The data on homosexual behavior between animals has been pretty scant, but not because it hasn’t been happening. Though animals have been engaging in homosexual acts for millennia, scientists have been suppressing the information due to conservative social attitudes toward same-sex behavior. In one particularly dramatic example, researcher George Murray Levick noticed homosexual behavior among Antarctic Adélie penguins in 1911. Since his findings were considered overly shocking for the time, they were repressed. The few copies available were translated into Greek and distributed among a small group of researchers to limit those who could understand them. Needless to say, gay animals are a bit controversial.
Recent scientific research has been much more diverse, not shying away from examples of homosexual behavior in animals but studying it instead. In fact, according to scientist Petter Bøckman, “No species has been found in which homosexual behavior has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all.” And that’s what you’ll see in this list: everything from the largest predator to the smallest insect displays homosexual behavior at some point, with some even showing it more than heterosexual behavior. Though some of this behavior has evolutionary benefits, some is done purely for bonding or pleasure. Did you know elephants engage in same-sex activity? How about one of the smartest animals on the planet, dolphins? Or countless species of our closest relatives? Made up of mammals, birds, fish, and more, the diversity of gay, lesbian, and bisexual animals may surprise you. To see which well-known animals made the list, check out these 25 Gay Animals You Might Not Realize Are Indeed Gay.
Giraffes are some of the gayest animals on the planet. Nine out of ten sexual pairings occur between males, and males will often caress each other with their necks before mounting and reaching climax. Depending on the herd, anywhere from 30-75% of the giraffes would engage in same-sex behavior.
Aptly-named, the Guianan cock-of-the-rock is a bird living in mountainous regions of northern South America. Almost 40% of the birds engage in homosexual activity, and some never even copulate with a female. One source even claims the bird shows a “delight in homosexuality.”
Among Panthera leo, though female pairings are sometimes seen in captivity, male pairings are more thoroughly documented. Male lions engage in homosexual behavior such as nuzzling, mounting, and thrusting other male lions. Just like #11, about 8% of lion mountings are onto other males. (There’s even a video of a lion threesome at the Wuppertal Zoo where the three lions engage in same-sex behavior.)
If you’re worried about cockroaches, here’s one worse: the flour beetle. This tiny pest can survive more radiation than cockroaches and is resistant to a host of insecticides. These critters are often found in wheat and other grains in your house. The male flour beetles have a clever trick to boost their genes’ chances of survival: males have sex with other males to practice mating and to dispose of “old, less effective” sperm.
Homosexual behavior among penguins is one of the better-studied examples in the animal kingdom. The study of Adélie penguins from the intro was published in 2012, 101 years after its initial release, showing significant homosexual behavior. For decades, zoos across the world have commonly reported gay male penguin couples. In fact, Roy and Silo, two paired male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, successfully hatched and fostered an egg in 2004. It seems this behavior is quite common with male penguin pairs – even building nests and substituting similar stones for eggs.
Same-sex relations are not just for smaller creatures. Reaching lengths of up to 49 feet (14.9 m), the 36 ton male gray whale is known for having “slip-and-slide” orgies. During the act, males rub their genitals together while swimming alongside each other belly-to-belly.
One of humanity’s closest genetic relatives, the bonobo monkey shares over 98% of our DNA. These monkeys are also known for being incredibly sexual animals with almost every bonobo being entirely bisexual. Bonobo frequently engage in sex, indiscriminate of the other’s sex, to avoid conflict and build bonds. Scrotal rubbing is very popular in these monkeys where about 60% of total sexual activity is between two or more females.
Boasting one of the highest rates of male-on-male sexual activities for the bird kingdom, mallard ducks form same-sex pairs in up to 19% of a population. In fact, male mallards only stay with a female until she lays her eggs.
Massive creatures of the plains, bison are some seriously gay animals! The American bison is especially known for its homosexuality where male-male mounting outnumbers male-female copulation. During the mating season, male bison are known to have sex with other males multiple times per day.
Though various species of dolphin engage in male-on-male or female-on-female acts, bottlenose dolphins are one of the best examples. Females engage in “beak-genital propulsion” where one female puts her beak into the others’ genitals and swims forward slowly. Males are often seen rubbing their genitals against each other and occasionally having anal sex.
