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I'm so excited for this episode, and I think you will love it, too! I finally got to interview Eliot Schrefer, author of "Queer Ducks (And Other Animals): The Natural World of Animal Sexuality", after picking up his book almost a year ago. The book focuses on scientific research into queerness in animals, which is much more common than most people think. Because sexuality has been viewed as so binary for many decades, scientists often observed same-sex sexual activity between animals and then labeled them as "gay", leading to arguments of animal homosexuality as an evolutionary byproduct, a mutation, a mistake, or a mystery. But the more these animals are studied, the more scientists are realizing that there are very few "gay" animals -- most of them are actually bisexual.
In this interview, we discussed how that plays out, why bisexuality can actually be evolutionarily advantageous (the "bisexual advantage"), how different species have sex for different reasons and with different results, the complex social structures among different animals groups and how sex affects them, how certain animal behaviors can be instructive for humans, the concept of animals having queer sex without having or needing a queer "identity", why it's challenging to do and publish research about animal queerness, and how all of this information has affected Eliot's queer journey -- and what he hopes this knowledge can do for the next generation.
Check out my Patreon for 20 extra minutes of bonus content in which we chatted about animals that defy the gender binary (not necessarily "trans" animals, because we can't ask them about their identity, but intersex animals and specific species that have to ability to change from male-to-female or female-to-male) as well as animals that have sexual or familial bonds that reflect our concept of polyamory as opposed to monogamy. In a human culture where queerness, gender fluidity, and polyamory are often stigmatized as "unnatural", these animals prove otherwise.
Thanks for listening!
Visit Eliot's website: https://www.eliotschrefer.com/
Episode art photo credit: Matt Wilson