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July 13, 2008 4:13 PM   Subscribe

"In humans, the categories of gay and straight are socially constructed.” Researchers are now revealing that animals may engage in same-sex couplings to diffuse social tensions, to better protect their young or to maintain fecundity when opposite-sex partners are unavailable—or simply because it is fun. These observations suggest to some that bisexuality is a natural state among animals, perhaps Homo sapiens included, despite the sexual-orientation boundaries most people take for granted
posted by plexi (85 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh nuh uh, I ain't no gaywad!
posted by billysumday at 4:21 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


^intentionally stupid
posted by billysumday at 4:21 PM on July 13, 2008


I enjoy being gay, because it's a fun thing to do.
posted by Bromius at 4:26 PM on July 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


The Fabulous Kingdom of Gay Animals.

The Gay Animal Kingdom.

Gay Animals: Alternate Lifestyles in the Wild.

Gay Animals Out of the Closet
‘‘From male killer whales that ride the dorsal fin of another male to female bonobos that rub their genitals together, the animal kingdom tolerates all kinds of lifestyles.

A first-ever museum display, ‘Against Nature?,’ which opened last month [October 2006] at the University of Oslo's Natural History Museum in Norway, presents 51 species of animals exhibiting homosexuality.

‘Homosexuality has been observed in more than 1,500 species, and the phenomenon has been well described for 500 of them,’ said Petter Bockman, project coordinator of the exhibition.

The idea, however, is rarely discussed in the scientific community and is often dismissed as unnatural because it doesn't appear to benefit the larger cause of species continuation.
‘I think to some extent people don't think it's important because we went through all this time period in sociobiology where everything had to be tied to reproduction and reproductive success,’ said Linda Wolfe, who heads the Department of Anthropology at East Carolina University. ‘If it doesn't have [something to do] with reproduction it's not important.’

However, species continuation may not always be the ultimate goal, as many animals, including humans, engage in sexual activities more than is necessary for reproduction.

‘You can make up all kinds of stories: Oh it's for dominance, it's for this, it's for that, but when it comes down to the bottom I think it's just for sexual pleasure,’ Wolfe told LiveScience.

Conversely, some argue that homosexual sex could have a bigger natural cause than just pure pleasure: namely evolutionary benefits.

Copulation could be used for alliance and protection among animals of the same sex. In situations when a species is mostly bisexual, homosexual relationships allow an animal to join a pack.

‘In bonobos for instance, strict heterosexual individuals would not be able to make friends in the flock and thus never be able to breed,’ Bockman told LiveScience. ‘In some bird species that bond for life, homosexual pairs raise young. If they are females, a male may fertilize their eggs. If they are males, a solitary female may mate with them and deposit her eggs in their nest.’

Almost a quarter of black swan families are parented by homosexual couples. Male couples sometimes mate with a female just to have a baby. Once she lays the egg, they chase her away, hatch the egg, and raise a family on their own.

‘Homosexuality’ and ‘heterosexuality’ are terms defined by societal boundaries, invisible in the animal kingdom.

‘Many species are hermaphrodites,’ Bockman said. Hermaphrodites have both male and female sex organs. A lot of marine species have no sex life at all, but just squirt their eggs or semen into sea.

Some creatures even reproduce asexually, by dividing themselves into two organisms. In one species of gecko, females clone themselves.

Like most complex issues, animal homosexuality is challenging and poorly understood. Therefore, educators tend to shy away from covering it in their teaching. Many scientists don't even want to be associated with this type of research.

‘I've had primatologists offer to give me their data on homosexual behavior because they didn't want to publish it,’ Wolfe said.

Against Nature?’ was set up partly to demystify the concept.

The argument that a homosexual way of living cannot be accepted because it is against the ‘laws of nature’ can now be rejected scientifically, said Geir Soli, project leader for the exhibition. ‘A main target for this project was to get museums involved in current debate; to show that museums are more than just a gallery for the past.’’’*
posted by ericb at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


What?
posted by jonmc at 4:31 PM on July 13, 2008


The what? was for plexi.

