Freedom to go Feral

8 Jul
Mowgli and Bagheera, one of the Maurice & Edward Detmold illustrations from a 1903 edition of The Jungle Book

Bagheera & Mowgli, in one of the Maurice & Edward Detmold illustrations from a 1903 edition of The Jungle Book

By Tavia Nyong’o

Campaigners for marriage equality sometimes accuse those of us queers who doubt it’s political centrality of romanticizing outsiderhood. As a longstanding admirer of wild and feral animals, I say, why not romanticize outsiderhood? Let us go ahead and embrace the romance of the great out of doors, of being raised by wolves (or great cats) and of yearning for the bosom companionship, if only in our imaginations, of cheetahs, ostriches and wildebeest.

Come on, doesn’t even saying that name out loud … Wildebeest! … bring a little thrill to your otherwise homonormative day?
I never could understand Michael Jackson’s idealization of Peter Pan. Me, I always wanted to be Mowgli, surrounded by jaguars and serpents and  bears. Childhood for me was about reveling in animality, not indulging in candy, petting zoos, and choo choo trains.

Children and pets are the object of deserved ire amongst many of my friends, and the hassle of their actual presence as I try to go through the obstacle course of my day is indeed often frustrating. All the more reason, then, to dream of dancing with wolves, or mountainclimbing with cougars (the feline kind), or otherwise brushing up against the untamed amidst the complacent.
The best thing about the fantasy of going feral is that it doesn’t self-righteously hog non-renewable resources, usurp public debate with a individualistic-cum- survivalist mindset, or require the sort of conjugal consummation that brings inevitable disappointment.

Freedom to Marry the Wild Things!

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