Animals, they’re just like us! Kinda. Animals with same sex partners and homosexual behaviors of various kinds can be found all over the globe, across 1,500 species. But can animals be gay? Scientists say it’s complicated. While homosexual behavior in animals is common, it can be uncommon or even rare that some animals develop long-lasting same-sex relationships, just don’t tell that to the next lady Laysan Albatross you meet. While there are studies that show widespread animal homosexual behavior, the reasons may vary. Possibly, homosexual animals are showing dominance, practicing for mating, or simply blowing off steam. Some opponents of the homosexual animals theory believe that some scientists are merely forwarding the gay agenda.
Are there gay animals? Even asking the question of whether animals can be gay or homosexual stirs up debate. Scientist Petter Bockman explains the lack of research about homosexual animals. "The theme has long been taboo. The problem is that researchers have not seen for themselves that the phenomenon exists or they have been confused when observing homosexual behavior or that they are fearful of being ridiculed by their colleagues. Many therefore overlook the abundance of material that is found. Many researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realize that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher's ethical principles."
The term “homosexual” was coined by Karl-Maria Kertbeny in 1868 to identify same-sex behavior and attraction in humans. The same term has been controversial as it relates to the animal kingdom. The term gets trickier to describe an animal’s lifelong preference as many homosexual behaviors have yet to be understood. And since the topic is already controversial among humans, some scientists have been reluctant to share homosexual, bisexual, and non-reproductive findings in animals. Studies have shown examples of homosexual animals behavior in courtship, affection, pair bonding, parenting, and sexual activity.
The 2006 Against Nature? exhibit at the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo in Norway documented homosexual and bisexual behavior across 1,500 species. The exhibit’s goal was to “help demystify homosexuality among people” and to “reject the all too well known argument that homosexual behavior is a crime against nature.” That view doesn’t sit well with those opposed to homosexuality much less pondering the question whether animals with same-sex partners are even a thing.
Are animals practicing for reproduction, or are they building a life bond despite the available amount of opposite sex partners? Is homosexual and bisexual behavior a show of dominance or a way to make the group stronger somehow? Is there prevalent homosexual, bisexual, and non-reproductive same sex behavior in the animal kingdom because it simply feels good? Some scientists say that it depends upon the particular species and others say, “We just don’t know.”How many homosexual animals are there? Can animals be gay like those penguins on Parks and Rec? How many animals have same sex partners? Whether you want to settle an argument, or just learn some points of view about homosexual animal behavior, this list is for you.
Scientists from the University of Western Australia spotted female gorillas in Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda getting down with their lady friends. Lead researcher Dr. Cyril Grueter noticed “genital closeness” and “genital rubbing,” along with some sexy pelvic thrusts and sounds typically heard from gorillas during sex. And it wasn't just one couple. Of the 22 female gorillas that Grueter observed, 18 were found to have engaged in homosexual sex. Often, it happened after they noticed a male gorilla initiating sex with another female. Their lesbian-like behavior could have been a way to appease their sexual arousal in what Grueter called "the pornographic effect."According to Grueter: “Given that all these observations come from wild groups, not gorillas held in captivity, it is obvious that homosexual activity is part of the gorillas’ natural behaviour. My impression is that these females derive pleasure from sexual interaction with other females.”
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A University of Hawaii biologist who studied an albatross colony in Oahu, Hawaii, said that a third of the pairs are two females. Lindsay Young says that some of the female pairs have stayed together for nearly 19 years. The females chose a male partner to father their chicks, but then raised them with a female partner. “This colony is literally the largest proportion of… I don't know what the correct term is - ‘homosexual animals?’ - in the world,” Young said. The birds can live up to 60 or even 70 years and tend to mate with the same bird annually.Source: The New York Times
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The bonobos have little to no boundaries when it comes to sexual behavior, using sex as a way to resolve conflicts and create a strong group bond. Same-sex encounters are frequent and casual, especially among females. Bonobos also share 98.7% of humankind’s DNA. According to Live Science, “Two bonobo females having sex looks very different than two female albatrosses sitting placidly on their nest. Bonobo sex looks human.” National Geographic reports: “Studies suggest 75% of bonobo sex is non-reproductive and that nearly all bonobos are bisexual.”Sources: Live Science, National Geographic see more on Bonobo
Long-time male partners and chinstrap penguins, Roy and Silo, caused a stir at the Central Park Zoo in New York when they hatched and cared for a chick, Tango. Although homosexual behavior has been well-documented among penguins, scientists in France put the couple’s homosexual relationship down to loneliness. They sited the lack of available female partners as the reason for same sex behavior. After six years together, Silo chose a female partner called Scrappy. The zoo's senior penguin keeper, Rob Gramzay, said that although he was disappointed because Silo and Roy made a good pair, people shouldn’t read too much into the “gay thing.” Germany’s “gay” Humbolt penguins and Denmark’s “gay” King penguins - couples in which both male partners nurtured an egg - were celebrated.Sources: Huffington Post, TIME, The New York Times see more on Penguin