Trigger Warning: This text contains mentions of homophobia.
Yet nature carries pride anytime, not just this month!
In a city like Berlin one can easily forget that being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, non-binary, questioning or anything outside the heteronormative world is still understood as “unnatural” in large parts of society.
There is a human desire to categorize everything and everyone. Even things that don’t ask for categorization, like love, sex or gender. The habit of categorizing is as old as the binary. Religion has taught us that things are either good or bad, black or white, natural or unnatural. No multitudes. No polyphony. No diversity. We get told that in order to be beautiful we have to look like a man or a woman. That there are only two genders and that sex is for reproductive purposes only. So why in God’s name would you decide to mate with your own sex? Most of these statements are based on alleged biological science, while nature is the queerest of us all!
Homosexuality was said to be “unnatural”, because it has no reproductive purpose and according to evolution, that’s what animals and plants are all about. Though when it comes to nature, diversity and complexity are the norm. Over 150 feathered species are known to be in homosexual relationships and worldwide 450 species have been described as engaging in sex with same-sex partners. The bluehead wrasse, amongst other fish, will transform its sex as it gets older. The transsexual fish will adjust depending on the changes in the social organization of the group. Grizzly bears, polar bears, baboons, deer, buffalo and moose are known to be mostly intersex. These simple facts have been downplayed and ignored for a long time, because evolutionary theory has been misinterpreted, whilst wearing the blinkers of a self-fabricated heteronormative world. Paul Vasey from the University of Lethbridge in Canada formulated an idea after researching on the evolutionary significance of homosexual behaviour in a study on Japanese macaques: The monkeys engage in homosexual sex for pleasure. Who would have thought! The zoologist Abby Hafer states:
We need to expand our understanding of reproduction.
In the animal and plant kingdom as much as in the human world, we need to look beyond just sex to acknowledge all the ways that life is sustained. We can find profound examples of collaboration that exist across species. Kinship is not only formed through reproduction, in its best form it is a complex and beautiful process beyond procreation, that can be found not only in the animal world, but in the LGBTQ community as well.
One of my friends recently told me:
“I was lucky to always feel supported, but once I found my chosen family here in Berlin, I felt really free. You need examples of the diversity that exists within your group. Some people think that being gay is already the one feature that brings you together, but it isn’t. Do all heterosexuals see themselves as one big family? No. Do they all fancy each other? No. For some time I really thought all lesbians are butch and I didn’t feel represented. Now I know better, I know and feel the diversity.”
Queerness is an integral part of life on earth. It goes beyond gender and sexuality, beyond standard convention. Queerness refers to the paradoxical and the contradictory, it is not binary nor dualistic. It is many things at once and takes away the power from words like “normal” or “natural”. Queerness is interwoven with every part of all our lives and history. It is what makes nature and humankind evolve. It is asking uncomfortable questions, confronting your fears, making kin, and loving and mating in every way possible.
Pride isn’t just a day or a month, it is an attitude towards life.
The LGBTQ-month is important, simply because society still needs more time to understand that being queer, gay, lesbian, transgender, intersex, non-binary, and anything allied, is just as “normal” as being cisgender or heterosexual. There are still 71 countries in which homosexuality is illegal and the legality of it doesn’t necessarily mean equal rights. So, something to remember during Pride Month: Posting a rainbow flag and claiming allyship for a couple of days a year is not enough. You can also educate yourself on Marsha P. Johnson or Silvia Rivera, read something by Angela Davis or James Baldwin or talk to the queer people in your family with an open mind and heart, because homo- and transphobia – not science – delegitimises LGBTQIA+ people. As Alok Vaid-Menon says:
Last but not least from the heart of another beautiful friend of mine and with the spirit of pride:
“I sometimes get told: You dress too flamboyant for a man! And then I remember: People are threatened by the way we have found ourselves, outside of the norm. Most might even be envious. That’s why I think we should be proud of all the things we have been told to be ashamed of!”