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Unicorns are the queer icons of our time

Written by gaytourism

Over the summer months of 2018, you may have noticed an abundance of unicorns on cupcakes, stationery, and unicorn outfits at pride festivals everywhere.

And I’ve been loving each second of the hype.

I know unicorns are not the newest craze, but 2018 has taken the rainbow burping creatures trend – to the max.

I now have so much unicorn merchandise, I don’t have anywhere to put it. And I’m not alone. Unicorns have become the pride outfit to beat this year. So much so I’ve seen multiple pride merchandise touts at the many prides Gay Star News partners with shouting – not just ‘get ya rainbow flags’ – but also: ‘and your unicorn horns.’

And that’s not forgetting how crazy the UK crowds have gone for our Gay Star News unicorn tote bags.

So is the reason for this love because it taps into a secret queer undertone? One that goes way beyond a love for spreading rainbows all over the universe?

It didn’t take long to get to a blindingly obvious answer – yes, they are super queer.

For me, it’s because they represent otherness, freedom and the ability to transform.

But it gets better. I also discovered that they, alongside other mythical creatures, have been secretly representing us in history as far back as Queen Elizabeth I…

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Meeting the mermaid hunter who begun my queer unicorn discovery

My search began, as many days do, searching Twitter for unicorn related news (and gifs.)

Which is when I came upon a man who has made a career out of hunting mermaids.

Sacha Coward’s actual job is of course not ‘Mermaid Hunter’ as credited on his Twitter bio – but it may as well be.

He has spent part of his time as a community manager at the National Maritime Museum in London trying to understand why he has a such an affinity with the hundreds of mermaids and other mythical creatures that appear in museum collections all over the world.

We started our chat with my obsession – Unicorns. They are a symbol frequently used on royal heralds and crests to represent power.

My search for hidden Unicorns in the National Maritime Museum | Photo: Gay Star News YouTube

But to understand why they are queer, Sacha says you have to look beyond the power they portray.

It is their very real mystical powers, and therefore ‘otherness’, that he believes draws queers everywhere to them:

‘Unicorns, mermaids, fairies and other beings that mix and combine features have long become popular with queer people,’ Sacha tells me as we walk around the museum.

‘One reason may be that LGBTQ+ people feel like they only half belong, that they are not quite of this world and their existence seems to blur the lines between societal norms of masculinity and femininity.

‘Therefore imagined creatures that are ostentatious with mystical powers and with bodies that mix and match real and unreal are instantly relatable.’

YUMYUM – Unicorn and rainbow cookies | Photo: Instagram @hola.pastel

YUM YUM – Unicorn and rainbow cookies | Photo: Instagram @hola.pastel

Pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows

Chatting to Sacha, I fast realized that my obsession with unicorns was actually with mythical creatures. And the whole LGBTI community is with us too.

Writing for Gay Star News he says:

‘My mermaid obsession is not just popular among gay men. There is lesbian mermaid poetry, queer merman erotica, gender-flipped ‘Little Mermaid’ YouTube parodies and queer feminist mermaid folklore analyses.’

And chatting to Susie Green, CEO of Mermaids UK the trans youth charity, told me they chose the name because young trans people identify with them so much.

One mom told her that her trans daughter says they see an affinity with mermaids because they ‘don’t have obvious genders.’

While Mermaids UK member Lui, who is non-binary, says it is because ‘sex is separate to gender, and a mermaid personifies that.’

Sacha is a Mermaid Hunter. No YOU'RE jealous of his job. | Photo Instagram @sachamermaidhunter

Sacha is a Mermaid Hunter. No YOU’RE jealous of his job. | Photo Instagram @sachamermaidhunter

The Unicorn Scale

A recent bisexual project ‘The Unicorn Scale’ has been measuring the quality of bi representation in film and television.

Speaking to GSN the creator Talia Squires says many in the bi community has chosen unicorns as a symbol for many reasons, ‘not least of which is unicorns are awesome.’

But it’s also to do with the mythology around Unicorns:

‘Many still tell bisexual people they don’t exist, so the unicorn allows us to play with that stereotype. And have a little fun with it in the process.’

Something drag queen Son of a Tutu concurred with when we met her on our visit to Sacha’s museum. LGBTI people face resistance and discrimination to our identity everyday, and unicorns give us an out from that:

‘The human condition is to dream and fantasize. Unicorns, mermaids and mythological creatures allow us to do that he LGBTI community to do that.’

Drag queen Son of a Tutu in full Little Mermaid costume for National Maritime Museum event | Photo: Gay Star News YouTube

Drag queen Son of a Tutu in full ‘Little Mermaid’ costume for National Maritime Museum event | Photo: Gay Star News YouTube

Space unicorns, delivering the rainbows all around the world

Talking to people right across the LGBTI community has led me to conclude our obsession with unicorns is two-fold.

First and foremost, it is their sense of ‘otherness’ we identify with.

Whether in their mythical nature or their ability to transform – we are attracted by a creature that represents our own internal struggles with our identity.

When we face under-representation in the media, particularly in trans, LBQ women and bi+ representation, it’s no wonder we look to a mythical creature to fill the gap.

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But then, of course, unicorns are also fabulous – just like queer people.

If you are to believe the Parry Grip songs written about them, they deliver rainbows all around the world.

If the Snapchat filter is any evidence to go by, even their puke is rainbows.

How much more queer can you get?

Finally, on a personal note. As a sufferer of cute aggression, a real thing proved by science that explains why I get angry at cute things, unicorns are just so freaking-cute-magical-awesome-rainbow creatures.

And that is reason enough of why they are the queer icon of our time.

Jamie is the Gay Star News Young Voices Editor – Follow @jamie_wareham on Twitter.

Being #QueerAF in my Unicorn costume walking with National Student Pride at Pride in London 2018 | Photo: Patrick Reardon-Morgan

Jamie in his unicorn costume walking with National Student Pride at Pride in London 2018 | Photo: Patrick Reardon-Morgan

Read more from Gay Star News:

This queer slasher movie has a unicorn-masked killer who kills drag queens

Has gay porn gone too far? Man has sex with stuffed My Little Pony unicorn

London commuters can now travel by gay rainbow unicorn

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