You might think that being vegan and being queer would not have much to do with each other. I used to think so too, but the more I think about it, the more these two aspects of my life seem to be or have become connected.
Firstly, I guess I should explain that, yes, I identify as queer. Indeed, I am homosexual and mostly homoromantic, and while in general I’m fine with the label gay, there are definitely aspects of gay culture that I don’t identify so strongly with. This is not to look down on them at all, I just prefer to identify myself as queer in large part because, at least in my experience, the community of queers is generally more inclusive, as compared to the gay male community which can be quite exclusive if for example, you don’t meet certain unwritten criteria for body type, social appearance or even likes, interests and hobbies. At least for me, being queer just means not being straight and/or normative, and being accepted regardless.
Personally, I’m not a huge animal lover. I’m not the kind of person who sees a cute dog walking down the street and has an immediate and uncontrollable urge to pet it. I’m not especially interested in wildlife spotting when I travel, I don’t particularly like animals near me and I am slightly afraid of horses specifically. I like that animals exist, and I can appreciate their beauty: I just don’t need to touch or play with them. Indeed I find human’s propensity for keeping pets a very strange habit, one which makes me rather uncomfortable: breeding dogs to satisfy human needs, for example is a cruel and, if you think about it, rather grotesque practice.
That said, I do believe in equality and that it is hard to say we have achieved true equality until there is equality for all. Indeed, it may be a controversial thing to say, but I believe this extends beyond all humans to all living things, including the planet itself. At the end of the day, we only have one Earth, and the environmental impact of animal agriculture is severe. If you consider yourself someone who cares about human rights, but don’t care about animal exploitation, the fact that it is contributing to the destruction of the planet means that people are going to die as a consequence and it should probably therefor enter into your considerations for caring for the human race.
The current situation of animal exploitation for me has strong parallels between how the LGBTQ+ community has been (and indeed continues to be) oppressed by others. Of course, the parallel doesn’t exist in the physical acts of those two kinds of oppression, but in the underlying mentality: one group subjugating the other for their own benefit in the belief that it is superior in some way.
A friend told me recently that they believed that if you want to be activist for something, you have to choose between humans, animals and the environment, that by trying to help one of these three, you’ll be inherently harming another. I found this such a deeply depressing thought, that these three things should have to compete in this way. There may indeed be some truth to it, though: choosing to buy only products that contain no animal products you may be unknowingly supporting human slave labour or by consuming meat you are supporting the industry that causes PTSD in people working in slaughterhouses, for example.
Of course, no form of activism is perfect, and choosing to do nothing at all may in fact be the worst decision, but my recent realisation has been that by being at the point where veganism and queerness intersect, I’ve come to notice how these things can be intertwined and that ultimately more compassion, love and mindfulness for our fellow humans and non-human co-inhabitants of this remarkable and irreplaceable blue marble can only be a good thing.
What do you think?