The Myth of Homosexuality in Nature
By James B. Connelly – BarbWire guest contributor
It is imperative for advocates of same-sex marriage to “normalize” homosexuality. One rationale used to promote this is to proclaim that it exists in the animal kingdom, so it must be part of nature. According to this thinking, since homosexual behaviors are purportedly seen among animals, we would expect a portion of humans to be homosexual also. Furthermore, the propagandists say, attempts to restrict its full expression would be going against nature itself! In this view, homosexuality is simply one sexual variation among many occurring “naturally” throughout the animal kingdom, so we should conclude that homosexuality is commonplace and “normal.”
The “animal homosexuality” propaganda can be summarized in the following manner:
- Animal behaviors are determined by nature, specifically by their instincts.
- It is “natural” for animals to follow their instincts; it accords with nature itself.
- A portion of virtually all species engage in homosexual behavior.
- Therefore, homosexuality accords with instinctual nature and must be part of nature itself.
- We are animals, so it follows that homosexuality in humans is perfectly natural.
But this “animal homosexuality” agitprop is not only replete with logical flaws but is based on a number of distortions and myths.
The Logical Flaws:
First, if seemingly “homosexual” acts among animals accord with animal nature, and we are like animals, what about animals that kill their offspring? What about species sometimes devouring their own kind? Polar bears, gerbils, pigs, hamsters, orangutans, rabbits, chimpanzees, and birds have been known to kill their offspring. The advocates of normalizing homosexuality are maintaining that we must accept instinctual nature seen in animal behaviors, so are we to conclude that filicide and cannibalism could be part of human nature, too? Shall we now accept them? These ideas are absurd, of course: Anyone who engages in the most basic observation of animals would conclude that what appears to be animal “homosexuality” is an exception to their normal behaviors, as are “filicide” and “cannibalism” in the higher species. Consequently, they cannot be called animal instincts, but rather exceptions to normal animal behavior resulting from extraordinary factors that pervert their instincts.
Second, it is ridiculous to ascribe human motivations and feelings to animal behaviors. In the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, anthropomophism is “an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics,” and the Oxford Dictionary defines it as “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object” (emphasis added). The advocates are insisting that we become anthropomorphists.
Third, the advocates are claiming that irrational and instinctual behaviors of animals should be used to set a standard for determining morally acceptable behaviors for humans.
Finally, even if this homosexual behavior were occurring in a portion of most animals, it does not mean that it is acceptable: Many undesirable characteristics occur in all populations: Schizophrenia, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, bipolar disorder and Down Syndrome, for example, occurs in about 0.1 percent to one percent of all populations. Rape, murder and child molestation also occur in every population, and appear to have genetic components. It goes without saying that if something occurs “naturally” in the population, it does not mean that they are normal, acceptable, or desirable.
Homosexuality in Animals – Distortions and Myths:
With animals, cognition is sensorial, consisting of odors, tactile inputs, tastes and images. In processing these, animals are bereft of human intellectual perception, so they frequently confuse one sensation with another or one object with another. An animal’s initial instinctive impulses can change along the way: Other sensory input can act as new stimuli, affecting the animal’s behavior. Even a conflict between two or more instincts can sometimes alter the original behavior.
But in man, our intellect decides the best course to follow, and our volition holds one instinct in check while encouraging the other. Animals lack this cognition and will, so when instinctive impulses clash, the one most favored by the immediate situation prevails. At times, these internal or external stimuli that affect an animal’s instinctive impulses can even result in cases of animal “filicide,” “cannibalism” and what is construed to be….”homosexuality.”
Consider filicide among cats: Cats switch between what is considered a “play mode” and a “hunt mode” quite easily and do not to harm their offspring. With male cats, however, if they become highly aroused through play, the hunting instinct might take over, and they may sometimes kill their kittens. Also, since their hunting instinct is incredibly strong and it can be hard to switch it off when prey is present, they can wind up dismembering and even eating their own kittens. The instincts have become confused.
And consider cannibalism; sometimes cannibalism occurs in pigs, gerbils, birds, and even chimps, but it is not a “natural” trait, either. Cannibalism usually happens when a predatory animal mistakes one of its own for prey or can occur when food is extremely scarce.
So what about other apparently more common occurrences of what appears to be homosexual behaviors in animals?
