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Homo sapiens are the only animals to fear homosexuality

Updated on June 20, 2012

Almost 1,500 species of animals practice some form of homosexuality according to Petter Bockman, project coordinator of the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum exhibit, "Against Nature?", in Norway. Sexual behavior in animals was once thought of as instinctual, triggered by stimuli and solely for the purpose of procreation. But animals aren’t simple, biological automatons looking to just reproduce. Recent research shows animal sexuality to be as complex as human sexuality. Animals engage in homosexual and heterosexual behaviors for the much of the same reasons humans do: Love, bonding, loyalty, social cohesion and sheer pleasure.

Modified from original work of Larry Ewing - GPL
Modified from original work of Larry Ewing - GPL | Source

Birds do It, bees do It

Two male penguins in New York’s Central Park Zoo have become famous for their homosexual behavior. Silo and Roy prefer to court, cuddle and copulate with each other to the exclusion of female penguins. The two built a nest with the hope of incubating and hatching a rock. When given a fertile penguin egg, Roy and Silo hatched the egg and raised the penguin chick, Tango.

Penguins aren’t the only birds to practice alternative lifestyles. Twenty-five percent of black swan pair bondings are between males. One of the males will mate with a female just for the purpose of getting and hatching an egg. The female is driven away leaving the two males to raise the chick. Nearly 1 in 5 mallard duck pairs are male-male pairs engaging in sexual activity. Several other bird species have same-sex relationships and mercury pollution may be increasing homosexual behaviour in birds due to the effects of endocrine disruption on reproductive behaviour and sexual preference. Fun facts to remember the next time you’re at the park feeding the waterfowl.

William Wallace Denslow - Public Domain
William Wallace Denslow - Public Domain | Source

Lions and tigers and bears! OMG!

Homosexual behavior is common among the King of Beasts. Male lions lead their prides with the cooperation and loyalty of other males. To maintain these social bonds, the males have sex with each other. Female lions in captivity also engage in homosexuality. Homosexual behavior has also been observed in tigers in the wild and in captivity (examples can be found on YouTube). Grizzly cubs are often raised by two mothers and brown bears have exhibited homosexual behavior. As Dorothy proclaimed in The Wizard of Oz, “I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more … We must be over the rainbow!”

Homo sapien homosexuality

Humans have been gay ever since the ancestral lineage that leads to Homo sapiens split from the branch of the Tree of Life that produced the other great apes. Humans are great apes too and homosexuality has been observed in every one of our great ape relatives. A close cousin of ours, the bonobo, frequently engages in homosexual acts for the purpose of bonding, conflict resolution and reconciliation.

Homosexuality has been recorded throughout history and in all cultures. The first recorded same-sex couple are Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum, Egyptian men who oversaw the Pharaoh Niuserre’s manicurists around 2445 BCE. Early Greek and Asian cultures honored a homosexual lifestyle. In ancient Rome, homosexual acts were a game of pitch and catch for citizens of rank. A form of the Golden Rule where it was better to give than receive was considered socially acceptable for Roman nobility.

Religious training?

Get over the rainbow

With the rise of the Abrahamic religions, homosexuals became less tolerated eventually becoming vilified and persecuted as sodomites. Beginning in the Late Middle Ages, homosexuality could be punishable by death in many European countries. Many Middle Eastern countries still reserve capital punishment as the maximum penalty for homosexuality. Ironically, pederasty is common in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan even though homosexuality is punishable by Islamic mores. Further irony can be found in the pederasty practices of Jewish and Christian clergy members which resulted in numerous child sexual abuse scandals in countries where homosexuality is legal between consenting adults.

No law or religion in any country has prevented someone from becoming a homosexual. Some capital punishment and sodomy laws may have prevented some sexual acts but not all of them. So why did these laws exist and, in some parts of the world, still continue to exist? In a word, homophobia.

For all intents and purposes, homophobia is learned. When President Obama came out in support of gay marriage, the opposition became quite vocal taking to the airwaves and pulpits to condemn the president’s policy position and homosexuality in general. Take a look at the viral video on the right of the child singing. Does that child really understand what he’s singing about? Of course not. He’s copying the attitudes and repeating the words of the authority figures around him. The controversial video brought condemnation and outrage across the Web and accusations of child abuse through the teaching of bigotry and hate.


A recent study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests people who secretly harbor an attraction for the same sex and had authoritarian parents were more likely to have homophobic attitudes. This repressed attraction and authoritarian style of parenting may be the basis of hostility, discrimination and anti-gay policies. Should we be surprised? Homosexuality and heterosexuality isn't a binary, yes or no position. The Kinsey Institute’s Kinsey Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale show a spectrum of behaviors, thoughts and feelings that vary from person to person and through time. Some people aren't comfortable with their desires and feelings especially when those desires and feelings conflict with authoritarian teachings. Trying to force or repress those feelings may be the basis of the fear and hate of homosexuals that only humans have.

Societal attitudes are slowly changing towards homosexuality as more research sheds light on the issues surrounding it. Now that the Green Lantern is out of the closet, only a few more colors are needed to get over the rainbow hump.


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    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

      True. Hatred and intolerance are learned behaviors.

      It is well past time we as a society wised-up and moved on to address more important issues.

      In a way, I feel all the cage-rattling about homosexuality is intended as a smokescreen for whatever other mischief our elected officials are up to.

      There is also the observation that fingers are pointed as a means of drawing attention away from the self--"The hen that cackles is the one who laid the egg," as the saying goes.

      Voted up, interesting, useful and shared!

    • Living Well Now profile image

      Living Well Now 5 years ago from Near Indianapolis

      Thanks for info, richaloe. I didn't know the percentage was that high.

    • richaloe profile image

      richaloe 5 years ago from Oxford UK

      I used to be a cowman and have never know cattle behave in Homosexuality, but as far as I am aware about 60% of rams are gay.

    • Living Well Now profile image

      Living Well Now 5 years ago from Near Indianapolis

      Thanks twoseven! I took my daughter to last weekend's Pride parade in Indy. We both have friends who are gay and we wanted to show our support. About 100,000 people turned out for the festivities and I didn't see anyone protesting against the festival. Lots of corporate sponsors too. Companies don't want their brand sullied by irrational hate.

    • twoseven profile image

      twoseven 5 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin

      Great hub! Very well researched and supported. I too feel confident that we are on the right path as a society to full acceptance, but it's really a tragedy that it's taken this long.