The Evolutionary Purpose of Male Homosexuality

A recent show on the science channel alerted me to an interesting new hypothesis about the evolution of homosexuality. Contrary to popular thought, it does not appear to be an accident. (If anyone can find documentation about this new hypothesis... let me know). Particularly interesting is the behavior of primate males in family groups. As is well known, apes (such as chimanzees, bonobos, and gorillas) that live in family groups consist of many females, one dominant male that gets exclusive access to mating with the females, and sometimes one or more submissive males that do not have the right to mate with the females. A new scientific hypothesis suggests that our early ancestors (who may have lived in similar family groups) may have developed homosexuality among these "submissive" males. The sexual behavior of the apes currently being studied suggests that male homosexuality has an important evolutionary advantage in family groups. The submissive males engage in homosexual behavior as a way to satisfy sexual instincts... but the advantage goes further than that. By engaging in homosexuality, the submissive males present themselves as no threat to the dominate male and thus promote group harmony, by discouraging male fighting over mates. Furthermore, these homosexual males provided survival advantages to the family group by helping to protect the females and infants from predators and rival family groups and to find food for the group. In this case, the sacrifice of the genetic survival of one individual gave an enormous advantage to the survival of the group. - Which is something evolution has been known to favor.

Although this particular advantage of homosexuality is obsolete for humans, the homosexual orientation would have survived despite that because our society changes far faster than evolution.

So.. for any homophobes that claim homosexuality is "unnatural" - Au Contraire! It is VERY natural, for some people!

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Comment by Ward Cressin on March 7, 2012 at 2:57pm

I've long suspected something like this. I even included those specualtions in my post to Wolf Eyes' "Is religion the root of all homophobia?" thread last night. Thnak you for posting this. Do you recall the name of the program (and episode)?

Comment by Skycomet the Fallen Angel on March 7, 2012 at 3:26pm

I do not... I'm sorry. :( If anyone can find more info to back this up... that would be much appreciated. 

Comment by Doc Feral on March 7, 2012 at 5:10pm

I've always thought of it as a natural form of population control.. but your concept puts a spin on it I didn't consider. 

Comment by Unseen on March 7, 2012 at 11:17pm

So, I'm sure gays are happy to be categorized as "submissive males."

Comment by Benjamin Cruzat on March 8, 2012 at 2:37am

@Unseen: I don't think the bottoms mind so much~

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 8, 2012 at 7:20am

I guess this explains the millions and million (and growing) of homosexuals among us.  Those very "few" submissive males.

Look IMO i wish people would stop trying to fit a round peg in a square hole. This is a lifestyle and folks have the right to want to be homosexual, its their body. 

Comment by Unseen on March 8, 2012 at 8:22am

Homosexuality HAS a lifestyle (or lifestyles, rather) it ISN'T a lifestyle. I say that because not all homosexuals participate in these lifestyles. Lifestyles are a matter of choice. I can choose to live the party animal lifestyle or the recluse lifestyle. I didn't choose to be heterosexual. It's not a choice I made. Heterosexuality isn't a lifestyle. Why would homosexuality be?

Comment by Rocky john on March 8, 2012 at 9:51am

From what i understand homosexuality is very much biologicaly programed into us before birth as the major event that seperates a male and female brain is a surge of testosterone during the intrauterine period. a male baby that is exposed to less testosterone during this period will be more attracted to men as they wil have a brain that is closer to a normal females, while a female baby exposed to more than usual testosterone will be more atracted to woman as there brain will be more male in charecter

Comment by Arcus on March 8, 2012 at 12:32pm

Not unreasonable, but a few issues and questions pops to mind. Firstly, there are certainly many animals which engage in homosexual activity, but to my knowledge humans are the only species in which some members are exclusively homosexual. Secondly, knowledge gained from studying other species cannot immediately be translated to humans, especially when it comes to social structures. Third, we cannot really know how social structures functioned in pre-history since it leaves little, if any, evidence behind to study. Lastly, if homosexuality is purely a social construct / behavioral trait, it would seem odd that it would have survived this long.

Comment by Becca on March 8, 2012 at 12:49pm

I heard this hypothesis in a human sexuality class I took in college... I'll have to see if the books I kept from the class say anything about this.


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