The Complete Gay Ecosystem
By Benjamin Law
Illustrations by Marc Martin
Let’s face it: whoever’s been mapping the gay ecosystem over the years hasn’t done the best job. Bears, cubs, and otters: that’s more or less all we know. If David Attenborough were a gay man, this would have never happened. But now, thanks to our sophisticated team of on-the-ground “researchers,” Hello Mr. is proud to announce the discovery of several other distinct species in the flaming animal kingdom.
Nauseata papua monogama
Everyone adores Penguins – they’re the most loveable and crowd-pleasing of all the gays. Wholesomely presentable and utterly cute, Penguins are never seen alone and only exist as pairs. Fun fact! Penguins are never seen outside of their formal black and white attire, either, be- cause as soon as same-sex marriage is legalized, they’ll be first in line at Town Hall. While most people find Penguins adorable, others find their smug public displays of monogamy nauseating. Critics will remark that while it’s nice that penguins have decided to mate for life, do they really have to tell you all about it?
Super powers: Power hugs, spooning, developing new nicknames on a daily basis.
Natural habitats: IKEA.
Habits: Selfies, dual selfies, commenting on each other’s selfies, feeding one another food, taking selfies of each other feeding one another food.
Diet: Penguins can only eat in pairs at restaurants or dinner parties, otherwise they will die.
Elephants are the revered statesmen of the gay world, and their memories run long and deep. They’re the ones who’ve seen the gay ecosystem change and flourish over the years and have documented it all in their books/plays/photography/contemporary interpretive dance works. Elephants remember the Dark Times of AIDS and criminalization and wear the visible battle scars of that era. Some of the younger (and stupider) animals shun Elephants or ignore them altogether, but the smartest ones flock to them, knowing they offer knowledge, protection, and wisdom. Plus, they put on really great parties with excellent canapés.
Natural habitats: Public debates, writers’ festivals, at home in bed reading The New Yorker under high-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets.
Warnings: By all means, engage in philosophical debates with Elephants about the importance of same-sex marriage and how tough it is to be young and queer right now, but do prepare to be demolished.
Diet: Cognac, Grange.
Often spotted at Woodford and Burning Man, Llamas are deeply connected to the earth and – frequently – each other (literally: some have accidentally dreadlocked their pubes together after heavy frottage). At home, Llamas will decorate their windows with Tibetan flags (despite having never been to Tibet) and are gifted at intense sessions of intercourse. All copulation with Llamas will involve incense, massage oil, and possibly sarongs, and these tantric-inspired sessions may go on forever.
Warning: your prostate may be milked, and the milk may be used in your coffee afterwards. It’s organic, after all, and Llamas don’t like to waste.
Distinguishing features: Thai fisherman pants, fire-twirling sticks, an ongoing and inexplicable refusal to wear shoes (which becomes a problem around public urinals). Llamas tend to have quite lovely feet, until you see the soles.
Diet: Quinoa, soy, kale. Publicly vegan, but will aggressively consume processed meats in their darker moments.
Natural enemies: Conditioner, “The Man,” people who insist on using full flush.
Immaculately groomed, Swans are the gays that exist almost purely to be seen. Beautifully dressed to the point of obscenity, some Swans will have their photographs featured on The Sartorialist, broadsheet social pages and Vice’s “Do” list in a single day, wearing three separate outfits and across three separate events. Never caught out without a pocket-square, sockless loafers and spectacles (despite having 20-20 vision), Swans often singlehandedly build their own online media empires that span Instagram, fashion blogs, and vodcasts. Some Swans model for glossy fashion magazines in their spare time, but modestly insist it is “only a hobby.”
Motto: “There is no such thing as ‘overdressed.’”
Natural habitats: Paris, New York, Milan.
Diet: The three Cs: canapés, champagne, cocaine.
Darkest secret: Has never actually been naked.
Trichoglossus screechus maximus
Very beautiful but also very fucking loud, Rainbow Lorikeets tend to move in flocks, covering the skies with their glorious banner of every conceivable color. However, tread with caution. When told by friends or family members to “tone it down” or “lower the volume,” Rainbow Lorikeets have been known to screech that you are repressing them and will peck out the eyes of their perceived attacker with unexpected speed and precision. Rainbow Lorikeets are easy to spot by their identifiable rainbow crests, often seen on their apparel, jewelry, and automobiles.
Natural habitats: Pride Days, Pride Parades, anywhere where there is color and movement and Beyoncé.
Diet: Varies wildly. One day it’s diet foods, the next it’s nothing but amphetamines.
Interesting habits: Often begins sentences with phrases like, “As a gay person myself,” or “Speaking as a gay man,” or “As someone who has been an out gay man for seven years now.”
Hawks are the corporate beasts of the gay world, and robust members of various boards. Whatever you think of politics, they’ll listen to your musings attentively, before very gently and diplomatically pointing out how fucking naïve you are. Economically liberal and fiscally tight, Hawks do not see any distinctions between mind and body, and work out both with alarming frequency. They will often have several dual degrees, a PhD and will be enrolled in a post-doc, but under that suit is pure protein and pectorals. Hawks are easy to spot. All you need to do is turn on a cable news station or open the op-ed pages and look! There they are.
Diet: Protein shakes, nothing else.
Natural habitats: The gym (twice daily), business-class flight lounges, leadership conferences.
Mating rituals: Exclusively mates in gym/ business class flight lounge showers.
Habits: Uses the word “network” as a verb, frequently and without irony.
Darkest secret: Does not sleep, has actually forgotten how to sleep, may need medical attention.
Nerdus pennatus noctua
Rarely seen in public much less the “scene,” Owls are the elusive, introverted, and often exclusively nocturnal subspecies of gay man, deriving most of their Vitamin D from radiation emanating out their computer monitors. While some Owls spend their evenings hooking up on Grindr, many others are busy coding an entirely new and superior hook-up app that will soon be available across all mobile OS platforms. To win an Owl’s heart, know all your X-Men gay storylines (explicit, implied, and meta-), comment on their gay Harry Potter slash-fiction, or order a print of their explicit, computer-generated artwork in which iconic male comic book characters are depicted having anal sex.
Natural habitats: Online: Reddit, Twitter, Buzzfeed.
IRL: Comic-Con, cosplay events, Neil Gaiman book signings, Joss Whedon conventions.
Special skills: Coding, Dr. Who trivia.
Distinguishing features: Pale to the point of transparency.
Trivia: Secretly has enormous penis.
Benjamin Law is a Sydney-based writer and the author of two books: the black comedy memoir The Family Law and the travel journalism compendium Gaysia: Adventures in the Queer East. He's written for over 50 publications worldwide, and is currently working on the TV adaptation of 'The Family Law' for Matchbox Pictures, SBS and NBCUniversal.
Marc Martin is an award-winning illustrator based in Melbourne, Australia. Working with a variety of mediums, Marc’s work is a world of dense colour, rich textures and the odd scribble.