Australian scientist Bryan Lessard, otherwise known as “Bry the Fly Guy,” has discovered a new flashy rainbow fly species and named it after RuPaul, the famous “Drag Race” host, with the hope that it would serve as a positive signal for young LGBTQ individuals who are drawn to science.
“As a gay scientist, it took me a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin in a very traditional field of science—in entomology,” Lessard, an entomologist with Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, told CNN. “I think it’s really important for the next generation of LGBTQ+ scientists to know that they’re being represented in the workplace, as we give the names of legends in the community to memorable species.
The Opaluma rupaul is an iridescent species of soldier fly, an insect that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves, despite fulfilling a significant role in our ecosystems.
“Soldier flies are valuable in the ecosystem,” Lessard says. “The larvae recycle nutrients from dead plants and animals, while adults are pollinators of some Australian plants.”
It was decided that the new species deserved a name that lives up to the fly’s glitzy looks. “Naming a species is the first step to understanding and protecting them because otherwise, they’re invisible to science,” he told The Guardian.
Lessard chose RuPaul because he thought that the television host would appreciate the name once realizing that the insect is “quite fierce,” and “has a costume of shiny metallic rainbow colors, and it has legs for days.”
RuPaul tweeted his approval last Wednesday, in a tweet that reads: “’Rainbow colors & legs for days’, Australian fly species named after RuPaul.”
Image source: CSIRO Australia