I always understood it this way: if you like to fuck your own gender, you are gay. if you like to fuck the opposite gender you are straight, if you like to fuck both, you are bi. In any event, it's nobody's business. What the hell is so complex about that?
posted by jonmc at 4:33 PM on July 13, 2008


Previous related MeFi thread: "The 'Darwinian paradox' [PDF] of homosexuality presents the conundrum of how a potential genetic basis for homosexual behavior could provide a survival benefit to offpsring and extend through generations, when sexual reproduction would seem to place strong selection pressure against such a 'gene.'"
posted by ericb at 4:34 PM on July 13, 2008


Field Guide to Gay Animals.
posted by ericb at 4:38 PM on July 13, 2008


Um ... Duh?

Seriously, it baffles me that this isn't common knowledge.
posted by kyrademon at 4:44 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


What a load of liberal lunacy. Only your typical atheist "scientist" (prolly believes in globull warming and EVILution too!) could come up with something so contrary to common sense. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go eat some cocks.

Wait, I meant dinner. What did I say?
posted by Avenger at 4:46 PM on July 13, 2008 [13 favorites]


Well, as long as they stick strictly to their own species. *shudder*
posted by Wolfdog at 4:48 PM on July 13, 2008


Cock: it's what's for dinner.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:48 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Bisexuality just makes the most sense, if you're looking to double your chances of bonin'.
posted by DenOfSizer at 4:49 PM on July 13, 2008


engage in same-sex couplings to diffuse social tensions

"Hey, you all seem a little uptight. How 'bout I give Ned a knobshine to break the ice?"
posted by jonmc at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


what ericb posted.

It's hard to believe people are still bothering to have science news articles about this. I've probably seen two dozen or more articles over the last 10 years. Anyone who doesn't already know this is the case is being willfully ignorant or lives in a cave (even perhaps a socially constructed metaphorical one).
posted by Kickstart70 at 4:50 PM on July 13, 2008


I hate to break it to all of the super-enlightened posters here, but there are millions and millions of people who don't know this. Many of them are not being willfully ignorant or living in a cave. Metafilter readers are most likely on average better educated, better read, and more liberal than the general public. Assuming that everyone knows and accepts the same things that you do is pretty ridiculous. Also, there are plenty of people who are not religious zealots who do not think that homosexual and bisexual behavior are the norm. I am not one of these people but it certainly seems ignorant to claim otherwise.
posted by proj at 4:53 PM on July 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


What saddens me is that the Oslo exhibit will be dismissed as 'political' by the right. It baffles me that scientific fact is now regarded as partisan.
posted by shakespeherian at 5:01 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I hate to break it to all of the super-enlightened posters here, but there are millions and millions of people who don't know this.

No one is disputing this point. The question is not "who doesn't know this," but "why are you wasting the time of this principally well-educated and liberal audience."

Seriously, it's a single pop-science paper that makes a point that was established decades ago. The people who are most liable to come across it have already seen it. That makes this thread a big yawn.

Kudos to ericb for doing the work that the original poster should have.
posted by Epenthesis at 5:05 PM on July 13, 2008


I find any kind of sexual behavior by jonmc to be... unsettling. And I'm sure he feels the same of me.
posted by wendell at 5:08 PM on July 13, 2008


National Geographic special, "The New Chimpanzees" which aired September 6, 1995 - "Diverse and frequent hetero and homosexual contact occurs among the animals . . . Not only does homosexual behavior exist in nearly every species of every order of animal known to science (a fact demonstrated repeatedly by uncounted studies beginning with Konrad Lorenz, the father of modern zoology) but as one ascends the evolutionary ladder from less sophisticated creatures to hominids, homosexual activity increases in frequency."
posted by netbros at 5:08 PM on July 13, 2008


And I'm sure he feels the same of me.

