UKC

/ Are there any gay climbers?

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Owen W-G - on 09 Sep 2014
I'm not cruising or anything, but I was discussing with a gay colleague the lack of gay climbers out there.

I've met 100s of climbers over the years and no gay ones, which is surprising if 10% of adult men are gay.

Are there gay climbers out there, but I'm unaware of them, or is there something about climbing that doesn't appeal to gay men? Or something about gay men that doesn't make them excited about climbing?
smuffy on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

All the ones I climb with are!
Flinticus - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

My wife's hair dresser is gay (I know, living the cliche) but he also goes bouldering & climbing.
Mark Davies PK on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Fiend is.
paulcarey - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

There are quite a few, you just aren't looking hard enough...
Will_he_fall - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Never met any members of the Outdoor lads club?
1
Darren Jackson - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

This is such a gay thread...
jsmcfarland - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

What I want to know is, do 'bears' sport climb and 'twinks' stick to slabs? :o
joeldering on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:
Definitely at least some - an LGBT climbing club http://www.notsotrad.org/ meet regularly at my local wall.
Post edited at 17:04
The New NickB - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Here you go:

http://www.notsotrad.org

I am sure there are a few gay climbing clubs and lots of gay climbers in clubs where sexuality isnt the defining feature of the club and lots of gay climbers who are not members of clubs.

I have to admit I don't know the sexuality of everyone I meet.
Alyson - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

A couple of our regular posters are
ark05 - on 09 Sep 2014
I don't think 10% of males are gay. Probably more like 1%..
Kimono - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to adamki:

i think you'd be surprised
andrewmc - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to adamki:

Based on what?

But anyway, it is much higher than 1%, although probably not as high as 10%.
ReneM on 09 Sep 2014
arent all sport climbers gay?
wbo - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G: the Kinsey report produced the number 10% , but it's 10% of his sample and his sampling was heavily biased as he was looking for what! in the50's, would be considered abnormal. So i don't believe the 10% number.

ericinbristol - on 09 Sep 2014
Really good discussion of the stats on sexual orientation here:

The Office of National Statistics http://www.theguardian.com/politics/reality-check/2013/oct/03/gay-britain-what-do-statistics-say

In short, figures vary between about 1% and 10% for the UK. Part of the problem is fear of being honest about the subject. Another part of it is that sexual orientation can be on a scale of more/less rather than either/or
humptydumpty - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Quite a few historic gay climbers/mountaineers aren't there?
Borden - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Kimono:

I agree, many may not want to out themselves in front of what is sadly a (at least somewhat as seen from many posts on this thread) homophobic culture that is prevalent in climbing and maybe any 'extreme sport culture' And to answer the question of the thread, yes. I climbed with a gay male couple in JTree and was surprised by my own ignorance on the subject. I too didn't know if outed gay men climbed. The best part was the unicorn t-shirt and rainbow chalk bag that both showed great pride in being who they are. An enlightening day for me.
jshields - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to humptydumpty:

Menlove Edwards.
humptydumpty - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to jshields:

For one. Are we starting a list? I can think of fewer famous female climbers than gay male ones from e.g. 1970s backwards.
LaMentalist on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

I'm not gay or owt but if I was ( but I'm not )Chris Sharma could hold the end of my rope . . . ;o)

I climb like a bisexual florist most days though , does that count ?
andrewmc - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to ericinbristol:

I also suspect the true number is at the higher end, not the lower end of estimates. While it is true that gay people may migrate to big (and generally more liberal) cities like London, enhancing their fraction somewhat, I suspect the relatively low fraction in Northern Ireland has more to do with a more socially conservative culture than an actual lack of gay people - the genuine incidence (ignoring migration) should be uniform, after all.
JJL - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

> But anyway, it is much higher than 1%, although probably not as high as 10%.

That's a very definitive statement on quite a narrow range.

I've no idea if it's 1% or 30%. Should I care?

Billhook - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

How would you know anyway? Do gay climbers wear distinctive outfits then?
Dr.S at work - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to andrewmcleod:

- the genuine incidence (ignoring migration) should be uniform, after all.

Only if sexuality is 100% heritable - I'd expect some social factors to be significant as well - I suspect the biological norm is for quite a high proportion of the population to have some bisexual orientation.
wbo - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G: I think I'd be bothered if climbing is perceived as homophobic. Is that the case?

Muttly on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to wbo:

I think society is homophobic. In my humble opinion I believe there is no more in climbing society than general society.
In reply to Owen W-G:

I don't imagine some of the replies to your initial post would encourage anyone to 'come out'. I'm ambivalent about your initial post's intent.

FTR, there are two openly gay posters on UKC, that I'm aware of, and I've met roughly a similar proportion of gay climbers in 20+ years climbing as I have to society in general.

pec on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

> I'm not cruising or anything, but I was discussing with a gay colleague the lack of gay climbers out there.

> I've met 100s of climbers over the years and no gay ones, which is surprising if 10% of adult men are gay. >

How can you possibly know whether the 100's of climbers you've met were gay or not? They don't wear special badges to identify themselves and not all gay men are obviously so.
A friend of one of my regular climbing partners is gay, I've only ever met him at the climbing wall so by some definition he's a climber (I don't know if he climbs outside as well) but I'd never have guessed just by talking to him that he was gay.


