Supply: HarperCollins, with permission.
Bestselling creator Eliot Schrefer’s new e-book, Queer Geese (and Different Animals): The Pure World of Animal Sexuality is a winner in many various methods. Among the many quite a few accolades for this younger grownup e-book specializing in the range of naturally occurring same-sex sexual conduct amongst nonhuman animals (animals) we learn, “A considerate, thought-provoking, and extremely enjoyable research of queerness throughout the animal kingdom . . . it should assist queer children really feel much less alone because it highlights the filtered lens by which the animal kingdom has for too lengthy been offered.” (Kirkus Evaluations)
I am thrilled Eliot might take the time to reply a couple of questions on his riveting new e-book. Here is what he needed to say.
Marc Bekoff: Why did you write Queer Geese (and Different Animals)?
Eliot Schrefer: I’m a part-time scholar within the Animal Research M.A. program at NYU, and we’ve had a couple of students come by speaking about same-sex sexual conduct of their species of research. I noticed that I’ve at all times assumed that pure choice wouldn’t name for behaviors that didn’t trigger genes to unfold in subsequent generations—and but an explosion of analysis lately has established that same-sex sexual conduct is widespread. A conundrum!
I started to look into theories of why same-sex sexual conduct would persist all through the animal kingdom. I discovered compelling particular person articles, and a few terrific scholarly texts (like Bruce Bagemihl’s Organic Exuberance and Joan Roughgarden’s Evolution’s Rainbow), however not a public-facing e-book, and located myself getting that feeling of urgency meaning I’m going to be writing a brand new e-book.
Supply: HarperCollins, with permission
MB: Who’s your supposed viewers?
ES: I’ve lengthy written younger grownup books, although most of my readers through the years have appeared to be adults, not teenagers. As I used to be trying into the range of animal sexuality, I remembered my expertise of realizing I used to be homosexual after I was 11. I appeared up “homosexuality” in an encyclopedia and discovered that it was a psychological aberration attributable to human tradition or dangerous parenting. That accorded with the detrimental messaging I used to be additionally getting from our media. I wrestled with that for a very long time, and quite a lot of LGBTQ+ younger folks don’t survive this internalized assumption that there’s something improper or unnatural about them. So I wrote the e-book to be accessible to a teen viewers, although I anticipate that almost all of its readers will likely be adults.
MB: What are a number of the matters you weave into your e-book and what are a few of your main messages?
ES: The primary work I needed to do was paring down an immense discipline into accessible chapters. A latest research in Nature put the variety of species with confirmed substantial same-sex sexual behaviors at 1,500 and counting. I made a decision to hone in on 10 emblematic animals, who would symbolize a range of evolutionary methods and would every assist reply a broader query about this discipline.
Doodlebugs, whose male-male couplings shook the Nineteenth-century entomology world, assist discover the historical past of human attitudes in direction of homosexuality.
Bonobos, an ape species that’s in a tough tie with chimps as our closest relative and for whom female-female intercourse is probably the most frequent, assist us have a look at how we could be underestimating the extent of bisexuality (relatively than hetero- or homosexuality) in animals.
Dolphins have been a method of male-male intercourse as a social survival technique, with parallels to people in numerous cultures all through historical past.
Fruit flies assist us study the diploma to which sexuality is genetic.
Identical-sex parenting and polyamory amongst birds assist to tease aside the connection between sexual acts and same-sex bonding.
Japanese macaques have been in some methods probably the most controversial instance, at the least to those that proceed to contemplate animals to be evolutionary cogs: primatologist Paul Vasey studied the monkeys for many years and examined out numerous theories for why they’ve such frequent female-female intercourse. He in the end concluded that there wasn’t an adaptive motive for it; they simply wished to.
I’m not attempting to argue for human behaviors based mostly on these animal examples. Animals do loads of issues that almost all of us wouldn’t need to see people doing, like consuming their sexual companions after mating. However I’m arguing that it’s not scientifically tenable to assert that LGBTQ+ people are unnatural or that they don’t have analogues within the animal world.
MB: How does your e-book differ from others which might be involved with a number of the identical normal matters?
ES: There are some notable tutorial heavyweight books on this discipline, foremost amongst them Bruce Bagemihl’s meticulously researched Organic Exuberance (1999). Queer Geese (and Different Animals) goals to be a layperson’s learn, utilizing humor and a extra journalistic strategy to make the sphere of animal intercourse accessible to a broad vary of readers.
MB: Are you hopeful that as folks be taught extra about these matters they are going to be extra understanding about human and nonhuman sexuality?
ES: Completely. One of many principal realizations to return out of my analysis was that, free of the shaming human societies connect to same-sex sexual behaviors, animals apply them casually and for social profit. Whether or not heterosexual or gay, intercourse produces oxytocin, referred to as the “bonding hormone.” That makes for social alliances.
Our unchecked “Noah’s ark” assumptions that animals have intercourse solely to procreate, aided by an excessively slim view of pure choice, have saved us from seeing all the various advantages intercourse can have for animals, past simply procreation. I feel studying concerning the range of sexual expression in nonhuman animals can solely make us extra open to the range of sexual expression we encounter in people.
That’s if folks find out about it, in fact. This present rise of LGBTQ+ censorship in faculties and libraries, based mostly on a contagion concept of sexuality, is each extremely damaging to queer populations and goes in opposition to this surge in scholarship. There’s no preserving sexual range out as a result of it’s our heritage as animals.