What really encouraged me to look at human sexuality is not necessarily a discrete concrete moment in my past, but I think the fact that I’m gay. I’ve always been deeply curious and interested in human behavior and also felt a close affinity with that evolutionary explanations.
But I think that one of the more important moments in my past in terms of leading me in this course was working with chimpanzees. When I was a graduate student, I worked at a sanctuary with orphaned infant chimpanzees and orangutans that had been separated from their mothers for different reasons. And I began seeing human beings walking around as bipedal apes, these sort of naked bipedal apes like Desmond Morris says.
It struck me much more vividly after actually having an encounter with chimpanzees. I was a caretaker for a six-month-old infant and would change her diapers and play with her. She was like my daughter. It struck a chord with me. I was 19 years old, and it really led me on this particular scientific path in trying to understand humans and human behavior from an evolutionary perspective.
In Their Own Words is recorded directly from experts in Big Think’s studio.