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Archive for the ‘Homosexuality’ Category

I’m proud to say this photo I took of Greg and Michael kissing in front of the Muslim protestors at the Global Atheist Conference last weekend received almost 250 000 views within less than 24 hrs of being posted on Sunday/Monday.

It’s been spammed all over Facebook and Reddit, as well as even appear in online news articles. Nice job guys! This is the kind of thing that people care about, and it’s nice to see that’s still the case.

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I’d post this in protest of the Catholic Church’s effort this week to oppose the UK government’s bid to legalise gay marriage.

In a pastoral letter, Archbishop of Westminster Most Rev Vincent Nichols and Archbishop of Southwark Most Rev Peter Smith will urge Catholics to fight to save marriage “for future generations’.

Meanwhile, priests are to encourage English and Welsh Catholics to join the online “Coalition for Marriage” petition to block prime minister David Cameron’s support for gay marriage.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Cardinal Keith O’Brien has likened gay marriage to slavery, an ironic comparison to say the least considering the Catholic Church was a leading proponent of slavery for 100s of years…

I can understand and almost tolerate the church and its leaders’ position on gay marriage, within the church that is. However, I get incredibly irate when any religious group try forcing their practices and beliefs on to those of others faiths or no faith at all.

The majority of the world’s people aren’t catholic, and will be married as non-catholics, ‘sin’ as non-catholics, and die as non-catholics. I think worrying about whether or not non-catholics marry someone of the same sex is relatively pointless in your grand scheme as it’s hardly going to score you any conversions.

If, within your own church, you insist on being anti-gay, anti-woman, anti-freedom, whatever… You’re free to espouse such a bullshit message and gain pews full of empty-headed bigots, but please stop there, allow the rest of us to live, love, laugh and be good people for goodness sake.

Also, perhaps come back and talk to the rest of the world after you deal with the pervasive issue of child molestation in your church. After all, this is a hell of a lot more natural…

Than this…

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After doing a recent podcast episode with Jake Farr-Wharton on The Imaginary Friends Show I thought I’d repost this article from Evolution 101 written by Dr. Zachary Moore on the evolution of homosexuality. I’ve added a few pictures and links to the text. Enjoy!

Why did homosexuality evolve? I realize that, just as with evolution, homosexuality is still somewhat of a controversial issue in pop culture (well, at least in American culture, for my international listeners). But nothing’s more interesting then sex, and what could be better than sex and evolution?

The common argument goes like this: if evolution is true, then only those individuals who are able to reproduce will contribute offspring to the next generation. Thus, individuals who are homosexuals will not be able to reproduce, their genes will not be passed on to the next generation, and so if there is some genetic or biological reason for homosexuality, evolution should have removed it a long time ago.

First of all, is homosexuality a specifically human behavior? If it is a fundamentally biological behavior, there should be some other species which share it. And, in fact, there are close to 500 known species which are known to engage in homosexual behavior, including elephants, dolphins, sheep, bears, deer, rats, cats, dogs, cows, rabbits, kangaroos, squirrels, whales, bats, pigs, mice, goats, as well as just about every other primate. And that’s just the mammals! There are many more birds, fish, reptiles, and even insects which have also engaged in homosexual behavior.

So it really doesn’t seem as if homosexuality is really all that uncommon. But so what? Why should homosexuality be a trait found in so many organisms if it’s so fatal to the evolution of the species.

Well, the answer is, as with most things I discuss here, that sex really isn’t black and white. And homosexuality isn’t fatal to the evolution of species. Remember the definition I gave for evolution way back in the first podcast- “change in allele frequency in a given population over time.” There’s a reason why I specified “population,” and not “individual.” Individual organisms don’t “evolve” any more than a single pixel makes up a picture on your computer screen. What is necessary for evolution to take place is for there to be a group of individuals, a population, within which genes can change and flow.