*shrug* Knock yourself out, stud pony. I'm difficult to disturb.
posted by jonmc at 5:13 PM on July 13, 2008


MetaFilter: why are you wasting the time of this principally well-educated and liberal audience?

That's a new one.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 5:14 PM on July 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


No one is disputing this point. The question is not "who doesn't know this," but "why are you wasting the time of this principally well-educated and liberal audience."

OK, point well taken.
posted by proj at 5:17 PM on July 13, 2008


animals may engage in same-sex couplings to diffuse social tensions, to better protect their young or to maintain fecundity when opposite-sex partners are unavailable—or simply because it is fun.

Which, if true, kinda puts a hole in the "gay gene" and "gay is not a choice" theory, doesn't it? Which undercuts the current gay movement's theory that being gay is natural, and therefore undeserving of judgment from heterosexual norms.

Here's what I wrote about the subject a couple of years ago, here on MeFi.

I would say that my point is that pro-gay marriage advocates can't have it both ways: either being gay is a natural state of being (i.e. genetic) and not a choice, or that it CAN BE a lifestyle decision, and call it as such. Personally, I really have no clue. But I tend to lean toward Michael Warner's definition, which although more "progressive" in its position, would also be much harder to pass muster in today's society (let alone 30 years ago).
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:18 PM on July 13, 2008


What are you trying to do, encourage the slash fanfiction writers?
posted by Hildegarde at 5:20 PM on July 13, 2008


I would say that my point is that pro-gay marriage advocates can't have it both ways:

why the hell not? Whether gayness is inborn or enviornmental is interesting from a scientific perspective, but the question is kind of pointless from a legal one. What consenting adults want to do with eachother is their business. Period.
posted by jonmc at 5:24 PM on July 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


encourage the slash fanfiction writers?

Has anybody ever written slash fiction about Slash? Or would that cause a hole to open in the fabric of the universe?
posted by jonmc at 5:25 PM on July 13, 2008


It's still a valid area of scientific inquiry, even if it seems like common sense to many Metafilterians.
posted by desuetude at 5:26 PM on July 13, 2008


I would say that my point is that pro-gay marriage advocates can't have it both ways: either being gay is a natural state of being (i.e. genetic) and not a choice, or that it CAN BE a lifestyle decision, and call it as such.

Why does it have to be one or the other? I don't know if being gay is like having blue eyes, but couldn't it be like any other personality trait? If a person has a preference for brunettes, it's not a choice: but being with a brunette is a choice. That's a much more mild example than I'd like to use, but I think it illustrates the fact that genetics and personality are often more messy and less clear-cut than many people admit.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 5:29 PM on July 13, 2008


I enjoy being gay, because it's a fun thing to do.
posted by Bromius at 7:26 PM on July 13 [+] [!]


Because it's fun and it makes it acceptable to listen to Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, and Madeleine Peyroux sing La Vie En Rose in the same 24 hour stretch.
;)
posted by HotPatatta at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2008


I think there has to be a "one way or another" with gay marriage advocates specifically because they've made the idea that being gay isn't a choice as an anchor to their entire platform. As I said, I don't have a clue as to what's right, although I tend to lean toward Warner's theory.

But I'm not advocating public policy; pro-gay marriage groups who are trying to change the law are. And there should be some internal consistency in their positions.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:33 PM on July 13, 2008


it makes it acceptable to listen to Claudette Colbert, Marlene Dietrich, and Madeleine Peyroux sing La Vie En Rose in the same 24 hour stretch.

even if you start out straight, you do that and you'll end up gay.

would you believe bi? would you believe a lethargic straight guy with good color sense?
posted by jonmc at 5:35 PM on July 13, 2008


I would say that my point is that pro-gay marriage advocates can't have it both ways: either being gay is a natural state of being (i.e. genetic) and not a choice, or that it CAN BE a lifestyle decision, and call it as such.

