors refer to as "selective reduction", i.e. selective abortions of some of the embryos for the health of the remaining embryos, citing "god's will," as though god had anything to do with the multiple embryos science placed in her. If god had anything to do with it, then perhaps the very idea that someone, after decades of infertility, might figure out the message that perhaps she isn't supposed to conceive.

And I have to wonder: did anyone bother to tell these self-absorbed "aching wombs" that, in the United States alone there are more than 129,000 children in foster care in need of a loving families and mothers?

And what doctor gave this woman fertility drugs? Where is the oversight? This woman is not married, already has 6 children, lives with her mother and her excuse for having fertility treatments – and therefore eight more children – is that she just wanted one more girl? She was lonely!!?? These are not Barbie Dolls, they're human beings. Babies. Yeah…that's the answer: Collect them all!

That's what I call "a crime against Nature."

And another question: How many of these multiple birth families end up needing public tax monies (paid by Gay people who are, in some states, forbidden to adopt) to manage their families?