For Certain Values of Natural

Conservatives are obsessed over things that are allegedly “unnatural” (especially homosexuality), when what they are really concerned about is any behavior unsuitable to tribal morality, in particular the expansion and growth of the human tribe, for which any sexual behavior that cannot lead to reproduction must be banished. (As is the traditional position of the Catholic Church.) And yet, in the real, natural world, there are behaviors that defy those human notions of “natural.”

Joe.My.God, 21 May 2024: Cultists Melt Down Over “Queer Planet” Animal Series


LGBTQNation, 20 May 2024: Conservatives are freaking out because they learned that some animals are gay, subtitled “The animal kingdom isn’t exactly like Noah’s Ark, after all.”

Of course the word “gay” is inoperative; using it anthropomorphizes animals who simply exhibit same-sex behavior, for whatever reason. (Humans, being much more complicated creatures, make everything much more complicated — and realistic — with concepts like gender, sexual attraction, and so on; and behavior including long-term relationships, which many other animal species do not have.)

Why would various species of animals exhibit homosexual behavior? Offhand, I’d say that sexual urges are strong in all species — if they weren’t, the species wouldn’t survive — and so sometimes are assuaged in ways other that heterosexual intercourse. Isn’t this, um, pretty obvious?

And yet you have conservatives’ mystical beliefs that sex is “designed” by “God” solely for purposes of reproduction. This is theological fantasy. (Here’s an extremely naive woman, also at Joe.My.God: Hate Group: IVF Should Be Banned Because Using Porn To Jerk Off To Obtain Sperm Is Bad For Those Marriages.) Humans are much more like other animals than the religious want to believe.

It’s trivial to imagine how biological species might engage in intercourse solely for the purpose of creating offspring. (Some species do, in fact, mate only very rarely over their lives, and manage to reproduce that way.) How is it that God didn’t create humans that way?

Years ago, back in the early days of Locus Online, I posted pages of what I thought were nonfiction books of interest to science fiction readers. Here’s an example, from August 1998 (I founded the site in April 1997). And on one of those pages, which I can’t find and likely has been deleted, I noted a book called Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, published in 1999. The Amazon description says,

Homosexuality in its myriad forms has been scientifically documented in more than 450 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, insects, and other animals worldwide. Biological Exuberance is the first comprehensive account of the subject, bringing together accurate, accessible, and nonsensationalized information. Drawing upon a rich body of zoological research spanning more than two centuries, Bruce Bagemihl shows that animals engage in all types of nonreproductive sexual behavior. Sexual and gender expression in the animal world displays exuberant variety, including same-sex courtship, pair-bonding, sex, and co-parenting—even instances of lifelong homosexual bonding in species that do not have lifelong heterosexual bonding.

So, again, this item about homosexual behavior among other animals is not news. But mentioning it is guaranteed to send conservatives, with their beliefs in the divine purpose of human beings as instantiations of their God, to clutching their pearls.

Once again: ideology/stories in favor of reality/evidence and conclusions. And yet, humanity survives by stories and ideology. Not by living in the real world.

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