In reply to Owen W-G:

And anyway, who gives a f*ck?

geordiepie - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

> Are there gay climbers out there

No
pec on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Borden:

> I agree, many may not want to out themselves in front of what is sadly a (at least somewhat as seen from many posts on this thread) homophobic culture that is prevalent in climbing and maybe any 'extreme sport culture' >

I can see why gay men don't necessarily want to go round "outing" themselves in every situation, why should they any more than someone might want to go round letting everyone know they're Christian, vegetarian or diabetic. For many people these are just things that they happen to be, they don't necessarily want it to define them, you just find out after you've known them a while.
However I can't agree that its because climbing has a homophobic culture (I can't speak for other extreme sports, if indeed climbing is an extreme sport). Climbers are generally a pretty easy going tolerant bunch and I'd think its a far less threatening sport than most competitive sports like football, rugby or athletics. Yes, there's been a few jokes on this thread but nothing genuinely malicious and nothing worse than the stereotype that a gay comedian might play up to.

Jon Stewart - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Firstly, it depends a lot on what you consider to be "a climber". There are a few - but very few - gay men out there who are really into climbing in the way that I am. I know that from looking on dating websites for gay men who are climbers. We're talking a handful in the whole country who are both on dating sites and make a thing of their interest in climbing.

On the other hand, there are many more gays who have been to the climbing wall a few times. Are they climbers?

> I've met 100s of climbers over the years and no gay ones, which is surprising if 10% of adult men are gay.

The 10% factoid is the biggest load of shit ever. Does anyone think that 10% of people they meet in their daily lives are gay? It doesn't reflect the reality that we all experience. Out of all the people we meet, the vast majority of people get married or have relationships with people of the opposite sex.

About 1-2% seems to ring true, instinctively IME.

> Are there gay climbers out there, but I'm unaware of them, or is there something about climbing that doesn't appeal to gay men? Or something about gay men that doesn't make them excited about climbing?

Thinking about the Venn diagramn of it, not many people are climbers, and not many people are gay. So the stats tell you that there are unlikely to be many gay climbers. And that's if gays are uniformly distributed everywhere.

But the real question is whether climbing is particularly 'ungay'. I reckon it is. Like it or not, cliches about this kind of thing tend to be based on some sort of underlying trend. Given how big a climbing scene there is in Sheffield, then if 1-2% of these were gay, there would be quite a few gay climbers, who would probably know each other (given the internet, etc). This isn't the case, as far as I know. Because, gay people are more likely to be into 'city' stuff: theatre, clubbing, fashion, blah blah. Sheffield is crap for these things and has no gay scene to speak of. So climbing scenes and gay scenes seem to me to be poles apart socially.

Is climbing homophobic? Not really, it's mainly middle-class. But it's not "gay friendly" enough for me to want to be totally open with new people I meet as climbers, rather than be guarded. Same as most of life really where people will laugh about someone being gay, because it's so funny...
TobyA on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> I know that from looking on dating websites for gay men who are climbers.

Ah! But what about the boring ones not on dating websites!

My mate has been with his partner now for over a decade; although it has to be said he climbs much less than when we were at uni together and climbing all the time as a team. His whole life though does revolve around another adventure sport, which I suppose like climbing isn't seen as a classically 'gay' thing to do.

Fredt on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

George Mallory
Jon Stewart - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to TobyA:

> Ah! But what about the boring ones not on dating websites!

Are those couples even more boring than the ones on dating websites? Wow.
mrchewy - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

I was in a club on Saturday night at a gay engagement party - there turned out to be four climbers there from the local wall including myself. Certainly one is bisexual, can't say for the other two, I'm guessing not but that still makes 25% if you count bisexual as gay.

Now edit that a little/lot and Northampton could be the new Brighton.

As someone said above - does it actually matter?
Mountain Lass - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

This is a complex area. The trouble is it's really hard to define what we are talking about - what is a climber? Is it, as one poster suggested as a possibility 'someone whose gone to the wall a few times' - or do you have to identify as a Climber, maybe buy a few mags, go to a meet, think about climbing when you aren't at the wall/crag, have a circle of climbing friends, etc., - all stuff which is ancillary to, but also arguably key to, being A Climber.

So it goes with being Gay - is it about having had a teenage fantasy; snogged someone of the same gender at a party; had casual sex? Or is it about other stuff - clubs, friends mags, etc?

Depending on how you cut it therefore, the stats change. Very high numbers of people (often the majority in fact) have some sort of same sex stuff - whether attraction, fantasies, acts, etc: Much lower for actual identity - what you tick on the demographics form - which tends to be based upon the friends, mags, culture, etc., stuff. A further complexity is that for cultural reasons there are many people who are married or in a long term reklationship to someone of another sex and yet have [more] sex with people of the same sex - called 'on the down low' sex and with the practitioners defined in sexual health literature as MSM or WSW - Men who have sex with Men or Women who have sex with Women (note they may define as Heterosexual).

The stats also change depending on how you ask the question. Some of the ONS studies asked people on their doorstep - clearly many people would find it difficult to give a truthful answer to same sex attraction to a stranger on their doorstep - which itself will vary massively depending on cultural (and subcultural) groups. With smaller studies, however, you risk sample bias and a whole raft of other artefacts.

Then, of course, there are bisexual people who may appear to be in a relationship with someone of another sex and therefore heterosexual, but actually have same sex attraction.

So it's difficult. How many people out there who identify (rather than just act) as [solely] gay and also identify as Climbers - rather few, but then that would be the case if you took any two minority pursuits - let's say people who are Bakers and Climbers (because of the multiplication issue). Nonetheless if you ask how many people have ever baked and ever climbed the number is massive.

ml

Jon Stewart - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to mrchewy:

> As someone said above - does it actually matter?

