Gay Animals

You recently reprinted a classic on this topic. Interestingly, I didn’t see any mention of bonobos.


The locus classicus for this is Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance, a compendium of observed homosexual and transgender behaviour in hundreds of species of mammals and birds.

Just a reminder, salter (and everyone else): when you start a thread in response to a column, please provide a link to the column. It’s helpful to others: saves search time and keeps us all on the same page.

So, what is it with Cecil mentioning monkeys, then using explicit examples of chimpanzees and a gorilla?

It may not be taxonomically accurate to call all primates “monkeys”, nor is it even recognized by most dictionaries to be a valid use of the word, I think a significant portion of the population would have trouble coming up off the top of their head what distinguishes monkeys from other primates nor do I think it outside of Cecil’s style to employ such usage.

In the strictest sense, it’s not correct to call anything a monkey, nowadays. Old-world monkeys are more closely related to apes than they are to new-world monkeys, which means that “monkey” isn’t a proper grouping at all.

I had understood that the term “monkey” was still accepted, but was now considered to include the great apes (which in turn include humans, of course). It’s still not the case that all primates are monkeys, though, since there are also lemurs, tarsiers, etc.

I would have thought the female Spotted Hyena might have earned a mention as one of our more extreme mammalian gender benders.

Well, here’s a link to the article:

You’d think that when reposting an article from 198frickin4, he might update the answer with scientific research in the last 27 years.

That’s not how it stood the last time I looked, when “simian” was the term to use and “monkey” was condemned as paraphyletic but between DNA discoveries and the cladistics revolution, it’s a persistently boiling pot that isn’t likely to settle down in my lifetime. At any rate, there’s no doubt that there isn’t a single policy: everyone seems to say “non-avian dinosaurs” now, but no one speaks of “non-homeothermic reptiles”.

Growing up we had a dog, Fred, who seemed, for all intents and purposes, gay. He had a little boyfriend, Jason (both were cocker-spaniel mutts). And the two were inseparable (you wouldn’t want to try). As a little kid we used to refer to the two playing “train” where one was the “engine”, and the other the “caboose” (bottom and top?).

Fred showed no interest in female dogs at all. We didn’t even get him neutered until he was in his late teens when he started spraying the house (we had recently moved).

I have vague memories of there being times when there was a female dog in heat in our neighborhood. The male dogs would all howl and bark and go crazy. During such times, Fred would also seem to get excited. But inevitably he’d just go to the nearest male dog for satisfaction. I think he was just excited by all the excitement.

By the way, he was a great dog.

IMO, the reason people ask this question, is becasue they don’t like the idea that humans are animals. I mean, what are we then, plants?fungi?

Monkeys grow from the top of the trees down while other primates grow from the bottom of the tree up.

My family had a pair of lesbian dogs: a mut named Hoppy and a Labrador-St. Bernard mix named Sophie (later called Sophie Sappho). When they “expressed their love” Sophie was usually the train engine and Hoppy the caboose that climbed on board, and they also cuddled a lot. Male dogs wouldn’t even try to mate with Hoppy and when they tried to mate with Sophie (neither were spayed- this being the country and all that) Hoppy and Sophie together would fight them off; neither ever became pregnant while both were alive.
After Sophie was killed by a car Hoppy absolutely grieved for her lover- very sad story. She also got pregnant soon after, but was a terrible mother (had to be locked on the porch and forced to sit with her nursing pups).

Sometimes, the staff person doing the reposting does some updating; that’s why, from time to time, there’s a little anomaly (hiccough in the time-space continuum) with a comment in a 1987 column about something that happened in 1998. However, that’s pretty rare. The time and energy to do the research to update an old column is not much different from writing a new column, and neither Cecil nor Ed nor upaid staff are inclined to do that. So, they’re posted as “classic” and pretty much left as they were.

Cecil does sometimes update old columns, but then they appear as completely new columns with a link/ref to the prior one. And he only does that where there’s a significant amount of change, not just additional info.

I think Cecil dropped the ball on this one. There are lots of gay animals. Not just a few kinky primates.

Wikipedia has a List of animals displaying homosexual behavior

Or if you don’t like wikipedia try this New York Times article. Can Animals Be Gay?

Or google it, there are lots of articles out there. I just expected Cecil to give me the Straight Dope. :frowning:

You don’t seriously believe anything gay, even in the animal kingdom, would have the tastelessness and lack of style to call themselves a name like “bonobos” do you? I am sure they are all 100% straight and spend Sunday afternoons watching two teams of big apes throw a coconut around.

Again, the column was from 1984.