Peppered Moth


“The concept of living in stealth, or ‘passing’ is often associated with LGBT and queer people. The need to appear ‘normal’, by living a gender that feels inauthentic has been a strategy of survival for people who faced and those who continue to face persecution. 

Just like the peppered moth, the ways that we are able to express ourselves will always be shaped by our environment. Queer people have always had to transform to survive. However, unlike the peppered moth, the collective visibility of our diversity has always been one of our greatest weapons in maintaining that survival.” 

Cheddar Gorgeous (Manchester Drag Queen)

The transformation of the peppered moth's population which saw the predominantly white speckled form replaced by the mutated pitch-black version and the subsequent return to the original state dominated by the lighter form in a matter of decades is held up as a visible demonstration of evolution in action. The species’ radical shift was caused by the improved relative survival of darker moths during Britain’s industrial revolution when the surfaces of trees and buildings were turned black by pollution. Moths that were able to stealthily blend in with their surroundings were less visible to birds, Great Tits in particular, while those that stood out became easy targets. The lighter variety of the moth only became common again as the air around cities improved after the Clean Air Act was introduced in 1956.

In an age when difference should be celebrated, sadly the concept of stealth, or 'passing' is still a common strategy for LGBTQ+ people who are forced to hide their sexuality or live as a gender that they are not, in order to try to fit in to protect themselves.

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