May 26, 2009
Gay Animals Live in the Zoo
Animals Live in The Zoo
Before arriving to Poznan, I could hardly imagine that I would spend a whole day in the Zoo, given my personal aversion from all zoos in general and the unlikelihood of setting myself upon such a journey in a city I was visiting for four days –to lecture, to visit galleries and to have incredible amount of zubrovka and other types of spirits with always hilarious and wonderful Pawel. Nevertheless, life is contingent and we can never predict our actions, neither can we predict the various hidden and legendary stories we learn when we appear in a new place.
After several drinks Pawel told me the longer version of the already quite famous story about Ninio. His colleague and friend Roman confirmed and added details to Pawel’s colorful narration…a new urban legend has emerged in Poznan, which has already made this Polish city world famous –appearing in the headlines of Reuter, Guardian and other news outlets. Moreover, Poznan is threatened to become a city for gay pilgrims from all over the world. Before this prediction would come true, we made a conscious and rational decision to visit the Zoo.
Now, what’s the connection between the emerging urban legend Ninio, the Zoo and the gay pilgrims?
Ninio is an elephant who spent his childhood in Warsaw and then was brought to Poznan last year, when he was 10 years old- perfect time to fornicate, produce baby elephants and bring new revenues to the glorious city of Poznan. A huge glamorous house was built for Ninio (which cost approx 11 mln. USD) in the best area of the zoo, with the best panorama (with the view of the “African village” and the forest around it), 24 hour hot water, electricity, luxury showers, sauna, Jacuzzi, and in addition, she-elephants –a perfect environment for a healthy male elephant in his teens to reproduce little baby elephants. All seems well-planned: neither the socialists nor the religious nationalists are complaining about the money the city spent on pharaoh Ninio…except that Ninio shows no interest in his beautiful female friends who look like models from the latest elephantine Vogue fashion magazine – 6 feet tall, slim and fashionable.
The sheer disappointment amongst the Zoo administrators and the city governors is replaced by biblical terror when our young man starts showing interest to his even younger friend – four-years old Isou. Nationalist religious parties start screaming that they can’t tolerate a gay animal in a Polish Zoo, blaming the city for its excessive expenditure and promising that Ninio will burn in hell. LGBT groups, activists, queer artists and transvestite performers all march in support of Ninio –raising money, raising awareness and producing Ninio T-shirts for sale (Pawel brought one for me from a lesbian club). A real cultural war has ranged over our young man. Now, Isou and Ninio are totally isolated, they are not allowed to “hang out” together, and the Zoo attendant told us, that is because they are both “dva samtsa” (two males). After a 2 hour long walk in the Zoo to reach our hero, we only found out that for most of the day the elephant is hidden from human eyes, confined in a smaller space (than his younger friend), imprisoned and punished as a gay villain for his attempts of sodomy and pedophilia.
The Zoo administration (according to the rumors) is planning to bring in four Dutch (!) female elephants to build a harem for Ninio and enforce a heteronormative behavior upon him. However, there is some hope that all four Dutch (!) elephants might turn out to be lesbian. I also suspect that the Catholic church will provide Ninio with a priest –gay converter.
The morale of the story: why we should not discipline and enforce morally unproblematic behavior and socially accepted sexuality to all animals inhabiting our planet. Perhaps through this incorporation of animals into human society, they will one day start ruling us and save us from ourselves -- ala “the return of the repressed”.
Posted by Angela Harutyunyan at 2:06 PM