I don't see how it's so complicated for it to be both. Finding a partner is always some combination of predilection + receptiveness + chemistry.

As for me, I will continue to be a bit frustrated at how "natural" "everyone" says they find bisexuality...since far fewer of this "everyone" seems willing to give it a go.
posted by desuetude at 5:36 PM on July 13, 2008


As for me, I will continue to be a bit frustrated at how "natural" "everyone" says they find bisexuality...since far fewer of this "everyone" seems willing to give it a go.

I'm willing to bet that far more people give bisexuality 'a go' than publicly talk about it or proclaim themselves 'bisexual.'
posted by jonmc at 5:37 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I'm willing to bet that far more people give bisexuality 'a go' than publicly talk about it or proclaim themselves 'bisexual.'

Haven't Alfred Kinsey and Howard Stern already done the leg work to prove this?
posted by HotPatatta at 5:48 PM on July 13, 2008


Haven't Alfred Kinsey and Howard Stern already done the leg work to prove this?

I imagine it'd involve more than 'leg work,' man. HAHAHA!

*tap mic*

this thing on?
posted by jonmc at 5:50 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Boy, I sure wish Cheney could keep President Bush calm.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:52 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's been harder since they lost the jack-In-The Box.
posted by jonmc at 5:58 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


"In humans, the categories of gay and straight are socially constructed.”

All categories are socially constructed. Whether the tendencies exist independently of the categories and what determines them is a seperate issue.

Which, if true, kinda puts a hole in the "gay gene" and "gay is not a choice" theory, doesn't it?

Not really. Some people can still have a gay gene/no choice in the matter and that wouldn't prevent people lacking the gene from taking a stab at it. It's not really an either/or thing.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:59 PM on July 13, 2008


Animals also sometimes eat their young. I.e. who gives a shit.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 6:02 PM on July 13, 2008


I'm vegetarian now, but before I had an excellent dinner recipe for glazed stuffed cocks.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 6:04 PM on July 13, 2008


Don't make me put on my heels and come down there with another "BALLS! BIG HAIRY BONERS!" speech again.
posted by WolfDaddy at 6:10 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


SeizeTheDay, are you concerned that gay people who advocate for marriage are somehow putting one over on you?
posted by krinklyfig at 6:21 PM on July 13, 2008


Has anybody ever written slash fiction about Slash?

I am in possession of evidence that yes, someone at some point, has in fact done so.

Not me, but somebody.
posted by Dreama at 6:27 PM on July 13, 2008


This will just gives Fundies a reason to like species extinction: "It's God's punishment on them gay monkeys! Monkey Gomorrah!"
posted by orthogonality at 6:30 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


“Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” says sociologist Eric Anderson of the University of Bath in England.

But do animails "do identity" at all, sexual or not? Watching my dogs and cat, I would say yes. Then again, I understand that the labels of gay/straight and homosexual/heterosexual are fairly recent in human history. We gay guys have been doing our thing for centuries, even if we didn't have a special word for it.
posted by Robert Angelo at 6:46 PM on July 13, 2008


In the future, animals are gay, too.
posted by humannaire at 6:49 PM on July 13, 2008


However, in the past, they were doing their thing forever, even if we didn't have a special word for it.
posted by humannaire at 6:51 PM on July 13, 2008


Researchers are now revealing that it's not so complex.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 7:02 PM on July 13, 2008


Of course this is nothing new. Now you have an article (well at least one more) to point to whenever someone says "It ain't nat'urrral for thems to be doing that!"
posted by P.o.B. at 7:07 PM on July 13, 2008


I am in possession of evidence that yes, someone at some point, has in fact done so.

Not me, but somebody.


I should've known, since his daddy works in porno now that mommy's not around...
posted by jonmc at 7:15 PM on July 13, 2008


The sexual orientation of two of our cats has been a matter of much entertaining debate here at Casa Pinchbottom. The facts:Many people are adamant that these cats are not homosexual, that they could not possibly be, that they're "just playing", or that since there's no ejaculation or penetration what they're doing isn't sex. I've witnessed the same debate over the very similar behavior of two female cats in the past.

