(CULTURE) Praised NBA center Jason Collins has come out as gay in an article featured in Monday’s edition of Sports Illustrated. He is the first openly gay male professional athlete who is currently playing in a major sport. During a conversation with the acclaimed basketball player, President Barack Obama praised Collins for his bravery and gave the pro-athlete his full support. Not only is the President of the United States on Collin’s side, but the animal kingdom also has the NBA center’s back. Evidence of homosexual behavior is found throughout the animal world in many different species, including sheep and penguins. Take a closer look at some same-sex partnerships in nature that prove love is blind among all animals, including humans. — Global Animal
Bianca M. Caraza, Global Animal
The battle for gay rights continues to wage on and the endless argument between nurture and nature being stretched to its limits. Here at Global Animal, we thought it would be interesting to take a look at actual nature—and homosexual behavior—in animals other than humans.
The argument that homosexuality goes against nature itself has been the hiding place for many anti-gay rights movements over the years. But scientists have found that these arguments aren’t actually scientifically founded, and rather than emerging from a loss of morality or hedonism, homosexuality follows a fascinating pattern that can, in fact, be found in nature.
While individual animals from lions, orca, and the common raccoon have displayed homosexual tendencies, there is possibly no same-sex couple more famous than New York’s own Roy and Silo. The Central Park Zoo’s Chinstrap penguins paired together for several mating seasons, during that time showing no interest in female penguins, and together cared for and hatched an egg. Their surrogate daughter, Tango, went on to pair with another female penguin, Tanuzi, for two mating seasons. The loving same-sex penguin couple’s story inspired the delightful children’s book And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell.
Though not all stories of animal homosexuality are quite as endearing as that of Roy and Silo, possibly due to penguin’s serially monogamous mating patterns, they are nonetheless interesting or relevant. In 2007, Time Magazine published an article on the sexual behaviors of gay sheep.
About eight percent of rams are gay (copulate with other rams exclusively), a percentage very similar to that of humans. The article reported Oregon Health and Science University’s findings on studying homosexual rams, which revealed the “gay” rams to have visibly different brain structures than their ewe-wooing counterparts.
While almost 1,500 species of animals have exhibited homosexual behavior, sheep seem to be the most extensively studied and have proven themselves out and proud, so to speak.
When it comes to homosexuality, it seems like no corner of the animal kingdom remains untouched. Even the smallest insects from the mite to the Monarch butterfly have been outed. The elegant pink flamingo and scaly bearded dragon are both known to take same-sex partners, along with the Bluegill sunfish, emu, chicken, buffalo, and domestic cat.
It may take more than a few hundred unbiased examples of homosexuality in nature to convince New York’s conservative representatives of its benignity. We can, however, hope that justice will be enacted and people – and our fellow animals – finally receive the rights they deserve.