Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Bill Nye, the Science Guy: some homosexuality seems to occur naturally in many mammals, doesn't necessarily undermine a species's reproductive success

Here is a video (published recently) where “Bill Nye the Science Guy” is asked whether homosexuality contradicts the interest of a species (human or animal) by diverting sex away from reproduction (the whole Vatican thing).  The questioner asks if homosexuality comes from instinct, or from “personal whim”?

Nye mentions the book “The Naked Ape” (Desmond Morris, 1967) which he hasn’t read in years.  But he says that gay men often marry and have children anyway, and some degree of bisexuality seems common in individuals of other mamma species, especially primates (like bonobos).  It seems to occur on its own in nature.  It may happen in cetaceans.

Homosexuality in nature seems to supplement reproduction rather than undermine it, by (in some cultures), offering other social structures and possibly encouraging familial altruism (support from members who did not personally reproduce), which many social mammals need (where relatively few males reproduce).  Paul Rosenfels used to articulate similar ideas at the Ninth Street Center in the 1970s. 
One problem is that “sex only within marriage” is (or was, in past decades) put on a high social pedestal to support having and raising children within intact families.  But, as a logical consequence, a prohibitionary policy (as Andrew Sullivan had described it back in the 90s in books like “Virtually Normal”) individuals could be punished for suspected private behaviors merely for violating a defined exclusionary social norm, so those who did fall within the norm felt better about themselves and remained passionate in marriage. 


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