Gay Beasts

Yep, They´re Gay
by John Cloud
Friday, Jan. 26, 2007

Zoologists have known for many years that homosexuality isn't uncommon among animals. (My own cat has raised suspicions ever since he tried to mount a cowering male dachshund.) But I was surprised to learn recently that male sheep exhibit homosexuality at least as often as humans: roughly 8% of rams turn out to have sex exclusively with other rams.

This little piece of faunal ephemera might otherwise have gone unnoticed outside the rarely intersecting subcultures of gays and shepherds. But a few months ago, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals launched a p.r. campaign on behalf of gay sheep. PETA claims that researchers in Oregon are killing gay sheep and cutting open their brains in order to learn how to turn gay rams straight. A few weeks ago, London's Sunday Times picked up the story in an unnerving article that states the research "raises the prospect that pregnant women could one day be offered a treatment to reduce or eliminate the chance that their offspring will be homosexual." The story has pinged around quite a few blogs since, and Rush Limbaugh and Martina Navratilova have taken their predicted positions. (Limbaugh: gay activists finally have a reason to oppose abortion. Navratilova: homophobes are murdering gay sheep.)