Personally, I like to claim just as adamantly that they are gay, pointing out that the same behavior in two humans (whether orgasm or penetration was involved or not) would absolutely be considered homosexual activity. (I don't really have a dog in that fight, so to speak, but the pro-gay-cat position seems to be the most inflammatory, so that's the one I like.)

[The fact that these two cats are quite likely father and son clouds the issue for some people I think, but to me it's irrelevant to the question, so I hardly ever mention it except when I'm asking people if they'd like to meet our gay incest kitties.]
posted by slappy_pinchbottom at 7:21 PM on July 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


As for me, I will continue to be a bit frustrated at how "natural" "everyone" says they find bisexuality...since far fewer of this "everyone" seems willing to give it a go.

Ducking the question of whether it's genetic or socially constructed, I know a lot of people (both men and women) who have had both homosexual and heterosexual sex, but who don't identify at all as "bisexual."

A lot of people play for the other team once in a while, without wanting to change their jersey, if you will pardon the terrible metaphor. Meaning that performance and identity are not the same at all. You can have a celibate heterosexual, or a homosexual person who manages to have enough heterosexual sex to sustain a marriage, or whatever other seemingly contradictory combination you want to imagine.

A lot of the reason for the contradiction between "everyone is naturally kind of bi" and the lack of willing experiments that you note is, I think, based in the very limited array of social spaces for bisexual identity. Heterosexual relationships (particularly marriage) are usually socially defined in ways that preclude open bisexual behavior and identity; many gay and lesbian social environments are no more welcoming to a person who swings both ways.

Bisexual identity is really threatening for a lot of people -- it's unsettling, people give it weird definitions ("so you have to kiss both sexes equally?"), and it breaks the nice binary boundaries we live a lot of our lives within. It's sort of like how claiming an identity like "biracial" can create discomfort from both black and white (or whatever other combination is in question) in a way that simply choosing one identity does not.

And that's a social problem, not a genetic one. We have created a society built on a lot of binary either/or and us/them distinctions, and identities and behaviors that transgress those boundaries are socially deeply discomfiting.
posted by Forktine at 7:25 PM on July 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


A lot of people play for the other team once in a while, without wanting to change their jersey

Sex is not a team sport. The sooner people realize this the better. There is no "us" and "them".
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 7:34 PM on July 13, 2008


A lot of people play for the other team once in a while, without wanting to change their jersey,

Just so long as they wear their batting helmets.

a homosexual person who manages to have enough heterosexual sex to sustain a marriage, or whatever other seemingly contradictory combination you want to imagine.


Well, general speaking, a gay person who would do that is probably doing so for social reasons to maintain a cover, so it's a practical concern. I'm not sure what would motivate a straight person to 'play for the gay team' once in a while rather than honest desire or at least curiosity, since in the world as it stands, there's not any situation where I can think of where it would be advantageous to appear homosexual, societally speaking.
posted by jonmc at 7:40 PM on July 13, 2008


Sex is not a team sport.

It can be, my friend, it can be.

*calls in the Zamboni*
posted by jonmc at 7:41 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


Forktine & jonmc: I know a lot of people who engage in bisexual behavior w/out the identity label too. I'm not criticizing this -- I just with there was more of it.

Particularly among men. The most tolerant, non-homophobic, has-gay-friends guys, despite perhaps intellectually believing the "everyone's a bit bi" idea and being comfortable with nonsexual affection with their male friends, gay and straight, would still rather stick a poker in their eye than consider french-kissing a man.

(Incidentally, this revulsion-for-other thing goes for gay and straight men in my experience. Generally speaking, straight men being turned off by the idea of cocksucking is nothin' compared to what gay men think of pussy.)
posted by desuetude at 7:52 PM on July 13, 2008


I just with there was more of it.