Spiders are some of the funniest creatures when it comes to their homosexual behavior. Though at least 110 species of insects and arachnids have been directly observed to engage in same-sex activity, a good part of it could be by accident! Spiders perceive a greater loss by not copulating with a female than by accidentally having sex with a spider of the same sex. Many of them just give it a go and hope the other spider is a female.
You want to know what else you might have thought was straight? These superheroes and villains.
Whiptail lizards are almost exclusively female due to their ability to reproduce asexually. Because males are not needed for fertilization, other females will often simulate traditional courtship rituals and sexual acts with other females. These behaviors are thought to increase hormones which stimulate ovulation.
Dashik and Yehuda, two male griffon vultures, were noted to be engaging in “open and energetic sex” at the Jerusalem Biblical Zoo in 1998. Thereafter, they built a nest and took turns incubating an artificial egg. They were later given a baby vulture which they raised together. Yehuda became interested in a female vulture which was brought in which sent Dashik into depression. Seems as though humans and animals have more in common than we knew!
Amazon River Dolphin
The Amazon river dolphin is one of the kinkiest mammals on the planet. It often gathers with 3-5 other dolphins (or even porpoises), mostly young males but sometimes including a female, to have sex. Male Amazon river dolphins have been observed to penetrate the blowhole of both males and females, the only observed example of nasal sex in the animal kingdom.
If you thought giraffes were gay, wait until you hear about sheep! Though sheep are not monogamous animals, researchers have found that about 8% of male sheep willingly choose a male partner when given the option and are exclusively homosexual. (This percentage is relatively similar to the percentage of homosexual human men.) Moreover, about 18-22% of male sheep have been found to be bisexual.
The Ugandan kob, a type of antelope, is known for its females’ homosexual behavior. The females have been known to give oral sex to other females as well as caress the other’s vulva with their front legs. During sex, a female may stick her nose in another’s urination stream, a practice known as urolagnia.
Sometimes referred to as the snow monkey, Japanese macaques are known for their same-sex activities. Females will often become affectionately involved – both socially and sexually – with other females, forming bonds which last up to a few weeks long. Strong, lasting friendships often result. Male Japanese macaques show similar behavior though with less bonding, often having sexual relations with multiple partners.
The common fruit fly gives some evidence towards the proposition of homosexuality being – at least partially – a genetic trait. When a mutant gene is present, male fruit flies court and mate only with other males. The study of this gene, known as “fruitless,” is one of the leading scientific discussions on the genetic origin of human sexual orientation.
Europeans initially used the spotted hyena as an example of sexually deviant behavior and prostitution (and sometimes even witchcraft) since the female’s vagina often looks more like a penis. Modern scientific research has proved such beliefs to be inaccurate and found elevated levels of testosterone during pregnancy has caused many female spotted hyenas to be more aggressive than their peers, thought to help in securing food, mates, and dominance. Both males and females have been seen to mount other males and females.
Male black swans can be shady creatures. About one-in-four black swan pairings are homosexual. These pairings often steal nests and, if males, will form a threesome with a female to get her to lay eggs. After she lays them, the two males chase her off – now that’s wild!
Male bonnet macaques are particularly interesting animals as they engage in gay behavior far more than most other species. The small monkeys have been known to pleasure each others’ genitals with their hands and consume the resulting output.
American White Ibis
A further example for how homosexuality can be the result of environmental factors, scientists have found that increased levels of the toxin methylmercury increases the amount of homosexual behavior in the American white ibis. As the concentration of methylmercury goes up, the likelihood of same-sex behavior similarly increases.
Not the most handsome animal in the world, walruses are all over the spectrum. Older male walruses are most-often bisexual, mating with females during the breeding season while having sexual relations with males for the rest of the year. Male walruses can often be seen embracing or sleeping together in the water.
Despite being pests in our houses, male bed bugs can also be an annoyance to other males. In a strange evolutionary design, male bed bugs become sexually attracted to any newly fed bed bug and try to penetrate them. Though females have an abdomen prepared for the needle-like bed bug penis, males do not and can be seriously injured if penetrated.
Both African and Asian elephants engage in a wide variety of same-sex activity, including kissing, trunk intertwining, mounting, and putting trunks in each others’ mouths. Though opposite-sex relations are generally rather short in duration, homosexual relationships between male elephants often continue for many years. When in captivity, Asian elephants even spend about 45% of their sexual encounters with members of the same sex.