Few animals have filled as many children’s picture books as the mighty giraffe. Little do those illustrators know how totally gay they are.
If there is one species which stands alone as practically a queer superstar of the primate world it’s the bonobo. This species, Pan paniscus – our closest living relative along with the chimpanzee – is endangered and lives only in a single area of the DRC. They have, as you may have guessed, an incredibly raunchy sex life.
As a trans woman and an ecologist, I find queerness in non-human nature a profoundly important subject. I can’t count the number of hours I’ve laid in the bath reading Biological Exuberance (Bruce Bagemihl) or Evolution’s Rainbow (Joan Roughgarden) – there’s something about knowing that there are lesbian lizards in the world and orgies of gay manatees and polyamorous oystercatchers and trans clownfish and bisexual red deer and masturbating baboons and kissing zebras that just gives me hope.
Rarely mentioned and often ignored as an anomaly or an evolutionary dead end (and haven’t we all heard that before?), there are several species of lizard, at least eight in the south-west of North America, who are completely female. There is not a single male in these species and there is no need for reproductive sex: females produce fertile eggs all by themselves.
Gay or queer? Prostitute or sex worker? Transgender or trans?
Language teachers know this: first we build the concept, then we teach the word. Show the students a carrot then teach them to say ‘carrot’. Mime stretching then teach the word ‘stretch’. But what if language works the other way too? What if the words we use limit and define the way we think and behave? What if our vocabulary changes the way our brain works – and sometimes it’s the word that comes first and not the concept? Continue reading