Palaeoiris Oviraptor Sticker

As several people noted in the recent PaleostreamCon, while there are toxic members of any community, the openness of several prominent LGBTQ+ aligned individuals in online paleontology spaces (often loosely but collectively referred to as “the Paleosphere”) was the first introduction of many to a welcoming LGBTQ+ environment. A good portion of my own education about various queer identities began simply by listening to & interacting with these individuals, and I have since come to care deeply for all of them.

The recent wide-spread, extremist reactions against the queer community, both in general society and in legal contexts, has been extremely distressing to me, not least because of the extreme distress I see it causing the relevant individuals themselves. After a particularly frustrating session of doom-scrolling through the news, I found myself desperate to push back in some way, though I have limited reach or abilities. Having recently reviewed some of Palaeoiris‘s products, an idea suddenly popped into my head for an allyship design, which I thought they might like. (Now available from the official Palaeoiris Etsy storefront!)

A dad to the core, my original idea was based around a pun on the word “Egg”. Its usage in the queer community refers to a person who hasn’t quite realized they are trans yet, though I tried to stretch it to include trans kids. The design that immediately came to mind had an Oviraptor parent guarding their nest, which I thought thematically appropriate. The first Oviraptor skeleton was found near a nest, but was thought to be raiding it, and thus stuck with a scientific name that means “Egg Thief”. Later researchers who thought to actually look inside the eggs revealed that they in fact belonged to Oviraptor the entire time. Similarly, the current anti-LGBTQ+ movement attempts to instill a panic among their followers that queer (and especially the various shades of gender-non-conforming) people are out to “groom” their kids. Thus, the symbolic repudiation of this notion should be immediately clear to any sufficiently-studied paleonerd. The team at Palaeoiris loved the general concept and encouraged me to develop it further, though after chatting with Marta from the team, I realized I was stretching the term “Egg” further than anybody else really would. I decided to drop the pun for the next draft, though the symbolic allusion still remains generally valid.

Insert obligatory acknowledgement that the headcrest makes this technically more of a Citipati, but we’ll ignore that.

My own artistic skills are fairly middling, so I knew I was never going to be able to produce something that was quite print-worthy, but I tried to get it as crisp and clear as I could for my final draft. The Palaeoiris team was getting about as excited as I was at this point, and we began talking seriously about production. The decision was made almost immediately to donate most of the profits to a queer-affirming charity, leaning towards organizations in close proximity to me, both because it stemmed from my desire to be a more involved member of the local community, and because my home state of Texas is tied for first place among the most anti-LGBTQ members of the United States in terms of how insidiously dehumanizing its current legislative bodies are.

Finally, Marta created this fantastic glow-up of my original design, which is far prettier than anything I could possibly hope to make myself, and we finally settled on an charitable organization to direct the funds to. We were strongly leaning towards Southern Equality at first, and while I’m sure they’re a worthy organization if you decide to support them in other ways as well, I ended up advocating for Dallas Hope Charities. In attempt to meet more people outside my bubble, I happened to attend a gathering of the Fellowship of Freethought Dallas on the same day they were hosting a representative of Dallas Hope Charities, and after hearing her talk and chatting with her afterwards, I got excited by how they were helping the local queer community, especially local trans individuals.

With everything set, we decided it was time to reveal the design to our followers, and so now here we are! You can purchase this design as both large and small stickers from the Palaeoiris Etsy storefront, and while your there, don’t forget to browse their other designs to see if there’s anything else you like! While I focused on the specific plight of trans people for this product, it’s important to note that queer identities of every stripe are currently under attack, and it is important to fight for all marginalized groups in whatever way we can.

Before I wrap up, in addition to my previous review of Palaeoiris‘s general lineup, I should make sure to promote other members of the LGBTQ+ community I’ve featured here before! Samantha Turner will doubtless already be familiar to some of my readers as the creator of the online browser games THE BIG DIE & Lemme Splash!, but I must also beg her pardon for neglecting to ever review Collecc 3D: a frankly incredible feat of educational parody, combining the popular Opabinia memes from the Paleontology Coproliteposting community with the popular video game Subnautica, for the most atmospheric satire you will have ever experienced. Riley Black is an individual who scarcely needs introduction, as she is a giant in the Paleosphere, and the author of numerous popular books on dinosaurs & other prehistoric life. Shockingly, Did you see that Dinosaur? is somehow the only one of her books I had gotten around to by the time I wrote this post, but I recently bought myself a copy of her latest book Dinosaurs: Profiles from a Lost World, and the review for that is now up! (I’m embarrassed that I am so horribly unproductive!) Greer Stothers identifies as non-binary rather than trans, but I’ll take any excuse to promote Kaleidoscope of Dinosaurs and Prehistoric Life again! There’s dozens more I could mention, but in the interest of privacy (and limiting the size of this post), I’ll stick just to those I’ve featured previously for now, though if you’re a member of the LGBTQ+ Paleosphere and you’d like me to mention you here, go ahead and comment below, and I’ll give you a shout-out as soon as I see it!

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