September 14, 2005

Penguin Pride

Conservative groups are hailing French film "March of the Penguins" as a cultural example of the merits of traditional monogamy. Among the proudest quotes coming from the soldiers of the Right (from

From the New York Times, "Conservative groups have turned its stirring depiction of the mating ordeals of emperor penguins into an unexpected battle anthem in the culture wars." Among a number of other conservative and Christian critics who praised its family values, Michael Medved said it's "the motion picture this summer that most passionately affirms traditional norms like monogamy, sacrifice and child rearing." Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, speaking at a gathering of young Republicans, said: "You have to check out 'March of the Penguins.' It is an amazing movie. And I have to say, penguins are the really ideal example of monogamy. These things -- the dedication of these birds is just amazing."

I agree with Conservative pundits on this fact. Penguins are tremendous examples of monogamy! Just ask gay penguins Wendell and Cass who share a swanky nest at the New York Aquarium or Silo and Roy, New York's other gay penguins enjoying loving monogamy at the Central Park Zoo. (From the Columbia News Service):

Among the 22 male and 10 female African black-footed penguins in the aquarium's exhibit, tales of love, lust and betrayal are the norm. These birds mate for life. But given the disproportionate male-female ratio at the aquarium, some of the females flirt profusely and dump their partners for single males with better nests.

Wendell and Cass, however, take no part in these cunning schemes. They have been completely devoted to each other for the last eight years. In fact, neither one of them has ever been with anyone else, says their keeper, Stephanie Mitchell.

But the partnership of Wendell and Cass adds drama in another way. They're both male. That is to say, they're gay penguins.

"The world is, indeed, teeming with homosexual, bisexual and transgendered creatures of every stripe and feather," Bagemihl writes in the first page of his book. "From the Southeastern Blueberry Bee of the United States to more than 130 different bird species worldwide, the 'birds and the bees,' literally, are queer."

At the Central Park Zoo, Silo and Roy, two male Chinstrap penguins, have been in an exclusive relationship for four years. Last mating season, they even fostered an egg together.

"They got all excited when we gave them the egg," said Rob Gramzay, senior keeper for polar birds at the zoo. He took the egg from a young, inexperienced couple that hatched an extra and gave it to Silo and Roy. "And they did a really great job of taking care of the chick and feeding it."

Of the 53 penguins in the Central Park Zoo, Silo and Roy are not the only ones that are gay. In 1997, the park had four pairs of homosexual penguins. In an effort to increase breeding, zookeepers tried to separate them by force. They failed, said Gramzay. Only one of the eight bonded with a female. The rest went back to same-sex relationships, not necessarily with the same partner. Silo and Roy, long-time homosexuals, got together (or pair-bonded, in official penguin lingo) after that failed experiment.

At the New York Aquarium, no one suspected Wendell and Cass were gay when they first bonded. Penguins don't have external sex organs, so visually there's no surefire way to tell whether they are male or female. But over time, people began to wonder.

In all the years they had been together, neither Wendell nor Cass laid an egg. This was unusual because the keepers knew they copulated regularly. They had often seen Wendell submit to Cass, the more dominating of the two. But one day, a keeper saw Wendell on top.

When penguins have sex, the female lies on her belly and the male climbs on top with his feet and puts his rump around her rump. Then their cloacas (sexual organs) meet, and the sperm is transferred into the female. It's called the cloacal kiss.

Wendell and Cass were clearly kissing both ways. So in 1999, the aquarium did a blood test to determine their gender. It proved they were both male.

Today, they are one of the best couples at the aquarium.

Indeed they are! Three weeks ago I visited the New York Aquarium at Coney Island hoping to catch a glimpse of Wendell and Cass. Sadly they were either hiding in their nest sleeping off a late night at the Roxy or at bruch with Silo and Roy. Regardless, you go girls! Keep up the good work turning the vitriol of Christian Right back on themselves. Further research has uncovered reports of gay penguins in Germany and even a call for a Gay Penguin President.

March on little homosexual penguins! You're here. You're queer. You mate for life! And the Conservative Right supports you.

1 comment:

Gayest Neil said...

It's come to my attention that Silo and Roy have broken up. SOBS!