I'll out myself as an at-the-end-of-the-day straight guy who has french kissed a man and enjoyed it. It probably happens more than people think, people just don't talk about it much.

Generally speaking, straight men being turned off by the idea of cocksucking is nothin' compared to what gay men think of pussy.)

I dunno about that either. A lot of self-described gay guys I know have publicly copped to having occasional hankerings for a woman as well. (usually, it has more to do the individual they're attracted to than some kind of 'today, I think I could go for a vagina' type of deal).

My point is, sure there are people at both ends of the spectrum, but most people are somewhere in between, IMHO.
posted by jonmc at 7:59 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


I understand that the labels of gay/straight and homosexual/heterosexual are fairly recent in human history. We gay guys have been doing our thing for centuries, even if we didn't have a special word for it.

You've misunderstood what it means to talk about "gay" as socially constructed. Men have been having sex with men for centuries, but until lately, there were no gay men. It wasn't possible to be a gay man, there was no one who identified as a gay man, and there were not people who related to their orientation or same-sex behaviors like gay men do. There have, however, been men who would likely be gay if they had lived today, and they did things somewhat similar.

An important part of social construction is that the social constructs affect the behavior of people who live with those constructs.
posted by Arturus at 8:06 PM on July 13, 2008 [2 favorites]


Arturus, I started to write that we actually agree, but that I was sloppy in my wording. But then I had second thoughts... What about the work of historians such as John Boswell? I think my poorly worded point was that people have been acting and thinking of themselves in same-sex relations and relationships for a long time, no matter what it was called, no matter what role it played in society.
posted by Robert Angelo at 8:24 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


: either being gay is a natural state of being (i.e. genetic) and not a choice, or that it CAN BE a lifestyle decision, and call it as such.

It's very rare that either nature or nurture fully explains any characteristic in adult humans, from intelligence to sexuality to morality to weight to talent. The more we learn about human development, the more we understand that we humans are complex products of the interactions between our genes and our complicated and ever-changing environments. There could both be a "gay gene" and be a lifestyle choice to identify as gay. There could be people with a "gay gene" who never have gay sex and who live as heterosexuals (wait, could be? There are!). And there could be people without a "gay gene" who nevertheless have had a series of life experiences that have led them to identify as and live as a homosexual person.

I'm not sure that I believe there's a "gay gene" any more than there is a single, identifiable "smart gene" or "fat gene." But regardless of whether there is one or not, there's simply nothing mutually exlusive about there being a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality and there being a socially learned predisposition toward homosexuality. There's no binary choice here. Genes aren't so much like light switches, on or off, as they are like early dominoes in a long and branching chain with many possible degrees and directions of expression.
posted by Miko at 8:40 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


people have been acting and thinking of themselves in same-sex relations and relationships for a long time, no matter what it was called, no matter what role it played in society.

Both same- and opposite-sex relationships have obviously existed through time, but what they have meant, the forms they've taken, and how they've been defined and socially dealt with and codified has always changed. Our present-day definitions are useful only to us; they wouldn't have been understood in the same way in any other time. That's not to say that same-sex partners didn't fall in love and have sex; it's to say that an identity such as "gay" or "lesbian" means something to us that it could never mean to people in the past or in very different cultures. We make a mistake when trying to overlay our understandings of gender on the past - even when we do it to the heterosexuals of the past, whose relationships with one another were also distinctly different from ours in many ways.
posted by Miko at 8:44 PM on July 13, 2008


The most tolerant, non-homophobic, has-gay-friends guys, despite perhaps intellectually believing the "everyone's a bit bi" idea and being comfortable with nonsexual affection with their male friends, gay and straight, would still rather stick a poker in their eye than consider french-kissing a man.

This is absolutely not universally true. I'm sufficiently straight that when I perch on the knee of someone who's gay the room erupts in laughter, and yet I tongue-kissed another straight male just to make a point. (The beard thing is awful, how do girls deal?)

