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Thursday, 4 September 2008

Penis-fencing whales and self-fellating kangaroos

Nothing like an eye-catching headline to get your interest. And they don't come more eye-catching.

It's there to illustrate that creatures other than humans get up to all kinds of sexual behaviour – behaviour that, in humans, is condemned by Bible loonies as unnatural.

But a piece in today's Scotsman tells us – as if intelligent people actually needed more telling – that being gay is just one of those things. Natural. Inborn. Genetic. A bit like heterosexuality, really. No one ever asks what "causes" heterosexuality, after all.

The piece is by Dr Mairi MacLeod, who begins thus:

There is increasing evidence that the basis for our sexual orientation comes down to biology. Basically, there's no reason to think that homosexuality is anything other than completely natural.

A BBC programme earlier in the summer, The Making of Me, had [Doctor Who and Torchwood] actor John Barrowman on a mission to prove that his sexuality was something he was born with, a quest that had him measuring gay men's fingers at a Pride parade and watching porn with electrodes wired to his penis.

Amazing what some people will do in the interests of healthy enquiry. Anyway, the good doctor continues:

And there is increasing evidence that the basis for our sexual orientation comes down to biology. A study published in June showed that certain brain structures of gay people resemble those of opposite-sex heterosexuals. This also seems to be reflected in the way people with different gender identities use their brains. The documentary pointed out that, generally, women tend to have greater verbal fluency than men, but that gay men's brains work in a similar way to women's. Barrowman's verbals, predictably, were right off the scale.

Basically, the article says, there's no reason to think that homosexuality is anything other than completely natural. After all, it says, plenty of other species, from bears to flamingos, "indulge in boy-on-boy and girl-on-girl sex".

In fact, a lot of animals get up to much more risqué stuff than that. An exhibition called The Sex Lives of Animals has opened at the Museum of Sex in New York and features animals engaged in all manner of pastimes, including penis-fencing grey whales and self-fellating kangaroos. According to New Scientist magazine, the aim of the exhibition is to demolish preconceived ideas about sexuality and gender stereotypes. But I digress.

Back to humans and the relatively straightforward issue of homosexuality, the puzzle that scientists have been battling to solve is this: given that homosexuals, on average, have far fewer children than straight people, how have genes for homosexuality been maintained in the population?

One idea, often cited, is that gay people help their relatives with such things as childcare and money, which leads to more siblings or nephews and nieces, therefore ensuring the survival of shared genes. "But actually there's no good evidence for this," the article says.

It goes on:

Research by Andrea Camperio Ciani and colleagues at the University of Padua, Italy, suggests that genes which make men more likely to be homosexual also make women likely to have more babies than average, and the team published work a couple of weeks ago showing the same is true for genes for bisexuality in men. It seems that the genes that make men tend to like men also cause women to like men – a kind of hyper-heterosexuality in women. The genes stick around in the population because the extra children produced by the women carrying them make up for the lower output of their gay male relatives.

There's more, so by all means click on the link above and read the entire article.

What evidence of the naturalness of homosexuality does show is that, even if you posit the idea of a creator god, you'd have to concede that he, she or it has made us with sexual variation. Some of us are gay. It's a fact, bible bashers, so get used to it.

But they won't, of course. It's unnatural, and that's that. God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve, they'll tell you, even those who don't believe in the literal Garden of Eden as depicted in Genesis.

Even those who hate gays on the grounds that sex should be between married people have lost on that score, now that marriage between people of the same sex – yes, even called marriage in some places – is now a fact of life.

But their sick, twisted excuses for minds usually come up with some convoluted load of bullshit. Seems odd, though, that their loving god should make people just for the pleasure of condemning them.

But God moves in mysterious ways, they say.

True. He made bible bashers.

1 comment:

Baal's Bum said...

I have always believed as long as any and all participants in a sexual relationship are mature enough to decide what they are doing then it is nobody's business who is fucking who, apart from those who are fucking.
I also am sickened by the fact that these organisations that choose to disrespect consenting adults for their sexual relationships are so accepting of the rape of children by some their members.

As for the old god made Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve, modern science would interpret Adams spouse as a clone which would be the same sex as the donor DNA. So god did make Adam and Steve then transgendered Steve to Eve.