A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Is there such a thing as a gay animal?

July 20, 1984

Dear Cecil:

Living in a heavily gay neighborhood as I do, I have seen my share of leather freaks, transvestites, and lesbian couples making out at the beach. My question is, are such carryings-on a uniquely human phenomenon? Do our friends the animals ever get unnatural urges? Do monkeys, cats, dogs, etc., ever frequent gay bars, collect Barbra Streisand records, or speak with a lisp? Please, Cecil, I have a desperate need to know these things.

Cecil replies:

You asked for it, pal. Herewith the contents of my entire file on kinky animal habits. Kinky monkey habits, actually. Warning: it ain't pretty. Read at your own risk.

(1) There really are such things as gay monkeys. Animals usually engage in homosexual behavior only when crowded, deprived of normal heterosexual contact, or otherwise subjected to stress. However, Erwin and Maple (1976) describe two male rhesus monkeys who lived together for 19 months and engaged in "reciprocal mounting with anal penetration." When paired individually with females, the male monkeys would exhibit conventional heterosexual behavior. However, when the two were put in a cage together with a female, they would hassle her and direct all their affections toward each other.

(2) Monkeys make use of artificial instruments of lust. Ford and Beach (1951) tell of a female chimpanzee of low morals and even lower intelligence who attempted to achieve carnal union with a mango. Her technique consisted of placing the mango upon her external genitalia and awaiting the arrival of sexual bliss. When after some moments it became apparent that this might be a long time coming, the chimp placed the mango on the floor, sat on it, and twisted and rubbed against it with vigor. Bingham (1928) reports a somewhat more imaginative chimp who availed herself of a leafy twig, which she installed below decks and then rubbed against the bars of her cage.

(3) Some male monkeys can (and do) lick their own … oh, never mind. Spider monkeys also use their prehensile tails to stimulate themselves.

(4) Monkeys engage in oral sex, mutual masturbation, and other similar activities. I have a photograph here from a book of sex research (a perfectly sober volume, let me assure you) showing a male gorilla administering oral gratification to his lady. He does this by climbing up on her thighs, leaning down, and perching on his head. The effect is not as graceful as it might be. A younger male gorilla observes with interest from the sidelines. Elsewhere in the book we find detailed renderings of various positions from the monkey Kama Sutra, drawn from life by dedicated researchers. No doubt about it, zoology offers some fascinating career opportunities.

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