This week, I want to start by talking about lesbian birds. More specifically, a species of Laysan Albatross which breeds on the island of Oahu. When this specific colony of Albatross was studied, it was found that 31% of the couples on the island were two females raising a chick together (according to BBC Earth). Some of you may be shocked, but for quite a few years scientists have been coming out with new species that have exhibited homosexual behavior. Bonobos are the famous case study, but we have observed more than 10% of species (according to Yale Scientific) engaging in these “scandalous” acts. It doesn’t seem to make sense at all, but we have come up with all sorts of theories as to why it happens.
Bonobos are what we might call “bisexual,” having sex with both male and female bonobos, and they seem to do it for pleasure. Male fruit flies will do it because for a little while they are unable to distinguish the smell of a female. Red flour beetles perhaps do it so that another male will carry their sperm to another female. We don’t fully know why it happens, but it does seem to happen for a reason. Those lesbian birds probably do it because on that island there is a shortage of males, and having babies is better than not and raising it with another albatross is also better than not. The reason for the pair staying together is probably also just because albatrosses tend to mate for life. But all of this is besides the point. What it clearly shows is that homosexuality has a place in nature — one that is not fully understood or documented, but it does have one. Whether bonding or confusion or craftiness or necessity, nature is not nearly as rigidly homophobic as humans are. Humans are really the only animal to persecute such behaviors, and we have a lot of reasons why it’s bad.
The first homophobic argument that is brought up is typically the “natural” one. Why be homosexual when it brings no benefits to the species? And, it is true that those animals listed above aren’t truly “homosexual.” They may participate in such behaviors but they will mate for reproductive purposes all the same. There is one species, however, that has been shown to be truly homosexual and that is domesticated sheep. Some male sheep will only mount other male sheep even in the presence of a female. Clearly we have interfered in the genetics here, which is why scientists hypothesize that this may be linked to the kinds of things we have been selecting for: the kinds of things that humans no doubt have also been selecting for, primarily stronger and healthier offspring. But, what this and the above examples tell us is that homosexual behavior is everywhere in nature and serves a purpose, so clearly it is natural. We also know that humans are far more fluid than we profess to be and that while “true” homosexuality in our population might be rare, homosexual thoughts and behaviors might actually not be so outlandish or uncommon, showing up as opportunistic homosexuality at same-sex boarding schools and in many people who claim the label of “straight.”
The second homophobic argument is that of the famous religious passage about a man not lying with another man. But it is not so cut and dry why this was written. As hard as it is to imagine, we might have really needed more people at that point in time so it could have been to encourage people to make more babies. We were also not the cleanest back then and since anal sex is the most hazardous when it comes to spreading STIs, it could have been that their male population engaging in this behavior was dying. The point is that the origin of this passage is unclear and we could be misinterpreting it. But even then, it comes from the same source that says we should kill people for wearing two different fabrics, or planting two different kinds of crops next to each other, so I can be fairly certain that it is not the best source of what is morally right.
So why does homophobia exist if it is natural and it might not even be religiously sanctioned? Well, it clearly lies within our societal norms. We tend to think that our norms make sense in the larger whole, but quite often we find that many things that we believe in or do or have believed in or did do not make any sense whatsoever. What we must accept is that homosexuality is everywhere and has been with humans for a very long time. We still don’t fully understand it, and that makes it really scary, but there is an undeniable truth that lies at the center of this. Wherever someone falls in the spectrum does not disqualify them from the same treatment that everyone else receives. At the end of the day, nature is totally cool with homosexuality and the passage we use in the Bible cannot be used without its context of burning people for wearing two different fabrics. We must acknowledge that our discomfort with the LGBTQ+ movement is far from natural or religious and simply comes from our prejudiced norms that we set up under those guises.