The Human Construction of Gay Animal Culture

Allison Guy
November 5th 2010

Much attention has recently been devoted to 'gay' animals. It's not the fact that many species have enthusiastic homosexual lives that should be surprising – there are convincing theories about how gay sex is evolutionarily adaptive. The short version of the argument: Social activities like grooming offer no immediate reproductive benefit, but they do help to create beneficial social arrangements. In shame-free animal societies, sex is just another bonding activity.

To the next nature enthusiast, what is interesting is how human culture has decided what is appropriate in animal culture. For years, zoos would not display Bonobos because their sexual behavior was deemed too inappropriate for delicate audiences. Field researches routinely assumed all species were heterosexual, and any encounters that fell outside of the straight-and-narrow were 'mistakes' or 'practice.' Only in recent years, it seems, has human culture advanced enough to catch up with real nature.

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What is your view on the coronavirus?

Siri Beerends: I really embrace the idea that viruses can teach us a lesson in modesty. It is necessary that our position as the dominant species on the planet is being challenged. I also agree that it is a mistake to think that we are becoming Gods. But unfortunately, this is actually what is happening now. Corona doesn’t teach us to be modest, it teaches us how we can -as quickly as possible- go back to business as usual: saving our capitalistic economy.

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