Depends on your viewpoint. If you really hate gays and took up climbing because you thought you'd be safe from them you might want to know. Conversely it matters if you're actively looking for gay climbers...

It also kind of matters because lots of people are a bit daft and ignorant and think it's OK to spout constant mildly homophobic, laddish "banter" under the misapprehension that no one at a climbing wall/crag etc could possibly be gay and find it grating and embarrassing.
yer maw on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Not all gay people act like someone on big brother or dress like frankenfurter, so may be they're just comfortable being normal and are past the look at me I'm gay stage.
Stuart en Écosse - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Dispater:

> And anyway, who gives a f*ck?

This.
ClimberEd - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Mountain Lass:

Are you? Or just take a 'professional interest' ?
mrchewy - on 09 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
I understand that. I went to my first gay pub back in '84, can't say I reacted overly well as someone who'd been brought up to think they were 'wrong' but things change, I changed and thankfully society has changed somewhat in the years since then.
I happen to also be in the building trade, a somewhat outwordly homophobic section of society in comparison with most and the few lads I know of who are gay, keep it very much to themselves. When I was into the Birmingham speed garage scene and had the 'uniform' assymetric haircut associated with gay lads, I suffered a huge amount of finger pointing, jokes, banter - you know what it's like I guess. I happily told them I'd been to Nightingales, Kudos etc at the weekend. I couldn't have given two hoots, I was straight with a bloody gorgeous girlfriend at the time but if I had been gay, it probably would have hurt.
In, comparison, I've not seen or heard much homophobia from climbers to be honest. When I have, I tend to make a point of mentioning all the gay clubs I've been to, the latex skirts I wear from time to time at fetish clubs - basically just to challenge people's perceptions of what a straight guy should be like or act like.
I sorta work on the premise that if blokes like me show that it doesn't matter if you're straight or gay, eventually others will follow. I dunno, maybe that's harder for a gay lad to do. I guess so.
Post edited at 22:00
Lukem6 - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G: maybe theres something about climbing that destroys the whole gay men must be camp rule resulting in them not getting noticed.

jkarran - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Are there any gay climbers? Yes.

jk
Ciderslider on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Two of my mates are Tom84 and Ciderspider
Ava Adore - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Or maybe it's just something about discussing their sexuality at a crag that doesn't appeal
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Ava Adore:

> Or maybe it's just something about discussing their sexuality at a crag that doesn't appeal

Maybe. But a heterosexual person revealing their sexuality at the crag just involves mentioning 'girlfriend' 'husband' etc; for a gay climber not discussing their sexuality at the crag tends to involve careful (but usually well practised) avoidance of direct revelations without actually lying and feeling like a right chump.
Springfield - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Does the fact that (some) gay people feel the need to tell everyone they're gay make them heterophobic?

IS anyone really gay unless they've had sex with someone of the same sex - In the same way is anyone really hetero sexual until they are sexually active
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Springfield:
> Does the fact that (some) gay people feel the need to tell everyone they're gay make them heterophobic?

Firstly, why the parenthesis around "some"? Many gay people never tell anyone and spend their entire lives pretending that they're straight.

And why would some someone being a loud, look-at-me, massive gay make them heterophobic? How is that denying heterosexuals rights or denigrating them for their sexuality? I'm struggling to see what your point could be.

> IS anyone really gay unless they've had sex with someone of the same sex - In the same way is anyone really hetero sexual until they are sexually active

Wouldn't you say that if a bloke had spent a lot of time fantasising about sex with men and none about sex with women, that would make him pretty gay?
Post edited at 12:23
Ava Adore - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> (In reply to Ava Adore)
>
> [...]
>
> Maybe. But a heterosexual person revealing their sexuality at the crag just involves mentioning 'girlfriend' 'husband' etc; for a gay climber not discussing their sexuality at the crag tends to involve careful (but usually well practised) avoidance of direct revelations without actually lying and feeling like a right chump.

Personally "partner" is a word I tend to use. Does that mean you think that I will be perceived as gay because I'm too old to feel comfortable using the word "boyfriend"??
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Ava Adore:

I bet the word partner is often coupled with the pronoun "he", putting to bed the suspicion that you might be a massive lesbian. Not that I'm saying you're massive...oh never mind.
Timmd on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to ClimberEd:

> Are you? Or just take a 'professional interest' ?

I understand she is studying/has studied gender studies at university, which I suppose could have sexuality somewhere in it's curriculum.
Timmd on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Springfield:
> Does the fact that (some) gay people feel the need to tell everyone they're gay make them heterophobic?

No, it means they want to be open about who they are.

> IS anyone really gay unless they've had sex with someone of the same sex - In the same way is anyone really hetero sexual until they are sexually active

It's my understanding that therapists who take people through the process of working out matters related to sexuality etc would say it's about what people think about when they masturbate, and what makes them orgasm. That even if somebody didn't want it to, if it was thinking about men which did the trick, that couldn't be changed by them controlling their thoughts (or not).
Post edited at 12:40
TMM on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

My Grindr app goes wild when I'm bouldering at the wall but is sadly inactive on long, dark, cold, walk-ins in January.
DubyaJamesDubya - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Why would it bother you?
Gerry_Doncaster - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

I have certainly climbed with one gay man and two gay women and there may have been others that I didn't know about, not that it matters. I think there is probably a fair representation of the gay community within the field of mountaineering and rock climbing.
Owen W-G - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to DubyaJamesDubya:

Am I bother?
DubyaJamesDubya - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:
> (In reply to DubyaJamesDubya)
>
> Am I bother?

