Homosexual animals are not gay, OK! »
The biologists profiled in this week’s New York Times big Sunday Magazine article, "Can Animals Be Gay?" would like you, general public, to please stop associating the terms “gay” and “lesbian” with non-human animals. This is extrapolation that they, the disinterested scientists, do NOT do, and that we the general public should not do, as it muddles the very important distinction these scientists draw between non-human animals and human animals, and they do not want our anthropomorphism and judgmentalism and morality getting in the way of their scientific conclusions.
Fair enough, to an extent. I do not want horrible eugenicist bigots demanding that we isolate the so-called and still-debated “gay gene” and allowing for some kind of “gaythanasia” escape clause in their no-abortions-ever laws, and that is a possibility—touched on by one of the scientists interviewed—if we allow for the blurring of that line.
However, as a vegan, I believe that the more similarities we find between “natural” human behavior and “natural” animal behavior, the harder that will make for the general public to accept abuses such as animal testing (let alone eating animals—come on, son). Because we’re people, and, “As the biologist Marlene Zuk explains, we are hard-wired to read all animal behavior as ‘some version of the way people do things’ and animals as ‘blurred, imperfect copies of humans.’”
Now, as many “it thinks it’s people” jokes I may make, I do not believe that animals are “imperfect copies of humans” and find it, oh yes, offensive that others might. It’s cute when a non-human animal’s behavior reminds me of a human’s behavior, but that doesn’t mean that the dog is actually “trying to be” a person. It does have agency, however; it does have its own biological makeup, just as we have our own that allows us to feel and behave compassionately. So if you feel like maybe animals can be gay, like maybe that is an argument for the “naturalness” of homosexuality, maybe that should inform your behavior toward animals in other areas. If animals of all kinds share so many similar traits, how humane is it to make such clear distinctions between “us” and “them,” really?
[photo of rabbits by Jeff Koons for the NY Times]