The Zoo: Revisiting The Birth of the Gay Animal Kingdom
There are over 450 animal species in the world that exhibit homosexual behavior, but the only gay animals you need to know about are a click or swipe away. Dubbed the “gay animal kingdom,” the unofficial directory of gay slang terms is heavy on the bears, otters, cubs, and pups that have pervaded pop culture and turned hookup apps into heavy petting zoos. The animal slang has been captivating the hearts, minds, and (occasional) dicks of those who wander deep into the forest of gay animals. But for all of the panda bears, wolves, and chickens we’ve come across, there’s never been a clear explanation as to why gay people took such a liking to the animal kingdom when categorizing themselves. So we did some investigating to find out why.
It all started with a trip to the zoo in the summer of ‘79. It was the year that history was made in the LGBT community when 75,000 people marched on Washington in the largest political gathering for gay rights in American history. It was also the year that “Le Freak” by Chic and “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor duked it out on the radio waves. As the decade’s final few months dragged on, a little article appeared in the July 26, 1979, issue of The Advocate. Written by George Mazzei and illustrated by Gerard Donelan, “Who’s Who at the Zoo?” introduced the gay world to seven gay animal archetypes that would become the foundation for today’s gay animal kingdom. Three decades later, we’re returning to our roots to look back on the original seven deadly sinful archetypes of the gay animal kingdom.
This OG gay animal has inspired a movement, a magazine that’s been around since 1985, and hundreds of gay bars we’re still trying to work up the courage to visit. If you’re going bear hunting, the advice from ’79 still holds true: locate your local bear bar. If you’re considering going home with a bear, make sure you’re ready to cuddle and possibly engage in some leather play. If you refuse, you may end up the accidental star of Grizzly Man 2.
The Cygnet Swan
These young swans are the sugar daddy you actually want to sleep with and can be found at your nearest Wall Street watering hole. In the decades since they were introduced to the zoo, they may have traded in their Gucci shoes for Prada and a bowl full of crystals for a mountain of cocaine, but make no mistake, their favorite subject of conversation is still themselves.
The gazelle may be a rarity in our modern animal kingdom but we’re sure we’ve seen at least a few of these gays at a Ladyfag party with glazed eyes and horns swinging through the air. They’re the free-wheeling, sex-loving guys who moved to the city from middle America, and subsequently took up chain-smoking and orgies. The only difference now is that their parents definitely don’t know about their lifestyle, so expect them to know exactly how to hide photos on Facebook.
If you find yourself lost and alone at 1OAK trying to locate an exit, expect to run into at least 12 of these animals on your way out. The Marmoset will be toting a vodka cranberry in one hand as they tell the closest person within earshot about how hard their design classes are at Parsons or FIT. If you do end up going home with one, you’ll probably wake up in a spacious Manhattan apartment their parents bought as an investment.
This is the older gentleman who messages you on Grindr asking to get drinks and a handjob. Their description here may be as outdated as their pickup lines, but rest assured they will reveal their now-platonic relationship by the third encounter and invite you to live with them by the fifth. They may not be as exciting as some of the other gays at the zoo, but they’re reliable, well-established, and have cash to spare.
The Pekes and Afghans
From the descriptor down to the illustration, this is the one gay animal at the zoo that’s gone extinct because of global warming. The closest modern equivalent to a peke and afghan you’d find while on the hunt for a mate would be hidden in a smoky corner of a Southern-style bar with a mid-4os body and the haircut of Justin Bieber circa 2012. Be careful before approaching, they’re just as likely to talk about the glory days as they are to trap you in an hours-long conversation about the younger ex they’re still in love with.
They may have traded out hot tubs and track lighting for Drag Race and a need to “spill the tea, hunty,” but these animals are still prowling around. They slink into the DMs of five guys a week but only commit to having sex once a month—solely because they need something to dish to the other kittens in their litter. Bring wine and some spending money because these felines don’t come cheap (literally).
Images via The Advocate.
Stay tuned to Milk for more gay animal zoology.