Bothered enough to ask.
Bothered enough to have determined you don't know any gay climbers and that they are representative of the climbing population.
Stuart en Écosse - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Maybe. But a heterosexual person revealing their sexuality at the crag just involves mentioning 'girlfriend' 'husband' etc; for a gay climber not discussing their sexuality at the crag tends to involve careful (but usually well practised) avoidance of direct revelations without actually lying and feeling like a right chump.

I had this exact conversation with a friend/colleague (who, to use his own description, is gayer than two cocks touching) with regards to talking about where he went at the weekend when asked about it on a construction site by stereotypical builders.

This kind of dancing around subjects is something that us supposedly marginalised white heterosexual males never have to give a moments thought to.
Rigid Raider - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to jshields:

Yes, weren't most of the Victorian climbers homosexual?
Shani - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

> Are there gay climbers out there, but I'm unaware of them, or is there something about climbing that doesn't appeal to gay men? Or something about gay men that doesn't make them excited about climbing?

One of the leading lights of climbing in the 1980s is gay/bisexual.
Will_he_fall - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Shani:

Please don't turn this into a publicly outing famous gay climbers thread.
Stuart William - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

I think parts of Plato's Symposium make for interesting reading when this kind of subject comes up. In ancient Greece it was thought that being gay was a sign of manliness and masculinity since being manly means liking manly things, and what could be more manly than other men? Real men only slept with women for the purpose of having children. I think anyone has to admit that there is an intriguing logic behind this. Their idea of a "lads night out" was a big gay orgy so in response to comments above I think there is definitely a large social factor in the number of homosexuals in any given culture or community.
By their definitions it's heterosexuals who are weird for liking "masculine" pastimes like climbing and extreme sports.
tlm - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Springfield:

> IS anyone really gay unless they've had sex with someone of the same sex - In the same way is anyone really hetero sexual until they are sexually active

Do you really not know the answer to this question from your own experience?
tlm - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

I must say that the gay climbers that I know are far from camp and really aren't into the camp scene - I don't know that many, so it might just be a coincidence.

Anyway, for those who are interested, here is a whole club full:

http://www.outdoorlads.com/
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:

> I think parts of Plato's Symposium make for interesting reading when this kind of subject comes up.

I don't know anything about the text in question, but I'm always sceptical of how single documents are taken to be evidence of what a whole society was like. It seems completely contrary to everything we know about human nature for the majority of men to be shagging each other, and not getting turned on by ladies' breasts and suchlike.

Could it be that's what's represented in the text is a rather odd elite in which certain unusual behaviours were encouraged by power structures and the abuse of them?

> ...in response to comments above I think there is definitely a large social factor in the number of homosexuals in any given culture or community.

Hmmm. Rather sceptical myself. If as some say, sexuality is a continuum and most people are somewhere along it, then social conditions might well influence how many of those who are a bit gay let others know. I wouldn't go much further than that though, it seems unlikely that as a species, we wouldn't evolve such that 99% of us are hardwired to be attracted to the opposite sex. That is, after all, what keeps those self-replicating helix molecules in business.
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to tlm:

> Anyway, for those who are interested, here is a whole club full:


It's not quite as straightforward as that. This club has a few "straight acting" climbers (a handful in the north of England), amongst quite a lot of very gay acting non-climbers.

Sorry to shatter any illusions.
Shani - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Will_he_fall:

> Please don't turn this into a publicly outing famous gay climbers thread.

You really don't need to ask this of me and you'll notice I didn't identify said person. Notwithstanding the outing of historic figures on this thread, it might help some to know that some climbers are gay, some very good climbers are gay, and, sexuality doesn't matter to many of us in the climb community.
humptydumpty - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Hmmm. Rather sceptical myself. If as some say, sexuality is a continuum and most people are somewhere along it, then social conditions might well influence how many of those who are a bit gay let others know.

Likely social conditions would influence how many people would act on their feelings, too. And perhaps would influence how people define themselves.
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to humptydumpty:

> Likely social conditions would influence how many people would act on their feelings, too. And perhaps would influence how people define themselves.

Yeah, but given the point of evolution and the human race, I can't imagine that social conditions could change the numbers of visible homos to outside the region of 1-5%.
humptydumpty - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Yeah, but given the point of evolution and the human race, I can't imagine that social conditions could change the numbers of visible homos to outside the region of 1-5%.

Not sure what point of evolution you think we've reached, but I think up thread you've missed the point a little:

> It seems completely contrary to everything we know about human nature for the majority of men to be shagging each other, and not getting turned on by ladies' breasts and suchlike.

Surely it's possible that the majority of men could be shagging each other AND be turned on by ladies breasts - if not in society in general, then certainly in pockets of it?
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to humptydumpty:

> Not sure what point of evolution you think we've reached, but I think up thread you've missed the point a little:

As in, the purpose of evolution.

> Surely it's possible that the majority of men could be shagging each other AND be turned on by ladies breasts - if not in society in general, then certainly in pockets of it?

In pockets yes, in society in general it seems implausible given what we know about every other society and the sensible reasons for heterosexuality being overwhelmingly the norm.

jkarran - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Yeah, but given the point of evolution and the human race, I can't imagine that social conditions could change the numbers of visible homos to outside the region of 1-5%.

