Wednesday, January 7, 2009

PBS Rules

Ok, so today I am going to write about something that is often considered controversial. Most anyone who would read this blog knows how I feel on the subject matter that I am getting to.
Nature vs. Nurture and Homosexuality.
A big topic for sure, which was brought to mind the other evening when my husband and I stumbled upon The Gorilla King on PBS. If you have not already seen this excellent documentary, please do. It is an incredible tale about a silverback gorilla named Titus in the Virunga Mountains in Rawanda.

Titus was born 34 years ago to a fairly typical group of gorillas. There are many politics and family dynamics swirling around within any group and his was no exception. In an atypical move the group allowed an single outside male named Beetsme to join. When the silverback leader, Uncle Bert, was killed by poachers, Beetsme saw it as an opportunity to make this his group. He became aggressive and showed his dominance by killing the infants in the group. This is a common move so that the new leader would be able to sire his own infants. One of these infants was Titus' sister by Flossie, an influential female in the group. Flossie and the other females left after this leaving the males to form their own group for a while. This is not normal in the gorilla world for so many males to cohabit so peacefully but it worked for a while. They would spend their days eating and playing. They did not seem to be concerned that there were no females around. When another group near by disbanded and the females joined Titus and the others, Beetsme drove off all of the males except Titus. Here is where I get to my point..

Papoose, a female, took a liking to Titus and tried to mate with him. At this point, Titus had been with a group of males for so long that Papoose had to help him mate correctly. This surprised me as I always thought of this as something quite instinctual in nature. If he 'forgot' how to mate does that imply it is a learned behavior, not an instinctual one? I have always been on the Nature side of the Nature vs. Nurture and Homosexuality debate. However, Titus' behavior seems to be an argument for the Nurture side of the debate.

Regardless whether the answer is Nature or Nurture or a little of both, it is my opinion still that homosexuality is not a choice made by an individual. In light of many species proving to mate for life with another of the same sex, I had been pretty much sold on Nature only. I have now opened my mind to the possibility of Nurture playing a part as well.

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