few years ago the Zurich Zoo in Switzerland conducted guided tours that
centered around homosexual behavior among the zoo animals. Unfortunately,
the one hour tours were held in the early evenings, at a time when most
were asleep. But this did not stop the gay zoo tours from being a
success. Though there was no same-sex activity in evidence, tour guide
Myriam Schärz assured her tourists that same-sex behavior is a common
animal life: “I don’t know of any species that is exclusively
Schärz told “swissinfo”, Switzerland’s news and information platform. “Right here in Zurich we once had a gay flamingo couple who remained
for life. In Cologne Zoo they have a pair of lesbian penguins who each
year steal an egg from one of their neighbors and treat it as their
The last time I wrote about same-sex behavior among the so-called
species was in 1999. Later that year the standard work on the topic,
Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by
Bagemihl, was published. “On every continent, animals of the same sex
each other out and
have probably been doing it for millions of years,”
wrote. “They court each other, using intricate and beautiful mating
that are the result of eons of evolution. Males caress and kiss each
other, showing tenderness and affection toward one another rather than
hostility and aggression. Females form long-lasting pair-bonds - or
just meet briefly for sex, rolling in passionate embraces or mounting
another. Animals of the same sex build nests and homes together, and
homosexual pairs raise young without members of the opposite sex. Other
animals regularly have partners of both sexes, and some even live in
groups where sexual activity is common among all members, male and
female. Many creatures are ‘transgendered,’ crossing or combining
both males and females in their appearance or behavior.”
According to Bagemihl, “Homosexual behavior occurs in more than 450
different kinds of animals worldwide, and is found in every major
region and every major animal group.” But we don’t need Bagemihl for
anecdotal evidence. Hardly a week goes by that we don’t hear stories
same-sex oriented otters or rabbits. You don’t have to go to the Zurich
Zoo to learn about “the indiscriminate and almost insatiable sexuality
apes” or “how gay male dolphins use their lovers’ blowholes for sexual
gratification.” Just last year a review paper by Nathan Bailey and
Zuk of the Department of Biology at the University of California in
concluded that “same-sex behavior is a nearly universal phenomenon in
kingdom, common across species, from worms to frogs to birds.”
“Female western gulls sometimes pair off for several years and
other while incubating eggs,” Steve Hogan and Lee Hudson wrote in
Queer: The Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia. “Similar behaviors have been
documented among female sage grouse, male mallard ducks, and female and
greylag geese and turkeys.” According to the authors of Out in All
Directions: The Almanac of Gay and Lesbian America, same-sex behavior
documented in all kinds of animal species, including antelope, bugs,
butterflies, cats, cattle, cockroaches, crickets, dogs, donkeys,
elephants, flies, geckos, guinea pigs, hamsters, horses, hyenas, lions,
mice, moths, octopuses, orcas, porcupines, raccoons, rats and wasps. “In
1994,” according to the Almanac, “two male flamingos in the Rotterdam
Zoo in the
Netherlands got the nesting urge and set up a same-sex co-habitation. After the two repeatedly sought to steal eggs from female flamingos to
them as their own, the zookeepers decided to provide them with a
egg. he proud parents successfully hatched their own little chick, and
remained faithfully by the side of the baby flamingo for a while.” The
whole world knows about Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at the
Park Zoo in New York who lovingly hatched and raised an adopted chick,
Tango. (The story of Tango and her two daddies appears in 2005's
often-censored children’s book, And Tango Makes Three, by Justin
Gay animal behavior seems to alarm religious conservatives almost
as the human variety, and they have tried their best to deny it. Those
do admit that same-sex behavior exists in the animal kingdom try to
away as being playful antics or dominance behavior to assert hierarchy. “Some conservatives and religious groups now admit that homosexuality is
in the animal kingdom, but many of them have also put forward theories
explain the phenomenon,” said Myriam Schärz of the Zurich Zoo. “Some
that homosexuality only occurs when animal populations become too large,
animals only turn to homosexuality when they have no other alternative ,
, , But
there is no evidence to back up the population theory, and there is
proof against the harem argument. Dominant silver-back gorillas, for
instance, have frequently been seen engaging in homosexual activity and
deliberately shunning available females.”