I thought there were some modern day Amazonian tribes where complicated bi-sexual relationships were the norm? Seems they have some very interesting genes and/or social conditions play a bigger role than we might think.

jk
john arran - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

AFAIK there is no known purpose of evolution - just a known outcome and set of plausible explanations.
humptydumpty - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to jkarran:
> I thought there were some modern day Amazonian tribes where complicated bi-sexual relationships were the norm? Seems they have some very interesting genes and/or social conditions play a bigger role than we might think.

> jk

And bonobos are worth having a look at too, I think. Given what we're saying above about small parts of society establishing different social norms, it would seem to a large extent to be social rather than genetic.
Post edited at 21:36
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to jkarran:
> I thought there were some modern day Amazonian tribes where complicated bi-sexual relationships were the norm?

Dunno. Google didn't turn up much.

> Seems they have some very interesting genes and/or social conditions play a bigger role than we might think.

I'd be interested to see evidence of these cultures where heterosexual sex wasn't overwhelmingly the norm. My instinctive suspicion is that same-sex sex might play a different role in some cultures rather than it being about lust and love. People do all kinds of things as rights of passage, to demonstrate status and hierarchy etc. I'm sceptical that a hugely different proportion of people actually experience homosexual desire in place of or as well as heterosexual desire depending on social norms.

I am however very open to the idea that subtle, not understood, environmental forces might be at play in determining who ends up gay - environmental influences that send brain development down a different physiological path. Indeed these influences could be "social" - but not in simple linear ways such as, "everyone else is at it, so now I'm into cock too".

A tough one to get evidence on, admittedly.
Post edited at 21:45
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to john arran:

> AFAIK there is no known purpose of evolution - just a known outcome and set of plausible explanations.

Without wanting to get bogged down in semantics, I was referring to the fact that evolutionary changes happen which lead to further replication of DNA - OK, it's not really a "purpose" but you see what I'm getting at.
Mountain Lass - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:
Ah I wondered if we might get to evolution.

It depends on whether you are considering Darwinism (rather outdated) or more up-to-date theories.

Basically the most recent is this:

It doesn't matter how many children you have if none of them survive to themselves have children.

This seems obvious, but is actually really important because it puts both sex and care into the mix. The appropriate [implicit] 'strategy' therefore depends on the prevailing conditions. It may be useful to have many [poorly nurtured] children under certain conditions, or it may be useful to have a few [very well nurtured] children under other conditions. In terms of nurturing such things as bonding, and [female] sexual crypsis are therefore important. Under such varied conditions bisexuality (which as I have said above in terms of practice rather than identity is most common) has certain kin support gains (Rougharden 2004 is worth a read here).

This is why homosexuality has been seen throughout history and across the globe, when in terms of pure Darwinian evolution we might expect it to have died out millennia ago.

Of course humans aren't simply driven by genes - whether through genetics or epigenetics - to complex actions. At best genes code for neural and anatomic structures which, under circumstances, create drives. This is why culture is so important in expression and - back to the old saw - identity.

ml
Post edited at 21:48
john arran - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

Yes but in doing so it would be easy for reader to infer that a life or lifestyle without intent to procreate or realistic possibility of procreation would have no purpose, and presumably may have lower value as a result.

It's a ridiculous line of reasoning but disappointingly common.
Jon Stewart - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Mountain Lass:
> In terms of nurturing such things as bonding, and [female] sexual crypsis are therefore important. Under such varied conditions bisexuality (which as I have said above in terms of practice rather than identity is most common) has certain kin support gains (Rougharden 2004 is worth a read here).

> This is why homosexuality has been seen thought history and across the globe, when in terms of pure Darwinian evolution we might expect it to have died out millennia ago.

There are loads of traits that aren't useful that haven't died out. I thought this could easily be explained by saying that the benefits of the flexibility that such traits reflect outweighs the evolutionary costs of a few people ending up gay etc.

> Of course humans aren't simply driven by genes - whether through genetics or epigenetics - to complex actions. At best genes code for neural and anatomic structures which, under circumstances, create drives. This is why culture is so important in expression and - back to the old saw - identity.

I think that homosexuality is a pretty simple case though: it seems obvious to me that it's a drive derived from physiological wiring of the brain (certain neurones respond to certain stimuli, those neural circuits are wired up to the genitals, amongst other bits of the nervous system). That's not to say it's genetically determined, but it is to say that it's hardwired by adulthood, not just a matter of whim, fashion or culture.
tlm - on 10 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> It's not quite as straightforward as that. This club has a few "straight acting" climbers (a handful in the north of England), amongst quite a lot of very gay acting non-climbers.

> Sorry to shatter any illusions.

It's fine, Jon - I didn't have any illusions to be shattered!

You are ready to meet someone lovely by the sounds of it.....
Stuart William - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

The evolution point is potentially moot. As far as I am aware it is generally acknowledged that very few animals beside humans have sex for pleasure, therefore we can separate a biological desire to procreate from our modern view of having any kind of sexual preferences. Thus it is not so ridiculous to imagine a culture in which people have a drive for same sex relationships for pleasure and a simultaneous drive for heterosexual relationships for procreation.
It is equally possible (I can't be bothered to do the research to make this any more than speculation) that past human cultures were far more open about sexuality and that our current labels are completely irrelevant. If bisexuality was the norm in human culture until the widespread adoption of certain moral and religious frameworks then it is modern society that is abnormal and unnatural. I accept your earlier skepticism about information about past societies but it is also prudent to be skeptical of anyone assuming that our perception and experience of current culture reflects what is natural, normal, or right.
Sophie G. - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

Why would this come up?

