Homosexuality: It’s about survival

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When James O’Keefe’s 18-year-old son Jimmy came out as gay, he felt like he’d failed him and regretted that Jimmy wouldn’t have kids of his own. While he now realises that Jimmy could someday still have kids, as a medical doctor O’Keefe wondered about the genetic and evolutionary factors that made his son gay, and if there really was something like the ‘gay gene.’

“Viewed in the light of evolution,” O’Keefe said during a TED Talk (watch the video below), “homosexuality seems to be a real self-defeating, non-productive strategy. Gay people have 80% fewer kids than heterosexuals. This is a trait that ought to go extinct in a few generations, yet down through recorded history, in every culture and many animal species as well, homosexuality has been a small but distinct subgroup. If this were a genetic error, natural selection should have long ago culled this from the gene pool.”

Most people use the “guncle theory” to explain the evolutionary benefit of homosexuality, the idea that, lacking kids of their own, gay uncles contribute to their family’s overall well-being by helping care for their siblings’ offspring. O’Keefe more or less agrees with this but takes it two steps further.

He points to two studies suggesting that if a mother gives birth to a high number of male offspring or experiences severe prenatal stress, the likelihood of her giving birth to a gay son increases. The underlying reason has something to do with an emerging science known as epigenetics.

Epigenetics basically states that similar genes can express themselves in different ways based on external circumstances. For example, epigenetic studies of ants have shown that if the colony is hungry, the queen will give birth to more worker ants, but if the colony is under attack, she’ll give birth to more warrior ants. In both cases, ants’ genetic makeup are exactly the same, the only difference is how they get expressed. Warrior ants will be bigger and more aggressive, whereas worker ants will be smaller and better at finding food.

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What’s Autosexuality?

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“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?!” has by now become a pop-cultural knell, co-opted by all the straight girls in Clapham and sundry along with ‘YAAAAASS KWEEN!’ around season four of RuPaul’s Drag Race.

But, in spite of the ubiquitous cawing it’s birthed, it would seem that Mama Ru’s message of amorous introspection is increasingly being taken in earnest. As reports would have it, the demand for Eat-Pray-Love-esque self-marriage ceremonies is at its highest, with some service providers charging north of £2500 to those looking to sign up to a life of ‘sologamy’.

Though this particular practice of self-marriage might better be viewed as an extreme extension of #selfcare, there is, in fact, an elusive sexual demographic that professes to experience legitimate sexual and romantic attraction to themselves.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been rare moments when I’ve caught myself in the mirror and thought damn, but on reflection it’s mostly down to whatever I’m wearing, and I’m not sure if a fleeting appreciation of the enhanced self I’ve expensively curated through material possessions really matches up to what might fairly be described as inflected sexual attraction.

I first thought that autosexuality might have something to do with that thing where conventionally attractive white gays date their effective twins, but it turns out it covers those that experience sexual attraction to themselves. There’s also autoromanticism, which speaks to a desire to experience a romantic relationship with oneself.

The shade of difference between the two was admittedly a tricky one for me to grasp, though that changed when I considered my own love life as a sort of Venn diagram, with one circle comprising people with whom the interactions I seek are solely physical, and the other containing those with whom the relationship I’m looking for predicates on something more profound, and isn’t fuelled by the same primal desire — a romantic crush on a close friend, for example. There is, of course, a pretty significant overlap between those two groups, but there are still a fair few people that straggle in one or the other.

American Christians spend millions fighting queer rights in Europe

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Several Christian groups based in the United States donated millions of dollars to fund campaigns against queer rights in Europe. An investigation by the media platform OpenDemocracy into the financial accounts of conservative organisations revealed that they have funnelled $51 million dollars towards the activities of anti-queer and anti-abortion causes in European countries.

Some of the groups have direct links to Donald Trump’s administration. The Alliance Defending Freedom and Focus on the Family have both received donations from Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her family, as ProPublica reported. Earlier this week, DeVos refused to say that she opposes discrimination against queer students.

Alliance Defending Freedom told OpenDemocracy they champion causes related to freedom of speech and do not disclose “any recipients of funding in order to protect their personal safety and livelihoods.” They did not explain how oppressing queer people is a matter of freedom of speech.

The investigation found the ADF tripled its annual spending in Europe between 2012 and 2016, to more than $2.6 million a year. The ADF has offices in several European cities, including Brussels and Strasburg, which host the European Parliament. Alliance Defending Freedom is listed as a hate group by the monitoring organisation Southern Poverty Law Center due to their anti-LGBT ideology.

One of the places the group has been active in is Romania, which in October 2018 held a referendum to ban same-sex marriage by changing the definition of marriage in the constitution—which ultimately failed due to low turnout. More than a year ahead of the vote, in April 2017, Alliance Defending Freedom co-hosted a “referendum for the family” conference at the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest along with the local group Coalition for Family.

At least five of the groups analysed by OpenDemocracy also partner with the World Congress of Families, another organisation the Southern Poverty Law Center designated as an anti-queer hate group.

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J.K. Rowling can’t stop spilling tea about Dumbledore’s sex life

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J.K. Rowling just can’t stop making her wizarding world seem more diverse and progressive than it really was in her books and films. In her latest attempt she said Albus Dumbledore and Fantastic Beasts villain Gellert Grindelwald had a ‘passionate’ love affair. Something that was barely hinted at in her works.

Even long-time fans are tired of Rowling shenanigans. And they’re letting her know as you can see in some of the tweets below…

Rowling’s comments come after Fantastic Beasts picked up criticism for skirting the subject of the romance between the two characters. In the film, Dumbledore hints that the pair were “closer than brothers,” and one flashback sequence featured a homoerotic moment between the lovers.

However, the plot was largely sidelined in the film, leading to accusations that it was being downplayed to allow the blockbuster’s release in overseas markets that forbid depictions of same-sex relationships.

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Tumblr is dying. Fast.

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As meme historians know, the internet is for porn. This was especially true for Tumblr. A place that was there when the first generation grew up that never lived in a time without the the web being widely available. These kids turned Tumblr into a refuge where queerness, diversity and sexuality where celebrated, not shunned.

Then Tumblr got bought by Yahoo. Then Yahoo got bought by Verizon. And thus the fairy tale ended. In a desperate bid to squeeze more money out of the site, Tumblr’s corporate overlords tried to make it more “family” (read: advertiser) friendly. They banned pictures, gifs and videos containing nudity.

It was a fucking terrible idea for many different reasons. Not only for the users but also for Tumblr. Something everyone but Verizon knew and that becomes painfully obvious now.

The porn ban came into effect in December 2018. One month later Tumblr’s traffic went from 521 million monthly visits to 437 million, according to analytics site SimilarWeb. Another month later, in February, it went further down to 370 million visits. Which means Tumblr lost almost a third of its traffic in less then three months.

And it’s not just the numbers that speak volumes. Ask your friends if they’re still using the site. You’ll be hard pressed to find anyone replying with more than a sigh. In my circle of friends Tumblr is considered dead.

I personally used Tumblr every single day for years to look for material for milkboys, I have about 150 Tumblr blogs in my feed reader but since the big purge in December only a handful of them are left still posting, most others got deleted by Tumblr or are abandoned by people who just don’t see any point in using a site that clearly doesn’t welcome them.

The internet is becoming a more hostile place towards queer people, sex workers and everyone who thinks sex isn’t the devil’s work. It’s going to be crucial that we make our voice heard before other social networks follow Tumblr’s example.

Related reading: How sex censorship killed the internet we love

 

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