Much like many queer people — in particular bisexual, transgender, and/or nonbinary individuals — frogs find themselves occupying a liminal space, moving between territories and identities that are often, wrongly, conceived of as mutually exclusive. Frogs represent an embodied juxtaposition of land and water, equally at home in both spheres, and moving freely between them. Frogs reject the false binary imposed by the dominant culture — male or female; water or land — instead claiming a uniquely amphibious nature.
More generally, frogs occupy a unique position in modern meme culture. Well known figures such as Pepe, Dat Boi, and Kermit provide fodder for countless memes and remixes. Of course, other animals are equally dominant in meme culture — for instance, the lolcats and doges of days past — but cats and dogs are common and well-loved pets, at least in most Western cultures. Frogs are much rarer in everyday life, and the broader culture regards them with at best ambivalence.
Frogs and toads are sometimes said to be slimy, grotesque, carrying warts and disease. Yet frogs are also uniquely delicate, profoundly sensitive to pollution and other ecological disturbances. Frogs serve as an early warning of environmental catastrophe, a canary in the watershed. Fragility and ugliness wrapped up in one little package — few things cut so effectively across gendered stereotypes, or convey such a universal relatability.
Frogs, of course, are known for their metamorphosis. Though butterflies provide a more accessible and aesthetic metaphor for the process of gender transition, frogs add yet another layer: as made famous in the film Jurassic Park, they are fluid in their sex and gender. Alex Jones’ famous rant about “turning the frogs gay” is based, however tenuously, in actual science: in their hormonal sensitivity, bathed in humanity’s pollution, frogs become physically androgynous and ambiguous.
Frogs have long served as symbols of the LGBT community, dating back at least as far as Lobel’s Frog and Toad are Friends in 1970. The word amphibian itself comes from Greek amphibia, “having two modes of existence; of doubtful nature.” What could better symbolize the ambiguous or dual existence of queer people? Is it any surprise, then, that those with an ambiguous relationship to sex and gender — whether their own, or of those they love — should find in frogs an avatar of the self?