Apes: Apes are the closest to us genetically, with chimpanzees being the closest; bonobos are primates from the chimp family. Frans de Waal, multiple-award winner and Professor of Primate Behavior at Emory University, spent hundreds of hours observing and filming bonobos. In “Bonobo Sex and Society,” he wrote about their sexual activity being used to avoid conflict:
First, anything, not just food, that arouses the interest of more than one bonobo at a time tends to result in sexual contact. If two bonobos approach a cardboard box thrown into their enclosure, they will briefly mount each other before playing with the box. Such situations lead to squabbles in most other species. But bonobos are quite tolerant, perhaps because they use sex to divert attention and to diffuse tension.
Second, bonobo sex often occurs in aggressive contexts totally unrelated to food. A jealous male might chase another away from a female, after which the two males reunite and engage in scrotal rubbing. Or after a female hits a juvenile, the latter’s mother may lunge at the aggressor, an action that is immediately followed by genital rubbing between the two adults.
But advocates for “normalizing” homosexuality would instead present a superficial, propaganda-driven observation of bonobos’ behaviors and claim that some of them are “naturally” homosexual.
Dogs: Dogs mount one another simply because of the strength of their reaction to a purely chemical stimulus: The smell of an estrus female – the female dog in heat. Researchers maintain that the smell can instigate a frenzy of mounting behaviors: Other females who are not in heat will mount those who are; males will mount males who have just been with estrus females if they still bear their scent; and males who catch wind of the estrus odor may mount the first thing (or unlucky person) they come into contact with. And Jacque Lynn Schultz, ASPCA Animal Sciences Director of Special Projects, in “Getting Over the Hump,” provided another reason for dogs mounting other dogs of the same sex:
Usually, an un-neutered male dog will mount another male dog as a display of social dominance – in other words, as a way of letting the other dog know who’s boss. While not as frequent, a female dog may mount for the same reason.
Cattle: With cattle, farmers watch for “bulling” behaviors – the female being in heat. At this time, the female in estrus might mount other cows, other females might mount her, and bulls might try to mount other bulls if they have the smell on them. In the Merck Veterinary Manual, this behavior is treated as a problem and recommendations are provided to deal with such behaviors that can result from cysts, overcrowding, aggression, and illnesses; it hardly justifies saying that the cattle are gay or lesbian….
In 1996, neuroscientist Simon LeVay, a homosexual himself who has held positions at the Salk Institute, Stanford University and Harvard Medical School, admitted that homosexual animals really do not exist, In “Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research into Homosexuality,” he wrote that the evidence points to isolated acts, not to homosexuality:
Although homosexual behavior is very common in the animal world, it seems to be very uncommon that individual animals have a long-lasting predisposition to engage in such behavior to the exclusion of heterosexual activities. Thus, a homosexual orientation, if one can speak of such thing in animals, seems to be a rarity (emphasis added).
Despite the “homosexual” appearances of some animal behavior, this behavior does not stem from a “homosexual” instinct that is part of animal nature. Dr. Antonio Pardo, Professor of Bioethics at the University of Navarre, Spain, in “Aspectos medicos de la homosexualidad,” agrees:
Properly speaking, homosexuality does not exist among animals…. For reasons of survival, the reproductive instinct among animals is always directed towards an individual of the opposite sex. Therefore, an animal can never be homosexual as such. Nevertheless, the interaction of other instincts (particularly dominance) can result in behavior that appears to be homosexual. Such behavior cannot be equated with an animal homosexuality. All it means is that animal sexual behavior encompasses aspects beyond that of reproduction.
If we are going to remain true to science, reason and common sense, we must reject the “animals-are-homosexual-so-it-is-normal” propaganda. It is not only illogical, demanding that we become anthropomorphists, base our morals on animal behavior, and say that if a behavior occurs in nature, it must be acceptable, but it is further predicated on the bogus assertion that homosexual “orientation” exists in animals despite the overwhelming weight of empirical evidence to the contrary. The idea is simply self-serving, and it is an egregious distortion of facts and logic ultimately contrived to promote same-sex marriage and lifestyle choices by “normalizing” homosexuality.
James B. Connelly, the author of “The Modern Liberal Jungle: A Guide for Americans,” is a psychologist and a translator. James holds the PhD in psychology and is a graduate of Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan. He has worked in private and public practices in the United States, Europe, Japan and South America. James’ other work includes research articles and translations of “Morita Therapy” and “Naikan Therapy.” His website is liberaljungle.com.
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