‘Queer Planet’: This Film Wants You to Think All Animals Are Super-Gay


Context is everything. For example, you can spend hours upon hours over your lifetime watching wildlife programming and nature documentaries, and never realize how much of what you’re hearing sounds uncannily like the narration of gay porn. (Sir David Attenborough would be shook.)

Take a hit of poppers and read this voiceover from a new animal series being released this week. “Three hundred pounds of rugged all-American muscle,” the narrator says, his voice heaving with titillation as two big horn sheep circle each other, the camera leering at the rippling brawn of their hinds. “Topped off with four feet of rock. hard. horn.” That the narrator doesn’t moan, or a bom-chicka-wow-wow music cue doesn’t kick in, is a shock at this point.

It might seem outrageous to recontextualize wildlife filmmaking in this way, but that’s the entire point of Queer Planet, a new Peacock special streaming just in time for Pride Month. It’s not just the documentaries themselves that the project hopes to make us rethink; it’s the animal kingdom at large.

This isn’t a film about the typical ramming battle on the craggy slopes of the Rocky Mountains between two of the region's most prodigious beasts. “This is a film about something else entirely,” the narrator, Tony-winner Andrew Rannells, says, his voice warming from the machismo of his earlier voiceover to something much more musical and cheekier. “Love and family, in all of their forms. These two males might be fighters, but they’re also…lovers.”

“You think you know nature? Think again,” he continues. “Our planet is home to over 11 million species, each with their own way of being. From flamboyantly gay flamingos to bisexual primates, to sex-changing clown fish, to multi-gendered mushrooms, and everything in between: Nature is more queer than you could possibly imagine.”

To many, Queer Planet will be a revelation: Animals are hella gay. They’re here. They’re queer. Get used to it. Roar. Or, maybe more appropriately: Me-oww.

‘The Traitors’ Season 3 Cast Is Murder in the Slayth Degree: Sandoval?! Britney’s Ex?!?!

Those male lions, the kings of the jungle, the bastions of regal masculinity? They’re fucking. Male penguins? They’re finding male partners, mating for life, adopting an egg, and raising a healthy, loving family. The macaques in Japan are big ole’ lesbos. Flamingos are iconically bisexual, and often enter polycules. Dolphins masturbate. Male seahorses carry and give birth to babies. Female hyenas have massive penises. Don’t even get us started on clownfish. (Let’s just say that if Finding Nemo were real, after Nemo’s mom died, his father would’ve physically changed sex—genitals and all—to become Nemo’s new mother, and Nemo would eventually become her suitor and sexual partner.)

Clownfish swim around anemone in a still from ‘Queer Planet’



It goes without saying that this isn’t your BBC-loving father’s wildlife documentary. Befitting the loose, celebratory nature of the Pride Month in which it’s airing, it breaks traditional form. It’s vibrant, snarky, and full of humor, especially from Rannells’ gay stereotype-mocking narration.

After footage of penguins splashing in the water: “Contrary to the gay agenda, life’s not one big pool party.” About their monogamy: “Humble penguins stay monogamous for life… unlike half of West Hollywood.” When the location shifts to the Subantarctic, where hundreds of king penguins are gathered on a glacier squawking, Rannells quips that one poor male “has to find his mate at the largest circuit party ever.” Later, he teases, “Luckily, as the wise Kelly Clarkson once sang, nature has prepared him for ‘a moment like this.’”

Injecting humor into something as staid as the natural filmmaking genre: very queer.

Andrew Rannells sits on a chair.

Andrew Rannells

Rob Kim/Getty Images

Queer Planet isn’t just provoking audiences with the idea of a planet teeming with Madonna-loving beasts. The special features scientists and experts who have spent their careers researching these flaming critters—not to mention footage of the animals exhibiting the behaviors described. There are studies about how 10-12 percent of copulations among penguins are between same-sex partners. One out of every four instances of mating among lions involves a male mounting another. Yet these are statistics that, like much research on queer behavior among humans, are fairly recent, and largely shielded from mainstream education and general knowledge. The question, then, as Rannells asks in his voiceover is, “Why has it been trapped in the closet for so long?”

The same institutionalized, queer-panicked gatekeeping that exists to bury evidence that would normalize same-sex and trans human behavior has been pervasive in the field of animal research. (You should hear what some of these experts have to say about Charles Darwin’s role in all this…)

According to Queer Planet, more than 1,500 species in the world have shown homosexual, bisexual, or pansexual behavior, suggesting that, hey, maybe that attitude toward sexuality is what nature intended... for all of us. That notion, you can imagine, rankles a few feathers (heh) in this social and political climate. In fact, the release of Queer Planet’s trailer alone last month garnered the exact bad-faith backlash you’d expect—continuing to explain why so much of this research is still so generally unknown.

The New York Post rounded up some of the greatest hits from X, and they’re about what you’d expect: “No, this is not satire;” “this is so f–ked up and evil for our youth” and that the documentary was promoting “science revisionism for a satanic gay agenda;” “so sick of this LGBTQ s–t being rammed down our throats.”

A herd of Zebras in ‘Queer Planet’



It may seem pointless to highlight that reaction to a documentary about animals, but it underlines the significance of a film like Queer Planet. Visibility on its own is still a transgressive act. Education on top of that? That’s positively violent to critics who don’t want it to be acknowledged that LGBTQ+ beings—humans, penguins, what have you—exist, let alone thrive. And the thought of normalizing it? Forget about it.

For all of its eye-opening statistics and the fun of Rannells’ jaunty, in-on-the-joke narration about the gay community, there is—brace yourself—importance to a project like this. It reveals what could be possible for the human world if we were as inclusive and tolerant as our wildlife cohabitants on this Earth. Hell, it may even be necessary for survival—which the animal kingdom has already learned.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.