Oh, and also...

Premiss 1: I don't know that any climbers I know are Scunthorpe supporters
Conclusion 1: Therefore no climbers that I know are Scunthorpe supporters
Conclusion 2: Therefore no climbers are Scunthorpe supporters

...Discuss


SG
humptydumpty - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:
> It is equally possible (I can't be bothered to do the research to make this any more than speculation) that past human cultures were far more open about sexuality and that our current labels are completely irrelevant.

I think that's the central theme of this book: http://www.amazon.com/Christianity-Social-Tolerance-Homosexuality-Fourteenth/dp/0226067114/
Post edited at 08:06
Jon Stewart - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:

> The evolution point is potentially moot. As far as I am aware it is generally acknowledged that very few animals beside humans have sex for pleasure, therefore we can separate a biological desire to procreate from our modern view of having any kind of sexual preferences.
that is an incredibly naïve understanding of evolution. Why do we get pleasure from sex? To encourage us to reproduce!

it sounds like you take the view that we're not animals with evolved drives, 'designed' by our DNA in order that we replicate it at all, we're somehow different from every other species. We're just monkeys in shoes. Social constructs aren't random, they reflect the underlying drives we evolved over millenia. We didn't reach some kind of nirvana when we developed the neocortex, throwing away our animal instincts and creating a world in which everything is a social construct.

evolution is never a moot point when discussing animal behaviour.

> it is not so ridiculous to imagine a culture in which people have a drive for same sex relationships for pleasure and a simultaneous drive for heterosexual relationships for procreation.

> It is equally possible (I can't be bothered to do the research to make this any more than speculation) that past human cultures were far more open about sexuality and that our current labels are completely irrelevant. If bisexuality was the norm in human culture until the widespread adoption of certain moral and religious frameworks then it is modern society that is abnormal and unnatural. I accept your earlier skepticism about information about past societies but it is also prudent to be skeptical of anyone assuming that our perception and experience of current culture reflects what is natural, normal, or right.

basically this is just totally incongruous with my experience of people who grow up in a society completely against homosexuality and in spite of all the social conditioning you can throw at them end up exclusively attracted to the same sex. As an explanation of sexual behaviour it's totally at odds with experience and not at all compelling
jkarran - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

> Dunno. Google didn't turn up much.
> ...
> I am however very open to the idea that subtle, not understood, environmental forces might be at play in determining who ends up gay - environmental influences that send brain development down a different physiological path. Indeed these influences could be "social" - but not in simple linear ways such as, "everyone else is at it, so now I'm into cock too".

I'm working from my (flakey) memory of a documentary I saw probably a decade ago, there's every chance I've got almost all the relevant details wrong

jk

Stuart William - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:
> that is an incredibly naïve understanding of evolution. Why do we get pleasure from sex? To encourage us to reproduce!

I think you have sort of missed my point. I understand evolution, my point however was that pleasure is not our only motivator when it comes to behaviour that helps our species, and in evolutionary terms it is a very recently developed motivator. Therefore it is possible for us to derive pleasure from things not directly linked to survival but also have drives to procreate.

And why can't same sex relationships be beneficial to the species? Sex leads to certain hormones being released which encourage bonding and intimacy so a culture with much more open and relaxed attitudes to sexual relationships there may in fact be far more social cohesion and a sense that "family" extends to the whole community rather than just small groups within it. Thus bisexuality could, certainly in smaller communities, be the ideal for strong bonds within the community which would promote the interests of the species in that people are more likely to work closely together to achieve the best results for everyone.

Moreover I think you massively downplay the effects of social conditioning. You can't just keep taking your own experience as a the only source of evidence for things since you live in a certain culture with certain conditioned beliefs and values which may not be representative of true human nature.

At the risk of being antagonistic it is also worth asking that if you only follow the rigid view that evolution = procreation = same sex relationships and ignore any other factors then aren't you arguing that homosexuality is a genetic disorder of some kind? Just playing devils advocate but that sounds like a dangerous view to be airing. *Edit: I just spotted where you accept that there are social or environmental factors at play, although I think your suggestion that the rest of us equate social factors merely to peer pressure is a little patronising.*

On a slightly separate note, but following the evolution strand of all this, studies of genital formation indicate that humans are naturally polygamous and our current belief that monogamy is the ideal is a social construct we have created over time. This means that there is certainly no evolutionary barriers to having multiple partners of both sexes and still benefiting the species. Here your argument that your experience in society disproves certain theories above falls short, since our experience within western society is at odds with our physical characteristics (which obviously came about through evolutionary processes).
Post edited at 10:21
Stuart William - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

One last point in the evolution vs social construction argument is that throughout the development of human in the last few thousand years we have had basically nil predators to affect our development. Evolution operates in response to adversity and as such a lot of changes to human culture must have been brought about through other means. Our mortality rate is very low compared to most, if not all, animals which dilutes the noticeable effects of evolution. So yes, on a base level we are certainly "monkeys with shoes" but our culture, beliefs etc. have also been massively influenced by other factors. How else can you explain the relatively rapid changes within human culture that have happened on a time scale that is irreconcilable with evolution?
Timmd on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:
> . How else can you explain the relatively rapid changes within human culture that have happened on a time scale that is irreconcilable with evolution?

What do you mean by irreconcilable with evolution? What things are you thinking of?

