Blog / 2022 / Celebrating Our Queer Planet and Shad Fest 2022

April 11, 2022

[video transcript]

You can download a free copy of Crime Against Nature here and you can see all the Baby Sees ABCs images in this online gallery.

The original Shad Pride is for sale only at the Lambertville Shad Fest auction in person, but I’ve got other paintings on paper for sale, including a rainbow progress pride flag bunny. For prints and pretty things with Shad Pride, go here in my print shop.

intersex inclusive progress pride flag fish with pansexual flag heart, meme illustration by Lambertville artist Gwenn Seemel
Gwenn Seemel
Shad Pride
acrylic on paper
13 x 9 inches

Too many people hold these truths to be self-evident: that males are always larger, more aggressive, and more powerful than females. But when you look at nature, it’s simply not the case.

Certainly for shad it’s not. Shad are a type of herring that go back and forth between ocean and river multiple times in their lives. They’re celebrated in Lambertville, New Jersey, where I just moved and where certain men like to tell stories of the most shadtastic fish they caught, referring to the biggest ones with the wrong pronoun, because apparently it’s more manly to catch big fish, but only if that fish is male.

There’s a yearly festival for the fish and also to raise money for scholarships awarded to young artists in the area. This shad painting is my contribution to the auction this year, with the intersex inclusive progress pride flag design element as a nod to the queerness of nature—to the way that the biosphere will never fit with old-fashioned ideas of the binary.

A decade ago, I made a whole book on the topic. Shad don’t appear in Crime Against Nature, but Coho salmon do, and these fish don’t only have larger females, they also have three genders in all: females, medium sized males that spawn successfully, and younger, smaller males who do as well.

Fish are definitely a feature of the section of the book that focuses on females being larger than males, including my personal favorite: the fanfin seadevil and her tiny parasitical male. The largest individuals of the largest species in the world, the blue whale, are also always “she” and, among bald eagles, females are the bigger ones too.

Just as important to my mind, among many more animals, there’s no obvious visual difference at all between females and males. Some of these are from Crime Against Nature and some are from a more recent animal painting book I made—an alphabet book called Baby Sees ABCs.

If any truth should be held as self-evident, it should be the one about how the diversity of natural behaviors among nonhuman animals as well as human ones is something to be enjoyed and celebrated.

This video is made with love and microdonations from my community!

Maybe this post made you think of something you want to share with me? Or perhaps you have a question about my art? I’d love to hear from you!


To receive an email every time I publish a new article or video, sign up for my special mailing list.


If you enjoyed this post, Ko-fi allows you to donate. Every dollar you give is worth a bajillion to me!