Thursday, April 7, 2011

Gay Homos

possibly gay
Those of us who have, from time to time, snickered at the word Homo in the names of species in the Homo genus, such as Homo sapiens, Homo heidelbergensis and Homo erectus have been vindicated:
Researchers from the Czech Archaeological Society made an interesting discovery outside of Prague: The 5,000-year-old remains of a caveman were buried in an unusual manner. First, the male body was lying on its left side and its head was facing east. Second, the body was buried with domestic jugs and an egg-shaped pot.

Why is this odd? Time reports the way the body was buried might mean the man was gay, because the burial is consistent with the way women were buried. The bodies of men faced west and they were buried with hammers, flint knives and weapons.
We were right to snicker because it's possible some of the earlier members of our genus were also gay. We were, of course, wrong to snicker because there's nothing to snicker about -- being gay is nothing more than a way of being human, or to put it in a way that embraces this new finding, being gay is just a way of being a Homo.

This is consistent with my expectation that science will sooner or later demonstrate the biological basis of homosexuality among humans -- which may or may not turn out to match the biological basis of homosexuality among other animals -- at which time it will make no more sense than it does now to discriminate, mistreat, or demean gay people.

Discrimination against gay people -- formal and informal, institutional and interpersonal, small and large, implicit and explicit -- should stop yesterday. Now, and for a span of time that may indeed exceed the span of time when our species has existed on earth, homosexuality has been a range along the continuum of natural human sexuality, and nothing to decry, dislike, or worry about.

While there are still too many people who refuse to acknowledge this, I remind anyone reading this who happens to be gay that it gets better -- really, it does, and it will get better for you.


TheDeviantE said...

Equally (or perhaps more) likely is actually that the skelleton indicates one of the first *transgender* remains ever found. What with how most gay folks not necessarily feeling a strong urge to be perceived and treated societally as though they were of a different gender than the one that their bone structure might suggest.

Which is to say, good point, and could even be broadened to include another group as well!

Dale said...

DE, good point. This burial tells us something about the perceived *gender* of the buried person, and the possibilities for that aren't exhausted by gay/straight.

Sheldon said...

Ok, a few complaints.

First, and I know this is Time and not you, but I gotta bitch being that my professional title is "archaeologist" and I also like to bitch. What the hell is a "caveman"?

Yes, in popular ignorant discourse "caveman" came into common usage many years ago because SOME Paleolithic aged remains were found in caves, yet not all contemporary sites were found in caves. So why "caveman"? That aside, the Upper Paleolithic ended about 12 thou yrs. ago. So this find is placed chronologically firmly in the European Neolithic.

And (now this is you Dale) these people in question were not an "earlier members of our Genus" but fully modern Homo sapiens. Anatomically modern Homo sapiens came about as early as 200,000 yrs ago, and "behaviorally modern" came into being about 50,000 years ago (i.e. the beginning of the upper Paleolithic).

You and TheDeviant have already addressed the issue that probably a more accurate interpretation is that the individual in question is better described as "transgender" rather than gay or homosexual.

Its probably good to keep in mind that it is our modern day conception that homosexual behavior leads to the pigeonholing people into a "gay" identity. Yet we know that historically (Greek) and ethnologically (New Guinea tribe, forgot their name) that homosexual behavior doesn't necessarily translate into an exclusive gay identity.

Now to the point of your point. Lets say that being "gay" does not have a biologically basis, but really is purely a choice. Would the discrimination of gay people make any more sense? I don't think so and I bet you agree.

Dale said...

Sheldon, I share your disapproval of the term "cave man." They should be called "cave persons."

But seriously: quite right, if gayness turned out to be 100% volitional it still wouldn't justify treating gay people unequally.