Wednesday 21 March 2012

Star Gayzing - Aries

Spring arrived yesterday, and today is the first day of the star sign Aries. The constellation represents Krysomallos, the magical flying ram whose golden fleece was sought by Jason and the Argonauts. Apart from the common practice of Greek princes like Jason taking male partners during their military training there’s very little about Aries that could have lgbt connections. At least not in ancient times.

I’m going to bend my rules away from the stars a bit to tell you of a modern lgbt link to rams! In astrology Aries symbolises the power of masculinity and fertility. Even a ram’s horn is used symbolically in the form of the cornucopia – the Horn of Plenty overflowing with food. But recent studies show that rams can give vital clues into understanding sexual preference.

In 1995 sheep breeders in America wanted to know why so many of their stud rams showed no interest in ewes. Oregon State University undertook a study into the part of the brains of rams that affects sexual attraction. Research found that some rams, about 8%, had a smaller than normal group of neurons involved in mating behaviours, about the same size as that in ewes. Most of this 8% of rams preferred to mate with other rams.

Whether Krysomallos would have preferred rams to ewes is academic – being able to fly and having a golden fleece meant that there weren’t likely to be that many of the same species to mate with anyway.

Interestingly, this 8% is the percentage that is given these days to indicate the number of gay men in society. A study of AIDS victims in 1991 also revealed that gay men often had smaller groups of the same neurons compared to straight men. I don’t think there’s been any research to see if there’s any real connection between the sexual drive of gay men and rams yet. I don’t even know if that proves anything about the nature of homosexuality or not.

But what is scary is that there are people out there who will treat the research as fact and start to produce the means of reducing, or even eliminating, this 8% with hormone treatment or something. The research should not be used to create designer babies because parents fear their children will grow up homosexual. Even worse, any oppressive government could enforce a whole population to take the treatment. Thank God Hitler isn’t around any more!

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