’Gay’ Seeing Eye Dog Denied Entry to Restaurant
A judge has ruled against a restaurant in Australia that refused entry to a service dog because the staff thought it was gay.
In May of 2009, Ian Jolly was not allowed to take his seeing-eye dog Nudge into Thai Spice restaurant, in Adelaide. Jolly was accompanied by a woman who had asked whether they might be allowed to bring the guide dog onto the premises with them, and the waiter, thinking she had said "gay dog," refused, an April 25 story at Inquirer.com reported. This led to a complaint with a human rights tribunal.
"The staff genuinely believed that Nudge was an ordinary pet dog which had been desexed to become a gay dog," according to a statement from the owners of Thai Spice. The tribunal ruled against the Thai Spice, finding that Jolly had been discriminated against on the basis of disability, and ordered the eatery to pay Jolly $1,400 and to apologize for denying his service dog entrance.
The article said that the restaurant, which is located in Grange, a town near Adelaide, has a sign telling patrons that guide dogs are allowed. Two reviewers have posted comments online indicating satisfaction with the establishment’s cuisine and prices.
Comments posted at conservative chat site FreeRepublic.com, where gay news is often posted for the delectation of the site’s users, speculated that the word "guide" might have sound like "gay" to someone unfamiliar with the Australian accent. The postings also included stills from the program South Park, which featured a gay dog in one episode. A Photoshopped image of a poodle with rainbow coloring was also posted at the site, which sported the slogan :"Imagine: No Liberals," and a yellow smiley face.
The subject of whether dogs can be gay has been discussed on at least one chat site, Yahoo! Answers.com, where some individuals posted comments to the effect that dogs are simply omnisexual ("I think they are hedonists. If it feels good, hump it") while others pointed out that mounting among dogs can be an assertion of dominance, and both males and females will mount other dogs to show who’s boss.
But a March 29 article at the New York Times delved into the topic in more detail, reporting on some of the more than 7,000 animal species in which same-sex courtship and pair bonding have been observed. The article discussed same-sex pairings seen among Laysan albatrosses, which researchers in Hawaii have studied, and noted that, "Speaking on Oahu a few years ago as first lady, Laura Bush praised Laysan albatross couples for making lifelong commitments to one another." However, the article continued, "Lindsay C. Young, a biologist who studies the Kaena Point colony, told me: ’They were supposed to be icons of monogamy: one male and one female. But I wouldn’t assume that what you’re looking at is a male and a female.’ " About a quarter of the nesting pairs at the colony under observation turned out to be same-sex couples.
The article reported that when Young and a co-author wrote a paper about the same-sex albatrosses they had observed, word of the findings spread like wildfire across the Internet and resulted in political grandstanding (one senator, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, featured the paper on his web site under the sarcastic heading, "You tax dollars at work"--even though the researchers did not receive federal funds), television comedy (Stephen Colbert sounded the alarm about the "Sappho-avian agenda"), and the occasional conspicuously pointed embrace of gay animals
Same-sex contact has also been observed among dolphins, orangutans, butterflies, sheep, ostriches, and about 7,000 other animal species. The New York Times noted that human researchers sometimes had anti-gay or moralistic reactions to seeing animal examples of same-sex contact in the wild, but that even aside from human social prejudices there was another, more troubling, question: how can evolution, which sees things in terms of the successful propagation of genes, account for gay animals?
No clear-cut and comprehensive answers seem to be forth=coming as yet, but there’s a question as to whether we should even be looking for such one-size-fits all explanations, the article reported. "It’s also possible that some homosexual behaviors don’t provide a conventional evolutionary advantage; but neither do they upend everything we know about biology," the article stated, going on to include comments from researchers to the effect that sexual behaviors targeting others of the same gender could simply be conduct that is natural to the animals, but not counter-productive in terms of propagating the species.
In the case of the albatrosses, a lack of suitable males also seemed to be an explanation: females could simply mate with a male who already had paired off with another female. A female thus impregnated could then nest with another female in order to share the task of rearing the resulting chick.
But the true potency of the topic lies with human systems of morality. The article noted that the same forces that today seek to deny that animals are truly gay were at work a century ago, pointing to gay sex in the animal world as proof that same-sex intimacy was morally inferior to heterosexual contact--and that the morally superior human species was obligated to shun it.
A modern twist on research into why animals make sexual overtures or one another or even take up life partnership together was illustrated in an episode that the article reported on: researchers discovered that a genetic variance in fruit flies resulted in making flies reacting to the pheromones of other males in a sexual way. As soon as the public got wind of a genetic basis for same-sex courtship behavior in fruit flies, the article said, the researchers were besieged--both by gays and gay advocates, accusing them of paving the way to a gay genocide, and by those who fervently desired a "cure" for homosexuality.
The issue is only complicated by the fact that even in some human cultures there is a recognition of so-called "third sexes"--men who court men, but who not seen as gay, or men who live as women, dressing in the manner and doing the work that traditionally is reserved for females.
Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor, writing about film, theater, food and drink, and travel, as well as contributing a column. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.