Is Mother Nature a lesbian? More on "gay" animals

Posted by JD Uy
April 18, 2010 7:02 AM |

''They sit on the nest and act in every way as if they were a pair expecting to lay eggs. It is quite sweet.... They just always stay together and I hear that they have some spectacular fights with each other, but they always make up and get back together.''

John Houston of the Abbotsbury Swannery regarding a pair of male swans that have been together for "several nesting seasons." It is reported that the reserve has over 1,000 birds, and this is currently the only known male-male couple, but it is the second such pair to have been observed there. (

''There've been observations of same-sex activity in about 450 different species. You've got female koalas that will mount each other, you've got male dolphins that will penetrate each other in the blowhole.... [In Oahu,] out of about 120 breeding pairs of albatrosses, about 1/3 of them are female-female pairs. Two female birds doing everything that a male and female bird would normally do the season.... 'Gay' is meaning a sexual orientation. It's not just a behavior. And if you think about it, how are you going to show that an animal is gay? ... Is that dolphin perpetually -- always oriented toward being attracted to other male dolphins? ... When you use a word like gay, you're applying a human word to the animal world.... Before people knew about homosexual activity in animals, they used that as an excuse to say, "This is why homosexuality is immoral in humans."

Jon Mooallem, writer for the New York Times Magazine, appearing on Stephen Colbert's show this week to discuss his lengthy March 31 article "Can Animals Be Gay?" (Colbert Show)

In 1999, Bagemihl published "Biological Exuberance," a book that pulled together a colossal amount of previous piecemeal research and showed how biologists' biases had marginalized animal homosexuality for the last 150 years -- sometimes innocently enough, sometimes in an eruption of anthropomorphic disgust. Courtship behaviors between two animals of the same sex were persistently described in the literature as "mock" or "pseudo" courtship -- or just "practice."

An excerpt from Jon Mooallem's in-depth NY TImes Magazine article about same-sex mating and sexual activity that occurs between animals, and how scientists have observed, interpreted, and made conclusions about the behavior. (NY Times)

Please Leave a Comment