For my entire queer life, and I’m assuming for most of yours, I have been on the receiving end of a number of ignorant responses (or really REALLY bad pick up lines) when strangers or acquaintances find out I love the ladies. So, finally, I have decided to create a handy guide in response to the most common (and preposterously misguided and stupid) comments. Feel free to print it out, carry small copies around, print them on a tshirt, pass them out at bars, whatever. Perhaps it won’t change the asshole response rate, but at least it will be fun to see their reaction when fact smashes up against their fictions.
1. Myth: Being homosexual isn’t natural. Fact: Homosexuality occurs widely in nature, across animal classifications. Most commonly reported, and most closely related to us, is the bonobo. I’ll talk more about them in a bit. But before nay sayers can cry out that this is an anomaly, homosexual behavior has been recorded far and wide in our great animal kingdom. Just a small sampling of species that love them some same gender humping are: lions, chimpanzees, black headed gulls, koalas, orcas, brown bears, ravens, salmons, bearded dragons, red diamond rattlesnakes, water moccasins, dragonflies, box crabs, and jumping spiders. There have been over 1,500 species that have been observed bumping uglies with members of their own sex. The list is EXPANSIVE. In many avian species, homosexuality is a life time commitment, with many same sex bonded pairs staying together for an entire life cycle (and even raising a stranger’s egg, when one was provided in captivity). Male on male, female on female. Doesn’t matter. It’s there, we’ve seen it.
2. Myth: Sex is driven by procreation, and since homosexual sexual activity doesn’t result in kids, it’s just not right. Fact: There are a ludicrous amount of animal species, including our own, that use sex for more than just producing heirs. True, chemical forces do raise response rates during times of fertility, and much of attraction revolves around good gene combinations. But it is absolutely not the only reason, nor the reason sexual encounters occur most often. Back to the bonobos. These small great apes are greatly referred to as “the hippie chimps” due to their close resemblance to these cousins (which are, coincidentally, our closest relative). However, their culture uses sex for a multitude of reasons…to create friendships, to ease tensions, to pass the time. They are just happy as clams to grind up against each other. In fact, a “bonobo handshake” (i.e. the greeting used when approaching a females) requires one to quickly and gently rub an extended clitoris. Male lions consistently have sex with other male lions as a means of increasing the bond within the pack (to keep the peace and increase cooperation). Some species of spider monkeys have females with clitorises so large scientists mistook them as all male groups. I don’t have to tell you how much this fact supports the “sex for pleasure, not just fun” theory I am expanding upon. Sex happens ALL THE TIME.
3. Myth: Lesbians just haven’t had a good man yet, and need to try it (preferably with the man suggesting this) in order to see the heterosexual light. Fact: The majority of women who identify as lesbians do not carry a gold star card in their wallet. Quite a few of them have been in marriages, had children, or came out later in life. Many of the men in our lives have been lovely people and wonderful experiences overall. Just not so much in the bedroom. It has nothing to do with their ability to please a woman and has everything to do with the fact that THIS woman just ain’t buying what their selling (or rather, I probably have bought a better version of what their selling, and mine is STD free and vibrates). It’s a bit like clothes. I may understand that those pants look AMAZING on you, that you LOVE them, that you can’t imagine life without them, but the just don’t fit me. Men are just a size 0, and the average woman wears an 8. Science support? Roughly 1 in 10 female black headed gulls would be identified as lesbians if they were people. They mate with one male, get knocked up, then live out the rest of their happy existence with their wife (who is probably the partner they were with before the male, and who probably fully supported this method of expanding their family).
4. Myth: Transgender people are just confused or want attention and should just stop pretending to be anything other than the sex they were born with Technially, this comment isn’t aimed at me, but somehow ALWAYS gets brought up. I don’t know, maybe my “STOP TALKING” stare actually conveys a completely different message. Fact: Changing genders at some stage in your life is not an anomaly to the Homo sapien species. It is actually quite common amongst fish species, where some are even born as gender NEUTRAL and develop female organs if the local female dies. You know, just in case. In clownfish, which reside in a harem society (one male, many females), if the male should meet a watery demise a female changes into a male in about 5 days and takes his place. Physically, biologically, and socially changes into a male. Naturally.
5. Myth: Homosexuality is a choice. Fact: If the comments above don’t highlight this point enough, I’d simply request that the asshole who says this choose to be gay for a few nights. See how easy it is to be attracted to the same sex if you identify as a heterosexual. Now, it’s highly possible that the aforementioned asshole is simply repressing their own homosexual identity and could easily be turned on by the same gender. But it’s a win win. Either they realize how asinine the idea is, or they get to experience a few nights of unbridled passion and real fulfillment (probably closely followed by intense self loathing…but one step at a time).
6. Myth: Women were made weaker than men/should be subservient to men etc and thus, two women can never equal the kind of passion/intimacy/stability that a man and woman can have. Fact: For millions of years many of our hairy friends have been living in fully functioning female dominated societies where males are nothing but baby sitters and sperm donors. To pull from our own animal order, the primates, here are a few matrilineal species where women reign supreme: Pygmy marmosets, ring tailed lemurs, cotton top tamarins. Ok, in all honesty, it’s a large portion of all lemurs, marmosets, and tamarins that exist. Further, solitary females are quite successful as well (such as the oragutan and the lorises). But it is not exclusive to our ranks; think of the fabulous seahorse, where males give birth and carry the young. Take THAT gender roles!
There are a million of these, and I am happy to expand the list if anyone wants to send in suggestions. I think I can safely say that all of these kinds of responses come from a place of ignorance (which leads to fear). I try not to blame. This is America after all, we don’t even allow evolution to be taught in all our science classes and we don’t have effective anti bullying policies in place to protect our youth. It’s no surprise that people aren’t up to date on what nature has been doing for, oh, a few dozen million years. But now the void is filled, we can all rejoice. You’re welcome. No matter where the argument stems from, general lack of knowledge or religious faith, the rampant homo lovin’ in nature defies all of their logic. If things have evolved this way, it’s as natural as rain. If their god created the Earth and all things in it, well then the homo fauna were created too. Everything perfect, just as it is.
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About Leah Schein
Leah is a born and bred Chicagoan, and considers herself extremely fortunate to be raised by amazing liberal parents in Logan Square. Coming from a long family history of equality activism, the crazy world of politics feels like home to her. Her upbringing allowed her to fully appreciate her love of tacos, and provided the support needed to be independent and insane. She is a happy survivor of the public school system, all the way through her undergrad years, culminating with a BA in anthropology. Her love of travel and all things adventurous led to the pursuit of a Master of Science from sunny ol’ England, where she happily grasped a conservation degree and ran off to live in a number of rain forests to research nocturnal primates. Through the amazing diversity she was fortunate to be raised amongst, she has an unwavering appreciation of all cultures and peoples, and has used this to form the foundation of her outspoken support of civil rights. You may have seen her running around Boystown/Tuna town over the last decade, or at events she volunteers at for the Human Rights Campaign. It’s possible you spied her at the Silent Film Festival. That strange woman getting into a wrestling match in the leaves on Foster Ave beach at 3am…that definitely wasn’t her. She couldn’t be more excited about sharing her love of science, and it’s role in our daily lives, with the community she loves. Nerds are cool, people. They drink martini’s too.