If homosexuality is an unnatural choice, how come so many animals are gay? Gay advocates say if homosexual behavior occurs in animals, it must be natural, and therefore gays should have the same civil rights as heterosexuals. Animal researcher Frans de Waal says, “There has been a certain cultural shyness about admitting it.”

Dinitia Smith writes in the February 7 New York Times about two gay penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, who have been inseparable for six years. Both have rejected female companionship, and females aren’t turned on by them, either.

But they do want to be parents. When zookeeper Rob Gramzay noticed them trying to incubate a rock, he gave them a fertile penguin egg. Roy and Silo sat on it faithfully for 34 days until Tango was born, then they raised the chick for the next two and a half months. Gramzay says, “They did a great job.”

De Waal studies bonobos, apes that are closely related to humans, who are bisexual. They also like to have lots of sex and solve most of their conflicts that way. Before he wrote about this, he says, “American scientists who investigated bonobos never discussed sex at all. Or they sometimes would show two females having sex together, and would say, ‘The females are very affectionate.'”

Bruce Bagemihl, who wrote the book “Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity,” says homosexual behavior has been documented in at least 450 species. His book was used by lawyers to strike down the Texas law against sodomy. Some people say animal homosexuality occurs in animals that are unnaturally confined to zoos, but Bagemihl says it actually happens more often in the wild.

One puzzling question is why homosexuality arises in certain members of a species. It can’t be strictly genetic or it would die out, since homosexuals don’t reproduce often enough for the gene to be passed on. Once society gets over the idea that homosexuality is unnatural, the next question is: What role does it play? It could be a response to overpopulation. Biologist Marlene Zuk thinks that by not producing their own offspring, homosexuals may help support or nurture their relatives’ young and, “That is a contribution to the gene pool.” They could also be agents for carrying on the culture, while heterosexuals are busy reproducing and raising the young?a role they play in human society.

Anne Strieber talks about she learned from living in a gay building, in a gay neighborhood, in her recent diary.

No matter who you’re attracted to, you won’t be able to resist our gorgeous 2004 crop circle calendar. It’s on sale right now. These are imported from England and we’re the only U.S. store that carries them. Once they’re sold out, there won’t be any more, until the new calendars come out in 2005.

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