Just because the interest isn't there doesn't mean you are actually grossed out by the idea; in fact, I suspect that people who are grossed out by the idea actually have more interest than they admit.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:47 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]



I think there has to be a "one way or another" with gay marriage advocates specifically because they've made the idea that being gay isn't a choice as an anchor to their entire platform. As I said, I don't have a clue as to what's right, although I tend to lean toward Warner's theory.

But I'm not advocating public policy; pro-gay marriage groups who are trying to change the law are. And there should be some internal consistency in their positions.


I'm going to call you out on this bullshit because there's a gaping hole in the other side of this argument: There is no good reason to only support a strict 'male/female' marriage law/rule without resorting to either religious morality or medieval property laws. You don't even have to bring homosexuality into it. Two straight men want to get married? Who the fuck cares?
posted by odinsdream at 8:56 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


there's a gaping hole in the other side of this argument

Which isn't my point, but way to change to goalposts. I'm not advocating that gay marriage is wrong. And I'm not saying that the opposite side (that gay marriage shouldn't be allowed) is correct, or on any sort of sound footing. I'm saying that there's a logical inconsistency with gay marriage advocates' belief that being gay is NOT a choice, which is why they should be subject to equal rights. A fundamental belief of gay marriage advocates is that being gay is NOT a lifestyle decision; but (if MeFi is any sort of consensus "gay opinion") being gay isn't as simple as "gene" vs. "lifestyle". Again, read my linked comment.

I'm not sure how many different ways I can say that I'm not against gay marriage (even though I am, but not for the reasons you think). This isn't a pro vs. con debate. This is having a strong foundation for making an argument for a legal change. And I'm sorry, but while I certainly think it's fair that gays have equal opportunities, I think their particular argument in this case sucks.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:19 PM on July 13, 2008


calls in the Zamboni

*penalizes jonmc for high-sticking*
posted by lukemeister at 9:42 PM on July 13, 2008


"In humans, the categories of gay and straight are socially constructed.”

In other news, water is wet and the Pope is a Catholic.
posted by crossoverman at 10:45 PM on July 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


These arguments sound like they are based on ideas about attraction by people who have never been in love. It doesn't matter if it is the heat of lust or the pining of companionship, the point is another person makes you FEEL something; a connection, for a few moments or a lifetime, that makes you want to have an intimate physical exchange with them. If it's strong enough, differences of religion, race, gender, age, clan, etc. will blur, and societal objections become secondary to your desire. Whatever the reason you feel it - genes, mental, situational (I'm speaking of willingly) is not unnatural because it has a physical effect, which is a natural response. I personally think it is chemistry, like how you can also hate someone you just met.
posted by figment of my conation at 11:32 PM on July 13, 2008


My pup, Huxley, is totally bi...
posted by jackiemcghee at 11:35 PM on July 13, 2008


But surely they don't have weddings, right?

Or at least not until this century?
posted by DreamerFi at 2:20 AM on July 14, 2008


A fundamental belief of gay marriage advocates is that being gay is NOT a lifestyle decision...

I'm pretty sure that's only the case because there are idiots who will say eww, it's just not natural. If you're saying that they shouldn't take this position because it panders to bigots by engaging with their arguments, then yes, you may have a point. The problem with taking what's 'natural' as the baseline to what's acceptable is that we may find that there's some perfectly acceptable behaviour that occurs between consenting adults that has no basis in nature - do we then outlaw that behaviour?

Nevertheless, and the sexual exploits of animals are absolutely fascinating - thanks for the link, plexi!
posted by liquidindian at 3:17 AM on July 14, 2008


but not for reasons you think.

Please explain why you're against gay marriage.
posted by odinsdream at 5:48 AM on July 14, 2008


lupus_yonderboy, jonmc, sorry -- not universally true, no. Of course not. Just more common in my experience than even I would expect.
posted by desuetude at 6:04 AM on July 14, 2008


It's been harder since they lost the jack-In-The Box.

when it comes down to the bottom I think it's just for sexual pleasure

there's a gaping hole in the other side

y'all 'er doin' this on purpose, ain't yer?
posted by quonsar at 6:56 AM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


but not for reasons you think.

