Day 20

“The universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose” 

— biologist J.B.S. Haldane 

Like most of us, most bonobo apes are functionally bisexual. This is also true of male mallard ducks. In other species, like our own, some individuals seem to be exclusively homosexual while others are heterosexual. This natural variation in orientation may help animals avoid overpopulation. 

As humans used to do before the false idea that only the nuclear family is natural became so widespread, animals construct families in many different ways. Oystercatchers parent their young in stable, bonded, mixed-sex trios. Same-sex pairs of flamingoes, penguins, or swans may adopt abandoned or orphaned chicks. Collective parenting is common. 

From dolphins deep in the ocean to vultures high in the sky, nonhuman animals court, show affection to, and experience physical pleasure with their same-sex partners in an astonishing array of ways. This proves, if there were any doubt, that animals have feelings rather than being robots programmed to reproduce. 

At farms, zoos, labs and other facilities that breed animals, individuals are forced into heterosexual couplings regardless of their own desires, and no animals kept captive in such places are free to construct their own families.

Dairy farms are among the many places that force animals to reproduce, whether or not they would choose to do so. This is one more reason to choose plant-based alternatives to products made from the milk of cows, goats, or sheep.

In the wild, hundreds of animal species enjoy same-sax coupling, courtship, or parenting, but nature shows on TV teach us that animals are automatons whose only goal is reproduction. This makes it easier to dismiss to exploit animals and to dismiss LGBTQ people as “unnatural."

Jean-Paul and Jean-Claude were two pair-bonded ducks who came to our sanctuary after being rescued from a foie gras factory. Even though we knew about the biodiversity of sexuality, we initially thought they were fighting when they were getting it on and repeatedly separated them. But they would not agree to be apart! Over and over again, Jean-Claude took himself on an incredible journey that included climbing a tall fence, walking through the woods, and walking down a road, just to get back to his boyfriend.

The tenacity of their bond persisted for life. They were not monogamous (few ducks are) but they spent most of each day together and bedded down together each night. After many years, Jean-Claude died of the liver disease created by foie gras factories. Although he had been perfectly healthy, Jean-Paul died within a week. Everything we do to draw attention to the linkages between speciesism and homophobia is dedicated to their memory.

Shout Out

Today's shout-out goes out to VINE co-founder Miriam Jones, seen here with Napoleon. An LGBTQ activist in the 1970s and 1980s, Miriam worked at a rape crisis center and as an advocate for people with psychiatric disabilities before co-founding the sanctuary with pattrice. (They met in the course of a struggle for fair housing for people with disabilities.) During the sanctuary's first years, Miriam had to cope with anti-Arab bias in the wake of 9/11 on top of the usual struggles of running a sanctuary.

VINE's expansion from a small chicken sanctuary to the large multi-species community it is today is entirely due to Miriam's organizational genius. While she no longer lives at the sanctuary, Miriam remains our Board President and uses her advanced education degree as an advisor of our humane education team. Check out her chapter in The Ethics of Captivity edited by Lori Gruen.

Recipes of the Day

We love this round-up of Lebanese Vegan Recipes. Try these za'atar crackers as a snack, or brighten up a meal with the colors and flavors of fattoush!

Further Inspiration

Speaking of queer ducks, spend an hour with a diverse array of LGBTQIA+ vegans by tuning into this Queer Vegan Roundtable from earlier this year.

Other Ways to Engage

Catch Up on Briefings

You can find and discuss any daily briefing you skipped or missed here.

Catch Up on Briefings

You can find and discuss any daily briefing you skipped or missed here.

Follow Us on Social Media

Get to meet the members of our multi-species community. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for an inside look into the daily adventures at the sanctuary.

Join our Book Club

The VINE Book Club meets monthly to discuss books of interest to animal advocates who work within an ecological awareness of the linkages between animal exploitation and other forms of injustice. Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

Stay in the loop! We host many in-person and virtual events year-round. Make sure you don't miss out! Check them out here.


We want to do so much more than we have been able to, but to do that, WE NEED YOU. Find out ways to get involved, and sign up here.

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