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gay animals


Rad

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That's a tough nut to crack.

OK, OK, sorry for the pun and the innuendo.

More seriously -- if you look a little bit, you can find anecdotes of homosexual behavior in other animal species (at least among mammals and birds). One of the most publicized recently has involved "gay penguins."

Uh-oh. "Homosexual behavior," that's carefully neutral and generalized. So that can mean:

    [*]"gee, I'm really new at all this, sorta unsure what to do and confused, and it's my first ever breeding season, wanna experiment, buddy?"

    [*]"hey, there weren't any others available, and it's breeding season, and I'm *really* in the mood, even if you're the same sex."

    [*]"hey, guy or girl, it's all good, baby!"

    [*]"I'd rather have the same sex, the other sex doesn't get my motor going."

      Fine, up until now, that would apply to humans too.

      *However,* I'm not sure that other animals feel things in the same way as humans do. They might be very similar or identical. But more likely, they're different in ways we don't quite know.

      So it seems like it's too much of a generalization to apply the (recent) human designation of "gay" to how it's expressed (not quite the same) in animals.

      It's either not that simple, or I'm making it more complicated than it is.

      The example of a "gay horse" shows why we can't compare a human being gay to another species being gay. The horse's choices are up to the horse's owners. The human can make choices to improve his or her life.

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It is not unusual for one horse to try to mount another, even when they are both male. It's a dominance thing -- part of establishing who is the head horse in the herd.

However, the implication is that a stallion will refuse to mount a mare because he's not interested. I haven't heard of that happening.

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Thanks, I should've thought of that basic example too. "Mounting behavior" to establish dominance in a group occurs in a lot of mammalian species. That may look like sexual behavior, and it may shade into it, but it is for a different reason.

Case in point: A cat or dog may mount another cat or dog, without it being sexual. But the cat or dog may also mount a same-sex animal for what seem clearly like sexual reasons. If that same animal humps a person's leg, then that is clearly a case of getting the signals wrong.

What any behavior means in one species has similarities to other species. But there isn't always a one-to-one correspondence.

Humans are again difficult to compare. We share the usual mammalian and primate behaviors, or most of them. But we overlay that with what it means to be the human species, our own brand of feelings and thinking.

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the famous case of the swan pair on the Boston Commons. It's a very old tradition that there is a mating pair of swans there, and they are always named Romeo and Juliet. However, it was recently discovered that the current pair are more appropriately named Juliet and Juliet. While they made a nest and laid eggs, for obvious reasons all the eggs were sterile, which is what tipped off the park officials to have the two tested.

I think there's a thread on the N&V section about it, from a good way back.

cheers!

aj

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