Please explain why you're against gay marriage.
posted by odinsdream at 7:26 AM on July 14, 2008


Please explain why you're against gay marriage.

Well, gay marriage will lead to gay divorce, which will lead to gay divorcees.
posted by jonmc at 7:47 AM on July 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


I still don't even accept that saying being gay is "not a choice" is the same as saying that being gay is "genetic." Was being straight a choice? Was there a moment when you were a child or adolescent where you said to yourself, "Hm, all things being equal, I think I'll go with being attracted to girls"?

There are a lot of things about adult individuals which are not determined at birth and yet are not choices in any meaningful sense.
posted by Miko at 7:52 AM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I guess my other question about viewing the nature/nurture discussion as some sort of sticking point is: if being gay is not a bad thing in itself, then why on earth does it matter how a person ends up having gay relationships?

The "gay is unnatural" idea was never based in science anyway - it was always a back-formed justification for why it's all right to dislike gay people. So any findings that support the idea that homosexuality does, in fact, occur in nature is a quick refutation to the "unnatural" idea. There is no logical problem here.

Whether or not gay behaviors have an inborn (genetic) component is immaterial if there is no negativity attached to the behaviors. The only position needing defense is one that would state that all people who have same-sex relationships made rational, conscious, free, adult choices among all available options to pursue those relationships to the exlusion of opposite-sex relations. Which is a fairly ludicrous stance to take.
posted by Miko at 8:05 AM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, I'm one of those open-minded well-educated liberals who was well aware that there are plenty of cases of same-sex activity among animals, and still learned something new from this article - namely, the extent of that activity. (Seriously, 1/4 of black swan couples? Definitely news to me.)

Also: The captive females shrieked male mating calls and mated with one another, sometimes participating in multiple encounters of up to five koalas.

Jailhouse lesbian koala orgy.
posted by Tomorrowful at 8:19 AM on July 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


if being gay is not a bad thing in itself, then why on earth does it matter how a person ends up having gay relationships?

Well, from a scientific perspective, it's interesting.
posted by jonmc at 8:24 AM on July 14, 2008


Well, gay marriage will lead to gay divorce, which will lead to gay divorcees.
Too late.

posted by kirkaracha at 10:06 AM on July 14, 2008


"The most tolerant, non-homophobic, has-gay-friends guys, despite perhaps intellectually believing the "everyone's a bit bi" idea and being comfortable with nonsexual affection with their male friends, gay and straight, would still rather stick a poker in their eye than consider french-kissing a man."

I kissed a guy during a game of spin the bottle a couple years ago. It was awful, like this thick, retarded giraffe tongue thrusting in and out of my mouth.
posted by klangklangston at 10:38 AM on July 14, 2008


Homeboy just didn't have skillz.
posted by jonmc at 12:08 PM on July 14, 2008


And that is why religion is against fun and boredom.
posted by deusdiabolus at 4:02 PM on July 14, 2008


What I mean is that you're not attracted to all women, or all men, all redheads, all secretaries. You're attracted to an individual. What characteristics this person has and what that says to the pigeonhole crowd doesn't much matter. It's up there with "what your clothes say about you". But people do love their labels.

(for me the labelling problem is the long-term, unmarried monogamous live-in relationship -- we're not married, but we're more than "girlfriend and boyfriend". what is it? who cares? answer: other people)

And I guess my other question about viewing the nature/nurture discussion as some sort of sticking point is: if being gay is not a bad thing in itself, then why on earth does it matter how a person ends up having gay relationships?

Oh, it doesn't. It's all about it being a bad thing in itself. Gossips care about who is and who isn't. Supposed moralists care about why.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 6:12 PM on July 14, 2008


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