“Humans seem to be the only species where homosexuals are not
accepted in society,” Schärz said. “Animal societies tend to stay
together and accept each other. Of course, animals do get excluded
but that tends to happen if they get injured or if they are not liked,
than because of their sexuality.” Here is another instance where we
could learn from the animals.
Jesse Monteagudo is a freelance writer and animal lover who lives
Florida. Send all gay animal tales to him at email@example.com.
...and I'm reminded of some Black comic's comment about February being "African American History Month"..."typical...we get the shortest month."
Which is to say, one day to remember is woefully shy of the task.
I remain angry at the homophobic, puritanical, punishing, sex-fearing, "christian" response to HIV-AIDS. And how long it took Ronald Reagan to even say the word "AIDS" (and that it took the death of a closeted movie star and a heroic Elizabeth Taylor to finally get him to utter it.) I remain angry at the idea of "innocent victims" of this disease.
I remain angry at how little memory there is for how Gay people responded to this, growing up, growing together, growing institutions. How little memory there is for how Gay people fed and sheltered and cared for one another...and angry that my friends are still sero-converting in 2009.
I remain angry at how brutally expensive AIDS meds are in the U.S. (and how cheap they are elsewhere) while the nimrods and the bloviators and the moralizing hypocrites in the Congress (yeah...I'm talking to you Joe Lieberman!...you ugly asswipe!) squash a public option...the only real way to provide competition to the profit-seeking, blood-sucking insurance companies...that would provide healthcare coverage for every American citizen, just like every other industrialized nation in the world!
Shame on the Senate. Shame on our elected officials.
Shame on the churches who came so late to the aid of the neediest and who still foment discrimination against gay people.
And every time I hear another fear-mongering "news" report on H1N1 and the vast over-reaction to it (several thousand people die from the flu annually, H1N1 or not) and how people with HIV were shunned by their communities, deserted by their families and died in fear, it makes me want to break something. And it makes me wonder ...it makes me sad... to think of how things might have been different if the reaction when "Gay cancer" first appeared had been anything approaching the H1N1 hysteria.
The Associated Press is reporting that the Catholic Church's years-long investigation into child-abuse shows no link between homosexuality and the abuse of children.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (infamous of late for injecting themselves in the Gay Marriage debates in Maine and now the District of Columbia, commissioned the study from the John Jay School of Criminal Justice and the results have come in:
"What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be
separated from the problem of sexual abuse," said Margaret Smith of
John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic
I guess they're just to have to stow one of their canards away.
"At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual
identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data
that we have right now."
Baylor University Conducts Largest National Study of Clergy Sexual Misconduct with Adults
Misconduct with Adults More Common Than Previously Thought; Occurs Across Many Religions, Denominations
Baylor University's School of Social Work today announced that findings from the nationwide study of the prevalence of Clergy Sexual Misconduct (CSM) with Adults have been accepted for publication later this year in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. The findings come from questions included in the 2008 General Social Survey (GSS), a widely-used and highly-respected survey of a random sample of more than 3,500 American adults conducted by the National Opinion Research Center. Respondents were asked if, since turning 18, they had ever been the object of a sexual advance from a religious leader. The responses were used to establish a statistically reliable baseline for discussions about CSM with adults.
The findings suggest that the prevalence of Clergy Sexual Misconduct with Adults is higher than many people realize and that it occurs across denominations and religions.
"Because many people are familiar with some of the high-profile cases of sexual misconduct, most people assume that it is just a matter of a few charismatic leaders preying on vulnerable followers," said Dr. Diana Garland, Dean of the School of Social Work at Baylor University and lead researcher in the study. "What this research tells us, however, is that clergy sexual misconduct with adults is a widespread problem in congregations of all sizes and occurs across denominations. Now that we have a better understanding of the problem, we can start looking at prevention strategies."
The study found that 3.1 percent of adult women who attend religious services at least once a month have been the victims of clergy sexual misconduct since turning 18. To explain another way, in the average U.S. congregation of 400 adult members, seven women, on average, have been victimized at some point in their adult lives.