Evolution does go in leaps and spurts as well as happening slowly. If you look at the possum and the viper in America, the viper has an anti-blood clotting agent in it's venom, and the possum has been developing a defence against this in it's blood, it's happened over just a few generations of possum. Evolution does at times happen very rapidly if the environment factors and genetic mutations are 'aligned' to enable it to.
Post edited at 11:01
Bullybones - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:

> I understand evolution, my point however was that pleasure is not our only motivator when it comes to behaviour that helps our species...
> And why can't same sex relationships be beneficial to the species?

'Good of the species' arguments are almost wholly discredited. You can't claim to understand evolution if you're still using them! The gene is selfish, and you might want try and explain gay behaviour in that frame (kin selection, family protection, I don't know what), but good of the species is out of the window...

Bullybones - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:

> As far as I am aware it is generally acknowledged that very few animals beside humans have sex for pleasure...

Chimps. All the time, with anything that moves. They don't care.
Stuart William - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to bullybones:

> Chimps. All the time, with anything that moves. They don't care.

And bonobos. And I'm sure several other species. They are within the "very few".
I guess my, so far very fractured, point is that the evolved norm for humans could be argued to be closer to that of chimps and bonobos than it is to current modern ideas on sexuality in that we are naturally polygamous and bisexual and sex is driven by more than a simple need to procreate. If this is the case then monogamous relationships, same sex or otherwise, are abnormal and the result of social construction or other such factors. Thus whether we are straight or gay could depend on where in this natural sexual continuum we lie and how that comes to be expressed within modern monogamous social frameworks. Bisexuality itself implies polygamy to some extent and as such is most inconsistent with modern social frameworks despite having the closest links to our ancestral behaviour. This is possibly why it is perceived to be expressed as a preference less often and is less debated than the straight/gay discussion. Basically we are straight or gay because we feel compelled to be monogamous and so pick (not in a conscious sense) one or the other, not both, to retain some level of social compliance. Obviously that is massively simplified and just a possible line of theoretical inquiry.
That might be a slightly clearer train of thought than my previous ramblings.
Jus - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

> or is there something about climbing that doesn't appeal to gay men? Or something about gay men that doesn't make them excited about climbing?

what a daft statement. Gay/ bi whatever people are in all walks of life and are interested in as many varied things as straight people.
Jon Stewart - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:
> why can't same sex relationships be beneficial to the species? ...Thus bisexuality could, certainly in smaller communities, be the ideal for strong bonds within the community which would promote the interests of the species in that people are more likely to work closely together to achieve the best results for everyone.

Yes I agree it could - a perfectly compelling explanation along evolutionary lines could indeed be conjured for societies where bisexuality and polygamy were the norm. When you look at the human race though, that's not how it has turned out, and so it doesn't really require an explanation.

If there or were societies where there was a whole lot more 'bonding' going on, then yes, this could be perfectly great for everyone including the selfish genes.

> Moreover I think you massively downplay the effects of social conditioning. You can't just keep taking your own experience as a the only source of evidence for things since you live in a certain culture with certain conditioned beliefs and values which may not be representative of true human nature.

Fair point, but it's not something I *keep* doing. Seems to me that if you wanted to sum up the history of human homosexuality in a few glib words, you'd say that it's always been present in small numbers of individuals, and those individuals have generally been loathed and shunned. It just keeps cropping up, no matter the social conditions.

This is what needs an explanation, and a sensible one is that homosexuality is just something that occurs in humans, pretty randomly, with a prevalence of about 1-2%. Exactly how heritable the trait is is unknown at present, what environmental factors influence it are also unknown. But just like hunger isn't a social construct, it's physiological, sex drive isn't a social construct, it's physiological. How it's expressed however may vary greatly according to social conditions.

In tolerant societies you get more of it self-reported, in certain circumstances (oil rigs, prisons) you might get more behaviour that looks like it, but in general it just seems to always be there against the wishes of wider society. If we want to find examples of where it's not like this, we have to go to ancient greece (where we actually have very little idea of what society was like) or perhaps some tribe that might or might not exist in amazon. Not Africa, nor India, nor China...

> At the risk of being antagonistic it is also worth asking that if you only follow the rigid view that evolution = procreation = same sex relationships and ignore any other factors then aren't you arguing that homosexuality is a genetic disorder of some kind?

Not really. For something to be pathological, it has to be doing some harm. The harm caused by other people's attitudes doesn't count to make the condition itself pathological!

> On a slightly separate note, but following the evolution strand of all this, studies of genital formation indicate that humans are naturally polygamous and our current belief that monogamy is the ideal is a social construct we have created over time.

Well as I said before, social constructs aren't random. I would have thought that we're "naturally" quite monogamous and a bit polygamous - because that's what we are! The evidence is all around. The institution of marriage is an attempt to big up one side of our nature and suppress the other - being totally monogamous in this way has many advantages for society and the running of things and so we hold it as an ideal.

I don't really know what evidence you're using to say that we "should" be "naturally" all bumming each other and sleeping with each others' wives, and that our monogamous ideals are somehow "unnatural". The social constructs merely reflect that we do well to raise our offspring in pairs, but there are urges outside of that (evolution wants us to hedge our bets a little?) that could lead us astray in ways which aren't good for society at large (they cause fights).
Post edited at 20:34
Jon Stewart - on 11 Sep 2014
In reply to Jus:

> what a daft statement. Gay/ bi whatever people are in all walks of life and are interested in as many varied things as straight people.

