The Gay Animal Kingdom - was Darwin wrong?
"Giraffes have all-male orgies. So do bottlenose dolphins, killer whales, gray whales, and West Indian manatees. Japanese macaques, on the other hand, are ardent lesbians; the females enthusiastically mount each other. Bonobos, one of our closest primate relatives, are similar, except that their lesbian sexual encounters occur every two hours. Male bonobos engage in penis fencing, which leads, surprisingly enough, to ejaculation. They also give each other genital massages. "
Joan Roughgarden, biology professor at Stanford, has catalogued the wealth of homosexual behavior in the animal kingdom two years ago in her controversial book Evolution's Rainbow—and is weathering critiques that, she says, stemmed largely from her being transgendered.
Darwin imagined sex as a relatively straightforward transaction. Males compete for females. Evolutionary success is defined by the quantity of offspring. According to Roughgarden, sexual selection can't explain the homosexuality that's been documented in over 450 different vertebrate species. This means that same-sex sexuality—long disparaged as a quirk of human culture—is a normal, and probably necessary, fact of life. By neglecting all those gay animals, she says, Darwin misunderstood the basic nature of heterosexuality.
For more on the subject visit the June/July issue of Seed.