Now, it certainly is the case that, for most organisms which utilize sex, heterosexual sex is required for propagation. But consider- not all species employ strictly monogamous sexual strategies. For many species, males compete for control of several females, meaning that there are many males who are left out in the cold, so to speak, with nothing but each other and raging libidos. One hypothesis fits this scenario- homosexuality occurs in these organisms to placate the male aggression that is left over after competition for females.

But that doesn’t mean that homosexuality is always a consolation prize. Among the American Bison, male-male intercourse accounts for almost half of all mating, and not just among the losers. Both parties seem to enjoy themselves, with the subordinate male even accommodating the advances of the dominant male. The same phenomenon can be seen in bighorn sheep, where the male being mounted even adopts the arched-back posture called “lordosis,” which is typically associated with the female sexual response. Clearly, these animals seem to be enjoying what they’re doing.

But the males don’t get to have all the fun. Female homosexuality is also common, with female antelope mounting each other in simulation of heterosexual courtship behavior when males are not present. In bonobo chimpanzees, the female-dominated social network is composed of close bonds which are shown by frequent homosexual interactions between female members of the group. In fact, more than half of an adult female bonobo’s sexual interactions will be homosexual in nature. (An in depth paper on homosexuality in primates)

So how, you’re probably wondering, do these populations ever manage to reproduce with so much homosexuality? Well, the reason is because, as I said before, it’s not that black and white. Sure, individuals engage in homosexuality some of the time, or even a lot of the time, depending on the species. But not all of the time- they still find time to mate heterosexually. Sex seems to be a very fluid trait in many animals- pretty much any sexual configuration that can be performed within anatomical limits is done by some kind of animal. Sorry to say, but although humans can be kinky, we’re just not that original.

Now, you remember that I said that evolution takes place in populations, not individuals? Well, consider the social benefits of a population in which all members can share the close bonds of a sexual relationship, not just males and females. Clearly, in the case of bonobo chimpanzees, the bonds formed between females by homosexual relations are socially stabilizing. A stable society is much more likely to promote successful reproduction of young. Thus, homosexuality would be an evolutionarily beneficial behavior.

But what about some molecular evidence? Well, if you’re hoping that a “gay gene” has been found you’re not in luck. One hasn’t been found, although more and more scientists are starting to look at the genetics of homosexuality. Most likely, homosexuality as a behavior is a more complex phenomenon than just blue or brown eyes- a number of factors are considered- including the number of older male siblings a person has. Scientific research out of Toronto has shown that the more older male siblings a man has, the more likely he is to be a homosexual. The hypothesis is that the mothers becomes immunologically sensitized to the successive male fetuses within her, since they contain male proteins that she is not used to. According to this hypothesis, by the time the youngest male child is being carried in utero, she has developed anti-male antibodies which effectively diminish the normal masculinization process, resulting in a tendency towards homosexuality. But there may be some other benefits to the mother- a recent study from Italy showed that the maternal relatives of homosexual men have more children than the maternal relatives of heterosexual men. If this is repeated, it would suggest that there is a reproductive benefit to women whose DNA tends to result in homosexual male children- they have more children overall, meaning that their evolutionary fitness is actually increased because of the fact that they have homosexual sons. This is a fascinating possibility, especially because a better understanding of the genes involved in this phenomenon could have a major influence on our understanding of reproduction in general, and could point towards some better therapeutic targets for women who have problems with fertility.

All right- well, that was a lot to chew on for this week. To review- homosexuality is not a strictly human trait- it is practiced commonly throughout the animal kingdom. It has a clear evolutionary benefit in that it fosters better socialization among members of both genders. In humans, the evidence strongly suggests some kind of genetic component in the development of homosexuality, although the specific genes have not yet been discovered.

Before I sign off, I do want to make it crystal clear that the discussion here is in no way establishing a moral position in favor of, or against homosexuality. To do either would be to commit a clear naturalistic fallacy- to say that because something is natural, it is either right or wrong is clearly illogical. The moral discussion of homosexuality is reserved for other, non-scientific settings. Thanks for listening, and have a great week. I’ll see you next time.

