My uncle says I’m unnatural

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Hi Zanemvula

I hope you can give me some information on your website.

I am a 22 year old lesbian who have recently come out to my parents. They don’t really know what to make of it because they are not familiar with “homosexuality”. They try to be supportive in their own way and have even read one or two books. But now one of my rather mucho uncles – who is a bit of a fundamentalist Christian – keeps giving them hell and tells them it is unnatural and not in God’s creation. He says he has never seen it in nature or amongst animals. I don’t really feel unnatural, not even in the eyes of God. I don’t know if it therefore means that I have gone totally haywire? Which is exactly what my uncle says when I tell him that I feel so much better since I have told my parents. My uncle’s words make me feel bad and unacceptable, and I have no defence against that accusation – because how must I know what is natural and unnatural if I don’t think that way? It feels as if I lose my ability to think clearly in these arguments about God created this, God created that.     Natasja

Dear Natasja

I am not surprised you feel natural in your sexual expression.   Because it is natural. Read on, this is going to be long.

By saying something is “unnatural” people usually mean “not existing in nature, the wilderness, amongst animals and plants”.

It is a queer thing that in spite of our education crisis, we have so many biological (nature) experts in South Africa. From priests and politicians to moms and dads, uncles and aunties. All of them studying pets and pigeons in suburban gardens, observing goats and cattle on our highways. And from their “intensive” research they all have come to the conclusion that homosexuality is “unnatural”. And to boot, the Bible agrees with them.

Natasja, are you ready for a biology lecture that may help you and your parents with your expert uncle? Here goes:

Zoologists have long ago (since the 1700’s)  started to discover that 10-20 % of more than 200 recorded animal species are homosexual, lesbian and bi-sexual. Mammals, birds, bees. Sheep, buck, baboons, elephants, dolphins, whales, lions, crows and kangaroos… too many to mention. As many as 600 scientific articles describe same-sex relationships amongst animals.

Take the Bonobo chimpanzee for example. They are essentially a lesbian culture. Females bond through lesbian sex, attacking dominant males who are too assertive. Studies show that 75% of all Bonobo sex – including bi-sexual sex – is not aimed at procreation, but for pleasure and bonding.  

Does anyone still remember President Jacob Zuma’s statement in 2002 that oral sex is “unnatural”? Oops.

Many of the researched chimpanzees favour cunnilingus, position 69, sex toys, fellatio, masturbation and anal sex.

Boto dolphins masturbate (yes they do!) by using their fins. They also practise anal penetration. Grey whales rub penises whilst embracing in continuous rolling. Vampire bat males also practise oral sex – with no clue as to who plays butch or femme.

Many primates make crafty sex toys from smooth stones and sticks – similar to dildos of ancient cultures. Some scientists speculate that the Bonobo’s labia have developed for lesbian sex, rather than heterosexual sex.

Lesbian Macaque apes kiss during orgasm! Biology professor, Matthew Grober, says: “maybe Macaques have taken the fun aspect of sex and really run with it.”

Many homosexual animals tie the knot forever: male gorillas, female Japanese Macaques and lion males protect their homosexual bond by fighting intruders.

Lesbian and homosexual couples, notably flamingos, excel in child-rearing, often poached from other nests. Some homosexual groups live apart from the straights.

Why was this information in the closet?

Linda Wolfe, a primatologist, said: “many primatologists fear their colleagues will think them gay if they publish their data!”

One candid biologist said: “To state that those bighorn rams have evolved a homosexual society was emotionally beyond me. To conceive of those magnificent beast as ‘queers’ – Oh God!”

Some scientists have lost the plot completely with unscientific commentary. WJ Tennant wrote in an article in 1987: A Note on the Apparent Lowering of Moral Standards in the Lepidoptera Butterfly. (!) Immoral butterflies? Others refer to “sex crimes” by animals – with at least one Christian denomination prohibiting it (1882)!

To our rescue came Dr Bruce Bagemihl, a biologist who wrote a 750 pager called BIOLOGICAL EXUBERANCE, animal homosexuality and natural diversity.

Natasja, I suggest you get hold of this book and read some more of the information which I have summarised above. You don’t have to read the whole book to get a very clear picture of what is really happening in nature.

This book contains every bit of detail of existing research possible on same-sex relationships in the animal kingdom.

Your uncle is likely to come up with some clever-sounding excuses as to why animals only “appear” to be gay. Excuses such as “animals in captivity are homosexual”, “it’s not sex, it’s dominance”, “they are bartering for food”, “it’s aggression”, “it’s appeasement”, “it’s only ritual”…

Dr Bagemihl is no fool and he and his team of scientists have dealt with these issues. Primatologist Linda Fediga says more than 60 percent of mammals and birds documented as having same-sex, appear spontaneously in the wilderness. In more than two thirds of these species homosexuality has been seen only in the wilderness.

Biological research leads to legal reform of anti-gay laws:

Information in more than 600 scientific publications on animal homosexuality was found to be so overwhelming that discriminatory anti-gay laws based on the philosophy of “unnaturalness” had to be changed after successful court cases in places like Texas (2003).

The bible:

The bible (especially the old testament) is perhaps not the best tool for moral guidance. In Sodom and Gomorrah Lot attempts to protect his visitors by offering his two virgin daughters to be gang-raped. Do Christians, or the bible, ever  protest against this outrageous solution?

Christians also do not uphold other Biblical laws such as “don’t mix your material fabrics”  and “women cannot teach”.

Finally, can one accuse the biblical god of hate speech when he repetitively refers to people (Israel) as “whores” and “harlots”? These labels have confirmed intractable roots of misogyny in patriarchal cultures.

Natasja, you can empower yourself with knowledge by researching these subjects on the internet or in good books. Chances are that your uncle will not change his views, no matter what information is presented to him. But at least you will have enriched your thinking with more knowledge.

Your uncle may change his argument in an illogical way and decide to say that people are not part of nature, that they were made in the image of God. That means he will have had to agree that homosexuality is amongst animals and that God has created nature or animals in this manner.

Some people do try to separate people from nature – but by reading more about our common DNA (humans and animals) – you will be able to better understand “nature”.

Persuasion or enlightenment is not always only a matter of information, it is also a spiritual issue. It is a matter of opening the heart and letting go of control over other people.

Some people simply cannot do that, for whatever reason in their make-up. But at least these people force us to check our facts and to gain knowledge and to help our brothers and sisters who struggle with similar issues!

Natasja, I hope this information helps you to grow in self-awareness and self-love as a lesbian woman. And let no-one ever take that away from you!

All of the best


Zanemvula is a sangoma and writer who lives in Cape Town. She believes in personal transformation through spiritual connection, body fitness and self-knowledge. For more information, click here. You can also set up private, paid consultations with Zanemvula via e-mail, telephone or in person. These letters will not be published. Zanemvula doen ook berading in Afrikaans.
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