I don't have any data on this, but my experience suggests that gays are over-represented in some professions/hobbies and under-represented in others. Over represented in the fashion and travel industries, probably under represented in construction and mechanics. This is certainly where social conditioning takes effect...
Stuart William - on 13 Sep 2014
In reply to Jom

> I don't really know what evidence you're using to say that we "should" be "naturally" all bumming each other and sleeping with each others' wives, and that our monogamous ideals are somehow "unnatural".

Look up something along the lines of "genital studies human polygamous" and I imagine it will take you to some of the research I was thinking of. Basically if you look at different primates their genitals have evolved differently depending on how their sexual relationships work. The way our genitals have evolved show that we led polygamous lifestyles. I don't find the fact that we get married, an institution brought to us from the bible, particularly compelling in the face of how our bodies have actually evolved. Religious texts encourage a lot of things besides marriage but I think you would be hard pushed to argue that keeping kosher or not worshipping false idols are intrinsic facts of human nature.
Loki - on 13 Sep 2014
In reply to Owen W-G:

There I was thinking climbing was climbing and it didn't matter the sexuality of your climbing partner.
As other people have said already in this thread, does the sexuality of the person you are climbing with really matter? The climbing community is fairly and I often view it as more akin to a family. Accept and move on.
Jon Stewart - on 14 Sep 2014
In reply to Stuart William:
> In reply to Jom

> Look up something along the lines of "genital studies human polygamous" and I imagine it will take you to some of the research I was thinking of.

Not really. I saw something from a very unconvincing looking source and not much else:

http://www.reasoned.org/rs_text7.htm

> Basically if you look at different primates their genitals have evolved differently depending on how their sexual relationships work. The way our genitals have evolved show that we led polygamous lifestyles.

I'm not sure how relevant that is to us today. We've got loads of hangovers from evolution that don't have anything to say about what we "naturally" "should" do. I'm interested in what constitutes underlying human nature, but I take evidence for that from the statistics of how we behave and what the compelling reasons are for that behaviour. I don't take the view as you seem to that there is a "natural state" that we have been directed away from by (random?) social influences.

> I don't find the fact that we get married, an institution brought to us from the bible, particularly compelling in the face of how our bodies have actually evolved. Religious texts encourage a lot of things besides marriage but I think you would be hard pushed to argue that keeping kosher or not worshipping false idols are intrinsic facts of human nature.

When looking for behaviours that are biologically intrinsic to human beings, you look for ones that crop up a lot, shared by cultures that haven't grown up together. Such is marriage, and it takes many different forms that differ substantially from the Biblical version, e.g.

http://www.importantindia.com/10053/various-types-of-marriages-among-tribal-people-in-india/

Please don't try to counter this argument with single examples that don't fit the trend. If you can show that there isn't a trend towards people formally establishing male-female pair-bonds across many independent cultures, and actually things are completely diverse then fine, but single examples which are outliers are no help.

Eating Kosher etc are clearly social constructs rather than anything intrinsic, because such traditions are completely culture-specific not variations on a near-universal theme.

Where we see the same behaviours crop up all over the place, with differences in the detail of how they are expressed according to culture, we are dealing with something intrinsic and biological. The existence of homosexuals at a low prevalence in any population is such an intrinsic feature of our species (and possibly others).
Post edited at 19:26
Jon Stewart - on 14 Sep 2014
In reply to Loki:

> As other people have said already in this thread, does the sexuality of the person you are climbing with really matter? The climbing community is fairly and I often view it as more akin to a family. Accept and move on.

I don't think there's any implication in the OP that a climbing partner's sexuality "matters" in any negative sense that seems implicit in your post and many others. The attitude that seems to have replaced casual homophobia in recent years appears to be this "why are you mentioning it, YOU must be homophobic" evidenced a few times on this thread. Which is a massive improvement, don't get me wrong! It's just a bit odd.
Stuart William - on 15 Sep 2014
In reply to Jon Stewart:

You must believe that those evolutionary hangovers have some relevance otherwise your argument above that we are just "monkeys with shoes" is quite a contradiction.

Either way I've pretty much lost track of what we were originally debating and we both seem to be trying to make roughly the same point from different angles (that homosexuality is in some way an intrinsic, if rare, human trait) so I'll bid you farewell. Cheers for an interesting discussion.

Stu.
Deviant - on 15 Sep 2014
In reply to Loki:

I've done quite a bit of alpine climbing with, err, please excuse the term, casual partners and have found there to be a helluva lot of 'bi-curious' climbers out there ! OK that's not saying that they're 100% gay but sufficiently so to engage in what would be considered gay sexual activity ! I mean, what do you do when the cute guy you're climbing with starts talking smutty and fancies a bit of fun in the tent at night ? I guess if you're 100% hetero you turn over and pretend you never heard anything, or , if like me you're 'bi' or gay you profit from the situation and enjoying blowing each other off ( as a minimum!). The beautiful thing about such sexual activity is that it is without any engagement, simply a bit of fun and what's wrong with that ?
Borden - on 22 Sep 2014
In reply to pec:
I agree no one here appears malicious. However, this is a big historical moment in the gay rights movement. They need moral support (and acceptance) as much as votes. A gay comedian also has the distinction of being gay themselves. Just like Jewish comedians are Jewish. They 'own' those words and jokes unlike those outside of their identified group. That is a difference worth mentioning. I think it also needs to be said that in many places in the word (including some places in the UK and US) there is nothing funny about the gay movement. For many many people they feel oppressed to be themselves. I'm not suggesting people here are malicious but jokes are at someone's expense and I/many are not laughing.
Post edited at 11:03

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