“This Pride, I Choose to Identify as a Sea Urchin,” by Sebastian Subir

Jun 23rd, 2024 | By | Category: Fake Nonfiction, Prose

Hold the applause. Put down the glitter bomb. Nestle the expired poppers back into your Lulu fanny pack. This coming out is not as exciting as you think. I’ve spent a decade of pride months unable to enter the gay community as predator or prey. The Darwinian classifications leave me out entirely. Bear? Otter? Twink? None fit.

At first, I grew tired of being on the outside. I leered at the wolves as they descended upon the twinks and clasped them in leather-bound, tatted arms. I couldn’t match the smirks of the bears or suggestively tap the dad hats hiding their bald spots. Even the formidable otters looked away upon realizing that the three hairs on my chest would never multiply. None could draw me into the communal fist raising fun, the mesmerizing bassline of “Padam Padam.”

Outcast from my community, I rejected the warmth of the mammalian. Now, I look to the ocean.

I choose to identify as a sea urchin.

Picture it: cold-blooded echinoderms clustering for safety purposes. Their spikes rooted into rocky crevices in the deep sea. They don’t respond to “u up?” texts or feel a churn in their soft centers when sent an unexpected nude. They coexist, swaying gently in the silence, resisting the urge to fuck each other. No fists in sight. Just vibes.

Jealousy? The sea urchins don’t have it. Each sea urchin is perfectly made in the image of symmetrical urchinness. They don’t evaluate each others’ needles, contemplating the existence of growers versus showers. The Instagram algorithm doesn’t feed them tantalizing videos of the more superior urchins in their community, prong in prong. Sea urchins don’t crawl onto shore, visit local haunts, take fellow earth-bound urchins home, and grasp onto a pile of salty flesh questioning the exact percentage of buttery body fat they contain.

I won’t even look up how sea urchins reproduce, if they do it for survival or pleasure. I trust my urchin brethren, who have likely evolved beyond the sexual tithings of the earthly realm to seek something greater.

I do know that sea urchins don’t mix their PrEP pills with psyllium husks. They don’t go through a two-week period of side effects, bound to the toilet, perusing Oystr for a hookup to make it all worth it. They never have to feel depleted, desperate as the enema paints their insides and the fumes of that 9 am iced oat latte run out just as the trickle of text teases ends, their potential hookup ghosting them by 7 pm.

Sea urchins are unconcerned with physical improvement. There are no sea urchin gyms or exercises that can enlarge their peachy interior or carve their urchiny toes into rock hard talons. Sea urchins have no use for the seventeen exercises they’ve saved off TikTok that target the dimples of the lower back, the Adonis belt, and the lower pecs.

They live the ideal queer life – distant, detached, silent. I will continue to look to them for guidance. May we all.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The author did eventually research sea urchins. They do in fact reproduce. They hide their vibrant quills and reverse their bodies, ejecting sperm and eggs into the ocean to procreate. Sea urchins have few natural predators. Their biggest is the otter.


Sebastian Subir is a queer, Indian-American writer living in Washington, DC. His failed careers include burger flipper and aspiring music industry executive. Now he writes, occasionally about the reproduction of sea urchins.

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