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A restaurant in Knoxville, Tennessee refused to serve state Sen. Stacey Campfield, the man who sponsored the state’s “don’t say gay” bill, compared homosexuality to bestiality, and most recently told Michelangelo Signorile that it’s virtually impossible to spread HIV/AIDS through heterosexual sex. “I hope that Stacy Campfield now knows what if feels like to be unfairly discriminated against,” the Bistro at the Bijou wrote on its Facebook wall on Sunday. The restaurant has received an overwhelmingly positive response. (HT:Michelangelo Signorile)

In a brief interview, Campfield confirmed to BuzzFeed that the restaurant’s hostess called him homophobic and said that he “hates homosexuals,” refusing to serve him. He argued that it couldn’t be true because he rents to gay people through his business. (HT: Towleroad.)

If only more restaurants, and more people in general, had this attitude towards bigoted homophobes in the US and the rest of the world!

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This was on r/atheism today and I thought I’d share it.

The post was called I’m Gay and I respect the Westboro Baptist Church, a bit of a controversial heading… So I found out why the poster jjmosshead claimed that.

I respect them because atleast they are honest about their hatred, and they don’t try to beat around the bush and are explict about what they believe in.

Politically correct Christianity offends me deeply. Love the sinner, hate the sin. It’s still hate. You still hate my homosexuailty. Which in return is hating me.

I don’t want Christians love and acceptance, I want their vote for legal gay marriages. That’s all I want. But if you’re not going to give that to me. Then be honest like WBC and admit your hatred for homosexuality.

 

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I only came across this today, but I thought I’d share it anyway assuming most won’t have seen it before either. There was a gay pride parade last year in Chicago and many Christian groups went in protest, but one went to apologise on behalf of their religion and church for how gays had been and are still treated by them.

Someone needs to give these guys the keys to the Westboro Baptist Church and turf the other guys out. I think then the world would become a better place over night.

The following is what the leader of the group, the Marin Foundation, had to say about the day:

“I spent the day at Chicago’s Pride Parade. Some friends and I, with The Marin Foundation, wore shirts with ‘I’m Sorry’ written on it. We had signs that said, ‘I’m sorry that Christians judge you,’ ‘I’m sorry the way churches have treated you,’ ‘I used to be a bible-banging homophobe, sorry.’ We wanted to be an alternative Christian voice from the protestors that were there speaking hate into megaphones.”

Nathan discusses the various reactions to the group as people read their signs and “got it”, but was most touched by one parade participant:

He stopped dancing. He looked at all of us standing there. A look of utter seriousness came across his face. And as the float passed us he jumped off of it and ran towards us. In all his sweaty beautiful abs of steal, he hugged me and whispered, “thank you.”

Before I had even let go, another guy ran up to me, kissed me on the cheek, and gave me the biggest bear hug ever. I almost had the wind knocked out of me; it was one of those hugs.

This is why I do what I do. This is why I will continue to do what I do. Reconciliation was personified.

I think a lot of people would stop at the whole “man in his underwear dancing” part. That seems to be the most controversial. It’s what makes the evening news. It’s the stereotype most people have in their minds about Pride.

Sadly, most Christians want to run from such a sight rather than engage it. Most Christian won’t even learn if that person dancing in his underwear has a name. Well, he does. His name is Tristan.

However, I think Jesus would have hugged him too. It’s exactly what I read throughout scripture: Jesus hanging out with people that religious people would flee from. Correlation between then and now? I think so.

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Five UK Muslim men will face trial for handing out anti-homosexual leaflets asking for gays to receive the death penalty.

Five men are on trial in Britain for allegedly distributing leaflets calling for gay people to be killed, charged under a new law that makes such actions a hate crime.

The men allegedly gave out flyers titled “The Death Penalty” that showed a noose and said gay people would be punished. Two other leaflets were used to publicize a protest against a gay pride march in the central English city of Derby in 2010.

They face up to 7 years in jail if found guilty of hate crime.

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