By Pam Hogle
Many pet parents ask this question when their dogs hump other dogs with no apparent regard for the gender of the humpee. In fact, it seems that many pet parents, both gay and straight, wonder about their pets’ sexuality.
They aren’t the only ones wondering about animals’ desires to fly the rainbow flag. Recently, the New York Times answered the question on all of our minds, “Can animals be gay?”
“Various forms of same-sex sexual activity have been recorded in more than 450 different species of animals by now, from flamingos to bison to beetles to guppies to warthogs,” the Times article said.
If you can answer yes to more than a few of these questions, you can probably guess that your pet is not pawing a straight line, so to speak. But, as some dogs are shrewd enough to avoid fitting these easy stereotypes, it might be that your gay pet is just more comfortable in the closet.
To get back to those humping dogs for a moment — observation of animals engaging in what humans interpret as sexual activity is no more helpful than checking your dogs against the stereotypical list above in confirming their homosexuality. In most cases, when dogs hump same-sex dogs, it is an expression of higher social status, not foreplay.
In fact, the New York Times explains, biologists have long made assumptions about the heterosexuality of many species of animals based on the animals’ sexual activity — and are only now beginning to question those assumptions and their own heterosexist bias. Well, it’s about time.
Why do animals engage in same sex “sexual” play? Captive same-sex couples observed in zoos are often said to be engaging in those behaviors due to a lack of potential opposite-sex mates. Surely our dogs don’t have that problem.
Research has shown that dogs continue to engage in sex play with others after being spayed or neutered, so there’s clearly more to it than a biological urge to make puppies. Other researchers have theorized that homosexual animals are simply building relationships. Maybe so. Aren’t we all?
Simply knowing that same-sex relationships are accepted throughout the animal world might give us hope that humans can achieve that level of tolerance some day. It is clear that, whatever their sexuality, our pets are not judging ours.
The real question is, does it matter whether your pet is gay? Would you love him any less if he were straight?