"This is the largest scientific study into clergy sexual misconduct with adults. We hope these findings will prompt congregations to consider adopting policies and procedures designed to protect their members from leaders who abuse their power," said Garland. "Many people - including the victims themselves - often label incidences of clergy sexual misconduct with adults as 'affairs'. In reality, they are an abuse of spiritual power by the religious leader."
Funding for this research project was provided by the Ford Foundation, the Christian Life Commission of the Baptist General Convention of Texas and the JES Edwards Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas.
For more information on the full research project, visit the study web site, which includes a project overview, case studies of clergy sexual misconduct survivors, and other information.
It comes as no big surprise to hear of the memoirs of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, former Catholic prelate of Milwaukee, and his admission therein that he is a gay man. Imagine that?! A gay priest.
What a shock.
Meanwhile, down Miami way, Father Cutie (pronounced "cue-tee-ay" no matter how cute he is) allows as how he's fallen in love with a woman, and "doesn't want to become the poster boy for anti-celibacy." Don't worry cutey. You won't.
We return once again, to the anti-sex of yesteryear...somewhere around the 16th century, when the Roman Catholic Church was worried about what was going to happen to all that real estate. Suddenly scriptural support for the celibacy of the priesthood was discovered....how conveeeeeeeeeeenient. Presto! No real estate problems. All the deeds stay with the church.
What is it that makes celibacy so desirable in a priest or a nun? Why is a lack of human, physical intimacy a recommend for spiritual superiority?
Once again the Roman Catholic Church's wisdom in the area of sexuality and human intimacy is reminiscent of the Roman Catholic Church's wisdom in the area of astronomy.
Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick was an American theorist in the fields of gender studies, queer theory (queer studies) and critical theory, which mainly means she was concerned with how many queer angels were dancing on the heads of academic pins. Influenced by Michel Foucault, Judith Butler, feminism, psychoanalysis and deconstruction, her work reflected an abiding interest in a wide range of issues and topics including something called queer "performativity"...whatever the hell that is...and performance; experimental critical writing; the works of Marcel Proust; artists' books; Buddhism and pedagogy. Academic polemic gobble-de-gook aside...she was a friend to the LGBTQ community.
Surprising to some, she was married for 40 years to her husband, Hal Sedgwick, a CUNY professor of visual perception (optometry), but apparently only saw him on weekends. She would also prefer it to be reported in that manner, i.e. she was married to a man, as opposed to assigning her the "straight" or "hetero/homo" categorizations (a too conveniently neat division rejected by Sedgwick.)
Sedgwick wasn’t a household name, unless you count the brouhaha over her 1989 essay Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl, which featured in many of the ritualistic first-kill-all-the-professors stories from our long culture war.
Sedgwick’s books, including “Between Men” and “Epistemology of the Closet,” were on the shelves of most of the graduate students and comp-lit survivors, Gay and non-Gay, queer and non-queer, back in the 1990s. She virtually invented the field, or at least brought it to new heights. My personal favorite was an essay entitled How To Bring Your Kids Up Gay: The War on Effeminate Boys. If that was all she ever wrote she'd be worthy of laurels, from the aeries of the academe and the mundane streets alike.
Sedgwick’s radical challenge to heteronormative ways of reading and living may seem quaint (if that’s the word) in a time when people are celebrating same-sex weddings in Iowa and the White House Easter egg hunt conspicuously includes Gay and Lesbian families. Perhaps the misty future evoked in Pace University professor of English and women's studies,Karla Jay’s review of “Tendencies” — one where Sedgwick would be photographed shaving fellow queer-studies scholar Terry Castle on the cover of Time magazine, à la Cindy Crawford and K. D. Lang — isn’t quite here.
But alas, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, one of the foundational non-Gay allies, won't be around to see that future. She died April 12 of breast cancer. She was 58.
Our sincere condolences to her family and friends. In an age of anti-intellectualism and religious mythopoesis run amok, we need all the rational, intelligent voices we can find.