The Funniest, Dirtiest, Most Heartbreaking Story You’ll Ever Read in the New York Times

Then again, what would you expect from a piece about lesbian albatrosses?

For the first 20 years of my life, there were no gay people. The two men who lived together down the street from my childhood home were “bachelors.” There wasn’t any Ellen Degeneres or Will and Grace. I was in college before I ever met a gay person —I think— and it took me a long time to wrap my head around the idea. It wasn’t that homosexuality was there but wasn’t talked about. It was that it didn’t exist.

Among the recent spate of articles about Constance McMillan, the lesbian in Texas whose school cancelled her prom rather than allow her to attend with her date, was some information that showed how much attitudes toward human sexuality have changed in recent years. One expert weighing in noted that nowadays, young men and women don’t “come out” as gay men or lesbians; they carve out their own places on the continuum of sexual behavior. They may be mostly gay, or a little gay, or very gay; the point was that they decide. Human sexuality is a lot more complicated than I ever thought it was. [SIGNUP]

And a huge, wonderful, awful, thought-provoking piece by Jon Mooallem in the New York Times, called Can Animals Be Gay?, shows that animal sexuality is, too. It’s full of wild information about lesbian albatrosses and gay dolphins and a third gender, neither male nor female, in Samoan culture, and it challenges every presumption I ever had about why animals do what they do. It also includes such priceless passages as this:

And a bighorn-sheep biologist confessed in his memoir, “I still cringe at the memory of seeing old D-ram mount S-ram repeatedly.” To think, he wrote, “of those magnificent beasts as ‘queers’ — Oh, God!”

It’ll make you laugh. It’ll make you cry. It’s wonderful. It’s really long. But you have the whole weekend to read it.