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Although this particular advantage of homosexuality is obsolete for humans, the homosexual orientation would have survived despite that because our society changes far faster than evolution.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 Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 3:47pm

you don't have to put it in the closet, just not in the public square. 

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 3:51pm

Here's a "norm"  for you, there are two types of sexual reproduction, sexual and asexual.  Tell me which type do homosexuals practice?

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 4:07pm

Well reproduction is a "norm" in Nature. So how many mammals practice sexual reproduction?  How many mammals (provable) do it recreationally?  We know humans, but can you speak for other mammals?  I know you do when it comes to what you "claim" is their "homosexual" behavior..

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 4:09pm

do u mean reproduction is not a norm or recreational sex?

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 4:14pm

public square.... classrooms, lobbying for "rights" that no one wants to take away.  I've never seen anyone taking away the right of anyone to be "gay."   As for legal issues you can fight in the courts for equality but gays seem to campaign for "gayness" for public opinion..


Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 6:01pm

"It's a base requirement for a species to exist."  OK so why do homosexuals ignore this base requirement for the species to exist?  Like I said member of this culture are boundless even greater than Nature itself..

Let's not go round and round, this really bores me.

Education should reflect reality and that reality is the above.  Enslavement existed for millennia too, how should we handle that?  Just because a thing existed doesn't make it a good thing.

Comment by Shabaka Tecumseh on March 12, 2012 at 6:25pm

Only in European culture can one get a degree in Rhetoric.. The why is amazing..

Comment by CJoe on March 12, 2012 at 7:17pm

I'm really late in coming into this convo... I tried reading all the responses, but 6 pages (and counting) is a lot to slog through, so I apologize if I'm making a point that's already been asserted.

I don't think we should even engage the argument that homosexuality is "unnatural". It is a fallacy to assume that something being natural means it's good or preferable. We are not validating homosexuality by claiming it's natural. The fact is, it doesn't matter if it's natural. Humans engage in unnatural things all the time that enhance our lives... or don't. Clothing isn't natural. Glasses aren't natural. Eating cooked meat isn't natural. The list goes on. The whole premise should be dismissed. If they're not willing to give up their "unnatural" habits, they should shut up. The hypocrisy is mind-numbing.

I guess I'm really sick of the fact that theists, bigots, etc are the ones setting the tone for these types of arguments. I don't like having to insist that I'm not an "angry atheist" and spend my time showcasing how angry I'm not. The fact is, I am angry sometimes! And so are they. So what? My mood doesn't invalidate my worldview.

The fact is, someone's sexual orientation is no one's business but theirs. Whether or not being atheist is a choice is not the business of theists (although I do acknowledge that there is a difference in being atheist and being homosexual). Why do we constantly have to justify ourselves to people who don't give a damn about logic to begin with? They don't care that homosexuality is "unnatural". They think it's icky, so they're grasping for reasons to say it's wrong. If they actually accepted homosexuality was natural (which I do believe it is, by the way... even if I think it's a moot point in the context of this argument), they'd find some other reason to invalidate it.

It's like the whole debate over whether birth control should be covered by insurance. We're having to spend so much time insisting and proving that we actually use birth control for other reasons than sleeping with everyone... for things like horrible cramps, reducing the risk of certain cancers, we're married and we don't want kids until we're stable, we have cysts on our ovaries... we're justifying ourselves to people who have no business scrutinizing our lives and choices... PERIOD. It's simply maddening that they've set the tone.

So what if I CHOOSE to believe there is no god?! So what if I have multiple partners? So what if I choose to be with women over men? Is choice such a bad thing? Isn't choice a facet of freedom? As long as I'm being responsible... as long as no one is getting hurt... everyone needs to mind their own business.

Natural doesn't = good.

Choice doesn't = bad.

Homosexuality is natural. I didn't choose to be atheist. But both things are PERSONAL.

Comment by Pope Beanie on March 12, 2012 at 11:48pm

It's unnatural, and not normal for a species to mate with a different species. Biologically, a species has such a strong mating "preference" for it's own species that deviation from its own species very,very rare. Would anyone deny that sexual behavior is built into us, at least at the species level? We're talking about complex behavior, often including complex mating rituals, that is built in to animals by Nature. It's not a matter of choice.

Obviously, sexual behavior is essential for procreation, and is "natural" in that sense. Meanwhile,  variation of this complex behavior in several species includes homosexual behavior, and sexual behavior in a few species even provides benefits in addition to procreation. The point here is, heterosexual behavior is necessary and natural for procreation and species survival, but a little variation here or there sometimes has other benefits. (If anyone can provide evidence that a little homosexual behavior damages the survival chances of any species, I'm all ears!)

In fact, has anyone mentioned our primate cousin bonobos, yet? Is there reason to exclude them from this discussion, e.g. is there evidence the bonobo species has a high frequency of "aberrant" sexual behavior by "choice", or that such behavior is so "unnatural" that it hurts the species? I don't think so.

Seeing male homosexual behavior used to make me feel very uncomfortable, because Nature has built heterosexual behavior into every species, and it is my natural preference. But that doesn't mean that homosexual behavior is unnatural for the entire species! I got over my natural prejudice, especially after I could see that the natural, built-in preference of some of my friends was just... different!

Comment by Unseen on March 13, 2012 at 12:02am

@Cara   What evidence do you have that clothing and glasses aren't "natural." They are basically tools of sorts and we now know that not just humans use tools. Chimps use sticks, birds and otters use rocks to crack coconuts and mussels open. Clothing and glasses have become natural for people.

I forget where I heard it, but I believe it was a scientist who quipped, "If it's unnatural, it's also impossible. The world is governed by natural laws and whatever those laws allow is, in a significant sense, natural."


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